The vibrant aura surrounding MisterWives is exactly what caught everyone’s attention when the band formed a little under five years ago. At first glances you’d see before you a six-piece bursting with colour, only to discover that the music they create matches their image impeccably.
The impressive debut, Our Own House, led the band to touch down in cities they’d only ever read about before, performing music they spent their entire youth growing up writing. Since becoming viral wonders over the past three years, settling down and hitting the drawing board for future material soon became the band’s new priority.
Catching up with the band’s Mandy Lee, Will Hehir and Etienne Bowler felt more like a family reunion than an interview; with outbursts of laughter and youthful memories being shared throughout. From creating their very own band camp to making the all-important sophomore record, MisterWives begin to connect the dots for us, letting us in on what they’ve been up to during their hiatus.
You’ve had some time to yourselves between albums – what has the band been up to?
Mandy Lee: Well, working on album two has definitely consumed most of our time… We got to do some fun things like band camp over the summer where we turned this utopia of a home into a musical paradise; there was a studio, a treehouse and we all got to stay there and write/record the record. We were turning living rooms into studios, renting AirBnB’s on the beach in California and really got to record the album from the ground up.
In an old interview you mention that filming the Reflections video felt like band camp, and now you have a track on the second record titled Band Camp – did any of you attend as kids?
Will Hehir: As a child I never went to a band camp, but we made one ourselves for grown-ups.
Mandy: The reason that song is called that is because one night we were all exhausted and Mark played a beautiful guitar riff and then Etienne jumped on the drums set up in the living room, I began writing the lyrics and everything came together super organically, we recorded the track that night in one take at around three in the morning. We were super delirious and woke up the next day like “Did we… write and record a song? Is it gonna be any good?” and it turned out to be still as magical as we felt when making it.
The first album’s title, Our Own House, was inspired by the band writing every track inside a treehouse – what’s the reasoning behind Connect the Dots?
Etienne Bowler: Well Mandy wrote everything inside of a dot.
Mandy: I guess the album touches on so many different topics for me in my life, and it draws from so many different aspects and it felt like a representation of life where you’re thrown all these different emotions and things that don’t necessarily make sense or fit together; that’s really what Connect The Dots is. You get all these dotted numbers and it looks scattered and clustered but once you start connecting it all together you can create art or something meaningful and that’s how life for me feels.
The spirit animals are very much still a thing and are featured on the second album’s artwork – has this turned into a sort of tradition?
Will: I really don’t see the spirit animals going anywhere. They all actually mean something to us individually and they come together very nice aesthetically.
Mandy: It’s definitely something that’s here to stay and is a fun way of representing ourselves and having an alter ego in a sense.
Connect The Dots came around pretty quickly in comparison to some acts that take huge gaps between their debut and sophomore releases – did it feel easier to write the second time around?
Mandy: Surprisingly it was, I was kind of terrified the entire year beforehand when we were touring, just thinking how am I going to write a whole record when the first record was basically all of our lives work. But for some reason it all came together really organically and I wanted to write; I guess we experienced so much and when we were on the road I didn’t get the chance to write so when we came home I kind of just blurted it all out of me.
Etienne: Mandy’s also an amazing songwriter so she wrote eleven songs in that year and those are the eleven on the record, so that was nice.
Any inspiration behind the second record?
Mandy: So much, it goes everywhere. Love is something that is super inspiring, there’s also everything going on in the world right now, and bringing messages of hope and unity. It was definitely a very rough year for our country and I was down about that, so music acted as an outlet to bring hope and the message of love – that’s definitely on the record. Personal family related messages are also thrown on there as well as the band itself being super inspiring; songs like Band Camp and Let The Light In talk about what we have as a band and as a group of friends.
Who have you been listening to that helped this writing process?
Mandy: 2016 was a great year for music; we definitely had Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book on repeat, those were our muses the entire year. Incredibly inspiring from the lyrical content to the production and music which resonated with both Etienne and I quite a bit. I don’t think we really listened to anything else. [laughs]
Will: We didn’t play too many shows but we did get the chance to go to festivals so being able to see and be surrounded by live music was also hugely inspiring.
With the second record do you feel there’s a pressure to live up to the viral success of Reflections?
Mandy: There was definitely pressure, I feel like for a lot of bands sophomore albums are super instrumental to their careers and we didn’t want to drop the ball on this one so we pushed ourselves to go into uncharted territories and get to expand creatively, musically and lyrically. We try not to think about it but we definitely wanted to make the best album we possibly could, I think there’s still MisterWives on this album I just feel like we kind of took it a few notches up.
All of your tracks have an anthemic feel to them – is this something that’s intentional?
Mandy: I don’t go into a song with any intentions really, I just try to not overthink it and whatever is the end result is the end result. I guess now we definitely write music thinking about crowds and how they’re going to engage and sing with us, that’s something that has played into my writing now we’ve gotten to do touring and things like festivals. You want something where the crowd’s going to be able to sing along with you, which I guess naturally lends itself to anthemic music.
Will: I think what makes a song anthemic is when people can latch onto and relate to it and I think there are so many emotions expressed in the music that Mandy writes that that’s what makes it anthemic, it’s not the music we structure a certain way it’s the emotional attachment people have to that song.
Etienne: Hopefully people can relate to it because they’re real life things that Mandy writes about.
Where does the band have more fun, in the studio or in front of a live crowd?
Will: I mean in the studio we’ve definitely lost our minds, however on the tour bus we’ve also lost our minds so…
Mandy: Both are insanely fun and we always pinch ourselves because we get to do both ends of the spectrum. Nothing else matches the feeling you get when you play a show because of the contagious energy you share with the crowd, and that’s probably the highest of highs you can ever get. But then again getting to record songs and finally listening to them back and blasting them is such a euphoric feeling.
What point do you want to put across with Connect The Dots?
Mandy: To let the light in. It’s the last track on the album and I think that’s kind of the overall theme; that there is hope and even in the darkest of times you can conquer anything. We’re so lucky we get to spread that message through music.
Describe the new record in three words?
Etienne: Connect. The. Dots.
Will: I think ‘connect the dots’ does summarize it really well; the album is describing individual emotions that all come together very coherently in one picture.
Etienne: We don’t have a song called ‘connect the dots’ but that kind of is the three-word summary of all the songs put together.
Connect The Dots is available for pre-order. New single Machine is out now.