MisterWives Bring the Party to the ‘Connect to Dots’ Tour: Interview
It's pretty easy to spot MisterWives when they walk into a room.
From their bright wardrobe to the family vibe they give off, you won't have a dull moment when you're around the New York City pop band. That's what I learned when I met up with singer Mandy Lee, bassist Will Hehir, drummer Etienne Bowler, guitarist Marc Campbell, multi-instrumentalist Jesse Blum and sax player Mike Murphy. Sitting in the middle of the Elizabeth Street Garden in SoHo, we chatted about the Connect the Dots Tour, which starts today (September 21) in Nashville, stage antics and their definitions of success.
You guys did the Band Camp Tour over the summer. How was that? And how will your Connect the Dots Tour be different?
Mandy Lee: The Band Camp Tour was great. I think it was our favorite tour. [Before that], we played an arena tour with Panic! at the Disco, which was incredible to do. But coming back to small club venues and getting to see people's faces and getting to see all that energy and play all new music was really a breath of fresh air. We got to play the whole new record, and everyone knew all the words. It was really nice. When they sing the whole show and not just the big songs and going nuts, nothing compares to that. Band Camp was amazing. Marc's fiance opened for us, and she's a great singer-songwriter. It really felt like camp. [Laughs.]
Marc Campbell: It was really fun.
Mandy: And Connect the Dots [Tour], yeah, that will be different, especially with stage design. We're keeping on the theme of bringing the album art more to life with the stage set. The stage set will be different.
Jesse Blum: We're working on some surprises.
Will Hehir: The Band Camp Tour was always intended to be a little more intimate, in terms of the size of the venues we were playing. The Connect the Dots tour will have bigger rooms and more action. It's going to be wild.
The Band Camp Tour may have been in smaller venues, but regardless of the size, MisterWives shows are so big. It feels like we're onstage with you even though we're standing all the way in the back of the room. How do you approach each show especially when it's a different space? Do you prep differently depending on the show?
Mandy: Honestly, no. I think you want the people in the arena, if we ever play an arena again, you want those people to feel like they're at a club show. And you want those people in the club show to feel like they're in your living room. You want it to be an intimate experience where everybody is very connected and is one big party of all your friends.
Marc: Yeah, I feel like walking onstage, no matter what stage it is, you still walk on with the same feelings. You're still nervous. You're still excited. The size of the crowd doesn't make too much of a difference on how you perform. For Mandy, it does, because you're the voice, and you're reaching out. But the band, we just go onstage and give it our all, no matter who we're playing to. Corporate shows could have ten people there, and we still go on like...
Etienne Bowler: The only thing I would [say is] that sometimes the people in the front, like Marc, Will and Mandy, will take longer to get from microphone to microphone on a bigger stage.
Marc: Yeah, I'll be joking with Will and then have to sprint back to my mic.
Mandy: There's a lot of sprinting on bigger stages. We got to cover a lot of ground. You just have to run in place as opposed to—
Etienne: Club shows are like half-court basketball games, and arena shows are like full-court.
Mandy: Jesse just gets to stand behind the—
Jesse: I was going to say I just stand still. But I like to move a lot.
Mandy: He really catches air.
Jesse: I do as much as I can while attached to my instruments.
Marc: And when the tour photographer posts pictures of the show, you do see Jesse like, three feet in the air. Where is he doing this?
Etienne: One day we're just going to strap a GoPro to his pinkie [finger] and watch those fingers go.
That would be awesome but also make people who have motion sickness feel queasy.
Jesse: Exactly. Jesse Blum: making people queasy with his fingers.
Mandy: Aaand moving right along...
Will: This is why bands don't do full interviews. There's always one.
When you released Our Own House, it was very upbeat and dancey. But on Connect the Dots, there are more rock and heavier elements. So what inspired the new direction?
Mandy: Connect the Dots is still incredibly fun and dancey, but you don't want to do the same things. So it's only natural that you want to grow. We were inspired by different sounds. I was listening to [Beyonce's] Lemonade and [Chance the Rappers's] Coloring Book a lot and a lot of hip-hop. Just all sorts of stuff. I don't want to make the same album again. Also, the topics naturally lend themselves to the environment and the ambience of the music. They're darker. You can't have "Reflections" when you're singing "Revolution." So you need to the sound to fit the meaning of the lyrics sometimes. Sometimes it's cool to flip it, too.
"Revolution" has a socio-political theme to it. And some bands try to step away from that. What made you guys go with it?
Mandy: I don't think we had a choice. I think it's your moral obligation if you have some kind of platform, big or small. Music is an incredible tool to spread unity and spread a positive message. And I think it's right, and you don't have a choice at this point and time to step out and say, "Oh! It doesn't affect me." It affects all people, and it's important to bring these issues to light.
Marc: And you're a songwriter. So you're writing about what you're feeling. The whole point of songwriting is to write about what you're feeling.
Mandy: It's interesting. We went to a protest, and I posted how I felt about it. And the message is still positive, but then someone was like, you can't blend your music and politics. "Don't do that. Don't be one of those." And music has been at the forefront, fighting the fights, whether it's politics or equality. People think those should be separate. We need to be immersed and need music for these times.
Marc: Just because you're a musician doesn't mean you're not allowed to say what you feel. You're a human.
Will: There's something Hans Christian Andersen said: "Where words fail, music speaks."
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