Interview with Misterwives: Meant To Be

Forming just last February, the New York City-based act Misterwives are poised to be the next breakout band on the indie pop scene. After spending the first half of the year opening for SoCal seven-piece The Mowgli’s while promoting their first EP, Reflections, the group started working on their debut full-length on Photo Finish Records. They will be taking a brief break from recording to open for Fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff’s new project, Bleachers, which includes a stop this week at Webster Hall on Sept. 4.

On an early August morning, before entering the studio for the day, vocalist Mandy Lee and drummer Etienne Bowler took time to discuss the history of the band, the excitement of working in a professional environment, and their next big move.

How did Misterwives form?

Etienne Bowler: Mandy and I worked a block away from each other at vegan restaurants and we would always go into each other’s restaurants and eat each other’s food.

Mandy Lee: Will [Hehir, bassist] and I were roommates and we would just jam for fun. But when the three of us got together, we instantly clicked and started demoing music in Etienne’s bedroom. He would produce it all, and then we wanted to form a band and play live shows. I had a show booked at the Canal Room, and Etienne asked his former bandmates from other bands to play with us. We had this one rehearsal and it was really magical, and we’ve all been best friends ever since. It’s a pretty boring story; we just met in some random ways of life but we just work really well together.

EB: It was all really good timing.

That’s cool though, it’s kind of like fate—everything sort of worked out.

ML: Exactly! It was serendipity.

Who, or what, do you feel are your biggest influences for Misterwives?

ML: We all have very different influences that we’ve grown up on. I was always a big fan of Motown and Aretha Franklin. Etienne listened to a lot of The Police and Jesse [Blum, keyboardist/trumpeter]… I don’t even know what Jesse listens to (laughs). But Marc [Campbell, guitarist] listens to a lot of cool rock like The Strokes. So all of us come from very different backgrounds, but what’s cool is that it touches on various genres. We all utilize things that have inspired us. But one band that we collectively look up to is No Doubt. They’re definitely something that is similar to what we do and who we respect and have loved our whole lives. I think that is a fair description of everybody’s tastes?

EB: Yeah, that’s a fair assessment of our influences (laughs).

What is the band’s creative process when it comes to writing music?

ML: The creative process is that I write the skeletons of the songs on the keyboard and then I bring it to the band at rehearsal. Etienne and I will demo it out in our apartment and we work with it until it feels right, then we’re on to the next one (laughs). Right now, we’re recording our album and writing at the same time, and it’s tricky balancing out writer’s block and writing on demand. But for the most part, that’s how it’s done.

How’s recording the new album going?

ML: Amazing! We’ve done almost four full songs, and it sounds incredible. Each song tops the next and each sound huge and it’s so fun. We have live drums, and for the first time we’re going to track live instruments in a real studio. Until now we’ve been doing it in, not “bootleg” location, but in apartments, bedrooms, places like that. It’s so cool to be in a real studio and the vibes are amazing. We just have so much fun from morning to morning.

When should the full-length be out?

ML: It should be out this year, by the end of the year. And we’re going to release the single from the album in the fall, and hopefully before January we’ll have the album out.

Is there anything you specifically want to accomplish with this release?

ML: Yeah, we just want our voice to be heard. We want the album to be a reflection of who we are and that is exactly what it is. We write all the songs and Etienne is co-producing the record. The EP, Reflections, was kind of like last minute. We threw together a bunch of demos that we had, but now we get to work from the ground up, which is amazing. We just want people to love it. It is a continuation of the EP; sort of like a graduation.

How does being a band from New York City affect your music?

ML: New York is a melting pot, so you’re exposed to many things. We’re all from different boroughs—I’m from Queens, Etienne is from the Bronx, and Jesse’s from Staten Island—so we’re from very different areas, and that blends into the kind of music we play, because every day you walk down the street and there’s tons of different music and interest. It helps get you going, I guess. It’s very exciting living here. There’s so much, you know? I went to an art school here and that definitely helped with music. It’s crazy being around different cultures and different music, and that is very inspiring to the music that we make.

Which songs are your favorite to perform live?

ML: “Reflections” is a lot fun, obviously, because that is the single that everybody knows, and it turns into one big sing-along. But I feel like “Imagination Infatuation” is crazy fun because we do solos and it turns into a wild dance party. At that point, the crowd goes nuts. Or “Vagabond” at the end—we do a slow chant and we get the audience to participate and sing with us. It always gives me chills. That’s the last song we play and it means a lot to me, so I’d say those two are tied. What about you, Etienne? It’s very early for Etienne; he hasn’t had his coffee yet so he’s very quiet (laughs).

EB: My favorite song is “Coffee.”

ML: Did you just say your favorite song was “Coffee?”

EB: (Laughs) Wait, I mean “Coffins.” Did I say coffee or coffins?

How do you prep for an upcoming tour?

ML: We do a lot of rehearsals before we leave; I’d say we have rehearsals every day the week before just to get tight and work things out. Then you have to pack your luggage, because you’re going to be gone for a couple of months. I also pack a cutting board and a hot plate because I usually cook in the van (laughs). So yeah, just in that aspect, of like getting the van ready to be totally stocked at all times and also making sure you feel comfortable before we head out with our music.

What are your plans for the rest of year?

ML: After the Bleachers tour we’re going to release the single and the album.

EB: And continue on tour.

ML: Yeah, we’ll probably be on tour until the album comes out. Which is amazing, we like being on the road.

EB: And then when the album comes out we’ll probably go on more tours!

ML: There’s many tours in our future! (Laughs)

EB: Oh, and the music video!

ML: Yeah! We have an official music video that we shot for “Reflections.” The first video that we did for “Reflections” was a nightmare. We shot one and it ended up being absolutely horrible, but we needed to put a music video out to go to the UK because we were going there for the first time and they were like, “Oh, we need a music video for promo.” So last minute we ran around New York City with a camera and tried to put something together very fast just so we could go overseas. Now MTV wants to premiere the new music video, and the new one is so amazing. I still haven’t come down from the high; we shot it a couple weeks ago and we just saw the first cut. It looks awesome. We’re excited to put out a legit music video for people to see versus the whole do-it-yourself, no budget version (laughs). It’s just so cool to have a real production. The label is pushing for the next single, so we’ll be shooting more for the new songs.


Misterwives will be playing at Webster Hall Sept. 4, Terminal 5 Sept. 25, and the Tower Theatre Sept. 27 and 28. For more information, check out