Edgy Jersey Shore singer-songwriter Avery Mandeville takes a break from the road to chat with Makin Waves!
In nearly 40 years of covering the New Jersey music scene, one my favorite live moments with a local band was this summer at Avery Mandeville’s record release party for her debut full-length, Happy Birthday, Avery Jane. The audience response to her song “Blood,” one of the best tunes of the year, was thrilling. As Avery raged at The Saint, about 20 women in front of the stage rocked with her so hard and so loud, their passion and excitement was as powerful as the song, which is about a pregnancy scar.
While she isn’t with her dynamite all-star band, the Man Devils — guitarist Matt “Fern” Fernicola (The Burns, Foes of Fern), bassist Chris Dubrow (The Burns, Tara Dente), drummer Owen Flanagan (Dan Amato & the Sophisticated Gentlemen, Levy & the Oaks), and keyboardist Noah Rauchwerk (Oil) — Mandeville is on the road turning new fans onto “Blood” and the other great tunes on Happy Birthday, including her live favorite, “Encore.” She’s touring out to L.A. and back in the band of Virginia alt-roots rocker Mike Frazier and opening for him solo acoustic.
When the Lincroft-raised rocker returns home to the Jersey Shore, she will play solo acoustic on Nov. 25 at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park with Matty Carlock and with her band at the Gurlzilla benefit for Garden State Equality on Dec. 1 at Asbury Park Music Foundation. Also on that bill are Des and the Swagmatics, Prim, Pamela Flores, and Kate Dressed Up, featuring Renee Maskin, Foxanne and Elaine Rasnake. Avery Mandeville and the Man Devils also will play the annual Light of Day festival to raise money to fight Parkinson’s disease on Jan. 19 at Asbury Park Yacht Club with Nalani & Sarina.
In the meantime, here’s a chat we did from the road about the tour, her amazing record and some of its songs, her band, her label, Holmdel-based Telegraph Hill Records, and more!
You started out as a solo alt-folk act and have evolved into the leader of a bangin’ indie-rock band. Comment on that evolution, how you know each of the Man Devils, and how they impacted your songwriting.
I’ve been playing solo acoustic since sophomore year of high school. The band formed throughout the recording process of my first EP, Salty, in late 2016 in large part to my guitarist and good friend Matt Fernicola. It was then I would meet Chris Dubrow (bass) and Owen Flanagan (drums). Noah Rauchwerk completes our current lineup on synth, and I couldn’t be happier to play with such great friends. They’ve all lended their unique sounds to the music, writing their own parts to my acoustic stylings.
Did you go to high school with Fern and Pom? If so, did you play music with them back then?
I knew those guys back then through Noah Rauchwerk, but we didn’t become close and start working together until years later.
Are you surprised by the response to Happy Birthday, Avery Jane?
I am always surprised by the reach my music has and the people from outside our little scene who message me about it or recognize me. I feel very, very, very lucky.
What was the best feedback you’ve received so far about the LP?
The response to the feminist anthems — “Get Real!” “Blood,” “Predator” — is my favorite. Many women, non-binary folks and survivors of sexual assault are touched and empowered by them and that is quite literally all I care about.
Are you a Kurt Vonnegut fan? Did his “Happy Birthday, Wanda June” influence the title of your album?
I am a Kurt Vonnegut fan! But the album was named after the cover art, which is an old photo from a birthday party with my cake reading, Happy Birthday, Avery Jane. I love minimal, unedited art.
What inspired the song “Blood,” what is its message, and what impact has it had?
“Blood” is intentionally straightforward and about a pregnancy scare, as well as the many micro aggressions of womanhood. It definitely opened a door for me to be more lyrically bold.
“Blood” is one of the most powerful live songs I’ve experienced. How does it make you feel to see the crowd go wild when you play it?
It serves as a reminder of why I love to play music and all the people I’ve gotten to know through it.
Are there any songs you enjoy playing live even more and why?
I like playing “Encore” the most because it’s the most intimate/quiet song in the set. It’s probably my favorite song I’ve ever written.
You’ve made two great, powerful, funny videos in support of the album. Who made the “Blood” and “Get Real” clips and what did you like most about working with them?
Those music videos were directed by Mango Visuals out of Red Bank. They’re incredible people to work with and helped me from start to finish, turning vague and quirky ideas into creative videos. My style and sense of humor is very similar to theirs so together we make a great team.
You also are promoting the album with a month-long solo tour with Mike Frazier. How do you know Mike, how is the tour going so far, and what part of it are you looking forward to or enjoyed most and why?
Mike and I met at my open mic at The Inkwell Coffeehouse in West Long Branch. He and I became fast friends and I love going out on the road with him. I’m playing guitar and singing harmonies in his band on this run, as well as opening for him solo. I’m looking forward to seeing the country with some great friends!