Matty Vogel

The Resilience of Misterwives

It has been well over a year since we first experienced the art of Misterwives live on stage, but when we tell you they have never left our minds, we mean it.

Misterwives formed 10 years ago, and in the music industry that could mean a lifetime. Through the ups-and-downs of being chewed up and spit out by record labels (Republic and Fueled By Ramen) lead singer Mandy Lee, drummer and percussionist Etienne Bowler, bass guitarist William Hehir, guitarist Marc Campbell, and keyboardist and saxophonist Mike Murphy finally found a home on Photo Finish/Resilient Little Records. They were the label to first sign this band on-the-rise. 

Recently making a more mainstream breakthrough with their single “Nosebleeds,” Misterwives have been popping up all over alternative radio and steadily climbing the charts. The band, formed in New York City, blends many of the sounds of the past few decades that you’ve been passively listening to; from folk to ska to dance pop, Misterwives encapsulate it all. 

The Aquarian’s Robert Frezza sat down with lead singer Mandy Lee and drummer Etienne Bowler to talk about the single that helped them crossover, as well as showing their respect for women led rock acts as they gear up for a tour with Bishop Briggs, Regina Spektor, and Natalie Jane. 

On the Success of “Nosebleeds”

Mandy Lee: “I know the song was always special and we advocated for it to be a single. It necessarily doesn’t translate to thinking the same thing. I am happy though that everyone else likes it as much as we do.”

Etienne Bowler: “We actually broke a record – it hit No. 27 on the alternative charts.” 

ML: “The whole concept of ‘Nosebleeds’ was about this deja vú feeling been on the outskirts of our band’s career and what the music industry can be like and trying to get outside validation. The beautiful thing is when you are playing in arenas whether you are in the nosebleeds or close to the stage, we all have that collective experience together, which is a beautiful thing that unifies us together. Hearing the song on the radio was insane. I went into this album not caring about success of a radio hit or numbers. It’s wild that those things have come to fruition now that I’ve stopped white knuckling dreams and expectations. We are proud that this song has resonated but there’s a lot more peace about it.”

It’s a New York City Experience

ML: “I was working on the Upper West side and so was Etienne. We were working a block away from each other. He would frequent my restaurant. At that time, I was doing open mics in Astoria with a cellist. I sent Entienne my MySpace and he was a drummer – and he was in an established band. We stayed in touch. I invited him to come jam with me. It was very serendipitous that we had all done a million projects and then the stars aligned for this one and this felt like the home that we have been looking for.”

Blending Sounds

ML: “I was playing folk music like Damien Rice and Regina Spektor. Entienne came from a very dance/ska/reggae background. What I was writing and what Entienne was producing and playing was what made our sound essentially.”

EB: “Folk songs make great dance bangers.”

Women In Rock

ML: “I feel like it is very empowering to be the lead in a female fronted band. It never was an intentional thing if I wanted to be the only female. The only people I found were misters and they are luckily amazing misters in an industry were there are some pretty awful men… some that I have worked through, whether it be through label and producers. I do feel thankful that I have men that backed me for the things I care about and don’t. I do feel like an outcast or treated very differently than my bandmates whether it be about remarks about my body or what I look like. I can go through a different filter than my counterparts. I think it’s changing the more we talk about it. The younger generation maybe will have more acceptance and equality than when I grew up.”

Mounting Success

ML: “My takeaway of success is the feeling at peace and secure and confident in who we are and having fun. I’m tired of the rat race that we’ve been put into that strips away the whole integrity of who we are and why we started music in the first place. The whole goal on this record is to get back to that baseline. There are people who are successful and are at the top and are miserable because they get put through the ringer and lose themselves.” 

EB: “Being in a band for 10 years is successful. Most bands get thrown around labels and become discouraged and have financial issues. I feel like we are successful on multiple levels; 10 years is special.”

On the Nosebleeds Album 

ML: The freedom to try new things and to not shy away from the messy middle and really leaning into emotions afraid to let surface. Anything associated with anger or pain can be also put into a negative category. I saw how much I was suppressing and not letting my full multi-faceted self open up. With this album I really got to expand and I hope every feel album feels that way. I hope I keep blossoming; it makes me excited for what’s to come.