Interview: The Music “Machine” That is MisterWives

Making a sophomore album is always a challenge for an artist but to follow an album after a hugely successful debut is all the more trying. MisterWives’ debut, Our Own House (released in 2015) has racked up 200 million plays on Spotify and counting. Seems like they had no problems figuring out the formula to a second success — their sophomore release Connect The Dots has the same potential with the first single, “Machine” already at 7.5m listens on Spotify. Phew. If you like driving to the beach with your crew, windows down and music blasting this is a summer album you should allow your ears to hear.

MisterWives are bringing the tunes to you on their summer headlining tour, check out “Machine” below: 

We chatted with the band about dating apps, band boot camp and their old touring van Ginger, who I wish I had the pleasure of meeting. Check it.

COLLiDE: Tell me about your recording process for the new album and how you guys shaped the sound and concept.
Etienne: Well, Mandy wrote all the songs and she would bring them to us and we would jam on them and come up with all of our parts. What really made the record special to us was that we had the time to build it from the ground up as a band. We did this thing called band camp where we all lived together in my parents basement and we got to just work on music all day and workshop our songs and push ourselves to make the greatest music we could possibly make.
Mandy: His parents went away for the summer and they have this incredible house in the Bronx that has a music studio and a wine cellar and garden and it’s somehow in the Bronx and it’s super magical. We started calling it Band Camp and it became this thing where fans were like, we want to come to band camp! So now we are doing the Band Camp tour and there is a song off the record called “Band Camp” that captured the summer of us creating that music. It was just like going to summer camp with your best friends and it really set the bar high for how we have to make music. It was so fun and we really pushed ourselves and it was a really amazing experience for us as a band.

COLLiDE: How does a MisterWives song take form? Lyrics first? Is there a set process?
Mandy: It depends, sometimes it’s a melody that’s in my head. Sometimes there is a lyric and a melody that is stuck in my head and it’s written simultaneously. For the most part, sometimes I’ll have a melody in my head that I can’t get out and I’ll go back and forth between the melody and my voice memos and I’ll flesh it out that way. For the most part the music and the lyrics inspire each other at the same time. Very old school.

COLLiDE: Since you toured a bunch for your first record, do you guys record on the road at all?
Mandy: We don’t! I find it very difficult to record on the road. I need to be FAR away from civilization so touring is not that environment There are always so many people around on tour. I actually tried in our old van Ginger when Etienne taught me how to use Ableton and I wrote a song off our first record, “No Need For Dreaming.” It was an 8 hour drive and that’s the first and last time I ever wrote on the road. Etienne was teaching me on his laptop while he was driving and I was in the back seat.
Etienne: At the end of the trip I was like, Mandy, how did you do that!?
Mandy: I do use voice memos though! That’s how I write a lot of songs. Like the time my phone got thrown off a cliff and I had to hike down to get my phone because I was like, “Oh, my god! My voice memos are on there and I didn’t back up to my cloud!” I now back everything up and I learned the hard way.

COLLiDE: Being a girl in the band are there any hiccups that come with being around dudes all the time?
Mandy: Not with these guys. I’m really lucky I think we kind of gender reverse.
Etienne: Yeah, Mandy is basically on the road with 6 girls all the time.
Mandy: I do not feel that from the guys is this band. Do I feel that from the world? Yes. I think that is changing but of course there are always things that come up. Someone said to me recently, “I have such a crush on you right now”, and I just knew they would never say that to one of the guys. It’s just that they see you as a woman and a sexual object than just a performer and a singer and a songwriter and they get stuck on your gender and it’s really lame. Sometimes we will do an interview and they will ask the guys about writing songs and then they ask me about my hairspray.
Etienne: Yeah it can get pretty offensive because Will and I are pretty sexy.
Mandy: Yeah and they use more hairspray than me! But with the dudes in the band I don’t ever feel a difference.
Etienne: But sometimes we smell more.

COLLiDE: How do you guys get around these days?
Mandy: We now travel on a tour bus.
Etienne: Only when our chopper has stopped, the plan b is the luxury tour bus.
Mandy: But we miss Ginger our 15 pass van.

(We figuratively pour one out for Ginger). 
Mandy: She was more than a van.
Etienne: She was one of us.

COLLiDE: Google Maps or Waze?
Etienne: Google Maps. Definitely Google Maps.
Mandy: I don’t drive [laughs]. 

COLLiDE: Who is the bus DJ?
Mandy: DJ Duffy is my alter ego. I probably play the most music. Murph wants to be the DJ but we don’t let him anywhere near the cord. Jessie is probably neck and neck with DJ Duffy but he only plays Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday and very old timey music which is our favorite so nothing new, we kinda just play the oldies.

COLLiDE: What is your favorite city to play?
Mandy: Humm that’s a hard one.
Etienne: Well other than New York because New York is our home town so that’s always special but outside of NY I would say Boston or Philly or DC is also a good time. Did you say top 10 favorites [laughs]? Or Columbus?
Mandy: Ooooo Columbus, yeah! Ooo Austin, shit sorry we aren’t giving you one answer. The audiences are so fun and not reserved like other cities, you know?
Etienne: You’ll find in some of the bigger cities everyone is just standing there.
Mandy: They’re stiff. They’re too cool for school.

COLLiDE: Sounds like LA.
Mandy: Yeah, not pointing any fingers but definitely LA.
Etienne: Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought but I didn’t want to say.
Mandy: Although we’ve had some good shows there the last couple of times we’ve had some people dancing and hollering, which was a surprise cause usually they just stare at you.
Etienne: Yeah.
Mandy: Austin is also a good crowd and oh, Portland is really fun too. Oh, no, Denver!
Etienne: Denver!
Mandy: I think everyone is just stoned so they are all just having the best time ever.
Etienne: Yeah, really high.
Mandy: I usually just get stoned from how it smells in the venue, well and the elevation. It’s hard to jump around on stage because I always get shortness of breath.
Etienne: We even got her an oxygen tank one time.

COLLiDE: Snapchat or Instagram:
Mandy: We usually agree on on everything so Instagram, I don’t even have a Snapchat [laughs]. 
Etienne: We never really got into Snapchat. Once IG stories became a thing we took one look at that and said this is more for us.

COLLiDE: Tinder or Bumble:
Mandy: I’ve never used either. Is Tinder the one for boning? See I don’t know, I met Etienne and we started dating a few years before all of this took off so we missed that whole thing.
Etienne: Yeah we met in this really weird way, where it was just in real life [laughs]. 

COLLiDE: Super weird!
Mandy: Wait, explain Bumble. What is Bumble. I’ve heard of it.

COLLiDE: It’s the one where only the girl can message the guy.
Mandy: OH! Okay, change my answer to Bumble!
Will: I used LinkedIn because I have to make sure people have a pretty solid work life. We believe in web dating equality! 

photo by: courtesy of the artist