Mandy Lee, William Hehir, and Etienne Bowler make up the core of NYC-based band Misterwives. These guys, while they only have one EP under their belts, are making waves in the industry. Their "fun, horn, pop, ska"-twinged indie rock (their words) has been racking up the streams and keeping them on the Viral 50 months after release. We sat down with the band to find out the basics...
So, Mandy, these guys are your... “misterwives?”
Mandy: Oh, yes [laughs]. It’s a play on the Mormon term sisterwives, but we reversed the genders. I married all the guys and they became my wives… And the wives keep growing, we just brought a new friend on the road to play saxophone. I can still marry whoever...
Will: It’s very dysfunctional [laughs].
What was it like the first time you and these two original “misterwives” got together?
Etienne: It was very weird, Will was wearing the weirdest outfit ever.
Mandy: He still had an office job then, so he was wearing oversized suits and he had really long hair.
Etienne: Yeah, when I first met the two of them, I wasn’t sure I really even wanted to do it. But Will just kept telling me, “party on!”
Will: And now we’re here.
Mandy: Well I really wanted an 80’s cover band at my birthday party a few years ago, and Will ended up being the bass player. Then when it went really awesome, we decided to start playing other music… music that wasn’t just Cyndi Lauper [laughs]. And shortly after we built a wall to give him a bedroom and he moved in. We’ve been playing together ever since.
So, Cyndi Lauper aside, what was the musical connection at the beginning?
Mandy: I guess we wanted to play real music… making music from the ground up, making a new sound. There were no egos, we just wanted to make music that was fun and make people dance.
Etienne: We all evolved a bit as well. As a drummer I was very into dance music, so putting dance beats under Mandy’s singer-songwriter, folky stuff was cool. We really connected on feeling really happy being together… I think the first week I met these guys we partied until 4 AM every night.
Mandy: We played a ton of shows right at the beginning, so it was just show-party-show-party. It was so much fun!
Recently, there was an article that called the band “The Next Golden Children of Pop.” Thoughts?
Mandy: I think we’ll have to paint ourselves gold.
Etienne: Or at least get a golden toilet… Well, we’re definitely children.
Will: Yes, we’re certainly immature!
Mandy: But yeah, that’s nice! Thanks to whoever that was! We’re definitely honored that people think so highly of us.
Will: It’s great. I don’t even think that highly of us, and I’m in the band [laughs].
Mandy: This tour was mind-blowing. We’ve been playing basically sold out shows, with all the fans singing all of the lyrics. It’s crazy! I’ve almost cried multiple times… I’m getting choked up just thinking about it… And then people come up to us and talk about how they found our music, it’s been, like, woah. Fans are making us cookies, t-shirts, paintings…
What’s the most memorable gift you’ve gotten from a fan?
Mandy: One night I was in the bathroom doing my hair and make-up… really, you lose all shame on tour so I made that bathroom my own [laughs]. These two girls came up to me, and they were shaking, and they gave me this bag of cookies. They were vegan, they knew I was vegan, and they put the recipe in the bag. It was amazing.
Will: There was also this one really nice girl in Dallas… she made a portrait and sent us all these tie-dyed t-shirts. She got all of our sizes and everything.
Etienne: It’s almost a life-size canvas of the three of our faces. I didn’t know my head was that big…
So when you’re in the tour van, what’s the music that everyone in the band can agree on?
Mandy: Half Moon Run. Definitely.
Etienne: It works in any weather. I’m always driving.
Mandy: Or Spice Girls! Everyone gets behind that when I turn it on.
Mandy: No, no. But most of those yes [laughs].
What’s something that makes everybody groan when it's put on?
Mandy: Will… when you put on Primus we’re all like, “come on, man.”
Will: People just don’t get Primus… I don’t understand them.
Etienne: Will was van DJ once.
Will: Lasted all of 30 seconds, then I put on my headphones… But really, Mandy usually kills it, she puts on lots of Motown. She’s generally in charge of radio, or else Primus gets put on and everybody’s freaking out.
So you guys are just finishing up a tour (with The Mowglis)… if you could go right back out on tour with any band, dead or alive, who would it be?
Will: The Mowgli's set a ridiculous precedent. They are just THE nicest, most fun people. Tough to beat.
Etienne: It’s really kind of hard to answer because touring is such a personal thing. It’s about more than just playing the shows, it’s also… can you hang out with them? Do you feel good backstage? That can be just as important as the show. But still. No Doubt. Tony Kanal of No Doubt specifically.
Mandy: He’s very nice… I made him a latte once. I’ll never forget it [laughs]. And I think our music compliments theirs pretty well. We’ve both got that fun horn, pop, ska element.
Will: Tough question. Maybe the Jackson 5! Touring with Michael Jackson would be awesome!
Wouldn’t backstage be a bit weird?
Mandy: That would be really awkward. Dad yelling at everybody. It would be scary.
Etienne: They would also make me and Will look like really bad dancers…
Will: We could take a few lessons and be fine. We’d get it together [laughs].
Tour with you guys seems like a dream. Good luck on the next one, Misterwives!