Misterwives are a strange little -- but actually huge -- band that seemed to have popped up out of nowhere. The day after the 6-piece group played their very first show at the Canal Room in New York, they were signed to Photo Finish Records Clearly it had to be a pretty great first show to swing that deal. Ever since then, they released their Reflections EP, their debut album Our Own House, and most recently their sophomore LP, Connect The Dots. They even stopped by the Baeble basement for an intimate session on their way up. In addition to the consistent releases, they've also jumped from playing the Canal Room to opening for Panic! At The Disco at Madison Square Garden. "We always joked before we'd go on stage, we'd put our hands in and be like, 'let's play this one like it's Madison Square Garden!' and then this time we're actually playing Madison Square Garden" the band said, in total disbelief of how far they've come.
Their success is no secret, so we wanted to rewind and take the band back to where it all began: Astoria, Queens. Not that the band needed to be reminded of their roots though, because they turned out to be one the most down-to-earth bands we've ever had the pleasure to work with. We arrived at Astoria Soundworks, the band's first rehearsal space about four years ago, to talk about their music then and where they are now. "This is the first spot we ever reheard at as a band, this is kind of where we've started," powerhouse vocalist Mandy Lee said. "I remember getting through the first song we've ever played -- "Oceans" -- and you could hear a pin drop This is what we've all been searching for independently and just to have everyone in the room feel the exact same thing was something we'll never forget."
The band went on to tell me about their summer adventure, which they called Band Camp, and no, it's not like the platform where artists all share their music. This was like an actual summer camp at a member's family's house, where they took a staycation and did fun things like hang around the bonfire, go swimming, play games, and chill in a wine cellar. And that's what has inspired their Band Camp tour. "All of these things were just a nice release to not make it so stressful, so when you got down to recording music it didn't feel like 'okay guys, crunch time.' It was all in this nice continuous breath of fun."
When we finished up at Astoria Soundworks, we took a walk over to one of their first homes together -- the stoup with all of the memories (Mandy and Will moved in together after only a week of knowing each other). Side note: it was also the hottest day of the year and I was wearing a faux leather jacket... But I didn't take it off because, um, this is the music industry and you gotta stay committed.
Not only did I get to explore beautiful Astoria, Queens, but I got to do it with amazing company. All members of the band immediately made the entire Baeble crew feel as if they were a part of their hood -- we even joked about bringing me in as a 7th member (call me!). Not that they need another member, but it was nice to be hang out with a group of people that felt more like a family rather than a band.
Astoria, Queens. I'm meeting up with MisterWives at Astoria Soundworks and taking it back to day one. Cool. All right, let's go. - Hi. My name's Kirsten, and I'm the managing editor at Baeble. When I'm not writing about music, I'm making my own music in New York City. Baeble covers a lot of great artists. I love to take the opportunity to pick their brains about gear, songwriting, and more. So, join me as we talk, artist to artist, right here on the Writer's Block. Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh… Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh Ooh, ooh - Three years ago, MisterWives was rocking the Baeble basement. Cut to last night… Oh, love… - Madison Square Garden. Where did you go? Oh, love Where did you Where did you go? Oh, love Where did you go? Oh, love Where did you Where did you go... ? 'Cause I need hope… - Okay. - Okay, pretend the cameras are invisible. - Okay. - Pretend the cameras are in their underwear. - We're… - And we're hanging out at Astoria Soundworks. - Wow. That was just, like, a beautiful wall of sound. It was gorgeous. - We've been working on our harmonies. - We've done that quite a few times. - And last time we saw you was about three years ago, in the basement. We did a session. - Oh, yeah. - Yeah. - That was fun. - So, what's it kind of like? You know, I mean, that was really in the beginning of your career. What's it like seeing going from that and your first show at the Canal Room to going from Madison Square Garden? How's that feel for you, just looking back? - That's just insane. I mean, it's the greatest arena, you know, in the world, really. It's the most famous, at least. So playing that was like...you know, we always joked before we go onstage. On any show, we'd put our hands in and be like, "All right, let's play this one like it's Madison Square Garden. " And then, this time we actually played Madison Square Garden, we're like, "Let's play it like it's the Recoup Lounge. " - Let's go back. Yeah, I know. - So that was just crazy to... - That was… - And what's special about this space to you guys? - This is the first spot we ever rehearsed at as a band. - Yep. - This is kind of where we started. - All of us in the same room, right here. About four years ago. - And that actually leads me to my next question. So, I think it was you two that were working at different restaurants, but at the same time. - Yeah, it was these...yeah. - It was us. - You two. - Yeah. - Sorry. - That's quite all right. - So you both were… - They would never let me around food. - Will. Don't put Will near food. - Yeah, you'd have to wear, like, a hairnet for your… - I originally sent you my MySpace, as well. - Great MySpace pitch. - Is when we met. - Mandy's early songs. It was like… - She was friends with Tom. - I was talking to her in the restaurant when I first went in, and she was like, "Oh, I'm like a singer. " And I was like, "Oh, can I hear your music?" because I was just interested. - No, he asked me, "Are you good?" and I was like, "Ew. What? What is that?" - Yeah, I was like, "Well, are you any good?" and that's pretty much it. I'm a moron, and… - No, you're not. - No, I'm just kidding. No, but then I went home and listened to the music, like, immediately and was blown away. And I was like, "Well, I'm a drummer. If you ever need me for a gig, you know, I'm available. " - It really came together like this. We had our first… - So fast, yeah. - ...rehearsal here. And I was like, "All right. Here are the songs. " Like, we had a gig at Canal Room and, you know, I'd been playing with different people and stuff, and we just played...everything was so serendipitous, and it all came together in such an awesome way. We were like, "All right, cool. Let's be a band and do this for real. " - I remember just getting through the first song we ever played and just looking around and… - Was it "Oceans"? - ...you could almost hear a pin drop. It was "Oceans. " - "Oceans," yeah. - And we were just like, "Holy shit. " Like, "This is amazing. " Like, "This is what we've all been searching for independently. " And then, to just have everyone in the room feel the exact same thing was something we'll never forget. - You have a new album out. - "Connect the Dots. " - Mm-hmm. 'Cause not here to lose Not here for you to choose How we should be 'Cause we're not part of your machine We're not We're not part - I feel like the album, in comparison to your last album, "Our Own House," it sounds kind of angry. Has a, definitely, like, an angrier tone. - "Oh, love. " - Was that on purpose? - Probably "Oh love," "Machine. " - Or? - It wasn't on purpose. It's just how… - Especially "Machine. " - ... I've been feeling. Yeah, I was not angry, I was... I guess a little angry. I was definitely…"Oh, love," I was really angry. I wrote that the day after the election. Yes. - We had a 10-song album, and then the election happened, and then we had an 11-song album. - Yeah. - That's pretty much… - Mm-hmm. That was the last song I wrote, yeah. You know, it goes in a lot of different places of love, and forgiveness, and pain, and hope. And that's kind of why that whole idea of connecting the dots felt so right, because it just really does feel like life, and you're just trying to make sense of all these crazy emotions. But I'm a happy person. You just got to let it out. Music is therapy, so it's… - That's why you're so happy. - ...meant to get all...exorcise your demons. - Yeah. - If you could look at this entire process of writing the album, recording the album, is there one highlight that you can choose that was just the peak of it all? - So many moments. - Yeah. - Probably when we won that first race, the egg-and-spoon race. Pretty incredible. - Yeah. - Well… - I mean, we trounced you on the first race. - I remember Will falling. - You guys cheated. Marks, get set, go! - All right. Yeah, Marc! - You guys cheated. - Yeah, we set up a relay race. Well, Mandy set up a relay race during band camp, and it was awesome. She, like, made start and finish lines and we did, like, potato sack races, and… - I'm laughing too hard. - Come on. - The whole idea when we were recording, we're like, "We really want to immerse ourselves and, like, just…" We called it band camp. It was the summer. His parents went away on vacation, and they have this incredible house that's got a studio, a big backyard, a garden, a treehouse, a wine cellar, all these things, in the Bronx. It makes no sense at all. And so, we all lived there and did nothing but record music, and play poker, and cook together, and all that stuff, so. So how's the first day of band camp? - You slut! - You slut again! - Hanging out with my friends, making music. - When are your friends coming? - Yeah, when are they coming? That's a good question. - That was awesome. - I'm a total loser. But we, like...we barbecued, and made s'mores, and I set up all these, like, intricate relay races, but it was really hard, too. - It was really hard. - These games are really easy when you're little and, like, 50 pounds, and then, you're an adult and, like, doing the crabwalk and stuff. - Oh, my God. And jumping in the… - We were all, like, sore the next day. - My shoulders hurt for, like, a solid three days. It was terrible. - Jumping in that bed was really hard. - Did you write at all? - Did I write at all? - Yeah. - Oh, yeah. - Oh, yeah. We do… - During the potato sack race. cellar. - Yeah, every time I posted something from band camp, you were like, "Are you guys working on the record?" - No, we were… - But all of these things were just a nice release to, like, not make it so stressful, so when you got down to recording music or writing, it didn't feel like, okay, guys, crunch time. - It was all in this nice, I don't know, continuous breath of fun. I don't know. It feels really good to just be at this point where we get to put it out into the world, and we just hope people receive it well and can relate to it and... I don't know. It's exciting. - It's so exciting. - I can't sleep. I have, like, not slept all week. I'm too excited. - And now, you're sitting in the room where it all started. - I know. I know. Way to bring it full circle. - After all the reminiscing, we decided it was time to head to Mandy and Will's old place for an Astoria-style stoop hang. So, what's special about Astoria? - Ooh, what's special about Astoria… - What's the 'hood like? - Well, I would say it's, like, the melting pot of the world. Everybody says that about New York, but, like, Queens really is that. I feel like my mom grew up here, and there's just so much history of all my friends, all their parents grew up here, and it's just kind of like a generational thing where, like, you know everybody. - Oh, is it true that you and Will moved in together, like, a week after meeting each other? - Yeah. Yep. Which... I look back and I'm like, "God, what the hell? What if he was a horrible person?" And I just, like, let this stranger move in with me. - It was like this window of time where Mandy made some reckless decisions, and I, like, fit in right there. - I know. Thank God. I feel so bad. You were commuting. - Yeah, so many hours a day, and he was really fun. We were just playing music, every single day... - Oh, my God. - ... Till, like, 5 in the morning. We're making a right here. We used to sit on the stoop and you can still… - Yeah, seriously. - Oh, my God, is it hot. - Yeah, it's disgusting. - I know. That's what I was saying. - It was like… - Here. Come up here, Etienne. - Does it work? - Stoop kids. - Stoop kid's… - So, where are we right now? - We are hanging out on the stoop of where Will and I used to live back in the day when the band first formed. - Beautiful Astoria, Queens. - So, tell me about this legendary 80s cover band party that took place in this apartment. - Oh, yeah. - Anyways. - Now, Mandy was throwing either her 18th or 19th birthday. - It was my 18th birthday party. - Eighteenth birthday. And she had just moved into this fine residence. She had no furniture in there, so she decided to throw an 80s prom party. - Yes. - And… - There are pictures of this on my Facebook somewhere. - Oh, God. And it is...and that's probably the only... - We shouldn't look at them. - We should definitely find those. - Now everyone is. - Well, it's the only thing I remember that we actually have of that. It was a debacle. Well, Mandy, anyway wanted, like, a cover band, so two or three nights before, we went over a few, like, '80s songs. I don't remember exactly what it was. - Lot of Cyndi Lauper. - Lot of Cyndi Lauper. - Pat Benatar. - I think there was some Madonna in there. - Duran Duran. Yeah. - Duran. - But we ended up, you know, just playing a few songs at the party and then raged. And then, like, a week after, Mandy asked, or told me I could move in if I wanted to. Because we were rehearsing, like, two or three blocks away, but I lived… - She's very trusting. - Like... - I know, I'm such an idiot. What's wrong with me? - And I was... As I was saying, there was, like… - He didn't look like this at the time, okay? He looked like a good citizen. - Yeah. - Last album, you actually had a song called "Queens," with the lyrics that started out saying, stoop living was a heaven... - There is a theme in Queens where, like, people, after work, after school, hang out on their stoops. Like, that's a thing. Like, we don't have front yards or back yards, so everybody will hang out on their stoop, but...no, no, no. The house I lived in growing up was... That was in Woodside. That was real shanty. But yeah. I don't know. There's just a really nice community in Queens where people are always out on their stoop talking and socializing, and it's just kind of this… - And finally, back to Astoria Soundworks to say goodbye. - What we were doing. Oh. Let me give you a hug. Thank you. - All right, yeah. Yeah. Best of luck with everything. - Thank you. Thank you. - Okay, you're going back with her. And we go And we go And we go to the woods Where we can play There we keep Oh, we keep Oh, we keep all the monsters at bay We don't And we don't And we don't want it any other way And we love And we love And we love bein' so far away
MisterWives - Mandy Lee (Vocals), Etienne Bowler (Drums), Will Hehir (Bass) began making music together in late 2012. Lee, the powerhouse vocalist who studied opera and songwriting at New York Citys only specialized high school for music and performing arts, was born and raised in Queens and met Hehir through a mutual friend and Bowler, a Bronx native, while working close to one another. The three immediately fell into stride musically and MisterWives was born. When it came time to play live, Bowler brought in old friends Marc Campbell (Guitar) and Jesse Blum (Keys/Trumpet/Accordion). They played their first show together in February of 2013 and were signed immediately to Photo Finish/Island Records after the show. In October, the band hit the road with Half Moon Run on their first national tour. The tour ended with a two triumphant sets at this years CMJ before heading out for a six week stint with American Authors & The Royal Concept. They released their debut EP Reflections this January and were featured as the first iTunes Single of the Week of 2014.