New York City based pop band MisterWives have opened for acts such as Panic! at the Disco, Bleachers and Walk the Moon. The band’s debut album Our Own House hooked their fans with infectious hooks and a palpable on-stage energy. Their pint-sized female leader is the personification of a rainbow with a stream of giggles that always follows her, if you can imagine that. Mandy Lee is backed by five other band members, including her fiancée and percussionist, Etienne Bowler.
My call with Mandy, Etienne and William Hehir, the bass guitarist, reminds me of a child’s birthday party. There was laughter, screaming and moments of concentration, followed by bursts of energy that were itching to be released. The effervescent band is getting ready for a meet and greet in Buffalo, New York before I steal a few minutes to chat with them about their newest album, Connect the Dots.
“It’s a very positive record even if it talks about other things going on in the world,” Lee says of the album’s message. “Music is this amazing language that helps bring everyone together. That’s the main purpose of it all.” Hehir chimes in saying, “Hopefully it’s very up-lifting. The idea of connecting the dots is like, putting these fragmented parts together to make one cohesive picture. Sometimes things might seem insurmountable but you just keep pushing forward.”
MisterWives toured extensively following their 2015 debut album. Making themselves a staple on festival bills, the act truly shines on-stage, with Lee at the forefront. She’s reminiscent of a throw back to Gwen Stefani or maybe Hayley Williams from Paramore, but with her own sparkly twist. You’d never guess from her enthusiastic performances that she very well could be found hyperventilating before a show.
“Etienne usually has to talk me off the ledge [before a show] because I have terrible stage fright,” she admits. “It doesn’t get better, somehow. That’s the crazy thrill of performing though. The dynamics between being so in your head and filled with doubt and then it being the most fun thing in the world is insane.”
As a final pre-show ritual, Lee tells me how the band gets into a group huddle and belts out a classic “MisterWives” chant. This involves the trio shouting, ‘When I say Mister, you say Wives! MISTER! WIVES! MISTER! WIVES!’”
Throughout Connect the Dots, the band infuses love and positivity into each and every song. Given Lee and Bowler’s recent engagement, songs like “Drummer Boy” is a clear ode to their affection. The danceable hit “Coloring Inside the Lines” offers a subtler hint at the duo’s relationship though.
“Well, anybody can interpret it however they need,” Lee says of the song. She explains that at the song’s core, it’s about encouraging people to get out of their comfort zones. “For me, It’s based on mine and Etienne’s relationship. In the beginning, everyone told us it was a terrible idea so basically, it’s about going with your gut and following your heart and proving everyone wrong,” she says. She mentions that the song doesn’t have to be based on being in love or a relationship, just doing something that is not the norm. Lee’s counterpart Bowler adds to this description saying, “My mom told me when I was younger that I had to color inside the lines. So, for me, it’s about rebelling.”
Whether you interpret “Coloring Inside the Lines” as rebelling or going with your gut, MisterWives marches to their own happy drum and it’s a catchy beat. They’ll be on tour with Smallpools and Vinyl Theatre until the end of the year.