MisterWives on spirit animals and quitting their day job

It’s been a while since I interviewed MisterWives. At Outside Lands, I met up with the entire band and then had a quick picnic with vocalist Mandy Lee, drummer Etienne Bowler and bassist Will Hehir. This was one of those interviews where, even though we didn’t have forever, I still feel like I captured the essence of the band. Furthermore, I felt like these guys are completely down to earth and fun to be around. That’s hit and miss with musicians these days. Let me put it this way: MisterWives are not as stuck up as, perhaps, they should be.

You can read the story and others about MisterWives here. MisterWives return next Monday with a headlining show at the Fillmore. Until then, here’s some extras that entertained at the time. Please keep in mind that some of these answers are tongue-in-cheek.

Are all of you actually from New York or is New York just where you got together?

Mandy Lee: We’re actually all from New York. Except our guitarist (Marc Campbell) is from Scotland. That’s the only thing that throws us off. I’m from Queens.

Etienne Bowler: I’m from the Bronx.

Will Hehir:  Queens.

Lee:  We’ve got Staten Island. We’re literally every borough but Brooklyn. We’re an odd bunch of people.

Bowler: We’re the ugly duckling in the group (of New York bands).

The “Our Own House” album cover has five animals inside a tree house.  What are the animals representing?

Lee: Our spirit animals, which were in the EP and also the album and will probably be a recurring theme with our album artwork because it’s more fun to live vicariously through your spirit animal than have your face plastered on an album cover.

Hehir: If I could be a dinosaur, I would totally be a dinosaur.

Lee: He’s the dino, I’m the elephant.

Bowler: I’m the octopus. Hummingbird is our guitar player and a squirrel is our keyboard, multi-instrumentalist –

Lee: – who loves squirrels. He’s got a bow tie, too. He wears only bow ties.

Are these animals going to make an appearance going forward?

Lee: Yeah, I think so.

Maybe hide them somewhere on the cover?

Lee: Yeah, it’s going to always be a theme, I think. I don’t know.  … We don’t like being in front of the camera.

Hehir: If you could put fictitious animals there instead of us, excellent.

Bowler: It works a lot better. They’re much better looking than, well, me.

Lee: They definitely are.

No Doubt, huge influence for you. What about other influences?

Lee: For me, definitely Aretha Franklin. I grew up on a lot of Motown, Otis Redding, then Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin. I like a lot of chicks who are like, “Fuck the system.” It’s got soul, I like soul, anything that’s got soul.

Bowler: Rage Against The Machine?

Lee: Yeah, them too, they’re great.

Bowler: I grew up on a lot of band-oriented projects like The Police, No Doubt, even punk stuff like Blink 182, Green Day, with great drummers.

Hehir: Yeah, and it’s obviously been awesome to just be able to go on tour with a lot of bands that we love like The Royal Concept, Half Moon Run…

Lee: Walk The Moon. When we first started … that was a band that we looked up to. … This is something that we aspired to be. Now, we get to hang out with them at festivals and they tell us that our show is inspiring. It’s just like, “What?” Everything comes full circle.

Bowler: We’re pretty sure that we’re just making all this up. We’re really in a mental institution and someone’s tying us down.

Lee: This is not real life.

On returning to their roots after MisterWives:

Bowler: (joking) Music is going to only last so long, you know? So at the end of music; we’re planning our next career.

Lee: Yeah, we want to open up a restaurant.

You could wait your own tables!

Lee: Yeah, bring us back to our roots, you know?

Hehir: I would burn water. I don’t know how to do any of that stuff.

Lee: He cuts the onions because he has no soul. Will cuts the onions because it doesn’t make him cry. You know how if you open an onion and you’re hysterical and every human reacts that way? He’s the only person I know that does not react. I always force him to cut the onions for me.

On Hehir’s superhuman powers:

Bowler: I’ve also never seen Will sick in the three years I’ve known you.

Maybe you’re like the Bruce Willis character in “Unbreakable.”

Hehir: Yeah, shit. I might be. I don’t know, man. I always think that it’s the “Three Stooges” syndrome, that there’s so many things that should be killing me that they all get stuck in a door frame and they don’t kill me. I stole that from “The Simpsons.”

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