Reeling is out now!
Liverpool rockers The Mysterines recently shared their hotly-anticipated debut album Reeling. We caught up with vocalist and guitarist Lia Metcalfe to unpack the release and more!
Across the collection of songs, Reeling offers up moments of self examination, Metcalfe dissects and navigates her own experiences with grief, heartbreak and self-destruction, juxtaposing intense content through a humorous lens that leans into black comedy. Weaving together subtle influences ranging from pop to hip-hop within their grand grunge-rock soundscapes, Metcalfe's commanding vocals stomp atop engaging sonics heralded by production from acclaimed producer, Catherine Marks.
Alongside the album, the four-piece shared the visual for their latest single, Life’s A Bitch (But I Like It So Much). Directed by Steve Gullick, the vastly monochromatic visual captures the bands electric live presence, giving viewers a taste of what to expect from the bands current tour.
Tell us a bit about your musical background and The Mysterines’ origin story…
So the band first started when I was ‘bout 14, me and George met and then we started practicing together, he would come round with his musical equipment and I’d basically just show him all my songs, we’d sit there for hours playing the same song over and over again.
Yeah, then we went through two line-ups of the band and finally got to one which felt like it was right. You know, that’s where we are at now, with the record and stuff, it’s been a pretty long journey but nothing that I would change, I don’t think.
Congratulations on the release of your debut album! Reeling explores navigating and dealing with grief, heartbreak and self-destruction. Could you briefly unpack the conceptual nature of the album and the importance of documenting this within your music?
I think it’s really important that I document those topics that you mentioned because they were big parts of my life through you know when I first started writing the record so, I definitely wanted to reflect those emotions and because I guess it’s sort of a way of dealing and coping with them so, yeah and it’s always important to document you know where a band first is for its debut.
It's probably the most honest and raw that you are gonna receive them, because there’s gonna be no, no veil beforehand because you know they’re not successful before they have released a debut, well most rock bands aren’t anyway. So, I guess it’s important for that reason and why it would be the most honest and raw that you could ever really hear an alternative band.
There are moments on the album that explore these themes through a black comedy lens. What prompted that marriage of serious conceptual content with a humorous view?
Some of my favourite writers do this quite a lot, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Philip Larkin, PJ Harvey, they use this and, Roald Dahl actually, when I was a kid one of the first poems I remember was a poem about a women who murders her husband with a leg of lamb and then calls the police, suggests that he’s fallen down the stairs, then cooks up the lamb and feeds it to the police, so there is literally no evidence.
So, I always found that funny as a kid, I guess I’ve been writing really short dark stories for a long time as a kid, so I guess I wanted to seep that into the record too because I find it pretty fun.
Sonically, the record is an explosion of rock n roll, full of confident performances heralded by your vocals and intricate melodies that sound effortless. How did you guys craft the sonic realm your music exists within?
We have a lot of different references with the band, it sort of goes from, I don’t know, Azealia Banks, Madonna, Tom Waits, to like Khan, bands like that, The Black Angels, Velvet Underground, Miley Cyrus, Dua Lipa, you know there are some many different references that I think when you combine them all together you sort of, I guess, you get us.
I think you know, we like to explore music in so many different ways and take stuff from so many different types of music, that you know, that’s sorta how we got to the point of the record.
You worked with Catherine Marks on the record over a three-week period. How did Catherine help you shape the body of work to capture exactly what you wanted for your debut?
The record wouldn’t exist without Catherine, and I think that is the simplest way I can put it. She’s an enigma and she is so talented, and you know so she really made me believe in the work and made me believe in the songs so much. So, I’ve never had that before I suppose and also having another woman instill confidence and making you trust your own work for me as a young female was such a big part of the record and endorsing this sort of self-confidence throughout the record.
Yeah, it was a pretty emotional time for both of us and we sort of became a team and helped each other through it. So, she was the reason the record sounds the way it did and the reason it exists, yeah, she was great to work with.
How did the album evolve throughout its creation, from initial ideas to the body of work we hear today?
I mean some of the songs on the record have were been written when I was like 16 so, I guess hearing them in its fullest form on the debut is pretty, it’s pretty weird for me because I remember sort of writing them. I mean a lot of them haven’t changed too much but they have become more established and a lot more true to the rest of the record, which I think is really important that songs on the record reflect other songs in a weird way without being repetitive.
A lot of them have changed quite a lot but a lot of them have stayed the same and you know, some of them are pretty new songs and some of them are really old so, together it creates this sort of, I don’t know, historical modern piece.
Which three songs off the record would you pick to play to someone who had never heard your music, to make them an instant fan and why?
I’d probably choose Hung Up, I’d probably pick Under Your Skin and I’d pick the title track Reeling.
Is there a particular line or lyric from the album you’re most proud of, or one that you return to more often than the rest?
There is a song on the record called Still Call You Home which is probably one of the more emotional songs on the record and there’s a line in it which says “the warmth you gave to my heart, turned quick to a burn” and I feel like every time I sing that and people hear that song, they sort of, I always hear someone like they are about to cry I guess that means it affects people so yeah, I enjoy singing that one and feel pretty proud of writing that line.
You guys are just about to embark on a UK and US tour. What is in store for audience members who attend one of your live shows?
I guess that we are just pretty excited, and we hope that they feed of the excitement too, I’d say that we’re in the same boat as the audience really because it’s our debut album and it’s our first debut album tour so, we don’t really know what to expect too, so I guess we are all in it together, of the unexpected and the unknown. I guess it’ll be pretty fun to work alongside the audience with that and you know just see people enjoying the record and whatever. Yeah, we are really excited to start the tour!
I’d say Leonard Cohen, Sylvia Plath and Bob Dylan.
I’d love to collaborate with Tom Waits and Karen O.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
I’d say The Strokes debut record or Nick Cave Tender Prey because that really shaped the record.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
True Romance or anything by David Lynch.
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
Miley Cyrus, forever and always.
What was the first song you loved to sing?
As a kid I used to love singing Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin.
First concert you went to?
My father was a musician, so it was probably one of his gigs or a festival that he took me and my brother to, probably.
Best concert you have been to?
Patti Smith at the Royal Albert Hall in London last October, it changed my life.
First album you ever bought?
Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel
Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?
One hundred per cent a Spice Girl.
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?
I would pick Voodoo Spice.
Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
We played The Eden Project in Cornwall in the UK with Royal Blood and it’s sort of like the UK’s version of Red Rocks, it’s a bit smaller than Red Rocks and not as good but that’s the biggest comparison I can do.
And we went on stage sort of, earlier than usual, probably about like 6pm and the sun was setting whilst we were playing, we could watch it over the hill and by the time we finished the set it was pitch black, so it had a lot of atmosphere I’d say and there were so many people there, it was pretty overwhelming but it was an amazing show to play and they are such a great band.
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.
I’d probably say Taylor Swift, due to the fact that I think she’ll have a big impact on the music industry in the future due to what she has just recently been through and come out and spoke about more explicitly with her song writing and trying to get the rights to her own songs. So, I think you know, with women in her position, who don’t get the rights to their own songs or whatever, which definitely happens a lot more often than people think, I think she sort of took the reins and you know changed, changed it and you know she takes control of everything she does, which is pretty much unheard of, not even just for women but for any artist. It’s pretty inspiring that she does that, I think in years to come, and that becomes history, maybe women will be more excepted as songwriters in the industry and people will stop asking the question of “does she write her own songs?” because that’s such an annoying question as someone who does.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
I would say, to be kind to myself.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
I can never pinpoint it to like a direct moment, but I can remember always wanting to perform as a kid, so I suppose I have always been drawn to it and the minute I learnt guitar was sort of the moment I knew I was going to do that.
I do remember the day I learnt my first two guitar chords, because I went into primary school and told everyone that I could now play guitar. I then had to continue to live up to It, so hopefully I’ve proven them all wrong now that I can play guitar. Yeah so, I can’t pinpoint it but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
Reeling is out now!