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The Mysterines: "You’re the one in charge of what you define as success"

by Shannon Garner. Published Fri 29 Apr 2022 13:40, last updated: 18/11/22

Formed as teenagers, The Mysterines are the type of band, in this day and age, to wind up on multiple genre-defining playlists. From bruising 90s-influenced grunge numbers such as ‘Life’s a Bitch (But I Like it So Much)’ and ‘Dangerous’ to the swaggering blues of ‘Reeling’, the Liverpool rockers spent lockdown growing their fanbase courtesy of their active social media presence and crafting their debut album.

Following completely sold-out tours, being selected as one of Amazon Music UK’s ‘Ones To Watch’ and headlining the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading and Leeds Festival, The Mysterines have racked up their fair share of accomplishments yet found releasing their debut album to be their most defining one yet. “Releasing the record was a defining moment for me. You know, having it be well received and the sold-out tour that came with it. They were pretty big moments,” begins Metcalfe. “That being said, we don’t usually measure our success based on our achievements. We usually see it as a way to keep moving and continue impressing ourselves,” she adds. “You’re the one in charge of what you define as success and, I suppose as this is the start of our journey with the album only recently coming out, we’ve got so much more to give. You define your own success and continue to exceed it.”

Recorded over three weeks between lockdowns under the watchful eye of acclaimed producer Catherine Marks, who’s worked with the likes of Wolf Alice and PJ Harvey, the process of creating ‘Reeling’ consisted of calls in advance to discuss their expectations, directions and visions for the record. “Catherine was very laid back with us to be honest,” starts Metcalfe. “I explained what type of sound I wanted for the record and she got pretty hyped. She trusted my direction with everything and loved that I was referencing specific things so she was completely on board with my vision and believed in it,” she continues. “During the recording process, we weirdly became a personal outlet for each other as we were both experiencing a hard time and she helped me so much that I don’t think the album would have been finished if it wasn’t for her.”

With a laid-back approach, Metcalfe shared how Marks’ methods benefited and reassured her when it came to her talents: “The way she left me to do what I wanted and trusted me made me believe in what I was doing even more. I didn’t question myself too much,” she tells me. “I feel like every artist, writer, creative etc are their own worst enemy at times and it’s nice for someone else to validate what you’re doing, especially without verbalising it,” she adds. “The fact she let me be so hands-on with the majority of it reinstalled my faith in myself. It made me more confident in what I was doing and it helped that I completely trusted her and her opinions too.”

The pandemic also granted the alt-rock quartet the time required to perfect ‘Reeling’, a record comprised of material that Metcalfe has been working on since her teenage years and having broken the Top 10 with their debut, it’s little wonder that they are already in the mindset of a seasoned pro. “We kind of already knew what songs were going to be on the album,” begins Metcalfe. “There wasn’t any left behind in terms of songs we knew we liked the most. Maybe there were one or two rejects but that’s it,” she simply states. “Everyone left me to it in terms of deciding what made the album too because they’re my songs. The band all play their parts in each one and it’s incredible, the songs wouldn’t be complete without their parts, but I think because the lyrics are so personal to me, it felt more important for me to make the majority of the decisions,” she shares. “A lot of them have been in the works since I was 17 and, with them being so personal, I suppose the band didn’t want to trespass on that. Maybe everyone will be a little bit more involved on the second record but it felt right for this one to fall on my shoulders.”

Metcalfe’s songwriting process flickers between observational and characteristic and, additionally, is a modern twist to the anti-anthems crafted by the likes of Nick Cave. Her razor-sharp, sometimes metaphorical, observations instil a level of confidence that’s hard to combat. “My character writing doesn’t feature too much on this record. ‘Old Friends / Die Hard’ being the only exception,” Metcalfe states. “I’d be in prison if those things were true but the character style writing, for me, is another way of letting out whatever I was feeling at the time. It’s a lot more fun than anything, very tongue in cheek,” she emphasises. “I’m obviously not going to dig someone up from their grave and sleep with them as that would be pretty bizarre and quite disturbing,” she jokes. “There’s a lot of humour attached to songs using that writing style and, at first, I was a bit fearful that no one would pick up on the humorous side of it. Other than that, the record revolves around a lot of grief-related stuff, a lot of death and murder,” she shares. “I feel like it was me trying to take control of something I couldn’t actually control and finding a way to express those emotions and thoughts in my head.”

Their hardened mindset and confidence confirmed the belief they already had in themselves and their strong relationships with each other makes it easier to deal with any industry pressure. “It’s very easy to become overwhelmed by everything and you sort of have to take it one step at a time,” says Metcalfe. “Being a musician, you get your plan for the year and you’re mainly on the road. You soon realise you’re not going to see anyone but your band and the touring crew for a long time,’ she elaborates. “I get that it’s the decision that we’ve made and we don’t regret it, it just gets hard sometimes once you start thinking about it,” she reflects. “We gather as a unit when we feel any sort of pressure. We tend to not think about it until it’s happening. Sort of like Christmas! That freaks me out a bit,” she adds. “There’s nothing else in the year that builds up that much and it really doesn’t need it. It’s not even hatred or anything, and people think I’m just being a crazy goth, but I genuinely have a fear of that day. I like when it’s over.”

The Mysterines’ debut album ‘Reeling’ is out now.


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