MisterWives unleases its sound… recorded in the closet!

MisterWives recorded some of their work in the closet – but the music is spreading far! (Photo by Shervin Lainez)

MisterWives recorded some of their work in the closet – but the music is spreading far! (Photo by Shervin Lainez)

By Amelia Gilmer  

Using a closet as a recording studio?

It works. The members of the up-and-coming indie band MisterWives know it.

While the band was recording songs for its recently released EP Imagination Infatuation, drummer Etienne Bowler volunteered the closet in his old apartment to be used for the song “Coffins.”

“When I would walk in there and talk,” Etienne said, “the sound was just so condensed and dead I thought it would be great to record vocals in there. It was like a little vocal booth.”

Funny enough, the band feels that the sound they got from a closet filled with coats and egg cartons on the ceiling was the best they’ve had yet.

MisterWives is a New York City indie band that was formed in 2012. The group consists of the Mandy Lee as the songwriter and lead singer, William Hehir on the bass and Etienne Bowler on the drums. Their first CD, Imagination Infatuation, is available on iTunes and their song covers can be found on SoundCloud.

The members of MisterWives are from New York City. (Photo by Shervin Lanez)

The members of MisterWives are from New York City. (Photo by Shervin Lanez)

Family Matters

The closet wasn’t the only odd place where this band has recorded. Etienne’s father let the group use his office, which had a high ceiling that provided perfect acoustics, to record the violins and cello for “Coffins” as well.

“My dad is a musician,” Etienne said, “and he was in full support of it, and helped us set up.”

Family support is always helpful for a group’s success. For MisterWives in particular, family helped them in a huge way.

Lead singer Mandy Lee’s little sister was actually the band manager while they were on tour opening up for the American Authors and The Royal Concepts.

“We’re really close,” Mandy said, “so I was like, ‘Why don’t you just come? You know the band really well. Just come on tour with us and be tour manager.’”

All of Mandy’s family has been extremely supportive of her musical career. Her parents sent her to Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, a New York City performing arts school made famous as the setting for the movie and TV show Fame. Mandy received vocal training there that made a significant impact on her career.

“It just opened up a whole new world that I never knew about,” Mandy said. “I never knew how to use my voice as an instrument and it taught me how to do that.”

The Touring Experience

From her schooling, Mandy also learned how to write music; she is now the main writer for MisterWives.

And while on tour, Mandy makes sure she uses techniques she learned from LaGuardia to keep her voice strong and healthy.

Mandy attended the "Fame" school in New York City. (The members of MisterWives are from New York City. (Photo by Shervin Lanez)

Mandy attended the “Fame” school in New York City. (The members of MisterWives are from New York City. (Photo by Shervin Lanez)

“When you’re on tour and you’re singing every night,” she said, “you have to know how to take care of your voice.”

And it was really important that she did stay healthy seeing as they toured across the country for almost two months. Touring with The Royal Concepts and the American Authors brought MisterWives many great experiences, like their concert in Columbus, Ohio. This performance stood out from the rest on their tour because of the reactions from fans and the energy that filled with concert. Even though it took place in a smaller venue, that didn’t make it any smaller of an event compared to a giant stage. In fact, the MisterWives prefer smaller settings to larger ones.

Venues that allow a band to be closer to the makes the performance more intimate, Mandy said. But it can also be more intimidating.

“It’s actually scarier to play the small intimate shows, because you can see everyone’s faces,” Etienne said.

Back to the Beginning

Since the band began in 2012, they have performed across the country and opened for two major bands. They have released their own CD and have worked with Boyce Avenue on song covers. It’s hard to believe that this group has only been together for a year and already accomplished so much.

Mandy and William met through a mutual friend and became roommates. Etienne met Mandy at a restaurant where they would eat and talk about music together. One day, all three of them just began a jamming session together and that was how the band was formed.

Their band name is another story though. MisterWives is a wordplay on the Mormon term “Sister Wives.” This creative idea wasn’t met with all positive reactions though.

“We were at a show in San Francisco and there were two girls who were like, ‘So what does MisterWives mean?’” Mandy said. “I explained it and they were like, ‘Well you know, actually, that that term doesn’t even apply anymore,’ and they were really defensive.”

Of course, the group meant nothing by the wordplay, only trying to be funny and playful.

From going on tour with each other to becoming roommates with one another, Mandy, Will and Etienne have certainly gone through a lot together. More recently, they all had a near death experience while driving from Denver to Salt Lake City.

This scary incident occurred when Etienne was driving their van through a blizzard and lost control of the vehicle. The van hit the guardrail and swerved out of control. Luckily for everyone, Etienne knew what he was doing and managed to regain control of the van.

This scary moment luckily didn’t end in a tragedy. MisterWives had to cancel the performance they were heading to due to the weather conditions but they have more performances planned for the future.

“We’re all shook up from almost dying,” Mandy said. “It was a very scary moment.”

They will be making an appearance at the music festival, FireFly, in June, along groups like Imagine Dragons and Foo Fighters. There is also talk of an international tour occurring for this band.

The band gave us some great advice to end our interview.

“Don’t listen (to naysayers) and don’t get discouraged by anything,” Etienne said. “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

Mandy added, “For people who write music, just keep writing music. You really just have to follow your gut and it’s a very scary industry and you can’t be defeated by big corporate businesses. You have to believe in what you believe in so you can achieve what you want.”

Will capped off the advice with a tip that MisterWives has clearly followed: “Surround yourself with people you love.”

Amelia Gilmer is LSY!’s entertainment editor and a senior in our program at Mount St. Mary Academy in Buffalo, New York.

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