Muncie Girls' Lande Hekt talks her new solo album Going To Hell...
Across their two studio albums, split singles and EPs, trio Muncie Girls have built a stellar reputation for whipsmart punk rock songs with real lyrical bite.
Peppering her tracks with politics and literature along with perceptive everyday observations, singer Lande Hekt has delivered her words alongside riotous, pointed punk rock. Now though, she is trying a different tack.
Not only is her debut solo album Going To Hell markedly different in terms of its sonic palette, with Hekt's love of Patti Smith and Sharon Van Etten fully showcased, but it's also a deeply personal record.
As the album heads our way, we spoke to Hekt about how it came about and why she felt it was time to talk more about herself...
Normally with solo albums from people who are already in bands, it’s either a long-held ambition or something that just happens, does either one apply to you?
“I did an EP in 2019 and that was just an experiment. I wanted to see if it was destined to just remain a weird idea, but it went quite well. I really enjoyed it and so the next natural step was to a full-thing. It wasn’t a grand plan all along though. I’ve not been planning this for years.”
Were they songs written just for you or songs that didn’t fit Muncie Girls?
“We haven’t been able to get Muncie Girls together, with the year we’ve had, it’s just not been possible, so we haven’t been able to jam or progress anything. I’ve been writing songs differently, but these songs I don’t think could have been for the band.”
Was that down to the subject matter of the songs?
“Kind of. Muncie Girls are a punk band and our songs are always to the point and quite political. They have very definite themes. Our shows are direct and fast. My solo stuff is more of a stream of consciousness and very inward-looking. This album is about my experience of coming out as gay and that’s really the theme. That’s very much my experience, not the experience of the whole band.”
How have the other members of the band been about you doing a solo project?
“At the moment, it’s just so hard to get together, we all keep talking about how much we want to be on tour, we’ve had to cancel and rebook the same tour four times. The timing made sense, but they’ve been very cool about it.”
In terms of instruments, you’ve played almost everything on the album, how did you find that experience?
“I recorded in February in Australia with my friend, Ben David. I put down a guide guitar and some nonsense vocals and then I would drum along to that. Then I’d play bass along to the drums and then I’d go over the guitars and vocals. You’d do that with a band anyway, but it is odd being just you.”
Does it feel laborious? It must take a while…
“It would be, but I just love these songs and I care about them so deeply. It was exciting too. I love playing. Drums aren’t my first instruments, but anybody who isn’t an actual drummer knows how fun it is to f**k around on drums occasionally. I had a lot of fun. We were in the studio for about two weeks. It’s Ben’s studio and he lives there, so no-one was hammering on the door and we could work whatever hours we needed.”
What was Ben like to work with? Is he someone you reached out to or someone you know?
“He’s a really good friend of mine. He’s in this band called The Hard Aches and Muncie Girls have toured with them a lot. He did my EP when we were on tour there and he was so easy to work with and we built up a great relationship.”
When were these songs written? Have some of them been kicking around for a while?
“Most are new. One of them, ‘Stranded in Berlin’, was written when I had to stay in Germany for about six weeks while my Visa to go to America got sorted. That’s a couple of years old, but most are new. They’re mostly from around the end of 2019, but the themes have been brewing for a long time, so they feel old to me, even if they aren’t. It’s only now that I feel able to write about it.”
It’s obviously an intensely personal record. Did you make a decision to put that down on paper or was it just what was on your mind?
“I’d come out in my general life and I was writing about that. I don’t think too much about what I’m writing. Making it a theme of the album, that was something I’d decided to do, I wanted to be vocal about that and shy away from nothing. I wanted to put myself out there in case it benefits anybody else.”
When you’re in a band, you naturally have the other members to bounce ideas off, when did you start showing these songs to people?
“I have a couple of friends who played with me on my solo tour and they were really helpful. I always send demos to friends. But it’s quite different. When you’re sending songs to people who don’t have a say in what happens. Band members will suggest things or want to make changes, friends tend to be more polite…”
When did you decide on Going To Hell for the title?
“I had the whole record written. All the songs had titles and it seemed like the best thing to do was either pick a song title or fish out a lyric, something to showcase the theme. ‘Going To Hell’ is very direct about coming out.”
How frustrating is it to have these songs and not be able to tour? Or do you think you’d have been too busy with Muncie Girls to do it in the first place?
“It is very frustrating. I’m desperate to go on tour. But because of the timing, this has only been possible because I’m not on tour. I’m sad not to play live. I haven’t been in a practise room since Covid kicked off. But I wouldn’t have been able to do this properly without the time.”
How are things with Muncie Girls? Are you making plans?
“We need to lay some demos down. We’d started before this kicked off and it was all very exciting. We all live in different cities and we’re desperate to get together and write. I’ve got a few online sessions booked in for this record and I’m not making solid plans. Plans have been shattered over and over again. We just need to wait.”
Lande Hekt's solo album Going To Hell is released on January 22nd.