“This is politics and personal relationships intertwining…” - hmv.com talks to Muncie Girls
With their 2016 debut album From Caplan To Belsize, Exeter punks Muncie Girls established themselves as one of the most interesting young bands in the UK.
Formed back in 2010, the trio, who consist of bassist/singer Lande Hekt, guitarist Dean McMullen and drummer Luke Ellis, have quietly plugged away with a series of excellent split singles and EPs before they quietly released their debut LP in 2016.
From Caplan To Belsize showcased the band’s intelligent take on punk rock, Hekt’s raw and insightful lyrics and their taste for a dynamic chorus. They toured the album extensively and now they’re back with a follow-up named Fixed Ideals.
Recorded with Funeral For A Friend/Rolo Tomassi knob twiddler Lewis Johns at his studio The Ranch, the album sees the band expand their sound, bringing in extra guitars and more muscular production to pack an even harder punch.
As Fixed Ideals arrives on shelves, we spoke to Hekt about making things bigger and better…
How did recording this album compare to the records you’ve made in the past?
“This record was a very different process from what we’ve done before. Everything we’ve ever done before it’s been the three of us, with me on bass, Dean on guitar and Luke on the drums. I’d got sick of playing bass, I write on guitar and it’s weird to then sing and play bass. So I’ve played guitar on the album and bass on the record and we’ve got a bass player for the tour, so we’re now sort of a four-piece. We’ve got more going on, the songs are more intricate and more complicated.”
When did the songs get written? Were you writing as you toured From Caplan To Belize?
“We never tour for that long, we don’t go out for three months and stay out, we need our home comforts, which is just as well, I write all our songs in my bedroom on my acoustic guitar and that didn’t change. We wrote loads and loads of songs, we recorded 19 of them and ended up cutting six. There were a few half songs that didn’t get recorded, but we ended up with 19.”
How did you find the process of cutting down to 13?
“We were dreading it, I think because it had the potential to be a big argument, but it was actually quite easy. The ones that made it make sense.”
You did the record with Lewis Johns, who is more known for hardcore like Rolo Tomassi and Funeral For A Friend, why did you go with him?
“He’s a friend, that was key. It’s also great for us that he largely does hardcore, he’s brilliant at making things sound great in the middle of complicated arrangements and really making guitars sound great. We’re an indie-ish punk band, but we love multi-tracking and the art of production, we didn’t want to come out with a scrappy recording and it works really well.”
Did you have a goal in terms of how you wanted this record to move on?
“Not really, just to do our best with the songs we have and keep things moving.”
Is there a theme to the lyrics on the album? Or is every song quite different?
“There is quite a lot of different topics, but there are a couple of themes. It’s quite political, but less overtly. There are fewer statements and more to do with personal relationships. This is politics and personal relationships intertwining. This is less obvious and more complex, it’s got more complex as I’ve got more complex. It is still a stream of consciousness.”
How are lyrics for you? Are you constantly scribbling? Or do you need a melody and a topic to get you going?
“It usually starts with a line for me. Something will bother me and it helps me to come to terms with how I’m feeling about it to write it down. I try not to think too much. I have a line or two and then I’ll sit down with a guitar. I don’t stockpile lyrics.”
When did you settle on the title?
“I wanted to call it Perfume Politics and Fixed Ideals, that’s the full line from Sylvia Plath, but I decided it was a bit long. There are a few things on the album, friendship, relationships, and it’s hard to capture all that in a title.”
It’s your second LP in succession with a Sylvia Plath quote as the title, do you want to keep that going?
“No, it was a deterrent for this one, the fact we’ve done it before. But there is something about her sentiments makes sense for me, Plath can say it better than I can. I’m not planning on another Sylvia Plath quote for the next album, but I can’t rule it out…”
Finally, how’s your live set coming together? You must be excited to take out the new songs?
“We’re pretty happy to let a few of the older ones go, we’ve been playing those songs for so long, it’s really exciting to take the new songs out. I’m also excited to play songs as a four-piece, we’re working on them now, adding in all these extra parts. They will almost be like new songs…”