"I guess it’s all pretty dark, to be honest...” - The Mysterines on their debut album Reeling
Liverpool has always had a reputation as being host to one of the UK's most vibrant music scenes and from The Beatles through Frankie Goes To Hollywood to The Coral and The La's, the city has a long history of producing some of the country's most exciting bands.
The lastest of their local exports to generate that same kind of excitement are rock quartet The Mysterines, who have emerged over the last few years with a hard-edged, grunge-influenced sound that has them being talked about as one of 2022's most hotly-tipped bands.
This week they release their debut album Reeling and ahead of its arrival in stores on Friday (March 11) we spoke to singer / guitarist Lia Metcalfe and drummer Paul Crilly about their debut LP and their plans for what comes next...
So your debut album is almost ready to be unleashed, how are you feeling now it’s days away? Have you had it finished for a while?
Paul: “Yeah, we finished it this time last year actually, but we started in in the July of 2020. So we’ve been sat on for a while now and I think we’re all quite relieved to just finally get it out."
Obviously you’ve released a couple of EPs and you’d had a sold out UK tour just before the first lockdown, then everything stopped. How did that delay shape how your album has turned out, do you think?
Lia: “I mean, it gave me more time to write, and I appreciated that time because we’ve never really been granted that much opportunity to spend time writing anything, really, because we’ve been gigging so much right from the start of the band. We had months on end to think about the songs so it definitely affected the process, but because it’s the first record we’ve done we don’t really know any different. For me that’d be a normal way to make a record now so I’ve got nothing to compare it to, I suppose.”
How far back do the songs on this album go?
Lia: “I think the oldest song on the record is probably ‘Under Your Skin’, actually. When I wrote it it didn’t sound how it does on the record, we’ve changed it quite a bit lyrically, but that riff I’ve had since I was probably about 16. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, pretty much."
What kind of music did you bond over when you were starting out?
Lia: “Me and Paul both love Radiohead and Arcade Fire, Nirvana, but I suppose in terms of our sound we’re closer to Nirvana than the others on that list.”
Paul: “Nirvana would be a big one for me. Queens of the Stone Age would be another, but I suppose there’s loads of different things that we referenced, The Desert Sessions, that kind of thing, Pixies, there was loads of stuff that we were all into at the time but they’re probably the main ones.”
Was there any key track on this album that set the direction of the record as a whole?
Lia: “I reckon the song ‘Reeling’ is probably the one that best summarises the record, which is why it’s also the title of the record. I think it’s probably the biggest summary, lyrically, of what I’m trying to portray, and I think the sound is probably something that people would associate most with us.”
Is it Lia that handles the lyrics for the most part?
Lia: “Yeah, pretty much, then I bring the songs to the lads and we work them out like that, really.”
Didn’t you record the early EPS and stuff at Parr Street in Liverpool?
Lia: “Yeah, the early stuff we recorded there with James Skelley and Chris Taylor.”
Paul: “It got sold though, unfortunately.”
We heard about that, seems a shame as a lot of good records got made there. For this album though you’ve worked with Catherine Marks – how did that connection come about? Was she someone you sought out to work with?
“She actually got recommended to us by our label, who were weren’t signed with at the time, but they were working closely with us because they’d heard what we were doing for the record and they were interested, but obviously it was quite hard to get signed in the middle of a lockdown, so Jim the owner said he thought Catherine would be great. He’s been friends with Catherine for quite a long time and she’s produced a lot of his bands. I’d listened to the records that she’d produced, although I didn’t actually realise that she’d produced them at the time, to be honest.”
What was she able to bring to the table in terms of crafting your debut album?
“She was pretty hands off at the start and just gave us the space to create what we wanted for the album. She really trusted our instincts with what we wanted to do, and we’d presented her with quite a lot of demos before the sessions and stuff, so I think she had a good idea of what she wanted to do with us beforehand.”
Are there any lyrical themes that have emerged on this album? What kind of lyric writer are you?
Lia: “I don’t know if that’s for me to answer, really. What sort of lyric writer am I, Paul?"
Paul: “A f***ed up one. An honest one. I don’t know.”
Lia: “Paul doesn’t even listen to my lyrics.”
Paul: "That’s true, I genuinely have no idea what any of the lyrics are.”
Lia: “It depends on the song, really. Across the album there’s a lot of stuff that’s quite personal to me, but here’s a lot of character style writing, observational stuff. I guess it’s all pretty dark, to be honest.”
So you have some tour dates coming up – how much of the material on your debut have you been able to play live and road test at this point?
Paul: “We were able to get out on the road in August last year, so we were kind of doing half the album and then the other half was older stuff, with the idea of doing the full album when we came out on tour this time. So we’ve played a few of them, I’d say five or six, and now we’re gonna go out and do the full thirteen. But I think we’re looking forward to leaving some of the old stuff now and playing the new record.”
You’ve got the tour and some in-store shows coming up, anywhere you’re particularly looking forward to?
Lia: “I’m really looking forward to the in-stores, to be honest, because we get to portray the record in a way that I don’t think people would necessarily associate with us, and play it in a way that people might not think that it could be played.”
You mean in a more stripped back sort of way?
Lia: “Exactly, yeah.”
Paul: “Also we’re doing the Electric Ballroom in London, and we always seem to have good gigs in London, I don’t know why. People always seem to think it’s a daunting gig, but every time I’ve played with the Mysterines it’s been lovely, so I’m looking forward to that.”
Lia: “It’s because of my happy lyrics.”
Paul: “Yeah. We’re happy souls.”
Are you already thinking about your next record or is it too soon for that?
Lia: “Yeah we’re definitely writing bits for the second record, Me and Paul have been putting a few bits together. I’m probably more excited for that to be honest, its been so long It’s like I’d almost forgot the record was coming out this week.”
Paul: “I think once the album was done we were already thinking about new stuff, once you’ve done it it’s not yours any more, is it? You’ve just got to let it go and move on to new stuff, otherwise you’ll find yourself being asked for another album and there’s nothing there. So yeah, we’ve definitely thinking about that for a while now.”
Reeling is available in hmv stores now - you can also find it here in our online store.