I only started listening to Muncie Girls a few weeks ago after their latest single Clinic popped into my “Spotify Release Radar”. Since then however, their new album Fixed Ideals has pretty much been the only thing going into my ears. Of course then I was pretty buzzing to get to see them so soon into my obsession and on top of that, at the wonderfully intimate Deaf Institute for the first date of their Fixed Ideals tour; a run that will see them take to stages across the UK, mainland Europe and even the US for the first time!
A problem with the venue meant that this already low key gig would now be taking place opposite the bar in the room downstairs. If anything though, this only made the night better. Muncie Girls made their way through a glorious 13 song set, which consisted mostly of new album tracks, in style. The gorgeously low lit environment fitted the vibe perfectly and even an arguably gimmicky bubble machine used during ‘Bubble Bath’ felt like a perfectly cute addition to the set. For the 50 or so minutes that Muncie Girls were on stage, I felt like a part of a beautifully surreal indie movie!
Prior to the gig I got the chance to speak with lead singer Lande about how the new album was written and their expectations for the Fixed Ideals tour!
For anyone who doesn’t know you already, how would you describe Muncie Girls?
Umm, well we’re a band!
Haha! Well… we’re from Exeter but none of us live there anymore. We live in London and Brighton. We’re kind of a punk rock band, indie, kind of political. We sing about social issues and stuff, but we’re also a bit emo-y i suppose. That’s kind of how I would describe it.
How would you explain the change in sound from the first album to this one, and did anything influence the change?
Well the main difference is the fact that we’re now a four-piece, so I play guitar on the new record and live. With the last record I was playing bass and we were a three-piece. Our friend Iona now plays bass, Dean does the lead parts and I do most mostly rhythm although we do swap a little bit. But yeah in terms of inspiration I think there’s a bit more coming from 80’s bands like The Replacements, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Slits; then some 90’s indie like The Pastels. Band wise, that’s kind of what I was listening to when we wrote this album.
Is there anything you learnt when recording your debut that you took into account when recording this time round?
We learnt that we wanted to have some songs recorded that we could discard of so we could pick the best songs, so that’s what we did! The first record we did ten songs and we released ten songs but this time we did 19 songs and only released 13 of them. But we put too much into this record all at once. It was really intense and it took a lot of energy so… we didn’t really learn. I think the first record was a more pleasant process so maybe we’ll learn next time what we need to do.
The lyrical content of your songs is undoubtedly a huge reason why a lot of people love your music. When you’re writing, how do the songs usually start out?
Well I write the songs on acoustic and then I either demo them or just play them to the guys and we play them in the band practice to make the arrangements. But I kind of don’t have either first, they come out of the same place. I’ll sit down and I’ll be thinking about either a line or a melody or just one little chord change and then I’ll put something to it and then it would develop at the same time. So lyrics don’t come before the music and music doesn’t come before the lyrics, they kind of come at the same time.
This isn’t your first time touring with The Hard Aches, how did you first meet them?
So last year I think they were just looking for a UK band to take out to Australia and they’d heard of us and emailed us, we were listening to them and were like “Ahh! We Love it!” it was really cool. So we decided to go out there and do a whole Australian tour with them and it was really, really fun. We asked them to come over this time for a bit of a swap and we’ve made friends, so it was really nice and we’re really glad to have them.
How was touring in Australia?
It was great! They are really popular in Australia so we lucked out completely. If we’d have done our own tour I think it would’ve been a bit sad… not sad… but like it wouldn’t have been the same experience that it was. Every show was sold out, people were singing along; they were loving it and we went down really well as well. We sold merch, we did a split record with them, a split 7”. So it all worked out really well and they’re about to find out that we’re not as popular in England as they are in Australia… haha! But you know we haven’t told them yet… they’ll see that for themselves!
How have you chosen which songs from the album have made it into the live set?
Well we kind of chose first that we’re doing the singles. We’re obviously doing some from the last record so we picked our favourite songs to play from that. We also had to pick songs that translated into a four-piece quite well, so songs that had more parts and more dynamics to them. With these ones we’ve got some other tracks going on like Luke’s got a few different backing tracks which is a totally new thing for us. I guess we’ve chosen the songs that either we like the most or that come across best when we play them together.
Overall were you happy with the reception to the album and have you been surprised at the reaction to any of the songs in particular?
We were surprised that anyone liked it at all! We’d heard that doing a second record is really difficult because people have all these expectations; they don’t think that you’ve developed enough or they think that it sounds too different or they think you’ve got overproduced or you’ve stripped it back too much; there’s all these kind of pressures and people want what they want. But actually people were so nice about it and it’s gone down really well. Songs wise, I don’t know. We put out the singles that we put out and they seem to go down well. Clinic went down the best I think but the video was really fun to make for that so I guess that kind of makes sense.
Have you got any goals for the rest of 2018?
Well I mean we’re going to America for the first time, so in terms of goals that’s a pretty big one! I think we just want the shows to be maybe busier… but it seems like they might be, we’ll find out tonight! We just want to make sure that we can keep doing this next year so if we get that then that’s a goal got.
By Mike Gardner