Interview by Barry Egan
Even allowing for music-biz hyperbole, Queens-born alt-pop queen Mandy Lee Duffy is a future superstar. She has sufficient charisma to take her into perhaps any career in the entertainment industry, in the extremely unlikely event that being the lead singer of hotly-tipped New York indie ensemble MisterWives doesn’t work out.
“There is a video of me in kindergarten singing Respect,” she says. “I wanted to be Aretha Franklin.” As the only girl in the band with five blokes (percussionist Etienne Bowler, bass guitarist William Hehir, guitarist Marc Campbell, multi-instrumentalist Jesse Blum, and saxophonist Mike Murphy), she jokes that: “It has made me realise that I don’t want kids!”
Etienne laughs, and says, “She is our fearless leader!”
Marc chips in: “She sounds like Skrillex when she is laying down the law!”
I ask Mandy is she effectively the Irish mammy of the group.
“Irish mammy?” Mandy says, looking utterly bemused. Do they all sing cheese-classic Mandy by Barry Manilow to her in the tour bus after a few beers? “If they did I’d cut their bleeps off!” she jokes as everyone in the band rattles with laughter.
You can see why the American edition of Marie Claire magazine called MisterWives the “Happiest Band on the Planet”. Happy or not, MisterWives were signed to Universal in America after playing one gig. They recently made their debut on American network TV with a sensational performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Marc’s performance on the plane after the show’s taping was even more sensational, it transpired. He got “escorted off” the plane because, he says, he was intoxicated. Mandy laughs: “He was being incoherent!”
Mandy recalls another experience he’d rather forget: Marc getting his wallet robbed in New Orleans by a girl “in purple spandex. He thought he was getting a booty call. And he got robbed.”
Mandy then turns her memory to the time, a year later, in California, when the MisterWives tour bus drove off by accident without Marc — leaving him behind without his phone but “wearing his girlfriend’s yoga pants!” “I was left behind at a gas station in the middle of nowhere,” laments Marc.
As Mandy explained to New York’s Interview magazine about the genesis of their name: “It’s a play on the Mormon term ‘sister wife’. Instead of a man marrying a bunch of women and them all becoming friends, we reversed the genders. So basically, I married all the guys and they became friends. I’ve run into a few Mormons while on tour who were not happy about our name.”
“We switched the gender roles,” laughs Will.
“Polygamy at its finest!” laughs Marc.
“Mormons don’t like us, and we have got a lot of backlash. We have cancelled twice in Utah,” Mandy says now in Dublin — they have flown in from New York to promote their new album Our Own House and to perform Riptide by Vince Joy for the Windmill Lane Sessions on Independent.ie. “We cancelled out of fear that they [the Mormons in Utah] were going to murder us!” she jokes. “Actually, I got sick the first time and the second time we crashed in a really bad snowstorm in a crappy van.”
“Surprisingly, we were sober,” laughs Will. Unsurprisingly, the critics have been largely intoxicated by MisterWives’s new album (It matches big ambition with an even bigger sound, gushed Billboard.) While the video for their debut EP, Reflections, had over 5 million people watch it.
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