Reeling

The Mysterines

Reeling

There are many reasons why you might be left reeling, not all of them positive. It’s the perfect word to describe the people and events that knock us off our axis. As the tracks on The Mysterines’ debut album help to reveal, singer/guitarist Lia Metcalfe knows them well. A fan of The Doors with a passion for poetry like her hero Jim Morrison, she started writing songs at the age of nine. Her teenage years provided more meaningful material to write about, much of which formed a basis for songs on Reeling. Completed by guitarist Callum Thompson, bassist George Favager, and drummer Paul Crilly, Liverpool’s The Mysterines specialize in an emotive brand of garage rock that takes inspiration from a variety of sources. Musically, the debut albums by The Strokes and Arcade Fire were the blueprint for youthful swagger and experimentalism, respectively; the films of directors Alejandro Jodorowsky and Terrence Malick provided canvases on which the quartet could imagine new soundtracks. Reeling was produced by Catherine Marks, who, having worked with PJ Harvey and Wolf Alice, is adept at pairing dynamic instrumentals and a voice imbued with a soulful sense of lived experience. “It got pretty intense at times,” Metcalfe tells Apple Music. “It’s such a chunk of my life and represents many big moments.” Here, she and Crilly take us through the album, track by track. “Life’s a Bitch (But I Like It So Much)” Lia Metcalfe: “It’s a pretty energetic song and a good introduction to the record because we’re all together in this one moment that’s over before you know it. It’s similar to previous stuff that we’ve done, so we guess that people’s ears are already attuned to this sound of ours. Almost everything else on the record took about 15 to 20 takes, but on this, we did three or four, and Catherine Marks said we had done enough. We knew that we wanted it to be a single but couldn’t due to the frequent uses of the word ‘bitch.’” “Hung Up” LM: “I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily about revenge, but it’s a song that was written to stop me from being vengeful, I guess. Lyrically, it’s one of my favorite songs on the record and it’s pretty intimate. While some of the record is made up of stories rather than things that have happened in real life, this one is quite personal and, listening to the lyrics, it’s fairly self-explanatory what it’s about.” “Reeling” LM: “It’s probably the best summary, lyrically, of what I experienced when we made the album. I did this strange demo that sounds super different to how the song turned out. I watched a film called Santa Sangre [Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1989], which has this sort of circus theme running through it. So, when I did the demo, I wanted it to sound like it had come from a circus. It was pretty weird, and when I played it to everyone else, they didn’t really understand how we’d frame it in a Mysterines sense.” Paul Crilly: “It was one of the first songs we recorded for the album, so set the tone for where we wanted to go with everything. Having not met Catherine before, it was a good way for us to sum up what we wanted to do, and she got on board with it fairly quickly.” “Old Friends / Die Hard” LM: “It’s about a friendship between two people that goes a bit wrong and ends in murder. We wanted the song to have a humorous aspect, rather than it be taken seriously and everyone think we’re mass murderers. Being from the north, you’re born with a natural sarcasm. Humor is, therefore, a big part of the band and our lives, so it’s really fun to write something like this, especially when people take it literally. It’s a moment of chaotic madness on the record—in a good way.” PC: “The initial demo was just Lia and a guitar. Then it slowly evolved because we wanted it to be funny, and so there were no limits. We threw all this crazy stuff on it, such as the whistling in the introduction.” “Dangerous” LM: “It’s one of the songs that has a lot of emotion attached to it, especially for me. I’ve always seen it as the gateway song. When I played it to the lads, we were all pretty sure it was going to be a single. It came together so naturally, with everyone knowing exactly what to do for the song, so when we came together to play it, it was already in place.” PC: “For me, it was probably the hardest to record because we were trying to recreate that moment, that spark, from when we first demoed it and it wasn’t quite working. Eventually, we got there though.” “On the Run” LM: “I watched the film Badlands [Terrence Malick, 1973] and really admired the intensity of the story, even though it feels like nothing really moves or happens. It definitely inspired the lyrics to ‘On the Run’ because that’s what Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek’s characters are doing. When we demoed ‘On the Run,’ I made this trailer for Badlands and kept putting the song over it until I thought the song was right and fitted with the visuals.” “Under Your Skin” LM: “I wrote the riff for this when I was 17 and the words came to me almost immediately. Around that time, I wasn’t writing anything else like that, so it was a bit of a fluke and a prediction of what was to come. I had the song for years and didn’t really know what to do with it. I needed to figure it out in order to present it to the band. A big reference was a song by The Doors called ‘My Wild Love.’ Once I had that, it made sense to put this song on the record, but the original version I played them is so different from how it has turned out.” “The Bad Thing” LM: “It’s essentially about digging someone you used to love up from a grave. It’s pretty fun to play and the poem is fun to sing, though I hope no one takes it seriously, as I’m not digging any bodies up…yet. The recording of this seemed to go on for ages. It was difficult because we wanted to ensure the intensity came through and there were no overdubs, so we had to make sure it was perfect.” PC: “I had to listen to some motivational speeches to get me to go back in and do more takes. The first couple were purely running on energy, but then when you get past a certain point, you start to overthink things and become more self-critical. And after all that, I think we ended up going with one of the first takes.” “In My Head” LM: “This was pretty simple. It was one of the last tracks we took to the studio. I showed it to the lads about two weeks before we went, and I certainly didn’t expect it to be the first single. There are some interesting touches to it, such as getting to scream down the mic and the feedback that runs all the way through it, which I created by running a drumstick up and down guitar strings for a whole song.” “Means to Bleed” LM: “It came out of nowhere. It’s largely based around the riff, but lyrically, it has reflections of other tracks [on the album]. We definitely referenced a [Josh Homme project] Desert Sessions tune when we were developing it. Callum came up with the riff and I already had these words, in the form of a poem, which had the same flow and were right for it. Many of the songs came from poems I’d written before and found again later on.” “All These Things” PC: “It took a while to warm to it because, musically, it strays away from the overall sound of the album quite a bit. It’s a bit happier as a track. It’s not that I’m miserable, but I felt that it interrupted the flow of a fairly serious album with this Wembley Stadium moment. After some time away from it, I realized it works. I’ve grown accustomed to it and it’s a great song.” “Still Call You Home” LM: “I wrote it when I was 17, and it was definitely necessary for me to write it at the time. For a while, when we played it live, I had to detach myself from what it actually meant, as it became difficult for me to put myself there. If I’m honest, I didn’t know if it was going to be on the record. It ended up feeling right though. The moment of recording it was weird, knowing that the band weren’t going to be on the song with me. It was me with one mic and a guitar. It was me and Catherine in the room, which made for an emotionally intimate moment together and drove me to do the song in a certain way. I also didn’t want to record it during the day—it had to be at night—because I was reliving the emotion of what it’s about. It was pretty hard, but that’s why people write music and listen to it, so it was necessary too.” “Confession Song” LM: “I think it was only me and Paul who agreed we wanted this on the record, and it always felt to us like the track to finish with. Everyone else didn’t really get it. It’s a summary of everything, sort of like the credits for the album. Me and Paul had some fun doing the demo, getting drunk on red wine, and listening to loads of Tom Waits beforehand, before throwing sticks at the wall and recording the results. We also put some reversed drums on it too.”

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