Mannequin Pussy (USA) Interview

Mannequin Pussy are a band Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the US consisting of singer/guitarist Marisa Dabice, guitarist/keyboardist Athanasios Paul, bassist Colins Rey Regisford and drummer Kaleen Reading. They have released three studio albums and are capable of playing both blistering, chaotic hardcore punk and lush, melodic pop songs. Milo Schärer from Radio Radius met with Marisa Dabice before their show with The Menzingers and Spanish Love songs at Dynamo in Zurich on January 29th to discuss their most recent album Patience and more.

Milo Schärer: How would you describe Mannequin Pussy with five words?

Marisa Dabice: Aggressive, chaotic, romantic, impulsive, stoned? I don’t know.

Alright, sounds good. My first question is not about your music per se, but a tweet from your band’s twitter. You said that you feel like bands used to just exist when you pressed play on their records and now there’s so many different platforms for them. So, my question is: how do you feel that affects you as an artist?

I mean, I definitely see the use of it. All these platforms, they’re useful tools for connecting and getting people to know about your music, but I think for most artists, it’s not within our nature to be so constantly revealing and constantly connecting. Your creative space is supposed to be where you share your thoughts and opinions, not online all the time. So, I think it’s kind of draining and in some respects, it’s kind of stupid that we’re expected to do this. But I mean, it can be fun too, you know? There’s definitely positives and negatives to it. But when I was younger, I couldn’t look up a band’s Instagram account and send them a DM. They only existed when I listened to their record.

Right. So, you put out your most recent album Patience last year on Epitaph. Was your experience releasing an album on Epitaph different from your last two albums, which I believe were released on Tiny Engines?

Yeah, it was completely different. I mean, where to begin? It’s just very different going from a small DIY label who’s just in the business of manufacturing a physical record versus working with a label like Epitaph, who has the resources to develop more of your artistic ideas. So, this was the first time we had budgets to create music videos and spend more on album art and more of a creative direction. It was a completely different type of support that we’ve never experienced before.

Alright. You worked with Will Yip as your producer for the album. What was it like working with him?

Will is great because he’s so obsessive. I really like people who are workaholics. I’m very drawn to those sorts of people and Will’s just someone who cares so much about each song as it comes. So, meeting someone who cares as much as the four members of our band is rare, because usually the four of us are the ones who care the most. But meeting Will was like meeting this other person who just has this intense desire to bring out the best of each one of us as musicians. 

Sounds good. Now I’m just going to ask about some of the songs on the album, if that’s ok. First, Fear/+/Desire, what’s that about?

A bad relationship. I think it’s pretty obvious what it’s about, so I don’t like to talk about it.

Alright. Now a heavier song, what could you tell us about F.U.C.A.W.?

That’s a really fun one to play. That’s one that in America people definitely enjoy screaming those lyrics with us. I mean, it’s really aggressive and chaotic and kind of fits into those five descriptors you asked me to say is Mannequin Pussy. I kind of feel like F.U.C.A.W. is a new evolution for us and it’s just really fun.

So, it’s the song that best has all the elements of your band?

Maybe minus the romantic. Minus the romanticism, it’s got all the other elements.

I also want to ask you about Drunk II, not what it’s about because I feel like it’s been written about a lot already. I feel like it’s gotten a really positive reception, I guess, and it’s been covered a lot. How did that feel for you?

Honestly, it was quite validating to go through that experience and write a song about it that feel so connected to and that people love and enjoy that song so much. I think any time you can take a situation or experience that has a lot of pain and sadness with it and transform it into something that becomes beautiful, that people can connect to, I think is a validating experience, to know that this song helps people through what they’re going through just as I was going through it. I heard from one fan that they’ve never had their heart broken but now they can’t wait to. And I was like: “I don’t think you want your heart to be broken like this. But I’m glad it got you excited for a new life experience.”

I mean, if that’s one positive aspect of it I guess that’s good. You also made a music video for that song. Where did you get the idea for the concept of that video?

It was really just pulled exactly from my life at the time that I was going through this experience. I think everything I write about in the song is real, it really happened. I was just going out every night, drinking everything I could, then maybe going home with a stranger and not enjoying the experience at all. And then I’d find myself crying at home later on in the night, wanting so badly to emotionally connect to another person, but being unable to, just not feeling comfortable around anyone because I was just so sad. So, I wanted to do a story that was just the same person going out again and again, but add a little bit of fantasy to it, which is why we added the tunnel of love in it, and everyone’s kind of dressed up in much more of a way than anyone in Philadelphia ever dresses up. So, adding that little bit to it, I think, helped to tell the story.

Yeah, I guess it does fit the lyrics. This is always my last question. If you want, of course, you can try some of this Fernet Branca. I don’t know if you’ve had it before, but let me know what you think.

Thank you very much! This whole bottle?

You guys can keep the bottle.

Thank you, this is very nice. I think it will be perfect after dinner and after the set, so thank you so much Milo. It’s a cool bottle. Is that a globe on it? 

Yeah.

So, we just have to put some fire on it and then it’s just like the album cover.

I haven’t thought about it like that but I guess it’s true. Have you had it before?

No. Have you already been sipping on this bottle? It’s open.

Well, I did an interview with Greg from The Menzingers before, so…

So, Greg already drank this bottle?

I think we put it in cups before, so I think nobody has had it directly from the bottle.

Ok, cool, yeah. I’m paranoid about Coronavirus or whatever. Should I grad some cups for us then?

Alright.

Cheers! That was really good! That was really nice.

I’m glad you like it!

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