While many of us may never be able to quite articulate the vast nature and force of relationships, Philadelphia based punk band Mannequin Pussy succeed in encompassing the full spectrum of emotions that human connections draw forth within us in their fittingly-titled album, Romantic. With each song ringing in at under three minutes, Romantic is simultaneously jarring, introspective, and playful. Growing from a two-piece to a quartet, the band broaches perspectives in their songs that aren’t simply summed up in a black and white manner; with title tracks like “Everything” and “Anything” Mannequin Pussy aims to explore the ambiguous and intangible without being tightly constrained in a box. We got a chance to speak with Marisa Dabice from the band about the essence of romance, the challenges she overcomes as a songwriter, and what the band has in store for the rest of 2016 and beyond.

 

ANON: What does “romance” signify to you?

Marisa Dabice: I feel like romance, both in practice and as a concept, is highly mutable to the situations you might find it in. It’s a very mysterious thing. I feel the most romantic when I feel excitement – both the highs and the lows. I see romance in our band – four unique people coming together to express ourselves through the music we create. I feel it when the person I’m most in love with and I find a day when we get to do nothing at all but be together. I find it heavily when I’m out of the city and in nature. I’m personally susceptible to feeling romantic about so many things because I see so much around me that inspires me to create.

 

ANON: How did you and childhood friend Thanasi Paul initially meet, and what prompted the two of you to start a band?

M.D: We were five and we were in the same tumbling tots class. We went on to have 1st and 3rd grade together. I moved back to the east coast from Colorado after my mom had a stroke. I needed to be close to my family and be present to what we were going through collectively but find an alternative to numbing myself with suburban substances. That thing turned out to be playing music with Thanasi. He’s taught me more than any teacher I’ve ever had.

 

ANON: Do you have any do’s and don’ts when it comes to writing song lyrics? What does that process entail for you?

M.D.: I think those are more a response to what you’ve already done. This record is the second I’ve ever made so in that respect, I’m continually looking to challenge myself as a songwriter. There was a review recently that mentioned that I sing “I feel” at least 12 or so times on the record (not in a patronizing way, just in a stated way) and so for the third record it’s important to me to not write a single lyric that starts that way. For me, it’s the melody that comes first and then the lyrics are forced into those admittedly strict melodic parameters I set for myself. The brief nature of our songs don’t allow me a lot of time to construct a narrative and so I sometimes sit with a song for months at a time trying out different lyrics and patterns until I feel satisfied that I’ve put something that feels both honest and imbues the song with a larger message. Some songs write themselves though. “Romantic”, the title track, I wrote in 15 minutes from start to finish.

 

ANON: Can you tell me about your most interesting or crazy tour experience?

M.D.: [Last Friday] we played in Atlanta at this place called Rowdy Dowdy. It’s run by a collective of drag queens and artists and was one of the most beautiful warehouse spaces I’ve ever seen. They brew their own beer and make their own wine. It was one of those spaces you walk into and immediately feel the warmth and know it’s gonna be a great show. We played with this incredible band, Material Girls, who I can’t wait to see again as soon as possible. The horn players in the band had just started playing eight months prior to their first show and I swear it was like they had been playing their whole lives.

 

ANON: What albums have been on your playlist roster recently?

M.D.: Unreleased records, haha. I’m so excited for the world to hear the new Spirit of the Beehive and Marge records. As for released records, I’ve been loving the Dark Mtns self-titled record and the Palm record Trading Spaces. When I’m on tour though, I mostly listen to natural white noise of thunderstorms to try and quiet all the noise in my head.

 

ANON: What plans does the band have in store for the rest of 2016 and beyond?

M.D.: We’re playing a show almost every night for the rest of 2016. We’re ending the tour on December 12th and then closing out the year with a New Years Eve show home in Philly. Beyond that, we’ll be home for the winter working on writing the third record and then out touring the US and Europe for most of 2017.  Hopefully we’ll get one of the sick support tours every young band dreams of.

 

For those of you in the states, Mannequin Pussy will be on the road for another month covering the west coast and back to the east coast come December. You can catch them in Austin, TX, this Sunday at Cheer Up Charlies along with sets by Alex Napping (ATX/NYC), Naked Pictures and Leather Girls. Click here to RSVP and for more information.

 

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Trish Connelly is the Austin-based guru who does booking and promoting at Cheer Up Charlies under The Nothing Song. She’s always down to collaborate and plan a show or event in town. She’s an expert with mixtapes (for all musicians out there you’ll want to send her your stuff!), and making connections with the cool kids. She may have a tad obsession with comics and Corgies, but she keeps it under control. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.