Indie

Mannequin Pussy’s Fiery ‘Perfect’ EP Is A Clap Back At The Haters

Mannequin Pussy’s new EP opens with a reinforcing thought in the face of uncertainty: “‘I’m in control’ / That’s what I tell myself / When all the walls around me / Close in,” Marisa Dabice sings over a lone shimmering guitar. It isn’t long, though, before the full weight of the rest of the band cuts through the silence to stand by Dabice’s side. It is actually quite an emotional and impactful moment, serving not just as an introduction to an excellent collection of power pop and punk rock songs, but also a reminder of just how vital music can make you feel when it’s been missing for so long. Thus begins Perfect, a five-song EP following the band’s stellar 2019 Epitaph Records debut, Patience.

“EPs definitely get tossed aside, I think, as almost, ‘I don’t know what to say or I don’t know what to do,” Dabice told me over Zoom alongside drummer Kaleen Reading and bassist Colins “Bear” Regisford. “They don’t really get that kind of attention, but it is really nice. We wrote an EP kind of out of necessity. We didn’t really have a lot of time to get together.”

After nearly a year in quarantine, the band finally booked studio time with Will Yip to shake off the cobwebs and try to put some new music to tape. They entered the studio with only “Control” fully written, practiced, and demoed, but quickly hit their creative stride and wrote the majority the EP’s remaining tracks by the end of their second day in the studio. It was also helpful to have Yip sitting in the corner during the writing sessions, making suggestions and serving as an additional creative brain to help bring the songs to full fruition.

The final product available this week reflects the natural order of the project’s creation. “This is my first natural sequence,” Bear explains. “We came in with ‘Control’ and then the rest of the songs literally are as they were written.”

“Sequencing is everything,” Dabice adds. “Sequencing is like the amusement ride basically of human emotions, journey of a thought.”

Although clocking in at just under 15 minutes across its five songs, Perfect illustrates the full spectrum of Mannequin Pussy’s unstoppable power. “Control” is followed up by the raging, raucous title track that will get any room spinning with a mosh pit and stage divers. “To Lose You” is a glimmering power pop love song, featuring what might be the band’s biggest chorus hook to date, but it doesn’t last long before charging straight into the chugging “Pigs Is Pigs,” which brings Bear to the front for lead vocals. The EP concludes with “Darling,” a somber track from the band’s vault that dials back all of the instrumentation to its bare minimum.

To echo the process of creating Perfect, I wanted to present the below interview in the order it happened to maintain the natural flow. However, it was a rather freewheeling conversation encompassing everything from the new EP to TikTok to the band’s involvement in Mare Of Easttown, so it has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

How do you decide what songs are going to be more aggressive, heavier punk songs and which ones are going to be more melodic and pop-oriented?

Dabice: I think you can tell within the first second of starting to play something where it’s going to go. It’s a very different playing style for something like “To Lose You.” You don’t start playing a super downstroke, reverbed out riff like that, and then Kayleen starts doing blast beats on it you know, it’s like —

She could!

Dabice: Oh yeah, she could, and she would make it f*cking sick.

Reading: Yeah, I have played blast beats to Enya songs just jamming out before.

I think that there’s no song that wouldn’t be better with blast beats.

Reading: I love blast beats, but I don’t know if I can agree with that. Like “Landslide,” I don’t know if that needs a blast beat.

Well, we’ve never heard it with drums. Anyway, was there a difference in inspiration for this EP than on past projects?

Dabice: I wasn’t really listening to like any music before we went into the studio, personally.

Bear: During the pandemic, Radiohead was dropping recordings from concerts every week or so. Honestly, it was very inspiring for a good portion of it. I was just very drawn to how they were able to show themselves as a band through their careers. I think they’re a very inspiring band in the sense of understanding that you don’t have to just be one singular thing and you can expand in ways that you just never even thought you could, but you just have to explore them. So I would say that was my biggest inspiration, in a very dark time: what can make me feel like fulfilled? I want to make something that makes me excited, because if I’m not excited, how can I expect you to be excited?

Dabice: I felt like it was inspiring to me that we were together, being able to be loud, [rather] than living in my row home where I can hear what my neighbors are doing and feeling very self-conscious about making noise sometimes. And then being in a space where it’s completely safe for you to be as loud as you want, say whatever you want, scream, whatever you need to. It definitely opens that door in your mind that’s been closed off for a long time.

What was the process of writing these songs? Do lyrics come first or riffs?

Dabice: Riffs to the front, I think.

Bear: Can we make a t-shirt of that? I like that.

Dabice: Is this a very rip heavy EP? I’m not sure. I don’t think so.

I want to talk about the TikTok backlash that I inadvertently caused a few months ago. First of all, I sincerely apologize for opening that door.

Dabice: Apology accepted. Yeah, they hated it. They weren’t happy with the mix. They thought it sounded like sh*t.

Well, I recorded it on my iPhone from the front row, so I’m not really sure what they want from me. But also, I found your response to it very interesting, which was something along the lines of, “I should get used to this because we’re releasing new music soon, so it’s going to happen anyway.”

Dabice: It reminded me of like how quickly people are ready to make assumptions on your entire body of work, based on a ten-second representation of your sound and how that, for so many people, is the first impression of what a band is and what their artistry is. And it also reminded me just how uncomfortable a woman screaming about things makes people. And when you have people coming into your DMs like, “you have a horrible voice” and “you sound like sh*t.”

Wait, do they really do that?

Dabice: Yeah, I got two DMs that were like, “You sound like sh*t. I don’t know why you’re a musician.” And I’m just like, “Dude, you saw a ten-second iPhone video, chill the f*ck out.” It just reminded me that this is a part of being an artist. We share ourselves and we create different types of the spectrum of what human emotion is, everything from anger to anguish, and how we represent those things. So it just reminded me, “Okay, prepare yourself, because once you start playing shows again, and once you start putting music out, someone might just feel so compelled to tell you to quit because they don’t like the 10-second representation of what it is.”

Are you able to brush it off or does it actually bother you?

Dabice: I would say five years ago it would have really bothered me, but I haven’t thought about it since. I think that’s just growth. I’m comfortable with what we make, I like what we make. And I really don’t care if it offends someone.

Bear: I’m too sensitive. I just don’t look at the comments. I try to keep a very low profile. Marisa’s way better at it and tougher than I am.

Dabice: I think the three of us are very sensitive people to what people can say, where it’s like, “Oh man, it sucks that someone took their time to make me feel bad.”

That’s actually a nice segue, because my next couple of questions are about Mare Of Easttown. There was that tweet where a guy didn’t believe that your band name was real, and then the whole interaction was incredible.

Dabice: We did win a fan.

Can you explain a little bit more about how your involvement in the show came to be?

Dabice: Our friend, Allison Pearce, is a costume designer. She worked on the “Drunk II” video and the “Perfect” video. She’s a talented, talented person. She was an early costume designer on the show and she had a job one day to just go to Philly. They wanted her to pull t-shirts and things from the music world. I think we were on tour at the time, and she hit us up and was like, “Look, I know this sounds ridiculous, but you need to overnight me a shirt. Best case scenario, your shirt could be on the screen for like 10 seconds.” I was like, “Oh, that sounds cool.” So I sent the shirt. Then a few weeks go by and we get an email from the music supervisor that was like, “Myself and Brad Inglesby, the creator, checked out your music and we absolutely love it. There’s a band in the show that we want to model after your band. We want them to play your songs.” We were like, “That sounds very cool. Let’s do it.”

So it’s kind of the polar opposite of those guys on TikTok sliding into your DMs and being mean.

Dabice: Yeah. There’s a net positive and a net negative. That’s the balance of life, right? You kind of need some people to be a little mean because it makes the sweethearts all the more sweet.

Have you noticed any increase in visibility for the band since the show started airing?

Dabice: I’ve noticed more old heads reaching out. I’ve definitely gotten numerous DMs from people like, “Oh, I was watching Mare Of Easttown with the captions on, and now I’ve gone through your whole discography. You guys rock.” It’s definitely like from an older set. I don’t know if this is a Gen Z show.

So when are you going to meet Kate Winslet?

Dabice: Hopefully, at the Emmy’s? I don’t know.

Would you go to the Emmys if —

Dabice: F*ck yeah. I’ll go to any party.

Bear: Look, I’m the oldest member of the band, I’m not afraid to say it. I was definitely in high school when Eternal Sunshine came out, so I definitely used to be such a big fan boy. So if she were to be around, I’d probably be like, “I have to leave. I can’t even look at you. I’m sorry.”

Was there anything else that I didn’t ask about that you were like, “This is really important and I want people to know about it”?

Dabice: I don’t know. But we’re going to start writing our new record now.

Perfect is out May 21 on Epitaph. Pre-order it here.

The best new indie music directly to your inbox.
Sign up for the Indie Mixtape newsletter for weekly recommendations and the latest indie news.
By submitting my information, I agree to receive personalized updates and marketing messages about Indie Mixtape based on my information, interests, activities, website visits and device data and in accordance with the Privacy Policy. I understand that I can opt-out at any time by emailing privacypolicy@wmg.com.

Promoted Content

×