Look Out, Greta Van Fleet: Mannequin Pussy Is ‘Coming For You’

Cultural Critic
06.19.19

Epitaph

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Times are good for Mannequin Pussy. On Friday, the Philadelphia fourpiece will release Patience, its debut on Epitaph Records and third album overall. The highlight is “Drunk II,” a boozy breakup anthem that’s emerged as the punk-rock song of the summer. Next month, the band will embark on its first headlining tour.

“Yeah, I’m f*cking anxious,” the band’s singer-songwriter Marisa Dabice said when I reached her by phone in Philly last week. “We’ve been the proverbial bridesmaid on every tour we’ve done for the last two years, supporting another band. And this is our turn to take bands out with us and I just really want everyone to have a really good time.”

For Dabice, the build-up to Patience — which gooses the furious energy of past releases with slick and shiny big-time rock production — has been a long time coming. Formed in the early ’10s by Dabice and guitarist Thanasi Paul, Mannequin Pussy is her first band. She didn’t actually start playing guitar until she was 24. In her teen years, she had cancer, which temporarily grounded her dreams of starting a band. “I’m 31 now, so this really has been my longest relationship,” Dabice said of Mannequin Pussy.

The band’s propulsive second album, 2016’s Romantic, helped to give them a national following. With 11 songs clocking in at just 17 minutes, Romantic still made a big impression thanks to Dabice’s articulate songwriting and expressive, pitch-perfect howl. (Think Courtney Love with the power of Pat Benatar.) The progression on Patience recalls the leap that Nirvana made from Bleach to Nevermind — the sound is more muscular, and the songs are much sharper and more assured.

That confidence also comes across when you talk to Dabice. In this interview, she talks about making (and re-making) Patience, overcoming childhood cancer, and why she’s “coming for” Greta Van Fleet.

This is the worst question in music journalism, but I am genuinely curious so I’ll ask it anyway: How did you come up with your band name? `

When I was living in Colorado, I had this punk house before I started playing music. One night on the porch where people were drinking too much, we were talking about ridiculous band names. And this friend said “Mannequin Pussy” and I was just like, damn, that’s a f*cking crazy name. That’s really funny.

Initially when we were going to name ourselves, I was like, “We should name ourselves The Nuns.” And then I was texting with a friend from Colorado. They’re like, “You need to name your band Mannequin Pussy. The Nuns? That’s a terrible name!”

Now that the band has some notoriety, do you have any regret about a name like Mannequin Pussy limiting your career?

Yeah, I feel that sometimes. It’s hard not to. But I don’t think that anyone was so turned off as to never listen to us is necessarily someone that I would vibe with anyway in real life. I see our band as being, like, this portal to connect us to other weirdos like us.

But I definitely have those moments where I wish that we had like a more radio-friendly name. Because you see a band like Greta Van Fleet, which is the epitome of mimicry, winning a Grammy. And I’m like, yeah, I’m coming for you. But I don’t know if we can because of our name.

I love this! We need more band rivalries right now. I will do what I can to get a feud going between your band and Greta Van Fleet.

I don’t have any ill will for them or anything. I’m just saying, if it’s a battle of the bands, we would destroy them.

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