Fi­nal Note

BIG­GER, BRIGHTER AND GIV­ING LESS F***S THAN EVER, THE PO­LIT­I­CALLY CHARGED POP-PUNKS IN MUN­CIE GIRLS ARE MAK­ING TSUNAMI-SIZED WAVES WITH LP2. WORDS BY MATT DO­RIA. PHOTO BY DEREK BREM­NER.

Australian Guitar - - Contents -

As it turns out, those ul­tra-posi ‘mak­ing of’ do­cos where your favourite band race into the stu­dio, crack a few beers and jam away un­til sud­denly, a mas­ter­piece ap­pears… Well, they’re to­tal horse­shit. Great al­bums are built on a foun­da­tion of blood, sweat and tears, and of­ten­times, it’s not un­til a band mem­ber feels like punch­ing their drum­mer in the throat that cre­ative ge­nius is truly sparked.

In the case of UK trio Mun­cie Girls, their lat­est set of shred – the un­for­giv­ingly up­front and men­ac­ingly melodic FixedIdeals – wound up send­ing front­woman Lande Hekt to the hospi­tal with a crush­ing spell of stress-in­duced ex­haus­tion. Though 11 cuts dot the track­list of their sopho­more ef­fort, the band skir­mished to record a colos­sal 19 (a hand­ful of which, Hekt says, will land as B-sides in the near fu­ture). And with the dy­namo yield­ing a three-way province of gui­tar, bass and vo­cal du­ties, the weight of their am­bi­tion tum­bled down with­out re­morse.

It was a track­ing ses­sion for the mid-paced groove­fest “In Be­tween Bands” that saw Hekt’s en­er­va­tion reach its boiling point.

“I re­mem­ber try­ing to record a cer­tain gui­tar part, and I was feel­ing so weird and ex­hausted that I lit­er­ally couldn’t see,” she tells us. “I thought I was go­ing to faint, but I was like, ‘No, no, no, I can do it!” I even felt kind of bad for hold­ing the process up, but I was al­most too stressed, and I felt like I’d taken on too much at once. But I reckon it was worth it in the long run. It served the record well!” It was an hon­est hic­cup, with the band switch­ing up their en­tire foun­da­tion on the cusp of their big­gest record­ing op­por­tu­nity yet. Though she had al­ways been a gui­tarist in the cre­ative stages,

FixedIdeals is the first Mun­cie Girls record to see Hekt in a per­form­ing lead gui­tarist role, join­ing long­time co-rif­fer Dean McMullen to gift a thicker and more dy­namic sound to the band’s sear­ing po­lit­i­cal pop-punk bangers.

“I’d write all the songs on a gui­tar, and then Dean would play those parts and I’d play bass over them,” Hekt ex­plains of the process for record­ing their first LP, FromCa­planToBel­size. “But for FixedIdeals, I moved into that role on the gui­tar. We’re still a three-piece at this point, so I played the gui­tar parts, and then Dean would play the sec­ondary gui­tars, and then I played the bass after­wards as well, when we were multi-track­ing for the record­ing.

“So in terms of push­ing my­self and what we changed, I was play­ing two in­stru­ments – two core in­stru­ments – so it was a lot of work. It was also re­ally new; I’d never recorded that much gui­tar, to that ex­tent, and I played a bit of acous­tic gui­tar on there as well, just to layer it up, whereas Dean would have han­dled all of that be­fore. So it took a lot more re­spon­si­bil­ity this time.”

So what made now the right time for Mun­cie Girls to be­come an al­le­gor­i­cal four-piece (they’re a proper quar­tet on stage, mind you, with Shit Present leader Iona Cairns tak­ing the reigns on bass) in the stu­dio?

“I wrote th­ese songs with it in mind that I was go­ing to be play­ing them on the gui­tar,” Hekt says. “And the po­ten­tial that we’d have two gui­tars in the band when we played live meant we could re­ally ex­per­i­ment with loads on the record­ings. The whole thing was just re­ally ex­cit­ing for us.

“Af­ter tour­ing FromCa­planToBel­size, I re­alised how much I re­ally wanted to play the gui­tar while I was singing. Be­cause it doesn’t feel as sat­is­fy­ing, play­ing the songs you’ve writ­ten if you’re play­ing them on bass, be­cause there’s a lot of con­flict­ing rhythms that go against what you’re singing. It’s sat­is­fy­ing be­ing able to get a hold of that, and be­ing able to play one rhythm on the bass and sing a com­pletely dif­fer­ent rhythm – it’s def­i­nitely an achieve­ment – but it’s not how I wrote the songs, so it doesn’t feel as au­then­tic for me.”

Hekt’s go-to piece of kit – along­side a “re­ally nice ver­sion of” a Gib­son Les Paul – is a vin­tage Gretsch Elec­tro­matic solid­body, decked out with a Bigsby tail­piece. It’s a stun­ning lit­tle chip of metal and ma­hogany, its ori­gins ly­ing in a sweet am­bas­sador deal the band inked with the arch­top icons.

“They just gave me free reign of the web­site,” Hekt chuck­les, “So I hon­estly picked it al­most purely on looks. I have a Gretsch bari­tone with a Bigsby in it, which I played on ‘So­cial Side’ [on

FromCa­planToBel­size] and I loved the way that gui­tar looked and sounded, so it was a pretty easy choice for me.”

“If it slots into this in­ter­view nicely,” Hekt leaves us, her voice swelling with pride, “I would like to say that I played my first ever gui­tar solo on this record – it’s in the song ‘High’, which I was

so happy about!”

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