Exeter trio Muncie Girls are trying to encourage a new generation of teenagers.
"It’s all about playing live when you’re a punk band,” offers Muncie Girls’ Lande Hekt. “Going to shows is the main thing. Meeting up with your friends and everyone else in the scene is as much a part of it, as recording is. Playing live as much as possible is really important to us.”
Taking shape in April 2012 when drummer Luke Ellis joined the already existing pair of Lande and guitarist Dean McMullen, Muncie Girls are now three EPs deep, with an album on the horizon. Before that, there’s a split 7” and a European tour with Such Gold. “We’re going to loads of places we haven’t been before,” says Lande, unaware of how right she is.
“Exeter has a long history of punk and indie and the venue, The Cavern, is where we used to all go to gigs. It’s where we met each other and had the idea to start this band. We’ve seen a lot of bands go out on tour from Exeter and we thought maybe that was something we can do. Being from Exeter is definitely a big thing. It’s part of our identity.“
The isolation that the south west is subjected to has allowed the scene to blossom independently, “It’s part of the magic of it, it is genuinely an underground scene. You have to go there to feel it,” and given Muncie Girls space to flourish into something wonderful.
“POLITICS, SEXISM AND LAD CULTURE: WHAT INSPIRES ME ARE NEGATIVE THINGS THAT I WANT TO MOAN ABOUT.”
That split 7” with Sandlotkids was undertaken so Muncie Girls could get to know a band through playing shows with them. Is also gave them a platform to release the first single
from the Syliva Plath christened debut album ‘From Caplan To Belsize’. The suggestion that a split also doubles the band’s potential audience is politely dismissed, “that makes it sound a bit tactical. We’re not really bothered by that.” Instead it’s simply seen as a cool way to release music. “It seems a cop out to do one song and a b-side on a 7”. You’re getting more for your money.”
That added value is an inherent part of who Muncie Girls are. From Lande’s involvement in School of Frock
- workshops encouraging girls to pick up instruments - to their decision to cover The Ramones’ ‘Pet Sematary’ as the b-side to the split, “I like the idea of it not being ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’,” the band are always after more.
“Like most writers, I tend to write about myself,” admits Lande. “I’ve been writing the album slightly differently. There are songs about current issues, politics, sexism and lad culture. What inspires me are negative things that I want to moan about. It’s about expressing discontent. If something is deeply distressing, you want to write about it, get it out and communicate that you’re upset about something. I couldn’t possibly tell what people will take from this album, if anything, but there are a few songs where the lyrics are supposed to be encouraging, in a political way. People standing up to things that they disagree with.”
The album, like all great punk, also deals with self-acceptance through solidarity. “I write songs for certain demographics. Whether it’s a useful piece of advice or just trying to communicate.” Lead single ‘Gone With The Wind’ is aimed at teenage girls and tackles the idea of “moving out of home, going to university and being fickle. Not knowing what you’re going to do and changing your mind all the time. It’s saying that, that’s ok.” Sure, those ideas of self-doubt and confusion are universal and timeless but as Lande admits, “I want to reach the whole teen demographic. I think that would be amazing but in reality, we’re just not that cool. We end up with forty-year-old blokes listening to us, which is fine. If anyone’s into it, that’s cool but those middle aged, white men probably don’t need any more encouragement.”
There’s an organic sincerity to Muncie Girls. It’s not forced or thrown about, it’s just how they’ve grown. “None of us have wanted this band to sound any particular way. It just comes out, how it’s come out. We’ve tried to change it a little bit for the album but I don’t think it’s made any difference. Maybe we’ll always sound the same.”
That acceptance of what the band is isn’t brash or defeatist. It’s left open. Do with it what you will because Muncie Girls certainly are. “We are achieving what we wanted to. We’ve played so many really fun shows, we’ve been to America, to Europe. We’d like to travel more and to keep doing it but in terms of making friends, we’ve made more than we ever thought we could in our whole lives which is amazing. We just want to continue.”
Taken from the November issue of Upset, out now. Muncie Girls’ debut album ‘From Caplan to Belsize’ will be released on 4th March.