Life had a different plan for The Mysterines guitarist and singer Lia Metcalfe when she decided to start writing songs at the age of nine.
"To me, especially from the beginning, I was never really like, I want to be in a band, or want to tour and do all this," she says. "I was never like that, and I'm still not really. I'm not in it for anything else other than the fact I enjoy writing songs and that's all I do."
But here she is, having just wrapped up a support tour with The Amazons, along with previous ones for Royal Blood and Miles Kane. Now The Mysterines even have their first headline tour booked in for February.
So it's safe to say that the road has been an unexpected result of Lia deciding to pen some songs, and eventually finding a band.
It all began one night at an open mic when Lia had decided to focus on writing more defined songs at the age of "twelve or thirteen." (On her aged nine output she says, "They weren't very good obviously. I wouldn't count them as songs.")
Meeting The Mysterines current manager, who helped her hone in on working with other musicians led Lia to form the current trio including bassist "George [Favager], who I met when I was like, thirteen, after school, in a park or something." And Chrissy Moore completing the outfit on drums.
The natural progression from bedroom songwriter to touring band has been a whirlwind, one that undoubtedly takes its toll, but it's no new story that upcoming groups have to work hard when first starting.
"I think a lot of people don't realise like how much of a struggle it is," she muses. "They think it's like a glamorous thing for us; we actually tour around the UK in a car with all our gear, that for one is pretty annoying and dangerous."
When they're burning those miles and hours on the road, the only thing keeping them going is the belief in what they're doing, and The Mysterines are the type of band who hold that belief dear to their road-weary hearts.
"I think initially when you first start touring; you don't understand the concept of believing in what you're doing," Lia says. "It's only when you get to the point, for example, you're on at like seven o'clock; You haven't eaten all day, and you just drove all day, you just got to the venue, and the only thing that's going to get you through a gig is believing in yourself.
"It's all about belief and adrenaline, and like tricking yourself into thinking you're at a stage you're not. It's a weird concept; it's not as black and white as people think it is."
There's something trial-by-fire about the cut-throat nature of being in a rock band on it's most base level; three friends in a car, driving around the UK, supporting the kinds of bands you aspire to be, clocking the miles up, pocketing a sandwich here and there to get by ("We actually steal our food a lot of time to eat.")
It's also this aspect that truly builds you into being the hardy kind of band who can deal with anything. While Lia may never have "actually taken a lot personally," in regards to her songs since that's how she was "brought up, just on pure survival," and mostly the sage words of someone with whom she once worked.
"I worked with some man a while ago, I did some shoot with him, and I remember he said to me before the shoot; 'If you hold something too tightly. You'll end up crushing it'. I've always remembered it. It was years ago, he wasn't even like a significant person or anything, but when he said that something clicked in me."
Through her rich Mersey accent, the decided nature of Lia shines through. When she was first starting, the path that lay ahead was unknown to her given the young age at which it all started rolling, but these days there's a far more journeyed mind that speaks.
"I think for anyone to suggest that they're a band before they've toured, I think is a pretty far fetched statement," she says. "Being a band you can practice and jam, whatever, that's sound. But being an actual band is touring and shit, it's like next level. It changes who you are as a person; how you perceive the world and how you perceive the people you're in the band with."
In Lia, this growth also comes from where she now takes inspiration, and where The Mysterines could grow. She's happy to admit that she "used to disregard new music, new bands and stuff - and just listened to Bob Dylan, but it's so important to be in with what's going on with new bands, you can take so much inspiration from a lot of a lot of stuff."
"Even our new single, 'Who's Ur Girl', I only wrote that like two months before it released. I took loads of inspiration from Billie Eilish, which is crazy because it's like two different genres, but it was trying to translate that."
As for where The Mysterines fit into the musical spectrum; Lia's songwriting beginnings, to their current road-dog status, it's all about the energy. None of it stems from the punk sensibilities you could quite easily assume come from studying those wild-eyed pioneers of the seventies and eighties.
And really, Lia's not quite sure either.
"Maybe it's just the honesty behind the writing and the words. It makes you deliver it much more intensely, I suppose. People ask if I would consider us a punk band, and it's mad because I've never actually fell into listening to punk, ever. I was brought up on a lot of stuff, and punk rock wasn't one of those things.
"We often get referred to as a punk band, and I think it is just the energy of the tracks, and how intense it can be live and how aggressive the vocal come across."
With the rigorous schedule, and pulling from the honest place inside where the raw emotions bubble and stew, the state of The Mysterines is one of road-worn scholars, who don't really know what's next, but surviving and just being themselves.
"There are times where I have been exhausted before, on stage, and I feel like I haven't delivered the tracks to an intense level, energetically or whatever, but I think people still perceive the energy as if it's there. Maybe it's just a natural thing between us. Three pieces often naturally have that thing anyway, because [of the] three dynamic. [It's just so] you know, in your face."
Taken from the February issue of Upset. The Mysterines tour the UK from 19th February.
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