The Mysterines: “Bands seem to think it’s cool to not give a f*ck, but that’s not us”

Ambitious, confident and revelling in the success of debut LP Reeling, Liverpool newbies The Mysterines look ready to explode. Kerrang! meets vocalist Lia Metcalfe and drummer Paul Crilly ahead of their much-hyped UK tour to find out why their music is connecting…

The Mysterines: “Bands seem to think it’s cool to not give a f*ck, but that’s not us”
Jake Richardson

“You’ve got to have ambitions. Anybody who starts out in music and says they don’t have ambitions is obviously not going to be successful.”

For Lia Metcalfe, it’s always been a matter of when, not if, her band would be a success. Brought up on the road by parents who were music obsessives, it was very much in the stars that she would go on to become a touring musician.

Forming The Mysterines as a teenager with guitarist Callum Thompson, bassist George Favager and drummer Paul Crilly, the band spent lockdown growing their fanbase thanks to an active presence on social media, the four-piece dropping an array of covers to make up for the lack of live activity. The pandemic also granted The Mysterines the time required to perfect debut album Reeling, a record comprised of material the now 21-year-old Lia has been working on since her teenage years. Despite its creators’ youth, however, their first LP is an accomplished affair, comprising 13 tracks of indie-meets-grunge alt.rock that touches on ’90s influences including Nirvana and Hole, as well as the dark, contemporary rock of bands like Royal Blood, whom the band have recently supported.

It’s excellent stuff, but it’s also not a sound that, particularly coming from a new band, one would expect to find climbing high up the album charts these days. But that’s exactly what Reeling – which was released last week – has done, breaking the Top 10 and signifying that this is a band with the reach and appeal to back up their confidence.

Ask Lia why she thinks Reeling has resonated and, with a little swagger, her response is steadfast.

“Because it’s good, and people want good music,” she affirms. “There’s so much shit nowadays, especially in the charts – there’s not an album like this in the charts at the moment.”

That might sound a little cocky, but a dig deeper into The Mysterines’ rise reveals the reasons why they have to believe so strongly in themselves. For the band, particularly Lia, it felt like no-one had any faith in them when they were starting out, so they had to double-down on the confidence they had in their music.

“We’re constantly underestimated,” Lia says. “I don’t mind being underestimated in a way, because when people underestimate you and then realise that you’re actually a really good band who’ve written a great album, they’re the ones left feeling like an idiot.

“I think some of it is to do with me being female,” she continues. “I know myself and other women in music often get questioned over whether we write our own songs, but the men never do. That’s something that happens a lot in the heavy music scene. But my attitude to it is pretty simple: fuck them, because they’re all wrong.”

As Lia attests, such attitudes remain a serious problem in alternative music, and something the space needs to address urgently. For The Mysterines especially, having their songwriting credentials questioned is particularly galling when the band have, technically, already had a Number One song. After meeting new-wave icon and former The Jam frontman Paul Weller at a show, Lia was invited to contribute lyrics to his chart-topping 2021 LP Fat Pop (Volume 1), with her writing going on to feature on the track True.

She’s humble about the experience – “I think those lyrics are a bit shit, to be honest – I could’ve done better!” – but it’s proof that those that matter know Lia and her band are a group to be taken seriously. And, not content with resting on the laurels of an incredibly successful debut album campaign, The Mysterines already have their sights set higher. Reeling, Lia says, is just the beginning of their story.

“I’ve seen this weird trend with bands recently where they seem to think it’s cool to not give a fuck, but that’s not us,” she explains. “Why bother doing this if you aren’t going to have ambitions? For us, despite Reeling getting in the Top 10, those ambitions aren’t great chart success; when it comes to The Mysterines, the ambition is making great records and selling out shows – stuff that matters to our fans and actively involves them.

“We never even bothered about trying to get an album on the charts, which I think demonstrates our position on that,” Lia adds. “It’s an ego thing for a lot of people, but our main takeaway from so many people buying the album is the belief they must have in it – that makes us believe in The Mysterines that much more. That’s what we’re really proud of and what’s making us happy.”

Looking ahead, there’s plenty still to come that will allow Lia, Callum, George and Paul to build on the happiness that being a part of The Mysterines brings. A UK tour to celebrate the release of Reeling is in full swing, including stops at London’s Electric Ballroom and what is sure to be a euphoric hometown show at Liverpool’s Invisible Wind Factory. A U.S. run and festival shows including Welcome To Rockville and Kendal Calling, meanwhile, are scheduled for later in the year, not that it’s enough to satisfy the ever-ambitious Lia, who jokes that “headlining Glastonbury… this year!” is The Mysterines’ true goal.

Drummer Paul, having spent much of the conversation allowing Lia to take the lead, picks up the reigns as our interview draws to a close, signing off with a statement that signifies why The Mysterines are connecting with audiences far and wide.

“When I think about the goal of this band, we want to be remembered as more than just a group who once had a Top 10 record,” he concludes. “To have people still listening and connecting in 10 years’ time, and to be making more and more albums, that’s the ultimate aim.”

The Mysterines’ album Reeling is out now via Fiction. The band are on tour in the UK until April 2.

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