It has been a busy year for Exeter indie punks Muncie Girls. Having released their acclaimed debut From Caplan to Belsize in March the band have spent pretty much every second since on the road. That year touring included shows with Tellison, Beach Slang as well as several notable European festivals. We managed to have a quick chat with the frontperson Lande Hekt at The Rainbow Cellar in Birmingham at the start of their recent headline tour. We delved into such disparate topics as German television, Iron Maiden and her feelings about the current “wave of unpleasantness”.
First Question: Where did you get the name Muncie Girls?
It’s just a reference to a 1994 Coen Brothers film called The Hudsucker Proxy but if you haven’t seen it it makes no sense. It’s also impossible to explain so you just have to watch it.
I think that’s pretty much the only Coen Brothers film I haven’t seen…
Yeah, it’s a lesser known one I suppose. A lot of their films not many people have seen.
What’s your favourite Coen brothers film?
Probably The Hudsucker Proxy. Although I absolutely love Fargo. So in between the two maybe.
Recently you were on a German TV show called Circus Halligalli where you appeared with balloons and quickdrew your logo but didn’t actually seem to play live…
We did “an appearance”. That was quite funny. I reckon that if you actually live in Germany you’d think to yourself “this is well normal”, but to us it was absolutely fucking mental. So we literally didn’t know what it was. We’d never heard of it but all our German friends were like “Oh, no way, a load of people watch that”. It was quite funny because we took a friend of a friend with us to interpret some of it with sign language and she totally knew who the presenters were and was like “Oh my God”. They are like Ant and Dec, literally the German Ant and Dec. Obviously because we don’t know them, it wasn’t weird for us. It was a very funny thing to do. It was a cross between Conan O’Brien and Eurotrash. That sort of thing. It’s kind of lots of silliness but there’s also some good parts in it. If I spoke German I’d probably appreciate it a bit more.
Robbie Williams was on the same show as you, did you get to meet him?
No so this is what is really annoying and I was literally gutted. I thought we were going to be hanging out with Robbie, some kind of green room hangs. But when we went to shoot our bit in Berlin – well we were already in Berlin – when we showed up they were like “Oh he’s already recorded his in London”. I was like “Oh what?” Well annoyed.
Been in Europe quite a bit over the past year. How was playing Groezrock?
Well we’ve got a lot of mates out there. I think we know everyone that is into us, which is the same as anywhere. Just loads and loads of friends that we’ve met from getting drunk and going to shows or playing shows out there. But Groezrock isn’t just Belgians, people come from all over Europe but that was a really fun show. Another reason why that show was busy and people were into it was because it was all our mates from everywhere. So it looked like loads of people – and it was – but what I’m saying is that we’re a fan of their bands as well. So it’s just a group of friends; there’s just a lot of them.
How was Slovenia?
Yeah that was cool. Punk Rock Holiday. That was good, just really far away and I wouldn’t recommend driving because you’ve got to drive the entire width of France and some of Italy before you get there. Which is really annoying. We drove from Bordeaux to Venice, slept overnight and then drove to Tolmin in Slovenia. It was worth it in the end. We only went for one and a half days because we were on tour at the time so we couldn’t just go for the full five days or whatever it is. Which is a shame in a way but I don’t think at that point we were massively bothered about spending an entire week camping or whatever.
Before that you toured France a fair bit. Do the French love you guys?
No. Not especially. Similar to England, just like “Hmm”. Like how I am at a show: “Hmm. Yeah, it’s alright, isn’t it? But it’s not amazing”. There are certain towns and places that you visit in Europe where people will go mental for anything, just really enthusiastic right to their bones. But I think England and France are quite similar in that if they don’t like something they’re not going to be bothered about making themselves like it. There’s no point. I actually quite respect that. In France if you do get a good audience or a good response you know you’ve really earned it. We were the support band anyway; Guerilla Poubelle who we did the tour with they were the headliners and they are popular over there. They’ve been around for years, they sing in French, it’s really political and it’s total punk rock and we’re these kinda English kids with not a lot to say in French, so fair enough if they’re not that bothered but we had a bloody great time. Not many bands do an actual French tour, whereas we hit up loads of places I’d never heard of. Like Angoulême – I don’t even know where that is, I’d never heard of it. Loads of places like that which was really cool.
For the video for ‘Balloon’ it is very minimalist, what was the thinking behind that?
It actually says “non-video” in the description. Well the song was called ‘Balloon’ and so we shot a balloon. But also we didn’t want to do a video. It’s just that no one just listens to a song… Well people do but it’s easier to get people to listen to something if they can look at something. And that’s literally it.
So no inspiration from The Replacements’ video for ‘Bastards of Young’?
Yeah I do love that video but that wasn’t the idea behind it. Though I do love the idea of it and I like the idea of doing something because… why not? It’s not important, is it? The important thing is the music. Sometimes it’s cool to not bother too much and be clear that it’s not important. I guess that’s another reason: We don’t care about our video, we just want to put out music. We just want to put our record out.
Could it also be possibly a reaction to the lyric videos that have become popular in the last half decade?
I’m not massively keen on the idea of a lyric video because if you haven’t bought a record and you are not sat down there with the inlay, the insert reading the lyrics along with the record then you shouldn’t really have the opportunity immediately to know all the words. That’s a strange thing, I think.
I’ve found that the people who like Muncie Girls really connect with your music. You seem to provoke a certain level of devotion. Have you found that?
No, not really. So that’s nice to hear. I think we’re just one of those bands where not many people like us, but the people who do like us really like it. So that’s great. Most of the people who like us are exclusively our friends and a few people who just randomly connect with it. I guess we don’t cover that broad a spectrum in terms of what people would be into. Also we’re not on a major label or anything so why would we reach that many people? I guess the people who don’t get it forced down their throats they just hear it and they’re either going to nothing it, never listen to it again, or listen to it quite a lot. I normally notice that maybe it’s just our mates that are into it, never really think it’d be anyone else but okay. I try to not think about stuff like that because I find it a bit strange. If you’re actually in a band you don’t want to think about what people think of it because you’d never do it. You can’t think about it, you just need to get on with it.
So would you be bothered if you were mentioned in end of year lists and the like?
Yeah sure, that would be very nice. Anything like that is very much appreciated but that’s about it. Like I could pick so many better albums released this year that I would never ever take that personally if we weren’t in anything.
So what have you been listening to this year?
Well I really really love John K. Samson’s new record. Have you heard that?
He’s the singer of The Weakerthans and used to be in Propagandhi as well. That’s just absolutely brilliant. Then there’s Doe who put out a new record, that’s great. Shit Present put out an EP. The Cut Ups, who are also from Exeter, have just put out a record on Banquet Records in Kingston, and that’s really good. It’s called Nerves. Do you know Pinegrove?
Like I didn’t really know them, I wasn’t mad about listening to them but my other band [The Fairweather Band] played two shows with them, and I was like “okay, they are literally amazing then”. So I got really into that. Loads of good music has come out this year.
So to promote this tour, I believe, you covered Iron Maiden’s ‘Wickerman’…
That was not why we did it but we did cover it, yeah. We got asked to by Kerrang! so it went on one of those compilation CDs. There was a whole album of Iron Maiden covers, Creeper did one, Trivium did one, Lonely The Brave… Those kind of bands. Kerrang! bands. We were like “That sounds hilarious”. So we did it, it happened and we were like “Oh… we’re going to put it on YouTube because no-one’s really going to hear that”. It wasn’t to do with the tour, it was “we already covered this, let’s put it online”.
Any reason for that song?
We were given a list of songs and that was literally the only one that we could have physically done. Otherwise it just wouldn’t have worked at all.
Not quite the bassist that Steve Harris is?
I mean I could probably play it but it’s not going to sound any good. And it’s more the singing. None of us even like Iron Maiden. Like I think they are awful. They sound disgusting. I remember when I was a kid I used to literally hate Bruce Dickinson, the one with the aeroplane. His voice is so savage. That was kind of why we covered a song because it’s so bad it’s good. So we just did it.
Muncie Girls are a punk rock band. In times of trouble this kind of music thrives. Do you believe you are a product of the current wave of unpleasantness?
I think everyone is part of the “wave of unpleasantness” but in terms of music I think that when we put out first EP, which is called Revolution Summer, there’s a song on that that is really political but people are always “With this new album you’ve written loads of political songs, is it because of the Tories and Donald Trump?” or whatever. But I’ve always written political stuff. I guess I decided to write more plainly rather than being cryptic. Maybe for that reason, because it didn’t seem to be working. No one noticed I was writing it. And maybe that was because no one liked our band then, or we never did interviews, didn’t have press back then anyway. Basically I think everything’s been shit for a really long time and it probably always has been. Things are really really shit at the moment, people are very aware of it, but I don’t think anything would be different if I were in a band ten years ago. The Iraqi war was still a thing, there’s so much to be upset about the whole time. There’s stuff to be upset about anyway. Obviously the government makes you feel sick but then people make me feel sick as well. Then you have to start pondering who is to blame, where do you fit in, and what do you do with your life and is this ethical and all that. People have been suffering with being socially conscious forever and I think we always would have written music for that purpose, to help and get us through it, whenever we were a band. I think it’s impossible to say really. We will get lumped in with a lot of people doing political music because that’s what happens. If we were a band fifty years ago, well maybe not that far away, but ten years ago I would have thought it would be exactly the same what we would write about. The subjects would be slightly different but the idea would be the same.