From its effervescent 2015 debut “Our Own House” to the new EP “mini bloom” (with sunny singalongs “The End,” “whywhywhy” and “Coming Up For Air”), New York’s scrappy sextet MisterWives repeatedly has — thanks to introspective compositions of singer Mandy Lee — found the silver lining in the darkest of lyrical clouds. “Mandy’s very honest with her lyrics, and she uses songwriting as therapy — anything she’s going through, she needs to put it down. That’s why people connect with it. It’s coming from a real place, not a bunch of writers in a room trying to think of the poppiest hit,” says Lee’s husband, group drummer Etienne Bowler, who jumps in last-minute on a phoner since she’s feeling under the weather.
You guys live together In Astoria, Queens. Is it an eye-opening process to watch your wife work, up close?
That’s how she gets through life — by just sitting at the piano and pouring her heart out. I don’t think that will ever change for her. And it ends up being some of her best work, so she definitely always stay true to herself lyrically.
Do you guys wake up in the morning and immediately start writing? Or do you graciously get out of the house, out of her way?
It’s both, actually. It could be one or the other, or something totally random. You’ll wake up feeling good, you have a cup of coffee, and you just feel inspired to write something. Sometimes that happens. Or sometimes it’s like, “This is a really serious song; I need to be alone where no one can hear me.” Because it’s vulnerable for her to sing certain lyrics out loud with other people in the room, which I totally understand. And occasionally the band will get together and mess around with some riffs that might inspire Mandy to write something.
Your origin story is cool — she needed musicians to back her as an ‘80s cover band at her 2012 birthday party?
That’s the story. But it predates me joining the band. She had just moved into an apartment, but there was no furniture in it yet. So she wanted to throw an ‘80s cover-band party, so she asked Will [Hehir], our bassist, to come and play bass, and they just did fun covers all night. And a little bit later, I joined the band.
What covers did they play? Surely “Melt With You”?
I’d have to ask her. But we’ve actually been thinking about doing that song, and we came very close to recording a version a few months ago. It’s just so timeless.
IF YOU GO
Where: Independent, 628 Divisadero St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Sunday-Monday
Contact: (415) 771-1421, theindependentsf.com