Interview: The Mysterines

Kira O’Boyle

After their top ten debut album in the UK, Mersey-side guitar fuelled quartet, The Mysterines, have just announced the news that their second album, ‘Afraid of Tomorrows’, is coming out on the 7th June 2024, as well as a huge headline tour. Impact’s Kira O’Boyle had the pleasure of speaking with band members Callum Thompson (guitar) and George Favager (bass) over a zoom call, about writing a new album, going on a huge headline tour and the UK gig scene. 

If you have never listened to The Mysterines before, they are a band hard to confine to one genre. Made up of band members Lia Metcalfe (vocals), George Favager (bass), Callum Thompson (guitar) and Paul Crilly (drums), their sound masterfully blends elements of 90s grunge and modern alternate rock, heavy guitars, powerful vocals, and dark themes, “It’s always hard to put yourself in a box, we all come together with the same influences when it comes to making Mysterines music…I guess it lives in an alternative world” says guitarist Callum. 

supporting the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes on tour

The band’s debut album ‘Reeling’ has just had its second birthday, with the band having a very busy two years, from their own headline shows across UK, Europe and America, to supporting the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes on tour. Supporting such big names of the music industry has been a clear highlight for the band, Callum states how “we grew up listening to them (Arctic Monkeys) the whole way, one of the bands of our era of being kids growing up to being musicians ourselves, same with Frank as well, he has been around for years, he has a lot of experience, it’s also weird when you tour with people you love and aspire to be like, because they’re always super nice people, they’re just normal people at the end of the day”.  

With the announcement of their new album, ‘Afraid of Tomorrows’, writing a whole new album has been a long-awaited process. George explains how “it’s exciting, it’s sort of a long time coming for us because we finished recording ‘Reeling’ a good few years ago, because of covid it made no sense for us to release it for a little while, so it’s been ages since we have done any proper album recording… and we are excited for it to be out in the world, it’s a little bit of a different sound”.   

After being successful first time round with a UK top ten album in the UK, it was only natural to ask if the band felt any pressures in curating a second album. “There can be pressure, there’s that old cliché that you have all your life to write your first album, and then a year or what to write your second” Callum reiterates. But the band have shown clear artistic growth “if anything we have benefited from getting the first album out of our system, having toured it…and grew up as people and as friends, we have matured loads to be able to be in the position to make something like ‘Afraid of Tomorrows’, I think we have kind of learned from all the mistakes we have made in the past creatively”. Thompson emphasises how “less is more” with the new album “whereas the first record we were throwing everything at it, we have got to a new journey and position from when we were nineteen/twenty with the first one”.  

“I think it’s really important to have a real, clear vision of how the song should sound coming out of the studio”

Writing a new album with The Mysterines is a process, and the band have clear ideas of what they wanted the tracks to sound like. It’s not a matter of going into the studio and magically writing an album there and then, Callum tells me that “things simmer round and there are bits of tunes, and Lia is always doing demo writing trips, we spend quite a lot of time with the demos …there’s a lot of thought and effort that goes into the demos so when we get to the studio it’s not a thing of like what do we do now?… I think it’s really important to have a real, clear vision of how the song should sound coming out of the studio.” 

 The Mysterines have a clear direction for this new album, it looks like The Mysterines will be exploring much more complex themes compared to their first album; 

Lead singer Lia Metcalfe has previously described their new album ‘Afraid Of Tomorrows’ as “a mirror where you find you’re nothing more than a formless being, one made from celestial constellations – of traumas, of the old and new, mistakes, addiction, fear and happiness, loneliness, but ultimately a desire for life and the fight to keep living. It’s a collage of what’s been lost and of love unbounded…”. 

some will stand out as singles naturally by the way they are written…”

Their latest single Stray has already given us a taster of what we can expect, it’s electric and complex. It took spot as hottest record in the world on BBC Radio 1 a few weeks back, Callum stated how “we were kind of made up to just take a breath now that we finally had music out and everyone can kind of have a good indication of where we’re going to go with everything this time round”. He described the new single as “the gateway drug into the whole world of what ‘Afraid of Tomorrows’ will be like and is the key to opening that door for us, we’re super excited”.  The band have already showcased an emotionally charged teaser for the rest of this album with Stray, where George highlighted how “some will stand out as singles naturally by the way they are written… but it is about piecing it together to get it in the right world and getting the singles to capture the idea of the album whilst being able to hit the target audiences”.  

The band have showcased some of their new material on their support tour with Frank Carter, “we did a couple, but you can’t do too much because people video it and put it all over YouTube and TikTok with filters on it” Callum laughed; “We have played the ‘Reeling’ songs for two or three years now, so a couple of them songs we have played one hundred times…we needed to keep ourselves entertained by playing new stuff…I really enjoy playing the new stuff”.  

As well as a new album, The Mysterines have also announced their very own upcoming UK + EU tour, including Nottingham’s very own Rescue Rooms. This will be The Mysterines’ biggest headline tour yet and emphasis on what this meant for them shone close to home; George reiterating that “it’s really exciting, we’re doing the Olympia in Liverpool, it’s somewhere where you would go as a kid and watch any band… and we always look forward to Europe”. 

This led on to a discussion of how UK gigs differ from Europe and America and the bands success with touring over the pond. “Interestingly we’ve always done sound with touring America and Europe, I think our sound is not as super British sounding, I think Lia’s vocals take it to a different place, it doesn’t fit into the UK indie thing, we’re lucky and we’ve got more scope further afield” says Callum; “last time we did Europe near enough every date sold out, the people they really listen and really get into the music”.  

they want to create a musical space that is lively, but respect and the love for music is more importantly created amongst concertgoers

The band’s heart and vision are truly in the music and the artistry of their sound, as we discussed a growing gig culture emerging in the UK, with the atmosphere at gigs changing and perhaps becoming less music-focused amongst concertgoers, “I think there is the culture kind of creeping into the UK music scene, people trying to make these gigs a big night out”.  Callum states how “we are always more musical focused when we go to gigs, it’s to go and listen to really cool music, not to get pissed or to throw our ale around”.  So, what can we expect from a Mysterines gig? I can only respect The Mysterines’ attitude towards live music, they want to create a musical space that is lively, but respect and the love for music is more importantly created amongst concertgoers; “We have always wanted to create an atmosphere and environment, we are a guitar band, so we do want the crowd to be doing loads and for it to be busy and active, but we want everyone to listen to the music as well and take that side of it and there are certain bands now who do that really well, with a mixture of everyone going mad and everyone listening and being respectful”.  

With such a huge run of shows on their schedule, including music festivals such as YNOT, Truck and 2000 trees festival, I was intrigued to find out if the band had any pre-show rituals. Callum tells me how “We have gone through phases, haven’t we?”, they both laughed, “Lia has done a little shadow boxing routine, but she hasn’t done that in a while, we all just kind of have a little singsong, nothing too mad”. The Mysterines will be returning to Nottingham with a sold-out show in Rescue Rooms later in the year, so I of course had to ask what the band thought of it; George praised the city; “I like Nottingham, we’ve done in-stores at the Rough Trade before, I’ve always had a really good time”. Fear not, despite a sold-out show in Nottingham, the band have plenty of other shows across the country that you can attend, including Bristol, Manchester, London, and Liverpool – you don’t want to miss it. 

It was an absolute pleasure to speak to Callum and George, The Mysterines’ brand-new album, ‘Afraid of Tomorrows’, is out on the 7th June 2024, it’s going to be something special. 

Tracklist for Afraid of Tomorrows: 
1. The Last Dance 
2. Stray 
3. Another Another Another 
4. Tired Animal 
5. Jesse You’re A Superstar 
6. Hawkmoon 
7. Sink Ya Teeth 
8. Junkyard Angel 
9. Goodbye Sunshine 
10. Inside A Matchbox 
11. So Long 
12. Afraid of Tomorrows 

Kira O’Boyle

Featured image courtesy of Sylas Agtarap. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @themysterines via instagram.com. No changes made to these images.

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