Muncie Girls’ 2016 debut album From Caplan To Belsize saw the Exeter, U.K. indie-punk trio arrive to critical acclaim. The record’s lyrics cover subjects including the education system, misogyny and mental health. It was this that highlighted vocalist/guitarist Lande Hekt, guitarist Dean McMullen and drummer Luke Ellis as one of the brightest new acts in Britain’s DIY scene.
The three-piece’s second album, Fixed Ideals, once more finds Lande’s lyrics addressing political and social ills, but as she explains, this album is an altogether more personal affair.
“Fixed Ideals is less obviously political than the first record,” she outlines. “Several of the songs were written around the time when I was drinking too much, and that’s a theme that runs throughout the record. About a month after I stopped drinking, we went into the studio—I partly stopped drinking to make my voice better for recording—and it really helped in terms of my performance on the album. But then after recording, I just carried on not drinking.”
Sobriety clearly had a positive effect on the recording process for Fixed Ideals, but for Lande, the decision to continue to avoid alcohol didn’t solely lie in her desire to improve her performance as a vocalist. She noticed the potential for the drinking to become a problem. That coupled with disdain for the history and politics of the alcohol industry that prompted her to remain sober.
“I was drinking a lot at home when I had nothing to do,” Lande remembers. “When you’re on tour, you can drink a lot because there are free beers everywhere, but it gets you into that routine of drinking every night. Then, you get home and drinking costs a lot and feels pointless—it’s like you’re going to the pub for the sake of it. So it made sense in a practical way for me to stop, but there are also political reasons as to why I’ve stopped drinking.”
“The history of alcohol in terms of a Marxist view is that of factory owners encouraging their workers to drink beer because it helped to prevent revolt,” she continues. “When I looked at that and the reasons why alcohol is so popular in our society, it lost its appeal for me. The business side of it is really fucked up, too—there’s so much money going into a huge alcohol industry that ultimately has a negative impact on people’s lives. That was weighing on my mind.”
Lande also recalls how, when drinking a lot, she’d “get ‘booze doom’ and feel really anxious,” and the uncertainties of band life formed the basis for one of Fixed Ideals’ most compelling songs, “Clinic.” A track recounting Lande’s experience of an emotional crisis, it’s a powerful demonstration of the influence mental illness can have on those who feel like they have no one to turn to.
“‘Clinic’ was the first song I wrote for this album,” Lande says. “A while back, I went to [Belgian punk festival] Groezrock and had a great weekend. I’m really claustrophobic, so I couldn’t take the Channel tunnel, but the van in which I was getting a lift back was planning on going that way. I looked into getting a coach that crossed on a ferry, and had to wait for 10 hours in Belgium for a suitable coach to arrive.”
“It was a really intense experience, and we had a gig in London when I got back, so by the time I got home, I was completely overwhelmed emotionally,” she continues. “I just couldn’t handle it––everything crashed. I went to the doctors to ask what was going on, but they were ridiculously unhelpful, and that’s when I rang the Depression And Anxiety Service and started cognitive behavioral therapy—and that’s what ‘Clinic’ is about. Having a low-level form of emotional emergency and no immediate help was so traumatic, and it made me think how people in much worse situations than I was must struggle. The whole thing was very sad, but I learned that you have to ask for help. Eventually, that help came, and things worked out.”
Muncie Girls’ album Fixed Ideals will be released Aug. 31 via Buzz Records, and pre-orders are available now. You can check out their latest track, “Clinic,” below as well as tour dates.
9/26 – Manchester @ The Deaf Institute
9/27 – Birmingham @ The Cuban Embassy
9/28 – Nottingham @ Rock City Basement
9/29 – Newcastle @ The Think Tank – Underground
9/30 – Glasgow @ The Garage – Attic
10/1 – London @ Borderline
10/2 – Norwich @ The Waterfront
10/3 – Southampton @ The Joiners
10/8 – Antwerp @ Jc Bouckenborgh
10/19 – Köln @ Autonomes Zentrum
10/20 – Fürth @ Kunstkeller
10/21 – Regensburg @ Alte Mälzerei
10/22 – München @ Kafe Marat
10/23 – Stuttgart @ JuHa West
10/25 – Hamburg @ Astra Stube
10/26 – Braunschweig @ B58
10/27 – Berlin @ Cassiopeia
10/30 – Wr. Neustadt @ Triebwerk
10/31 – Graz @ Sub
11/05 – Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere Zone One
11/06 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
11/07 – Boston, MA @ O’Briens
11/09 – Toronto, ON @ The Baby G
11/11 – Chicago, IL @ Cobra Lounge
11/13 – Seattle, WA @ The Funhouse
11/14 – Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre Lounge
11/17 – Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Bar