It’s not often a band from the UK DIY punk scene emerges from the underground and onto the pages of internationally-recognised magazines, however for Muncie Girls have done just that. Their debut album, ‘From Caplan To Belsize’, was released this past spring to much praise, solidifying Muncie Girls as being part of a solid group of up-and-coming UK bands that you need to be paying attention to.
With a set of thought-provoking songs such as ‘Respect’, ‘Social Side’, and ‘I Don’t Want To Talk About It’, the trio of vocalist/bassist Lande Hekt, drummer Luke Ellis and guitarist Dean McMullen flourish in relatable lyrical self-awareness. Having toured non-stop since the release of ‘From Caplan To Belsize’, Muncie Girls currently find themselves going back and forth between tours and festivals.
We had the chance to speak to Dean from the band 2000 Trees to discuss a variety of topics; being an emerging DIY punk band, the relevance of ‘From Caplan To Belsize’, being a punk band at Download and more.
AH: So this is your first time playing 2000 Trees. How are you finding it so far?
Dean: Yeah it’s really cool. It’s nice because we were at Glastonbury recently and that’s just so big and overwhelming. There is no way you can do everything there in a weekend. There is so much to it, so it’s nice to come to a festival and walk from one side to the other and go to all the stages really easily. It’s nicely laid out. It’s a great line-up and there’s a good crowd here. Some festivals have, maybe, not so good crowds but this one is super cool.
AH: I feel there’s a community feel to it.
Dean: Yeah definitely.
AH: What bands are you looking forward to seeing?
Dean: Actually we’re only here for today and there is not many bands I wanted to see here today, but I do want to see The Smith Street Band. I saw Happy Accidents earlier. I want to see Moose Blood who are on the stage we’re on. That’s all I can think of today. It’s not the best day for me. I looked at the line-up before and thought it was really good, then it hasn’t worked out (laughs).
AH: The album ‘From Caplan To Belsize’ came out in March. I really liked the album. Has there been a positive response all-around?
Dean: Yeah. For awhile we were all pretty overwhelmed by it because we had been a band for quite awhile and just been doing our thing; being part of the DIY punk community. This album has seemed to have lifted us above and beyond that. It’s been really nice and rewarding. It’s amazing we get to be at festivals like this and hang out with some of my heroes. We were at the Kerrang! Awards the other day. That was incredible. I was sat a couple of tables back from Mark Hoppus. I couldn’t even watch the awards as I was just looking at the back of his head being like “that’s Mark Hoppus!”
AH: You’re on Specialist Subject Records and you don’t get many bands from that label appearing in magazines like Kerrang! often.
Dean: No you don’t. It is generally all in the DIY punk scene. I think everyone knows that label within the punk scene but beyond that it’s less so. That label is great. If you’ve looked at any artists on the label, it’s super cool. Every single band they release is awesome.
AH: They really care about what they put out.
Dean: Yeah Andrew (Horne – Specialist Subject Records owner) is pretty picky with that and it’s good a thing because he only releases cool bands.
AH: Are there any bands from that label you want to shout out to?
Dean: Great Cynics. Obviously, associate us together. They’ve just done Austeros’ new album which is cool. They did loads of releases. The Fairweather Band are super cool. Then there is some of the classics like Caves, although I don’t think they’ve done anything on there for a while. All of them are great.
AH: You spent a few years touring and releasing a couple of EPs. How important was that for you as a band rather than diving straight into making an album?
Dean: We never planned a band out. We were just in a band together since we were 13 and it’s just progressed. We’ve not even thought about it. It felt natural to do EPs at one time then the option of touring within the punk scene was there, so we took that. It’s just gradually grown like “oh we should do this now” and saying yes to whatever comes along. It’s just led to this point. I guess more recently we’ve started thinking more carefully and plan a little bit better. Up until we released ‘From Caplan To Belsize,’ there was no thought really went into it. We just did what felt natural.
AH: The album was recorded a year or so before it was released. Was that frustrating?
Dean: It was so long. I found it really frustrating. It was such a pain but I think it was worth that wait because of the people we wanted to release it through. I think we needed that to realise that it was a step up from what we were doing before. It took a bit of time to get used to that and to know what we wanted to do, but it was really frustrating when we had those songs. We didn’t want to play them too much, just play the odd one here and there, and we still had a bunch of shows. Also, not having anything coming out was really frustrating. But like anything it ends up last minute, even though we had so much time to do it, by the end of it, we still had to get all this stuff sorted like press stuff. In hindsight, now it’s out, it was quite nice to have that time.
AH: It’s odd how even though some of the songs on the record are old, they’re now more relevant in terms of the social and political landscape?
Dean: Yeah I think so. Lande has a bit of a knack for that. She’s quite in touch with what’s going on. She takes a lot of notice. She worked in a venue where there’s a lot of students go. So, for example, a song like ‘Respect’ is about lad culture and Universities and she wrote that as that’s what she was seeing at that time. That was her feelings about it. She wasn’t trying to write songs that were relevant to anything. She’s just writing songs that are honest about her situation and her thoughts at a certain time. A lot of the things she has written about on ‘From Caplan To Belsize’ were bad then, and if anything, have got worse now. I guess it seems more relevant now, but obviously, she didn’t see any of that coming. That’s just what she was thinking about at the time.
AH: I saw you play at Download a few weeks back. How was that? Being a punk band at a metal festival?
Dean: Surprisingly good. We thought exactly that. Obviously, we were going to do it because it’s Download Festival. We were thinking literally no one will be there to watch us, or we’re going to be ferociously bottled off stage or eaten by metallers (laughs). But no it was really good. To me, it’s a metal festival as I went when I was younger and I was into metal, but I guess they’ve kind of pushed it more towards a larger umbrella of rock. They had some really cool bands like Anti-Flag, NOFX and Milk Teeth, so maybe they’re just broadening it out a little bit.
AH: I think they need too really.
Dean: Yeah they do which is great.
AH: That was in the middle of the Beach Slang tour. How was that?
Dean: That tour, it was no fault of anybody, was stressful. We had two major breakdowns and it’s our own van so it’s our responsibility to get it all fixed. We were just badly organised for it. The shows were all great but everything else was nothing but stress and hassle. We also right at the end of the tour too, not badly, crash the van into somebody else. So when July came along, I was relieved it was over.
AH: You’re going back out on tour later this year for a headline run. Are you looking forward to it?
Dean: Yeah I’m really excited. I’m kind of nervous because we’re playing places we’ve played before, but for a long time and not on our own. We’re playing the Underworld in Camden that’s the biggest venue we have headlined. So I’m kind of nervous there’s not going to be enough people there. We’ll see. The good thing about that venue is the way it’s laid out. There could be not enough people there, but it still be ok, because the people who are there are in the front bit then that’s fine. I’m really excited for it. We played there with The Menzingers in maybe 2012, and that was the biggest place we had played then, because apart from that it was small bars. I remember being like “woah!” It’s like a stadium! (laughs) Which obviously it’s not but we kind of have the similar feeling now because we’re headlining it. It’s a big step up I guess.
AH: Are you daunted or excited about the prospect?
Dean: Both. Definitely excited.
AH Any plans for new material at the moment?
Dean: We’ve not really had the chance to practise because we’ve been playing too many shows, but we’re working on a next EP or a next album, depending on how it goes. I’m excited about it. Lande has got as far as writing lyrics and a few chords on a guitar. I’m really excited about how they’re sounding. We got some demos and I just keep listening to them over and over again.
‘From Caplan to Belsize’ by Muncie Girls is out now on Specialist Subject Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)