Welcome to Bandspace, the monthly series where Phoenix New Times visits a Phoenix band's practice space.
If you don’t already know and love electro indie pop duo MRCH (pronounced march), know that the duo's infectious danceable synth paired with catchy lyrics are essential. When Mickey and Jesse Pangburn aren't touring, performing at festivals, or writing music, you'll probably find them practicing.
The pair began practicing at a small church in Arcadia called Redemption in 2015. The space is accented by pews and vaulted ceilings. And there's no question that the band feels "hashtag blessed" to have such a practice space. (Even if the sound system is in mono.)
Jesse and Mickey started MRCH after the two left the folk band The Prowling Kind in 2014. Originally, MRCH was a three-piece, but after a missed flight, the band became a duo.
Keeping things small works for the multitaskers, who also act as their own booking agent, manager, and publicity contact. "We do the writing, producing, and the recording. All but a few of the songs we've done all the mixing, we do most of our own artwork, and all of our own booking," Mickey laughs. "There's just two of us, but we do the best we can."
Fresh off their newest album Reactions, which was released October 12, the duo is anxious to go on tour again and start working on another album.
"Even though it’s really soon since we put out the album, we finished it a while ago," Mickey says. "I think that we are going to have some new songs out fairly quickly, and we are thinking a new music video as well."
Mickey and Jesse answered a few of New Times' questions about their work and practice space. (This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
Describe your practice space in five words.
Mickey: Clean, which I think is kinda nice for a practice space and it doesn’t happen very often. Roomy. There’s no time frame, so if we get here at 10 o'clock at night and just want to jam there are no noise restrictions no one can really hear. That's not really a word.
Mickey: Yes, we can get into our practice space. Jesse is such a spoiled brat; we have this amazing space available at our disposal, but they did the speakers in mono, instead of stereo and it drives him insane. He gets so upset about it all the time.
Jesse: I mean they did everything right. Except mono.
Mickey: Blessed, hashtag blessed.
Jesse: We recognize that this is very nice and not all bands have that.
Mickey: There’s also a lot of communal gear; everyone who plays here has like fun pedals and cool equipment, and it’s pretty much up for grabs. Like when we go on tour and we don’t have a ton of room, so I have like a 4/10 amp and I will just generally grab someone else’s 2/12 or if I need an extra guitar i'll just grab one. So that's really cool, too.
What are you working on right now?
Mickey: A couple things. So we just put out an album, but we’ve been writing a lot of new stuff and brainstormed a bunch of new ideas. That’s what I am excited about, as well as getting back on the road and touring, because it really charges both of us and it’s been a month since we’ve been on tour.
Jesse: It’s been like half a year since we’ve been on tour.
Mickey: Yeah, and it drives me kinda crazy.
If you could collaborate with any artist who would it be and why?
Mickey: I have two.
Jesse: You would say Dev Hynes, Jack Antonoff…
Mickey: Oh, I have three. I mean everybody and their mother has collaborated with Jack Antonoff, so that’s not going to happen. Dev Hynes I feel is still indie enough that even though he works with Solange and he just did Blondie’s new record. He’s really great and I love him. Also, I think it would be really sweet to collaborate with Annie Clark and Grimes. I guess that’s four. It’s impossible to pick one, I am sorry. It just depends who we can get.
Jesse: I’d say yes to all of them.
Mickey: Yeah, we will work with anybody. We’re not picky.
Jesse: Out of those four my favorite would be working with Annie ;Cark. I don’t think we could hang, she’s just so weird.
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What is the best show you ever played?
Mickey: That was super fun.
Jesse: It was one of the biggest shows we ever played.
Mickey: Yeah it was big, and people were really responsive. But when did we sound the best? Because I don’t think we necessarily sounded the best.
Jesse: Most of our Portland shows end up being my favorite shows, because something about the city of Portland, we’ve noticed they seem to physically respond to more to music and they dance and they get into it. Every single time that we’ve played, it’s the most connection I’ve ever played with an audience.
Mickey: I really actually liked a show that we played in L.A. with Skylar Spence, and it was super dancey and fun and it was one of our first time playing as MRCH for a sold-out crowd, and our first time playing as a duo.
And the worst one?
Jesse: Where do we start?
Mickey: San Francisco, I think that’s the worst.
Jesse: Which one?
Mickey: The one where we lost money.
Jesse: It was the perfect storm of terrible.
Mickey: We show up at a super-small venue next to a larger, more reputable venue. There aren’t a lot of people in the side we were performing in and the other side of it was packed because of some sort of reggae night. We enter the venue, and there is a five-piece folk band playing as we start to set up our equipment. People start leaving because it’s starting to get late; as the folk band is finishing up, they tell their 12 audience members to hang out with them next door after the set. Once we got in contact with the sound person who was working both venues told us that the booking agent forgot that they booked us. So no one knew that we were coming. We also ended up having to run our own sound by the end of it. I don’t know why we still played. We played for two people, the bartender gave us $5, and as we were leaving the venue we had to pay the toll to cross the bridge, which was $5. Our friend from the Bay Area came to see us play mentioned that we literally made $0 today. It wasn’t funny at the time, but it’s funny now.
What is one thing that’s missing from the Phoenix music scene?
Mickey: We were actually talking about this last night. We think that there is a lot of factions or different groups that are doing great things. We think that there are really great venues, and great promoters, and great bands, and great music. Something that we think would be really awesome is if there was more of a push to encourage local bands that want to take their music more seriously and take it farther if there was more of a community push to help encourage the growth aspect. Sometimes if you are dubbed a "local band" you are taken less seriously in a lot of respects, and maybe always treated as a local and an opener. It would be really cool to see things like locally focused shows or festivals or tours even. Where the goal is to reach out and spread it farther. I think that we have seen that in pockets like we have seen people supporting bands who want to get charting on Billboard. I think something like that would be really awesome. Adopt the attitude so that you could break in Arizona and then go farther, as opposed to like being from Arizona, move somewhere else, and break there, and then you are welcome back to Arizona.