Mannequin Pussy Are No Longer the Bridesmaids

Mannequin Pussy: Seriously, don't Google them at work.
Epitaph Records
Mannequin Pussy: Seriously, don't Google them at work.
Patience is an apt title for Mannequin Pussy’s latest album. Three albums into their career, the Philadelphia quartet finally have their names on top of the bill.

“I’m fucking nervous,” singer/guitarist Marisa Dabice says over the phone about the band’s level-up into tour headliners. “It’s like such a thing between being nervous about something and just pure excitement. We’ve been calling ourselves ‘the bridesmaids’ for a really long time. We’ve been opening for other bands for a few years now, so we really appreciate the opportunity to put together our own tour with bands we really like and think that other people will be inspired by. It’s worth the nervousness.”

Dabice formed her band (don't Google them at work) with Athanasios Paul back in 2010. With Paul on drums, Mannequin Pussy’s sound was defined by her voice: an instrument that could howl, shriek, and foam at the mouth with intensity. It puts most hardcore bands to shame. Over time, the band would grow into a quartet, with Colins Rey Regisford on bass and Kaleen Reading on drums and percussion (Paul moved over to guitar).

Following Romantic, their acclaimed 2015 album, Patience finds the band embracing longer song lengths (some songs pass the four-minute mark!) and poppier textures. It’s an album that moves like an EKG, transitioning from lovely and quieter passages like “Fear/+/Desire” to rabid ragers like “Drunk I” and back down to another slow burn.

Putting together the record was a painstaking effort for the band: they rerecorded the entire album after they felt like their first attempt sounded too much like Romantic.

“We just decided it was worth it to punish ourselves a little bit to rerecord the album, because we knew that it could be captured in a way that would bring out some more special qualities in them,” Dabice explains.

The effort paid off: Patience is the band’s most adventurous record to date. It’s full of the deeply personal and unsparing observations that have defined Dabice as a writer. Like when she sings “It does not feel like a kiss / like the singers promised / A lie that was written for them” on “Fear/+/Desire”; it’s not just a vivid reflection on a toxic relationship, but a commentary on the culture that shapes it.

“I love girl group music,” Dabice says about The Crystals song that inspired her. “I think it’s some of the greatest music that’s ever been written...But as you grow up, you realize that these songs were written for them. It was never truly their voice. Then, you think about some of the things those singers were forced to sing about and you have a different reaction to the song. It’s very strange to think about a song like “He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)" being written by a man. There was a very famous woman writer (editor note: Carole King) on that song as well, but the main songwriter was a man (editor note: Gerry Goffin) and Phil Spector was involved in that song as well. So, you have to wonder how a song like that may have influenced the culture at the time — this idea to look at these things not as abuse or women deserving better, but as just the way things are.”

With a critically acclaimed new record under their belt and a headlining jaunt across the country on the horizon, Mannequin Pussy’s patience is finally paying off.

“That’s what I love about music,” Dabice says. “You have this opportunity to collaborate with other artists who possess these skills and talents that you don’t have. But through that collaboration, you’re able to bring out these beautiful ideas you have and bring them to life in such a cohesive way.”

Mannequin Pussy are playing on Tuesday, August 27, at The Rebel Lounge in downtown Phoenix. Tickets are $12 to $13 via Eventbrite.