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“Female-Fronted Is Not A Genre”: An Interview With Mundy’s Bay

Hard Noise Meets Mundy’s Bay, An Indie Band Full of Hardcore Kids Who Hang Out In Guitar Centers

Yann Therrien, a veteran of Quebec’s hardcore music scene, never thought he would get the chance to play in an indie band. Then he met Esther Mulders.

“When I met Yann, he wanted to work on a project that was more indie and less hardcore,” Mulders said. “I had some lyrics I was working on, and I wanted to try to have a band and write some music.” 

That initial jam session five years ago steadily grew into a band called Mundy’s Bay. After Therrien and Mulders began to write together, other hardcore kids filled out the group, including guitarists Victor Beaudoin and John Donnelly, and bassist Willy Love. 

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“None of us had played (indie rock) before,” Therrien said. “We all loved it but only playing in hardcore and punk bands, it was an extreme transition for us. We were used to writing five songs and three jams, then we’d go play a gig.” 

This summer, Mundy’s Bay signed to Pure Noise Records and released an EP titled Control Room featuring the single “Moonlight.” Up next for the band is a full-length album, produced by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou. 

We sat down with Mulders and Therrien to discuss recording with Ballou, stopping in at Guitar Center, and possible names for the upcoming full-length. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.  

HARD NOISE: Esther, when first playing and writing this material, did you have to tell the guys to turn down? 

ESTHER MULDERS: (laughs) It’s been an ongoing thing. I think everybody realizes we have to turn down because my voice is softer. It’s a habit, right? You’ve been playing in hardcore bands your entire life, and then you’re playing softer. Everyone has to adjust to that. 

HN: What’s going on now with the band? New album? 

EM: We just recorded our full-length with Kurt Ballou in Salem, Massachusetts. It’s 10 songs. We’ve been writing them for the past few years. We’re waiting for that to be done, getting the artwork ready and hopefully release it in the fall. 

HN: What’s it like working with Kurt Ballou? 

EM: We reached out to him a couple of years ago, actually, to see if he would be open to recording and working with us. He was interested, and he loved our kind of music, but he didn’t have time. When we signed to Pure Noise, we were asked who we wanted to record with, and we said Ballou. He remembered us. It was probably one of the best recording experiences in my life. He made everyone feel super comfortable. He was really down to earth. He knows his stuff. He was strict but encouraging. 

HN: Are the songs similar to those on the new EP? 

EM: It’s a little more moody, darker. But the songs we recorded with Kurt have a pop sound. I feel like it’s more post-punk. We let Kurt do his thing. It sounds very full and very good. I’m really excited to release it. 

HN: The band’s name, is that an allusion to something? 

EM: That’s actually where I grew up. Mundy’s Bay is the old name of the town, which was changed to Midland. It’s a small port town on the harbor with cottages and fresh water beaches. 

HN: Going through the band’s Twitter, I saw an interesting post that said, “FEMALE FRONTED IS NOT A GENRE.” I feel like “female fronted” is an easy description and it comes with these associated feelings, but I wanted to hear your reaction and know where that comment came from.

EM: I don’t think I posted that, but I 100% agree with that. I feel like everyone in the band should be equal. 

YANN THERRIEN: We haven’t had it easy. This isn’t the only band I’ve been in with a female singer, and if anything, it’s harder. 

EM: We’ve worked harder than anybody I know for this. I’m proud to be in a female-fronted band, but people should be listening to the music because of the music. 

HN: It’s fascinating that it’s 2019, and it’s still this thing of this is band fronted by a woman first, rather than just listening to the music and being open to that. 

YT: The other day, someone asked me to play rock music, and I turned on the Cranberries. Then, that person was like, “Oh no, can you play something else?” Then, I turned on Nirvana. And he was like, “Yeah, that’s it.” For me, I was like, “That’s the same thing.” It’s pretty much the same band — they’re both rock bands, you know? It’s just that one band has a male singer. I couldn’t understand it. 

HN: Reading the press release, one of the band members was talking about the lack of genres and how that helps nowadays rather than hurts. I feel like the best bands soak up everything like a sponge, and it doesn’t matter how that band is described; what genre that band is placed in. 

YT: I agree. Even though we’re an “indie” band, we play as loud and intensely as all these hardcore bands. 

HN: I don’t even know what indie means anymore these days. What do you think it means? 

EM: It’s a category with a ton of subcategories. It can be bands that experimental, folk, rock, post-punk. I think the general population would define indie as anything that’s under the radar or unique; anything that’s not necessarily on the radio. It could be anything electronic, industrial to folk; rock, post-punk and soft music. 

HN: Who is the one band you would want to tour with? 

EM: Oh my god, I don’t know. There are so many. 

YT: Something that would blow my mind would be to tour with Interpol or The National. That would be surprising for me. But I don’t know, something that might be doable is Turnover. We all really love Turnover. That would make me really happy. 

EM: We’re extremely open with any band that wants to tour with us. The dream is to climb that ladder, you know? 

YT: Yeah, I mean, if we could play with bands like Diiv, Beach Fossils, or even Mac DeMarco. 

HN: Is that the type of stuff you’ve been listening to lately? 

EM: Yeah. I’ve actually been listening to a lot of Orville Peck. He’s kind of goth county. 

YT: We all listen to very different things. John is going to listen to a lot of metal. He went to a Slayer concert by himself last night. Vic and Will are huge Sonic Youth fans. 

HN: When you’re on tour, do you have any hobbies, places you have to visit, or things you have to bring with you? 

EM: We like exploring parks, restaurants and cafes. 

YT: We probably do what all bands do, honestly. We go to Guitar Center. The joke in the band is that we like a good Guitar Center. Wherever we go, if there’s a Guitar Center, that might be the only thing we do. We’ll go and chill in there for a few hours. There’s nothing like that here, like a music store you can go into and slam snares for two hours. 

HN: Do you have a certain beat you play to annoy managers?

YT: I’m sure we’re all annoying. We walk in, the five of us, and it’s obvious we’re not going to spend a dollar, and we try everything. We start at the keyboards, and by the end of it, we’re playing with the DJ stuff. 

HN: So after this album coming up, Mundy’s Bay will write a hardcore album, right? 

YT: You never know. Maybe one day, we’ll cover a song. It depends on the tour, you know? I’d be stoked if we ended up playing like at Sound and Fury. I could see us covering a Biohazard song, and Esther jumps in the crowd. 

HN: Does the new album have a title? 

EM: No, we’re not sure yet. We’re digging around. We have some ideas. 

YT: We’re gonna call it “Hard Noise.” Didn’t see that one coming, did you? 

HN: You should call it “Biohazard.” 

YT: Yeah, that would be badass. 

 

Photo: Véronique_Lévesque