What’s your first reaction when you hear the words Mannequin Pussy?
Well, front woman to the band Mannequin Pussy, Marisa Dabice believes you can tell a lot about a person by the way they react to that name. Though she admits there’s no epic story to the creative process of the band name, she embraces it due to its ability to convey both aggressiveness and coyness.
Having been on BTRtoday way back in 2014, Mannequin Pussy has stayed one of our favorite bands. They’re a perfect mixture of hardcore punk and sweet tenderness. They go from fast and hard-hitting drums, to sweet oh la la’s and melodic beats under catchy vocals—they make you want to punch someone in the face, while also falling in love with them.
Based in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love and punk rock, Mannequin Pussy has been playing together now for around five years. It started off with childhood friends Dabice (vocals/ guitar) and Thanasi Paul (guitar). Dabice tells BTRtoday that the two met when they were around only five-years-old and that Paul was always in bands growing up, but Dabice didn’t get the urge to play until her early 20s.
“My grandpa owned a record shop in Baltimore called Record Collection, so music was a pretty big part of my life, but not playing,” Dabice recalls. “I didn’t start playing until I was like 23 I think.” She explains that around that age she was going through several different traumatic events at once and was trying to find an outlet to deal with it all. “I really just turned to music and was very hungry to learn it,” she adds.
Once Dabice and Paul started playing together, only a couple years later did they recruit Kaleen Reading to play drums, and within a few years after that they found Colins Regisford, aka Bear, to play bass.
Back in 2014 they released their debut album, entitled “GP (Gypsy Pervert),” and just this past October they released their sophomore album “Romantic,” both on Tiny Engines, a record label that has also been spotlighted on BTRtoday.
Artwork courtesy of the band.
The albums have that very distinct Mannequin Pussy style; chaotic yet soothing, but each have a distinct difference to them. “GP” is oozing with desperation and confusion, along with a desire to understand it all. While “Romantic” takes more of an acceptance route and portrays a story of the after effects of disaster.
Dabice explains that “Romantic” explores the stages of grief. “There are five stages of grief—the first one of which is denial, so as you go through the stages you learn a lot about your experience and questioning yourself,” she describes about the themes in “Romantic.” She adds that it’s not only a personal theme for them to explore, but also for the world due to the sudden shift of vibes from peaceful to doomsday. “So the album explores that, while also dealing with modern romance, like how you fit well into grief—I mean that’s a lot to unpack in like 17 minutes, but all the songs are almost like continuations of each other.”
The band shares a common passion of growing as musicians, thus creating a fresh take on each record they release. Dabice believes that artists shouldn’t aim to sound the same for the rest of their life, but to push themselves and grow while doing so. “We’re artists and so how do we continue our art in a way that makes us feel inspired to be making it,” she explains about how Mannequin Pussy’s sound has morphed over the years. “I think that’s why the four of us work so well together, because we all share that mindset of how to continue to challenge ourselves to write better in music.”
On the band’s Facebook page their bio reads, “Like a bat stuck in a tent,” courtesy of Paul. Dabice admits that the description is actually quite accurate to the sound of the group, stating, “and I think that’s an apt description, like it’s something that is manically trying to escape its confines—very fast and fluttery.”
Currently, they are focusing on touring and playing benefit shows. Dabice says they try to book one benefit show a month when they’re back in Philadelphia. Currently, they are on tour with Joyce Manor and AJJ (Andrew Jackson Jihad) and will be playing again in Philly Feb. 24 for the Trevor Project Benefit show and March 11 for the record release show of Pissed Jeans.
Then in late May they’ll be playing a short Canadian tour before heading to do their first European tour for a month. Dabice confesses that Mannequin Pussy is a band that really likes to play their new stuff while on tour before recording. “So we can really refine it in its final form,” she explains. Having already written five songs for their next album, Dabice has high expectations for this year. “I definitely think in 2017 we’ll be sharing some new music we’ll be working on a lot, we want to move on.”
Make sure to keep an eye on all their handy social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bandcamp) to see if they’re playing in a venue near you and to be the first to hear what they’re cooking up next! With everything that’s going on with the world today, we could all use a little more Mannequin Pussy.