An indie-pop trio based out of Hartlepool, Mt. Misery was initially a solo venture for songwriter Andrew Smith, before, at the start of 2019, morphing into a full band. Casting a cursory ear to the band’s upcoming debut album, Once Home, No Longer, out this Friday via Prefect Records, you could be mistaken for thinking you’re cruising the West Coast of America with Whitney or Real Estate for company. Beneath that melodic-pop perfection though, is a distinctly North Eastern wistfulness. These are songs where every ray of sunshine is just a precursor for an onrushing rain cloud, music that exists in a place where while the sea view might look beautiful, it takes a brave soul to dive into the icy chill.
If the music has a sense of the blissed-out, big-sky indie of America in the 1960s, throughout Once Home, No Longer, the words paint a distinctly British viewpoint. Andrew’s lyrics seem to channel much of that small-town nostalgia that acts like Belle & Sebastian or the Sarah Records alumni did so well. Whether it’s the title track, which gently mourns a childhood lost to the passing of time, or recent single In the Blink of an Eye, with its reflection on the palpable sense of directionless that unemployment brings, Mt. Misery’s music seems to zoom in on the everyday minutiae of modern-day England. If that’s all sounding a little like a Ken Loach film in the making, then don’t be mistaken, because between the picture-perfect portraits there are more than enough great pop songs here to get lost in. A perfectly formed pop record with more than enough depth to keep you coming back for more, in contrast to their name, time spent with Mt. Misery’s music is a complete joy.
FTR: For those who don’t know, who are Mt. Misery?
We’re a band from Hartlepool, a coastal town in the north east of England. There are three of us in Mt. Misery: Lewis on drums, Ste on guitar and myself (Andrew) on guitar and vocals, with some help from our friend Eddie on bass when we play live. Our music is sometimes likened to Teenage Fanclub, Belle & Sebastian and similar bands, which we’re more than happy to welcome!
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
We played an opening slot at The Studio in Hartlepool in August 2018. We’d met each other for the first time earlier in the month and quickly cobbled together a set, so we were a bit under prepared and still getting to know each other. It was a very exciting, frightening time!
I remember being so nervous that I could barely speak, people talking over our set, and the feeling afterwards of wanting to do it all over again.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
Upbringing is probably a big part of it. I grew up in a musical household and wanted to make music and play in bands from an early age, and I think Lewis and Ste were the same in that respect.
We like to get involved with the visual side of things too. Lewis is a really talented artist and has designed and illustrated all of our artwork so far, including merch and gig posters. We’ve tried our hand at making music videos and producing our own press photos as well. The three of us have quite a clear idea of how we want to present ourselves, and we get a lot of satisfaction from handling those things ‘in-house’.
FTR: What can people expect from a Mt. Misery live show?
The four of us in matching dungarees having a good time playing our music! Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the nerves and stress of performing, but we try not to take ourselves too seriously and just enjoy the experience. We’re having a lot of fun playing together after many months of not gigging, so we really want to carry that feeling forward and make each show a memorable one.
FTR: What’s next for Mt. Misery?
Our debut album, Once Home, No Longer, is out on 25th June via Prefect Records, which we’re immensely proud of and excited to share. Beyond that, our calendar for the rest of 2021 is beginning to fill up now that venues are re-opening, and we’re working on new music for our next release, whenever that may be.
I think we’re going to try and tour next year. It’s been at the top of our to-do list for a while now, but uncertainty around gigs has made things difficult. We’re really hopeful things will come together in 2022 so we can get out there and play to some new faces!
They Listen To…
Yo La Tengo – Today Is The Day
John Andrews & The Yawns – River of Doubt
Another Sunny Day – The Centre Of My Little World
Weyes Blood – Seven Words
Hand Habits – 4th Of July