Minneapolis indie rock band Mightly Fairly released their new disc, Big Words and Power Chords, last Friday with a CD release show at Bunkers. More than just a one-night stand, this is a band worth taking home to meet Mom and Dad.
We had the opportunity to chat with lead vocalist and guitarist Mischa Suemnig and drummer Joseph Papke about the new album, the MSP music scene, and what it’s like to have a track on MTV’s The Real World.
Who are Mighty Fairly?
Mischa Suemnig: We are an indie-pop foursome from Minneapolis. Started in 2004, we’ve just finished our second album Big Word and Power Chords. We’ve been lucky enough to attend SxSW 2006 and 2007, Hyperactive Music festival and to tour in 15 states. We’ve been included on a few compilation CDs and won three songwriting awards, and we’ve never had a label or manager. We like doing stuff ourselves, naturally with the help of some of our very generous friends, family and fans. DIY FTW!
Joseph Papke: The perfect bon mot to riposte the last crappy band someone dragged you to see.
How do you guys fit into the Minneapolis music scene?
Mischa Suemnig: The Minneapolis scene is very open to lots of different kinds of music, from hip-hop to singer/songwriter. We’ve got some favorite bars to play at, like the Nomad, the Turf Club, and Bunkers. Also some local favorite bands who’ve been very nice to us over the years: Alva Star, Kid Dakota, The Small Cities, and Mercer. In reviews from our first album, we got typified as having the “prototypical Minneapolis pop sound”…so, I guess we fit in OK.
Joseph Papke: With lube.
For a band who’s only been around for four years, you’ve been played on more than 280 radio stations. Do you guys have a fervent fan base or just a lot of free time?
Mischa Suemnig: We don’t have fans as much as we do disciples. We baptize them and then initiate…never mind. Yeah, we have a few folks around the country that come to shows when we tour through. When we’re out of state, it’s really fun to stop by the radio stations that play us. They treat us very nice. And, yeah, I think we work pretty hard at trying to get the word out. (Read: Whoring ourselves.)
Joseph Papke: Neither, frankly. We’re hoping the new album generates one or the other.
You had some songs featured on MTV’s Real World. Which songs, and can you confirm that getting tracks on The Real World automatically gets you laid?
Mischa Suemnig: “Wake Up,” “Last Stand Started,” and “Superheroes” from the first album got played on The Real World: Sydney and The Real World: Hollywood. The 1983 Buick station wagon that Kellie and I do acoustic tours in is like Spanish fly.
Joseph Papke: “Wake Up” and another one—I don’t know which, I don’t have cable. And yes, it does, but not with people you’d actually want to sleep with.
Tell me about your new album.
Mischa Suemnig: We’ve finally released an album with glockenspiel. It’s been my life-long dream. It’s more of a rock record than the previous, slightly less acoustic (though every song still has acoustic guitar on it), and more rock-out-with-your-rooster-out kind of deal. Still couldn’t do an album without four-part harmony on every other song…probably the most fun part of the recording process for us is to sit around in the control room and sing in four part harmony at each other and then argue about whose part sucks.
Joseph Papke: It was recorded and produced by us. It features eleven original songs. The songs are quite good. The CD fits into a medium sized pocket for on-the-go types.
What was the writing/recording process like?
Mischa Suemnig: I like the Michelangelo theory of creating. The marble already contains the statue, your job is just to release it. Michelangelo believed God had put the statue there. In my case, I think it’s Timbaland. Recording was really different this time around. Last time we worked with the FICTION team of John Hermanson and Eric Fawcett. We had Erik Appelwick come in and play some wurly and keys too. Alex Oana mixed and mastered it…so we had lots of folks we really respected helping us out and keeping us honest. This time around it was just the four of us banging away and hoping it would come out OK.
Joseph Papke: Blissful. There’s nothing better than creating.
What’s your favorite track on the album, and why?
Mischa Suemnig: “Save Your Love.” Lyrically, it speaks the most honestly about how I feel about love. If you’re not willing to hurt, you’re not ready to love, or at least retain love. In terms of pop songs, it’s not the best, but it’s my favorite story on the record. I’ve always loved great stories inside of great songs and I think that is often what makes a song timeless is having both an engaging plot and a hook. This one at least has the narrative part.
Joseph Papke: It’s very hard to choose, but since you insist, I’d have to say “Closer to End” due to equal parts heartfelt sentiment and deliciously unquarantinable hooks.