Firecracker duo MS MR doesn’t officially begin their tour for their latest album, How Does It Feel, until April, but after we heard it, well, we just couldn’t help ourselves. We invited them to perform at our inaugural Jukely Sound Projects show in Brooklyn.
This gave us a chance to get caught up with the duo of vocalist Lizzy Plapinger and producer Max Hershenow for a few minutes about live shows, upcoming tours, festival season, and what it meant to make an emotional, personal album like How Does It Feel.
The reception to your new album has been overwhelmingly positive, but it’s very personal. How does it feel, pun intended, to sing a diary entry to such a massive audience?
I think part of our goal was to make the album more personal. Not that the first album wasn’t, but things were shrouded in metaphor and reverb, and it was heavy in terms of sifting through to find the meaning. We really wanted to make this one about stripping it back, both musically and in terms of lyrics, and just letting the emotion shine through up front.
It’s cool, it’s a much more personal relationship with our fans, and increasingly we feel like we have a real connection with people, and our fans become our friends. Especially because we’ve been on the road for so long, and we see a lot of the same people in the same cities. So when you play personal music to people you recognize and know, it’s an incredible feeling when people start singing back to you. There’s really nothing like that in the world.
How long did it take you to get comfortable with your live setup and develop your show vibe?
I think it’s an ongoing project. We don’t predetermine what things will look or feel like, we let it develop naturally over the four years we’ve spent on the road.
So, I don’t know. Each piece came together in its own way to the beast that it is. And I think we’re consequently owning it, evolving it, and there’s an incredible freedom to be playing these shows and feeling comfortable on stage. And then constantly pushing ourselves to dig deeper and create new moments. Things like having dances that we’ve never done, or be as deeply emotional as we can.
So that’s really cool to feel like there is a richness to it that we can continue digging into.
Speaking of incredible live shows, you guys are going on tour with Bloc Party, so how did that come about and what are you most excited for?
Honestly, most touring happens because scheduling works out – but with Bloc Party, they are one of Lizzy’s favorite bands from when she was in high school. So when we heard they were getting back together, she called up our bookers to see if we could jump on tour with them. She’s so excited, this is her dream come true.
You guys are on a ton of festival lineups this season, can you elaborate a bit on the different highlights of festivals vs solo tours?
I mean, I think both things work in tandem, and they both are really great for their own reasons. For festivals, it’s pretty fucking wild, I mean, the first time we played in front of 30,000 people it was a crazy, crazy experience that we could never replicate ourselves, you know?
It’s such a great chance for us to win over new fans, and it’s so great when someone comes up to you at a festival and is like, “I didn’t know who you were, but I was walking by, and I heard it and now I’m a huge fan.” Like that’s so much fun.
But then at the club shows, it’s our fans and friends and people who know the music you know, everyone is singing along and knows the words, so it sounds much more like a family reunion in a way.
What was your personally favorite concert memory?
Max: I think my favorite was seeing Arcade Fire at Coachella two years ago. I was with a bunch of friends, and I have loved Arcade Fire for years and years, and they put on such entertaining shows full of little tricks and surprises, so it was a magical night. I loved it.
Lizzy: It’s impossible to pick an all time favorite but it would be hard for me to ignore the HUGE influence of the first concert I ever went to… When I was 12, I saw The Rolling Stones at Wembley Stadium (which has since closed).
I had never experienced such a seemingly lawless environment and I was immediately and completely infatuated with rock ‘n’ roll. To see music and performance on such an epic scale was intoxicating and I think almost immediately set me on my path as a performer.
Interview by Allison Baughman.