Interview with Muncie Girls vocalist/bassist Lande Hekt | By Bryne Yancey
Muncie Girls vocalist and bassist Lande Hekt has a knack for complementing bright, melodic punk compositions with lyrics addressing serious topics. This is evident on From Caplan to Belsize—out now via Animal Style Records in the U.S., Specialist Subject Records in the U.K., and Uncle M Music in Europe—in songs like “Respect,” which alludes to an abusive relationship, and the overtly sociopolitical “Learn in School,” which is already the catchiest working-class anthem of 2016.
Talking about her songwriting, Hekt laughs and admits that, while writing for the album, “I learned that, as a person and a songwriter, I’m quite negative. I tried to focus some of the concepts of the songs on particular things. I’ve written a few songs about political stuff—I didn’t want to write a whole record about how sad I am in my bedroom, you know what I mean? I figure there’s no point if I have to show people—no one wants to hear that. One thing that was quite nice to learn is that I can share some opinions and not sound too crap. I always thought I’d never write a political song, because I don’t know anything about it, but it’s actually worked quite well.”
“I’m a working-class person, so my opinion should really make up the majority of the population,” Hekt says. “It does matter what I and my peers have to say, because we represent the population.”
Heading into their fifth year as a band, Muncie Girls recorded From Caplan to Belsize over a year ago. “There was just more to think about, and we wanted to do it right and not rush anything,” Hekt explains. “It hasn’t felt like we’ve had bags of time at all, but at first, when we were looking at a year from recording to release, we thought, ‘Oh God, we’re gonna be so bored of the thing before it comes out.’ But there really hasn’t been much spare time at all, and we’ve been able to work on it as much as we wanted to and nothing’s been compromised.”
Despite her trepidation, Hekt adds, “Everything I wrote still kind of stands, pretty much. My relationship with the songs isn’t that different. This year has gone so quickly, and it feels like I just wrote them. And I haven’t written much lately, because we’ve been so busy, so they’re still the most recent set of songs I’ve written. I really thought I’d be so bored of them and hate their guts by now, but I still like them. You have to listen to it so much—in the control room, you have to pick it apart, you’re asked to pick it apart and come up with new ideas—and [normally,] you start to hate it, the producer hates it, everyone hates it. You hear it so much.”
From a listener’s standpoint, From Caplan to Belsize should be relatively easy to digest. There’s a certain degree of intangible timelessness—that is, you know it when you hear it—to the way Muncie Girls write songs. The guitar tones are bright as the midday sun, the melodies as catchy as Velcro, and the lyrics, as mentioned before, have gobs of substance. Under the right circumstances, these songs could have broad crossover appeal, but that accessibility appears to be more of a happy accident than anything else. “I didn’t mean to write like that; it’s good that it comes across that way,” Hekt says. “When I write about personal stuff, I don’t even think about anyone really listening to it. Obviously, I know people will, that I’ll show people, but I don’t write thinking, ‘Oh, well, everyone can find something in this lyric.’ I think, ‘No one is going to understand what this means, but fuck it, I’ll just do it anyway.’”
Now that the release of From Caplan to Belsize is imminent, Hekt says the plan for Muncie Girls is not unlike that of other young, hungry bands. “I think basically, we just wanna tour,” she says. “Thing is, 2015 and 2014 were such amazing years for us. We went to America and we went to Europe, like, seven times or something, and we had such a great time touring. To be able to do that for another year would be a goal in itself. There’s no kind of ‘next level,’ because I can’t believe we have a chance to tour and do the things we do, so just continuing would be amazing.”