Catch up with drummer and founder of pop rock band The Mrs, Andra Liemandt, and listen to the Austin-based four piece's latest single "The Beast" off their forthcoming debut album.
What got you interested in starting The Mrs?
Andra: Well I wouldn't say that it was something that was a preconceived notion or something that I had thought about planning and doing, it was something that just came about. I was looking for my daughter's piano lessons and, at the time, she was three and I happened upon a place that taught by ear and they convinced me that I should be, not only teaching my daughter piano, but that I should be learning an instrument, too. So I thought, "what the heck, why not? I live in Austin, the live music capital of the world," so I picked up the drums about eight years ago and, in doing that, I - as most girls do, we get our best friends involved in all the craziness that we love to do [laughs] - called my best friend Jenny who is our bass player and I got her to come and join the craziness with me. She picked up the bass and we started this journey of learning music together and, ever since then, it just has become a huge passion and love. About three and a half years ago, I decided that it was time to turn this dream into a reality and we formed a message. We brought on Mandy and Larissa, and that's what started the band The Mrs.
Which musicians would you say that you've been influenced by?
Growing up, I was from a small town, from Victoria, and Madonna was just a huge influence in my life. It was Madonna, it was The Go-Go's, Mötley Crüe, Boy George, I listened to it all. I had an older brother so I heard a lot of different varieties of music; he had his fast car with the T-top down and woofers in the back and we listened to every kind of genre of music, but it was always loud [laughs]. I never played music but I danced; I was a ballerina, so I was always into classical. But I loved heavy rock and I also loved Madonna. Now, transitioning into what influences our music, there's four of us in the band and we love anything current pop to throwback to any pop power goddess: Katy Perry to Pink to Kelly Clarkson. I would say we've had some strong influences from Kings of Leon to Muse to U2, of course, OneRepublic, X Ambassadors, Imagine Dragons. We love heavy drums with vocals that are flowing throughout where we can have lots of harmonies. It's a good mix of everything. A lot of Prince; one of our songs that we have now, we were really thinking of a heavy Prince feel to it. George Michael, of course. There's a lot of girls and a lot of opinions going around in the room [laughs].
Is there an artist you would recommend everyone take a listen to?
One artist? That is a very big question. I'm a big Ed Sheeran fan. Big X Ambassadors, and I don't know that I have to say 'give them a chance' because everybody does. [Laughs] I have young kids - they're eight and ten - and my station gets controlled by them at all times, so if they dont think it's cool, I dont get to listen to it, pretty much [laughs].
Which words would you use to describe your own sound?
This new album has a lot of different sounds on it and I would say it even has a little bit of reggae to it and, like I was saying earlier, a bit of a Prince feel on one of our songs, to some ballads to pop. Our sound is definitely a pop rock feel because you always feel the drums and a good bass line throughout. If you're not happy with [the album], if you're in a mood and you want to switch the feel, all throughout the album you can just pick a song and get with whatever mood you're in.
What were your inspirations behind your single "The Beast"?
I was going for more of a Go-Go's flair. Definitely a power rock feel to it and, coming off of our single "Enough" and some of our other songs, we were wanting to have more of a feel of that Kelly Clarkson "Stronger" feel. We had written down several different feels of what we were going after and that song, in and of itself, was probably one of the harder songs we wrote on the album - being that it had such a large chorus and that big feel to it - and that's what we were going after, was just a big, anthem-y rock feel. We were hoping for you to just feel free and just rock; I feel there's a space for that right now, to just feel. Bangles, Go-Go's, just bring it back and rock out! [Laughs]
Are these new singles indicative of what we can expect to hear on the album?
We're releasing our single "Blink Of An Eye" this February, just in a short few weeks, and "Blink Of An Eye" is going to be a bit of a different feel. I would say, you could feel that song being a little bit more OneRepublic. It's going to be a fresh sound for us, you're going to be surprised. I'm in love with this song and I think that there's a part in the breakdown where you really connect, it's a euphoric sense where you're floating in a cloud almost [laughs] but it's very powerful. I do a mix of both acoustic and electric drum throughout, so you get a taste of both, and there's a lot of different sounds going on on the keyboard and it's just really fun! That's going to be a little bit more unique sound for The Mrs, I think you'll be surprised and be excited to hear what that sounds like.
Is there a song off the album you're most excited to share?
["Blink Of An Eye"] I'm most excited about. We also have collaborated with Paul Oakenfold to bring out a remix as well, so I'm really excited about "Blink Of An Eye". There's so much to this song and so much just flavor in the music that it will give our audience so much depth of what we can offer for the whole entire album. This song is just the platform for things to expect. On some of the other songs we brought in horn players, like on "The Band Plays On" and "Cleaning House" when you feel like you've stepped into Jamaica for a little bit; you're just going to be surprised on this album and the creativity that went into it. We'll take you back down with "Dare Me" where it's just about taking risks and it's never too late but you feel it, because it's rock and hardcore, it brings you back down and grounds you. You're going to feel all of this and then when you get to "Somewhere To Go" with the ballad with this [sighs] beautiful piano that Larissa plays and the whole album is just a journey of live expressions of years of life and experiences that we've all gone through.
How would you sum up the album in one sentence?
The album is a reflection of living a full life: marriage, kids, careers, friendships, and all that that entails.
Would you mind telling us more about The Mrs Magic Mirror app?
Not at all! That was our first music video and that was launched a little over two years ago. Once that was launched and went viral - over 5 million views, Good Morning America called [laughs] and I didn't believe it when it was happening - once that did happen, we realized that we needed to really do more with this. We were getting inundated with calls from Queen Latifah, you name it! We were out there needing to really go and tell people what was happening and what that was all about, that Magic Mirror and the beauty that was seen in the people that experienced the Magic Mirror, we actually went out and toured around with it; we took it into places, into malls, into events, with charities, we took it to the Top of the Rock in New York and having done all of this - the Mall of America, we were everywhere [laughs] - and in doing that, we spoke and met and talked with hundreds of thousands of people. Based on just these conversations and hearing from people - from kids, from women, from men - we heard stories and we heard their lives. When we met and we sat and we said, "we're going to write our album," this is a reflection of their lives, not just ours, but an entire view of what it means to live these lives. This is all of those experiences and what we believe represents all of those people and how they affected us and how we believe we affected them in that mirror and what it's done to change people's lives. This album, I truly believe, is a representation of The Mrs and that experience that has forever changed me as a person, has changed my family, has changed our band, and it is so powerful. I believe in this album, I believe in what we've written, and I believe that these songs mean something.
What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?
I believe that when someone decides to listen to a song, in whatever particular moment that they're in, that they are able to connect with it on a level that brings something into their lives and that helps them get through a day or a moment or brings joy that they can take with them throughout. "This Is Not A Lullaby" - which I wrote for my kids from that perspective, Jenny was writing it for hers, and my bandmates were writing it, Larissa and Mandy, reflecting on friends and their respective loved ones - there's a lyric in there, "failure is defining". We believe in that moment, in that lyric, that failures are defining and it is in that moment that you grow and it captures who you are. Those are some lessons that are really hard to teach your kids and so, if a mom is playing this song for her daughter or maybe she's listening to it and she's like, "you know what, this is something I really need to remember and maybe I'll be able to share this with my daughter," or, "maybe I want to listen to this with my daughter or my son," and maybe it helps them grow; to remind them that maybe they're having a hard time in spelling or a hard time in whatever and that it's okay, you will grow. If that gets them through that moment, that's okay, because no matter what's going on in their life, we don't want the kids to lose sight of their dreams and to know that they will become who they need to become because they are strong. It's all of those things. I can dissect every song of why I wrote it, why we did that, but those little moments, whenever you think about, if somebody's listening to it and if they can grab that moment and why we wrote that lyric, it would be really meaningful to us.
Is there anything you want to add?
We're releasing "Blink Of An Eye" February 17th and then our album's coming out in March. We're performing in March at SXSW. A little over 8 years ago, I didn't even play the drums and Jenny didn't play the bass and we weren't even a band [laughs] so it's quite a dream and I feel honored and, for me, that is something that is very meaningful and helps us to keep moving forward with what we're doing. And we do have a pledge campaign going on that helps keep this moving forward.