EVER WONDERED WHAT LIFE IS LIKE TOURING THE WORLD AS AN UP-AND-COMING BAND? MARSHALL IS GIVING YOU AN EXCLUSIVE LOOK OF WHAT LIFE IS LIKE ON THE ROAD WITH SOME OF OUR FAVOURITE ARTISTS. SO LET US INTRODUCE YOU TO DREAM WIFE, THE LONDON-BASED POP PUNK TRIO THAT’S KNOWN FOR THEIR RAUCOUS, HIGH-ENERGY LIVE SHOWS, AS WELL AS THEIR BITING ANTHEMS OF FEMALE EMPOWERMENT.
Dream Wife reckon their best gig ever was when they turned the Moth Club into a graveyard for Halloween. Rakel Mjöll recalls how bassist Bella Podpadec spent weeks making fifty tombstones to scatter around the venue, while some of their fans brought their own to the show, their first big London headline slot. "It was great, and that whole night was so much fun, it was one of the best parties I’ve ever been to," she says. "The tombstones were everywhere, and because you got a goodie bag when you left, you got a tombstone as well - people were running out of Moth Club with them."
While the residents of Hackney might have been perturbed to see excited fans running past their front doors wielding graves, it says a lot about the creative energy and sense of fun that's shaped the rise of the now London-based trio, who channel Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Ramones into effervescent songs about youth, love and empowerment.
They met at art college in Brighton, where their first gigs happened at house parties, galleries and benefits for a theatre, rather in than standard music venues. Since their self-titled debut album was released in January 2018, they've played over 100 gigs, travelling up and down the country in a tour van resounding to the likes of ABBA, Madonna, Prince and US punk rock troupe Sheer Mag. We catch up with Rakel Mjöll in the Dream Wife tour bus en-route to Paris from a show in Berlin supporting Garbage.
HOW IS IT PLAYING IN SUPPORT OF YOUR HEROES?
We did one with Sleigh Bells, who are one of our favourite bands ever, and The Kills who we absolutely loved as teenagers. We were joking that we were fulfilling our thirteen-year-old teenage fantasy - going on tour with the bands that we loved at the time when we discovered music and that whole world seemed so far away.
HOW HAS THE MONTHS OF TOURING THROUGH 2018 BEEN?
It’s become a really beautiful routine. They’ve all been great shows, we haven’t played one where we’ve felt like it didn’t work out how we wanted it to. It’s been really wonderful.
IT'S NOT OFTEN THAT BANDS DESCRIBE TOURING AS "A BEAUTIFUL ROUTINE"
Well it is a routine, but we’re grateful for things. For example, if there’s something interesting on the rider, like when Alice got a boiled egg the other day, and we were all like oh my god!
IN THE FILM YOU DID FOR I-D AND MARSHALL, YOU TALKED ABOUT WRITING SONGS ON THE ROAD, WERE YOU STILL ABLE TO DO THAT THIS TOUR OR HAS IT JUST BEEN TOO HECTIC?
The good thing is that you get ideas and since you’re always in transit, there’s a lot of opportunities to be inspired, especially with the conversations that you’re having with strangers, and you’re meeting old friends, new friends. Those conversations stay with you and that sometimes makes it into a song.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO HAVE THE VISUAL SIDE, LIKE THE MOTH CLUB HALLOWEEN GIG WITH THE TOMBSTONES?
It just makes it more fun, for all of us. You should have many different outlooks that you’d like to explore creatively, anything from creating merch to videos. It’s just like why not? So, at one of our live shows we had a prom scene, it was so funny, everyone got involved, we got friends of ours on stage, who started making out, like high school dance making out, and that’s how we ended: a mixture of making out and mosh pits on stage. You’re here to be entertained, and adding a little bit of extra flair to it just makes it such a good party.
IN THE FILM YOU TALK ABOUT A FEELING OF SOLIDARITY AT GIGS. IS THAT AN IMPORTANT PART OF LIVE MUSIC FOR YOU?
Yeah massively! If you have a platform, use it to benefit others and we think that a lot of songs touch on breaking gender stereotypes and as well, we tackle different issues that we’ve experienced as women. We think it’s really important that we bring that to the show sometimes. We think we should be talking about things like “what is gender?” It’s a construct that we should dismantle.
AND IT’S ALWAYS INCLUSIVE?
Anyone could be at our show, a sixteen-year-old girl in the audience with an eighty-year-old punk rocker which is so cool. So, we kind of just want to acknowledge all the audience members, and we want them to respect each other and look out for each other.
WAS THE 'GIRLS TO THE FRONT' POLITICS OF RIOT GRRRL A BIG INFLUENCE ON YOU, AND HOW DO YOU BRING THAT INTO YOUR OWN?
We actually got into Bikini Kill and the Riot Grrrl movement after we formed this band, we respect it completely and it has really guided us in ways of understanding the heritage and place we come from as female musicians playing more ‘aggressive’ music. It's that thing of channelling negativity into positivity and finding a solidarity together at a gig, it's about everyone respecting everyone else in the room. We have a moment in our set where we call the ‘bad bitches’ to move towards the front, it still feels important to make that moment for women and female identifying people at a gig, even though Riot Grrrl was over twenty years ago, now.
HOW DO YOU STAY HEALTHY ON TOUR?
For us it's about looking after our bodies. When we are playing a sweaty and physically intense show every night you have to stretch off and be kind to your body, let yourself rest. Trying to eat healthy is also really important, when you are in transit a lot it's hard not to just buy bad food from gas stations, it's worth eating the right things to sustain your health when you wanna be able to bring it to the rock show night after night.
WHAT'S THE KINDEST THING ANYONE HAS SAID ABOUT ONE OF YOUR GIGS?
‘I wanna start a band now’
AUTHOR LUKE TURNER PHOTOGRAPHER LIBBY BURKE WILDE