Goin' Down: We talk to The Mystery Lights

Photo by Jordan Croso

Photo by Jordan Croso

It’s a rough city. One that never sleeps, home to the greatest music in the world, and where you could argue birthed punk from the depths of a little club called CBGBs. It’s New York City, and it’s the home of The Mystery Lights. The band, who have just dropped their second full length titled “Too Much Tension!”, are renown on the world touring circuit with their totally primal in-your-face live shows. It’s a pure form of contemporary rock and roll, influenced by The New York Dolls and Velvet Underground, but one you can only find if you dare to read past the pages of Rolling Stone and Pitchfork. Thankfully for you, you probably already dig the underground, because you’re reading this very article. We’ve gotta cherish the bands serving their duty of keeping it alive, and The Mystery Lights are one of these bands, so we caught up with them after their morning coffee, or tea, for a little catch up.

Mornin’, black coffee or coffee with milk?

Black coffee and Yerba Mate Gauyaki.

You guys originally formed the band over the mutual love for bands like the MC5, Velvet Underground and The Fall, are these influences still deeply rooted in your sound today?

Very much so, probably couldn’t shake it if we tried! 

Congratulations on the release of the new record, can you give us the low down on the recording?

Thanks! We’re very excited to finally have it out! We recorded everything at Daptone studios with Wayne Gordon as producer and engineer. Tracked mostly everything live on their 2 inch tape machine. We’ve been working on it in between a lot of touring so it’s taken longer than usual since we’ve been so busy on the road. Pretty much same process as the last one, except we took more time on this one to make it extra special. Adding in synths  and overdubs versus the live recording approach of the first record. And Wayne did a killer job with the stereo mix! Wizard Wayne. 

Wayne Gordon has some pretty cool titles to his name, how was working with him?

It’s always great working with Wayne. Family for life. He has an extremely creative and attentive mind. This record was a lot smoother since we now know each others recording style and process. Wayne got the sounds down pretty quickly since he knows how we like it now.  

Back in 2014 you made the move to Queens, New York. What impact did that have on your music?

New York is always on, so there’s a lot of shows to play and people to meet. We loved New York bands like Television, Richard Hell and the New York Dolls when we were younger and it’s been cool getting to meet some of those people that are still around. It can be a love/hate relationship but there’s always something to do and work on.  

You have a relentless history of touring, do you think live shows are the best way for people to dig The Mystery Lights?

I think you get the full picture if you see the live show, for sure. Totally different experience than just listening to the record. I could say that for a lot of bands actually, like the Fat White Family for instance. Their records and live shows are two totally different experiences coming from the same minds. I love that. 

With roots firmly set in DIY, what does DIY mean to you?

When we started we didn’t really know how to do it any other way, it wasn’t necessarily a conscious choice.  That has carried over to what we do now because we like having control over our music and we like working with like minded people who do it for the right reasons. 

What’s the future holding for the Mystery Lights?

We are heading to Mexico City for the first time to play a show there on August 1st! Then in September and October we’ll be touring Europe and the UK. Then after that, who knows. Currently we’re working on our third album. If we stay ahead then it shouldn’t take as long as “Too Much Tension!”... So we hope.

Keep up to date with The Mystery Lights on their Facebook here where you can find all upcoming tour dates. Go shake your ass at a show.