So I Says To Mabel talks the catharsis of pop punk and the saving grace of music

We get into it with Western Sydney’s So I Says To Mabel about their latest EP ….needs therapy

So I Says to Mabel’s latest EP “…needs therapy” is a dynamic dive into the ebbs and flows of life, delivered through their invigorating pop-punk prowess.

Hailing from Western Sydney, this quartet’s candid charm shines through their music, tackling issues from mental health to misogyny with both grit and grace.

So I Says to Mabel new EP '...needs therapy'

Their creative process, a melting pot of influences from various genres, results in a sonic tapestry that’s as catchy as it is cathartic. The band’s knack for crafting infectious melodies, evident in tracks like “Circles” and “Super Emo,” hooks listeners while offering a glimpse into their intricate songwriting.

Producer Dave Bleus deftly captures their raw energy, an essential ingredient of their electrifying live shows, which they describe as a harmonious blend of pop-punk exuberance and fervent stage presence.

With “…needs therapy,” So I Says to Mabel delivers a musical ride that navigates the complexities of existence with a refreshing twist on the pop-punk genre. We take a deep dive into what makes the band tick with an exclusive interview.

Happy: What are you up to today?

Joel: Just living the dream, enjoying life.

Jacqui: Took the bike out for a ride with the boy, then picked up a new guitar (shout out to Gaz and the crew from Guitar Factory Penrith!)

Doug & Josh: Working.

Happy: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the scene like in your neck of the woods?

Jacqui: We’re from Western Sydney, scattered through Windsor and Penrith areas. We’re actually really lucky to be witnessing and to be part of a live music revival in the area.

 The Railway Hotel in Windsor and Elton Chong Dive Bar in Penrith are both providing awesome spaces for local original bands to play their music, and the Clarendon Hotel has a monthly jam night that is an awesome stepping stone for artists to gain performance experience (that was where we first played). 

Doug: The scene is small, but the individuals are dedicated to the craft.

Joel: I live in the Hawkesbury area near Windsor. It is quiet and just pretty darn peaceful.

Josh:I’m from Western Sydney, it is a quiet area 

Happy: Describe an average day? 

Jacqui: Morning gym, hot breakfast, and work (from home mostly). Weekly band rehearsals and teaching guitar also keep me in check. 

Doug: Working, working on band stuff, and band practice.

Joel: Going to work making a living.

Happy: What about your ultimate day?

Doug: Skydiving into a stadium and then performing for millions of listeners. 

Jacqui: Playing laser tag! 

Joel: Hanging out with my friends and family, having a fire in my backyard, playing shows and jumping in the crowd, having fun, and going to see some shows.

Happy: What did you read or watch growing up that fuelled your passion for music?

Josh: When I was a young child, I grew up watching Foo Fighters music video ‘Best of You’ which inspired me to play drums.

Jacqui: Growing up, the parents were always playing something, so I heard a lot of The Cure, Jeff Buckley, Pixies, Hole etc from a young age.

Having access to that kind of CD collection from a super young age was definitely the building block for my love of music. 

I remember one of the most powerful musical moments for me was seeing Sarah McLeod fronting the Superjesus for the very first time live. 

She is such an amazing front woman – she’s funny, she’s sexy, and she’s so charismatic. Everytime I saw her play live (whether it be with the band or solo), it made me aspire to actually play in a band!

Joel: We always had music going in the house when I was growing up – bands like The Angels, ACDC, Cold Chisel, and Black sabbath. During my teens, I started listening to 

Green Day, Nirvana, Blink 182, Slipknot, Stone Sour, Busted – a whole different range of genre and styles of music and playing. 

One stand out music memory was when I was 8 years old and watching Guns and Roses, seeing Slash for the first time play his melodic solo in November rain. 

I thought it was so amazing –  I have never seen or heard something that beautiful. That’s when I wanted to pick up the guitar and other instruments.

Doug: When I entered high school, I was the weird, sensitive kid. The reality in hindsight is, I was traumatised, disconnected from family, grieving death, living in a home that didn’t believe in disorder, so I further suffered undiagnosed and untreated ADHD. 

Though I’d learned piano, my music teacher wanted me to play jazz, classical and boogies, and with this new grey world, I was in no mood to boogie. I needed something that matched how I felt inside. 

When I was 14, I received a Cradle of Filth CD for my birthday, and the moment I heard the classically inspired, methodical chaos, the fast drums and high screams, it was like I finally woke up. 

The world that was once eclipsed in numb suddenly became full of colour, and because my chaotic mind felt recognised with chaotic music, I now knew how to express and manage the chaos inside.

Happy: Tell us about your band name, and why you chose that particular phrase, which actually sounds like something Five would say, but turns out it’s from The Simpsons…

Doug: So I Says to Mabel was named after the quote from Bart Simpson, telling a story you never get to hear the end of. 

The first few weeks of jamming, we were bonding over Simpson jokes, and though the name seemed quirky, it stuck. 

Especially with the abbreviation, SISTM, vaguely referencing the band System Of A Down.

Joel: I watched that episode of The Simpsons that day that the quote was referenced and was laughing so hard!

Jacqui: I mean, what beats a Simpsons quote!?

Happy: Your EP, “…needs therapy,” touches on a variety of themes from friendship breakdowns to mental health. Could you share how the process of addressing these complex topics through your music has influenced the overall sonic and emotional experience of the EP?

Doug: We write how we’re feeling at the time, which results in the music reflecting what was going on in our lives, even before verbally saying it. 

Jacqui: Yeh like Doug says, the music definitely influences the lyrical theme. For instance, the chunky sounds of Angry Hole were just begging for some angsty lyrics!

Similarly, whilst Super Emo and Stupid Ex are both about previous relationships, the feel and mood of the music dictated the lyrics for both songs; Super Emo takes a more serious tone and actually tries to get the ex partner to feel something, whilst Stupid Ex just spits the words out and doesn’t care about the consequences – very much like the music they are sung to.

Joel: Mental health is really a touchy subject for some, including myself. I find it hard to talk about things, and so music is the outlet I use to feel some normality. 

Music is like taking a deep breath and releasing it, and is an expression that helps to bring people together. 

Happy: “Talking” addresses the issue of misogyny, which is a pertinent topic in today’s world. How does your pop-punk sound help convey the strong messages within the song while still keeping the music engaging and relatable?

Jacqui: Musically, Talking is the poppiest and happiest sounding chorus on this EP, which is obviously a juxtaposition to the lyrical theme of the song. 

But that’s the beauty of this genre of music; catchy music to pull a listener in, but it’s often not til the 5th or 6th listen that they start to listen to, and hopefully think about, the lyrics.

That said, whilst the lyrics were written from personal experiences of frustration at misogynistic attitudes, they are relatable outside of that theme. 

We’ve all felt that someone isn’t listening! (Also, please check out the music video for Talking that we’ve recently released!)

Doug: Though misogyny is less frequent, there are still males (not real men. Lol) who presume themselves capable, entitled or superior by default. 

And they can seem like the loudest voice in the room when you’re a strong, capable, dominant woman because your attitude threatens their grand delusion of themselves. 

But, less commonly noted is the self sabotaging misogyny of women second guessing themselves, raised in the culture that prioritises male work ethic, which prevents women from reaching out for a sanity check. 

The number of times Jacqui has addressed something important with the self dismissal statement: “Am I being a bitch right now?”, to which I’ve replied, “no, if you had penis, you’d be regarded for your direct tone and strong leadership qualities.” 

So the tone of Talking, how precise it is on calling out for accountability, how she won’t back down, it’s meant to be that empowerment, that there is no second guessing. 

Happy: The collaborative songwriting process is mentioned, with songs often starting as a riff or beat in the rehearsal room. How does this organic approach contribute to the authenticity of your music and the dynamic between band members?

Joel: We all come from different genres; Doug and Josh love their metal, where Jacqui has a diverse range of pop punk influences. 

I bring a weird selection of genres. When we’re  jamming in the studio, coming up with riffs and melodies, the influences of these different scenes and putting our own taste of music into our songs just works.

Doug: As previously mentioned, we write how we’re feeling. We show up, organically frustrated with life, or fed up with social trends, pushing through the current sadness and exhaustion of it all, and we take those moods and express them. 

Jacqui: It’s really interesting to see how ideas get developed in a room full of different perspectives. 

I love being able to offer a simple riff or melody, and see how it takes a completely different direction to what I might have done, whether it be an interesting beat or an intricate bass line. 

It’s one of the coolest things about collaborative songwriting.

Happy: Producer and mixer Dave Bleus is credited with capturing the tenacity of your live sound on the EP. Can you share any insights into the recording process?

Doug: Dave Bleus is an excellent producer, but more importantly, he has a comfortable attitude that allows you the space to be yourself, and he nudges encouragingly and gets excited with you along the way.

Joel: Dave is the best producer and mixer on the planet! He gives the best advice when we are recording and helps us to keep pushing to make something better or making weird or whacky tones that will suit the songs we record.

He has been there from the beginning with this band and was one of the first people to give us a chance in this industry.

Jacqui: Recording with Dave was super cool as he knows our music. We rehearse at his studio and he sees us play at monthly jam nights. 

He’s the most laid back dude ever and laughed at me when it took me like 10 tries to get a decent pick slide sound haha. 

But yeh, he was able to add some flavour to our sound, and suggest some subtle additions to songs to make them that little bit more powerful. Shout out to Dave!

Happy: Your band’s sound is described as being influenced by different eras of pop-punk, emo, metal, and rock. Who are some of your favourite bands that you look to for inspiration?

Jacqui: Blink 182 is the most obvious for me. The simplicity of Tom’s riffs against his melodies is what I aspire to. 

Lyrically, I love how Kele from Bloc Party writes. But there are so many local bands who I love that always make me want to write a good song- Clay J Gladstone, Trophy Eyes, Slowly Slowly, Thornhill, Middle Kids- they are all so amazing at what they do, and they are all Aussie!

Doug: Devin Townsend and Suicidal Tendencies.

Joel: There are so many influences, but to name a few – Papa Roach, Guns N Roses, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Blink 182.

Josh: My favourite bands and artists are Foo fighters, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Rush, Vanilla Fudge, Slayer, Shadows Fall, Revocation, Cryptopsy, Kittie, Eumir Deodato.

Happy: Your live shows have garnered a dedicated local following. How do you create an interactive and energetic atmosphere during your performances, and what kind of connection do you hope to establish with your audience? How do you prepare for a performance?

Doug: I try to explode with as much energy as possible, jumping and being hyper, and even bringing a small trampoline when allowed. And that energy and quirkiness inspires others to be full of energy and feel comfortable being strange. 

Joel: I like to jump into the mosh pit to engage with the crowd – it always gets them going. Playing in a circle pit is insane!

Jacqui: Our live show is about fun. For me, the energetic atmosphere definitely starts with feeding off the other guys. 

I remember the very first time we performed live together, I was so nervous and so stiff. I looked to my left and saw Doug bouncing up and down and pulling faces like Gene Simmons from Kiss. 

From that moment on I had no nerves and realised that we own that stage! It feels so cool to see people singing along to our songs and connect to them. 

A few hours before a show, I’ll practice the set on an acoustic guitar at home.  And try to make sure I don’t forget lyrics … 

Josh:My favourite part of playing live is getting the crowd hyped, moshing and having a great time.

Happy: “Five” is intriguingly written from the perspective of the character Five from the Umbrella Academy. Can you delve into the creative process of putting yourself in a fictional character’s shoes and translating that into a song?

Jacqui: Five was one of the first songs we created as a band, so lyrically, I didn’t want to get overly personal or emotional.

Instead, I just challenged myself to write lyrics that weren’t at all to do with me. At the time I was watching the Umbrella Academy series and felt like that suited the vibe of the song. 

I’ve tried to continue doing that with lyrics; for example, Circles was written from the perspective of someone with schizophrenia.

With Super Emo, Doug came up with the chorus lyrics at rehearsal, so when I wrote the verse lyrics, I tried to write it from what I thought he was feeling at the time. 

More recent songs have been written from the perspectives of those close to me. 

Writing from another perspective is a valuable opportunity to learn about people and appreciate individual circumstances. 

Happy: “Circles” and “Super Emo” are your first two singles, and they’re already available on streaming platforms. How do these songs serve as a preview of what listeners can expect from the full EP, both musically and thematically?

Doug: They’re full of energy, arranged to portray the mixed feelings that come with the topics. 

The influence of death has Circles feeling heavy and reflective, whilst Super Emo dives into relationship issues that has one confused about why “what’s supposed to be” isn’t “reality.”

These prepare the listeners for the chaotic ride of life written down into our punchy poppy songs.

Circles and Super Emo are live favourites and easy singalongs. They are perfect demonstrations of the remaining four songs on the EP! 

Happy: As your debut EP, “…needs therapy,” is set for release, how do you envision this collection of songs making an impact on listeners, and what do you hope they take away from the EP’s journey?

Doug: I hope they take away our unique insight, our energy, our keen attention to detail of song structure and musical creativity.

Jacqui: …needs therapy is a collection of the earliest songs we wrote together and at the end of the day, is such a cool achievement for the four people who made it. It’s a demonstration of how getting out of your comfort zone can take you where you did not think you could go! 

Personally, I hope that anyone who listens to this or who has seen us, realises that it is never too late to go after something they want. 

Also, if you dig it, please come to the launch show on Saturday 23 September at Elton Chong Dive Bar in Penrith! 

We’re also playing a show in Canberra with friends Matriarch on Saturday 2 September for those who are down in the capital 🙂

Happy: Lastly, what makes you happy?

Jacqui: A sunny day hanging out with my boy and my cats.

Doug: I don’t know yet, but it doesn’t stop me trying.

Joel: Making the crowd happy in what we do and the creativity that comes out of us all for everyone else to enjoy.

Josh: Drums