Moaning Lisa Want To Take You Out

Image: Moaning Lisa by Natalie Jurrjens.

Author: Melody Menu

Only a band like Moaning Lisa could write a song like ‘Take You Out’ with such warm and compassionate lyrics, and turn it into such a rollicking, wild ride of a rock song. In their newest single, the all-encompassing obsession and psychic pain of not being on your crush’s radar is amplified through gentle reveries and insistent yearning.

With many of their songs featuring domestic and intimate scenes, the band write about relatable scenes of love and domesticity charged with searing guitars and drums reminiscent of Melbourne compatriots Summer Flake. For singer, songwriter and guitarist Charlie Versegi, this is due to a determined lack of pretention: ‘We’re not trying to pretend to be exceptional people in any way, because none of us are. We write about everyday situations because that’s what we know best and we’re not trying to pretend we know otherwise.’

And it’s this unassuming relatability – along with an exceedingly tight and triumphant live show – that have endeared them to audiences around the country, clocking up 58 shows in 2018, and even more the year before. In fact, the band plays so frequently that a break from shows can cause some confusion. ‘We had two weeks off playing shows at one time, and I was like ‘God, we haven’t played shows in ages; I don’t even know myself.’ And someone said to me ‘It’s literally been two weekends since we played a show [laughs]. I don’t know, I’m just so used to my weekends being taken up with playing shows.’

For an unabashedly queer and inclusive band, it might be seen as part and parcel for them to be fiercely outspoken and with a take-no-prisoners agenda…You know, all of the lovely things associated with being feminists and agitators for change in the digital age. While the band might encourage ‘girls to the front’ at gigs and be open about their sexuality (See: ‘Carrie (I Want A Girl)), Moaning Lisa don’t exist solely as a political statement. ‘I love having as much representation as possible, that’s why I’ve been very unabashedly, very openly gay, because I feel like too many people skirt around it, or they’re vague about it. And they might have their reasons for it, but I think no matter what your intention is, it’s therefore [seen as] something bad or something you should be ashamed of.’

Perhaps as a result of this, there can be a pitfall of being pigeonholed as a minority band. ‘I feel like there is way too much responsibility, and way too much of a pedestal that people put queer idols on, and I think similarly to black artists or trans artists, or any artists that fall enough into the pigeonhole for people.’ She likens this to the phenomena of people viewing ‘Carrie’ as a political or protest song. ‘I’m like, ‘oh, it’s literally ‘Boys’ by Charli XCX but just replace ‘boys’ with ‘girls.’’ That’s how I thought of it when we put it out.’ When people began to say how political and empowering the song was, Charlie’s response was ‘yeah, okay!’ Here, she returns to her earlier thought of ‘we’re just doing us, and if we can impact a couple of people, that’s enough for me.’

Of course, it’s not always that straightforward. At times during a recent tour with DZ Deathrays, the band faced some pushback in the form of misogynistic behaviour from audiences. While Charlie is quick to note that DZ Deathrays and their team were ‘one hundred per cent gorgeous and really supportive of us and took really good care of us’, Moaning Lisa were committed to making the shows work, if only to connect with just a handful of people in the crowd. ‘If there’s just one person in that whole crowd who is listening and that cares and understands, then that’s enough. I played one entire set just to these two girls up the front and on the side one night. And it just gets you through – it meant so much to us onstage, seeing some people that were with us and being able to tap into them.’

Equally significant to the band’s music are questions of mental health, which influence Charlie’s songwriting in a way that invariably colours everything. ‘With a thing like mental health – and mental illness in my case – it’s every single day; it’s always there in various forms. I actually have a few songs that will go on the album that are directly about it. I think little bits of it come out lyrically now and then, purely just because it’s always there anyway. But then there are some moments where it’s at the forefront of everything and you just have to get it out in its own specific way. So it plays a really big part I think, for me at least. Whether it’s the struggle with it, or the management of it; just those little ways that it rears its little head in different situations.’

But Charlie also clarifies that music is not the same as proper treatment for mental health issues. ‘I wouldn’t say that it is any sort of treatment – it doesn’t really help a lot of the time; it almost makes it a little worse, because you wallow a bit more. And you fall into that trap of like ‘oh, look at this great song that I wrote when I was really, really depressed – I should just get really depressed again, I’ll write another great song.’ That’s always a dangerous thing to go on [laughs]. But it’s cathartic in some way, all of it.’

With a new album on the horizon and time set aside to record and produce, Charlie is excited for this new phase of the band, reconciling a back catalogue of both previous solo material and collaboratively-written songs that reflect the current state of the band – poised and at the peak of their powers. ‘It will be fun trying to decide what kind of main message we want to send out next, because there’s so many to choose from.’


Moaning Lisa ‘Take You Out’ Tour

  • Friday July 5 Low 302, Sydney with Hedy Lamarr
  • Saturday July 6 Transit Bar, Canberra with Plastic Plants
  • Wednesday July 10 Grace Darling Basement, Melbourne with Denise le Menice – Sold Out
  • Thursday July 11 Grace Darling Basement, Melbourne with Slush – Sold Out
  • Friday July 12 Grace Darling Basement, Melbourne with pting – Sold Out
  • Saturday July 13 Beer & BBQ Festival, Adelaide
  • Saturday July 20 Splendour In The Grass, Byron Bay

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