New Music of the Day: The Mystery Lights – What Happens When You Turn the Devil Down? (NME Premiere)

“I don’t think we’ve ever approached a live show with perfection in mind,” says lead guitarist LA Solano of the Ridgewood, Queens-based band The Mystery Lights. “I don’t think we’ve ever been afraid of those bad notes.”

And that mentality has given them quite the live reputation around New York City. Their shows, beer-drenched and loud, have taken over the city as their brand of psychedelic and soulful garage rock is turning heads throughout the music industry. Hell, Daptone even specially created an entire subsidiary label, Wick Records, just for them.

Due to their frenetic live show, it makes perfect sense that they would record their debut album completely live. “We’ve always hated recording in general, especially with other people in big studios because it never sounds quite right,” explains Solano. “It’s a bummer if you’ve spent money and you listen to something that was recorded on your iPhone and it sounds better to you.” Lead singer Mike Brandon adds, “Any mistake that’s made on the live album, we make all the time on the live shows, which makes it exciting. Hitting bad notes here or there makes it right!”

Though their self-titled debut came out in June, Brandon and Solano have been playing together for well over a decade, and that experience is one of the many reasons why their gigs are so infectious. They met in high school in Salinas, CA, a small city about 150km south of San Francisco, and would rehearse in an auto repair shop after class each day. The stakes may be higher now, but things aren’t quite so different, as the band is still having as much fun as ever, currently on their first ever full US tour. “We’re doing the same thing we’ve been doing for years, but now that there’s a Rolling Stone article, a lot of people see it differently,” Solano says.

It makes perfect sense that the band’s new music video is a live take of album closer ‘What Happens When You Turn the Devil Down?’ from The House of Soul at Daptone Records. “We like it rough and raw, nasty, messed up,” Brandon declares in the video’s introduction. Even though there’s not a crowd, it’s a great glimpse into The Mystery Lights’ high-energy live set that’s torching stages across America.

While their live shows may not be perfect – and they’re the first to admit it –The Mystery Lights are as good as it gets, one of New York’s finest garage rock bands at the moment.