If you ate at any of the restaurants in Red Bank over the years, chances are Avery Mandeville was your server.
“I think I worked at every restaurant in Red Bank,” explains Mandeville. “They all sucked in their own ways.”
Along with working, Red Bank was also the place where Mandeville hung out while growing up as a teenager in Monmouth County. Mandeville’s native Lincroft didn’t have anything besides a “grocery store and a strip mall,” in her words, so she spent a lot of time in Red Bank.
A good part of that time was spent honing her chops playing live; Mandeville would sometimes play cover shows at the restaurants she would work at.
“I was a hostess at this one restaurant. I would play cover sets there every Wednesday night,” says Mandeville. “When I was 19-21, I was religiously there playing cover sets and I would do solo acoustic sets. Which is crazy now because now I would never do that.”
Mandeville doesn’t have to have a song cheat sheet, and sneak in Death Cab songs in cover sets because she has her own musical project now. Her rock project, Little Hag—rounded out by Matt Fernicola (guitars), Owen Flanagan (drums) and Dana Yurcusin (bass)—will be touring all over the state in November along with Yawn Mower.
People who attend the shows will hear songs from Little Hag’s 2021 release, Leash. Similar to many musicians and bands, Mandeville felt like she had more time during the pandemic to perfect the album.
“We started to record the songs for what would become Leash just before COVID in December of 2019,” says Mandeville. “Then COVID happened and we wound up all cooped up, and that was the most creative time for any creative person. I wrote a lot during March and April of 2020 and some of those songs included ‘Leash’ and ‘Wet Brain.’”
Mandeville thinks the album is “half pandemic album”, as six of the songs were written during the lockdown. One of the songs that was written before COVID was “Cherry.”
“That song was about a breakup that really blindsided me,” explains Mandeville. “I was really in love and happy for the first time in a long time. The way that it ended was really painful for me. It was a really difficult time, but I always end up putting a sarcastic, bitchy spin on things. The song quickly became a favorite of the band to play live, and it’s still one of my favorite songs in the set.’’
For Mandeville, music and writing is how she puts things in perspective, and it’s a timestamp on periods in her life.
“I don’t think I have gone through a difficult situation or difficult period in my life without writing about it,” says Mandeville. “Everything that happens in my life that is notable gets a song pretty much. It’s a helpful way to work through stuff and make something out of a situation that can be difficult. Like, at least I got this song out of it.’’
Mandeville explores this concept more in her EP Breakfast, which is comprised of three songs she wrote two years apart each: “Piss,” “Cum,” and “Blood.” She even got Eve 6’s singer and legendary Twitter poster Max Collins’ seal of approval.
“I tweeted at him with a link to ‘Piss,’” says Mandeville. “I was like, ‘Hey @Eve6 what do you think about my song Piss,’ and he said, ‘This rules, it sounds like a dream pop version of the Dickies.’ It was pretty cool.
Even though Mandeville wrote “Piss” as a joke, the meaning of the song is anything but, as Mandeville sings about medical problems and not being taken seriously by doctors.
“At the time I wrote ‘Piss,’ I was suffering from undiagnosed pelvic pain and chronic UTI’s,” says Mandeville. “It was a living hell and it was hard to find a doctor that would take me seriously or care about my pain. I have seen so many doctors and been on so many medications and it was really upsetting to be belittled by some fucking gynecologist.’’
Mandeville, like others, would like to see major changes to the health care system in the United States, and that first starts with being taken seriously.
“People with uteruses are not taken seriously and there aren’t treatments available to people to treat their problems because there isn’t a lot that is known about certain conditions,” says Mandeville. “I wound up getting diagnosed with endometriosis and got a surgery to resolve that. I got the surgery this past March, but being able to get to the point where this surgery was an option for me took way too fucking long. It took my whole life, and I finally found a doctor who truly heard me and listened to me.
“In the future, I would like to see doctors talking to patients for more than 30 seconds about the problem itself because so much gets lost in explaining yourself to the doctor, and they are like, ‘OK, sounds like we should try blah blah blah blah blah,’ and so often you aren’t being heard, listened to, or taken seriously.’’
Mandeville will be playing “Piss” and more on her upcoming tour with Yawn Mower starting this weekend with stops in Philly and Asbury Park. It will be Mandeville’s first time playing in the city that’s always sunny.
“Weirdly enough it will be our first time playing in Philly,” explains Mandeville. “I haven’t played Philly since I played Silk City diner solo in 2016. Which is weird considering how close Philly is. I am excited to hit the road because I haven’t gotten the opportunity to tour that much.”
Joining Mandeville for a couple shows will be Yawn Mower, who recently put out their debut album. Mandeville’s boyfriend Dana Yurcisin will be performing double duty on tour, playing bass for both Yawn Mower and Little Hag.
“I think he’s probably gonna be wiped out,” says Mandeville. “He’s a trooper, and plays in a couple different bands. It’s been fun to creatively collaborate with him. Yawn Mower is such a cool fucking band and they just put out their debut album. I’m excited to hear those songs every night.”
Little Hag will be playing at the Grape Room in Manayunk on Nov. 12, and at the House of Independents in Asbury Park on Nov. 18.