Fifteen years ago, best friends Andra Liemandt and Jenny Mason never would have predicted their mid-life career change.
Back then, they worked for tech giant Dell — but nowadays, the ladies are rocking Austin and beyond with their country-tinged pop-rock band The Mrs.
“My dad still tells me, ‘You are the last of all my children I thought I’d be seeing onstage playing in a band,'” says Mason, the act’s bassist and also a former interior designer. “But now I can’t imagine doing anything else. That’s the journey it’s been.”
That long road has so far culminated in their self-titled debut album and a slew of high-profile performances, including appearances at SXSW in March. And now, PEOPLE has an exclusive first look at the music video for their new single “Blink of an Eye.”
That journey began about four years ago when Liemandt got an idea. Her children were taking piano lessons from Larissa Ness, a local musician, and she began “falling in love” with playing the drums. So she proposed her plan — to start an all-female, empowerment-preaching band — to pal Mason, who took up the bass herself.
“Jenny and I were like, ‘Yes, let’s go after this dream and make music that we would be proud of, for our girls — for our kids and our families to listen to,” Liemandt says.
With Mason onboard, the longtime friends launched a search for their two bandmates, holding American Idol-style auditions in their home, Austin.
“We were just looking for people that share our message and that we liked, that we’d want to be around and that were amazing musicians,” recalls Liemandt. “They’d walk in the room, you’d listen to them, then after that we’d interview them. We did all of that and had a couple rounds, and prior to that, there was the crazy online stalking of their their Facebook and stuff, just to check character and all of that. We were thinking, ‘What’s gonna happen when we bring them into this space of this creative life and our families?’ It’s like a marriage.”
Liemandt and Mason settled on Ness (their keyboardist and singer whom they knew from the kids’ piano, flute and vocal lessons) and another local musician, Mandy Prater, for guitar and vocals. And The Mrs was born.
From the band’s inception, collaboration was key.
“I was like, ‘We’re gonna do it differently. We’re gonna start with an idea, then as a group we’re gonna write together,'” says Liemandt. “It may not always be easy, but we’re gonna write for other women like us, and it’s gonna go down like this.”
Says Prater: “That sounds like a cat fight waiting to happen! But we really do write together.”
As for their lyrical content, “We want to write about things that matter,” says Mason.
Indeed, both she and Liemandt — who have elementary and high school-age children — aim to release music that their kids can enjoy, with messages that take on everything from self-doubt to living in the moment.
“As women, we want to deliver something that is motivating, inspiring, empowering —but that’s cool, too,” says Liemandt of writing music with her children in mind. “They can just hang out and listen to it and like the music because it sounds good; but we can also go down a road and actually start peeling back the layers of what the songs meant. And to me, that makes me relevant to them, it makes me be able to have a teachable moment, as a parent, and be a cool mom.”
Adds Mason: “As they get older, it’s harder to find that connection. This is something that we can connect with them on. For them to be able to listen to our message, that is so fulfilling. And to have them come watch us and see how much we work — they know that if I’m not there sometimes, I’m practicing. When they’re doing their homework, I’m practicing my bass. So we’re all doing our homework. And then they see the results when they come to shows.”
When it comes to the the group, it’s family first.
“This is my life: my kids, my family and the band,” says Mason.
Sure enough, the women say their biggest fans are their broods — and Ness and Prater have been welcomed into the fold, as well.
“Andra’s dad is so sweet,” says Prater. “He’ll go, ‘I consider you all my daughters!'”
Adds Liemandt: “We’re very grateful. Our kids and everybody that supports us every day — it’s cool.”
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And while The Mrs sounds like the perfect reality show, don’t expect them popping up on your TV any time soon.
“We’ve been asked to do a reality show a lot of times,” says Liemandt. “It wouldn’t have to be the right thing. There’s a level of invasion that happens to your family life, which I would not want to happen.”
Today, the Mrs are booking more concerts, have plans to tour and are relishing in the recent inclusion of one of their songs, “Grace,” on a recent episode of American Housewife. And they’re only looking forward to what the future holds for them, together.
“Sometimes we’re like, ‘This is crazy — are we really doing this?’ Yeah, we are!” says Ness. “But we couldn’t do it without the support of our friends and family.”