“I imagine we’ll be almost sort of delirious from all of time we’ve spent on the road… We’ll be delightfully unhinged,” jokes Libby Rodenbough of Mipso’s upcoming, November 19th show at Johnny Brenda’s. The show is not only the North Carolina-based, indie-Americana folk quartet’s last show of their current tour (which kicked off August 27th at the Iron Blossom Music Festival in Richmond), but their last show of 2023. The last time we saw Mipso in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection was actually on their last date of 2021, with the second night of a two-night stand at MilkBoy (They had a show scheduled for the following night at 9:30 Club in DC, which was cancelled due to COVID.), and we last spoke with Mipso fiddle player Libby Rodenbough just a few weeks before the show.
Mipso – who have been making music together since 2013, and have previously played shows at Boot & Saddle, The Locks at Sona, and The Sellersville Theater – are currently touring behind their sixth studio LP, Book of Fools, which they released independently this August. Both critics and fans have been talking about the evolution of Mipso’s sound that can be heard on their latest full-length, but Libby admits that it’s not something the band noticed themselves: “A lot of people have commented on it being a departure from previous albums, but for us it doesn’t really feel that way, I guess because we’re so deep down in the trenches [laughs].”
The band’s last album, 2020’s self-titled LP, had Mipso working with producer Sandro Perri, and experimenting with synthesizers, something “indie-Americana folk” groups are not typically known for… And on Book of Fools, they have continued to work with synths, although, according to Libby, not quite the same way they did on their last full-length: “The last one had more spacey synth sounds, and this one has more rock n’ roll: strong opinions and electric guitars.” She also tells me that the process of making the album was definitely different from how Mipso has worked in the past: “We took a really long time to choose the songs. We took more than a year, or around a year, to get ready to go into the studio… We recorded in Tiny Telephone, in Oakland, CA, and for the first time, we recorded our main takes to tape.”
Book of Fools’ latest single, “Radio Hell,” sees the band providing a commentary on working in the music industry, and the nature of pop music, specifically. Curious about Libby’s own, personal experience with pop music, she explains, “Like a lot of kids, pop music was the first music I heard as a kid. I mean, first it was oldies, which was the pop music of the ’50s, and then it was Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and No Doubt… I loved Rihanna and Destiny’s Child in middle school, and I still love Beyonce.” She also admits that The King of Pop will always remain a favorite of hers: “Anytime I hear a Michael Jackson song, I’m like, ‘That’s untoppable!’ Sometimes it’s pathetic what pop music tries to do to compete with that these days [laughs].” She does, however, confess to also being a fan of certain contemporaries, such as Dua Lipa, especially 2017’s “New Rules”: “I love that song. That’s a great song!”
During our chat, Libby tells me that she’s quite excited about Mipso’s first show at Fishtown’s “mini rock n’ roll ballroom,” but admits that the setup of a venue tends to have less to do with the quality of shows it produces than the people working there: “We’ve played almost everything that you could play in… I think that from the moment you walk into a venue that is really dedicated to music, you can feel it. And, on the other hand, some venues are a business enterprise first, and you can feel that.” But she does confess that she’s very excited about one particular show in 2024, which will have the band performing on the 16th edition of Cayamo, a cruise, which also includes PHILTHY phriends Lake Street Dive, Lucius, Nikki Lane, and Alexa Rose: “I’m excited for my first time on a cruise ship!”
*Get your tickets here.