• Billie-Jo Buttner

Artist Interview - Mean Wendy Band

Updated: Feb 22

Credit to Sam Abrams

Meet the Mean Wendy Band! VxV sat down with lead singer Wendy Lenhart to discuss the formation of the band, their inspiration, and their artistic goals.

After focusing on her career in her 20s, Wendy Lenhart decided to really pursue music more in her 30s. She wanted to do things that reminded her of how much she enjoyed music in high school. In doing so she realized that she began meeting different people from different walks of life. Wendy wanted to continue to do more of what makes her happy. The Mean Wendy Band has been a full band since 2014. It’s been a part time adventure but in the last year (essentially 2020 and quarantine) they've really been able to focus on and remember the energy they had in the beginning. Her “man band”, as she calls them, consists of 5 members whom she met through a bunch of different occasions. She met her friend and now band mate, Ryan Barlow, 7 years ago in an improv 101 class. This kickstarted the creation of The Mean Wendy Band with Ryan on bass and Wendy singing and playing ukulele. The rest of the band joined just through the course of things, as keyboard player Zach Wiseley was an accompanist for a musical improv group she was in. Drummer Brian Kelly taught one of Wendy's sketch classes and simply asked if the band needed a percussionist. “It ended up being a huge snowball of people we knew in the scene and seemed complete when my lead guitarist (Dan Kristie) who went to college with Ryan joined the fun.” “It ended up being a thing of friendship and being goofy and unifying all the different walks of comedy we came from”

Credit to Sam Abrams

One of their most notable creations at the moment is the song “Six Feet Closer to You” written by Ryan Barlow about the struggles of dating someone while social distancing. Their local PBS Station featured it between their NPR station segments and it won Best Sound & Music in the Toronto WILDSong Comedy Short Festival last summer. “We just want people to enjoy it because it’s relatable during quarantine.” The current pandemic has definitely impacted the way artists connect and create but the Mean Wendy Band was able to work through these obstacles. “We all recorded our parts in our independent houses with no studio set up. Brian played conga drum in his basement bathroom, I stuck my head in a closet with a microphone and I asked my friend Paul to mix it for us.” Fully written and recorded remotely, “Six Feet Closer to You” has given the band a newfound energy. Wendy truly believes one must enjoy what you are doing. Her career in her 20s was a zookeeper and she threw all of her energy into it because she was, and still is, passionate about the environment and teaching people. She continues stating, “but after awhile you want to save something for yourself and once I started the band I had this special thing that was a part of me that I wanted to share that I wasn’t previously sharing.” She credits Flight of the Conchords and artists like Rachel Bloom/Donna Lynn Champlin of My Crazy Ex Girlfriend as inspirations. Growing up she was always the goofy one who would get the crazy character roles and wanted to feel that happiness in entertaining again through her music. Long term goals that Wendy cites are to get all of the songs they’ve been writing recorded and share them with a greater crowd. “It is always good to record things because it’s proof of the work you have done.” Before winter, the band had been doing Live from the Backyard concerts one Sunday a month via Facebook Live. Once it is safe again the band wants to start back up and get back in front of a crowd. Wendy has two key pieces of advice she would give to someone looking to break into the music scene: “Find your people and then work with them. Friendship and creativity go hand-in-hand, at least for our goofy little comedy band.” And finally, “Don’t feel guilty doing the things that make you happy, and don’t give them up - even if you don’t get back to them until you think you’re too old.”