Green Man Interview: John Mouse

John Mouse Album

Q: It’s been quite a few years since the last album, how have things changed for you as an artist since then, and has having a lot of time affected the new record a lot and what you wrote about?

Its been four years since we released the last record, but not all that time was spent writing music. I have a F/T job, I’ve been studying for a PGCE, I am a husband and a father of 2 kids. I like to play football and cricket so it doesn’t really give much time to do music. But saying that lots of things happen in four years. A lot of the album is about being a parent, which is probably the biggest change in my life while writing the album.

Q: On the kickstarter page for the album, you said you wrote a lot of songs – more than 150 to get to the point where crocfingers and you thought it was good to go. Were you writing specifically for a certain idea you had of what the album would be or did the themes develop gradually?

I was just desperate to release another record after humber dogger forties, and just kept sending them every idea for a song that I had to the point of alienation. The large majority really were crap. Crocfingers kept telling me this, and telling me that I needed to write an album that was cohesive. It’s still musically diverse but I think it works as a whole.

Q: How has releasing it thanks to Kickstarter varied from other releases – Do you think the tight knit music scene in Cardiff helped that?

Well it means we don’t loose as much money as we do on other releases. We still loose money, but not as much. We sell about 200 copies. What kickstarter did was get people to buy advance copies, which was great. It meant we could pay for a plugger, leading to lots of airplay for our single. We really appreciate everyone who pledged, it means that we could see who was supporting us. As regards to the scene you mention. I would say around a 1/3 of the pledgers I know socially. I have always intentionality steered clear of a “music scene”. I don’t want to mix my social network with the music I do. My last band were London based, and my new band are from the valleys.

Q: There’s a really great melancholy and nostalgia on the 1st single not often done that well about Sport or Football in particular – what are your early memories of Football, and also has being a kid growing up in a smaller town influenced your writing a lot?

That song mentions my early memories. It was about going down the park whatever the weather, and playing football. Trees were goalposts and defenders, you had to play around them. You would get moved around the park so you didn’t ruin the grass too much. Sometimes you played on “pitches” that didn’t have any tree defenders. I played football the most though at a very early age, like from 4 about 9 with a guy called Stuart Smith, and he would just shoot at me all the time, and I would just dive around saving everything. I loved being a goalkeeper, and then did that until I realised I was never going to be tall enough. I played for boysclubs and stuff but nothing better than those early games of FA knockout with 5 kids or 20 players on each team. The parks were the best places to play, but it didn’t matter if you couldn’t play there. School yards, old tip sites anywhere. A lot of the album is about looking back at being a kid since having my own. The song was inspired by bumping into Stuart in the park we would play football and we were both pushing our young babies. I don’t live there, so I was on a nostalgia trip at that time, and him being there just made it even more nostalgic. It’s hard not to look back when you are a new parent.

Q: I Was a Goalkeeper is a kind of a microcosm of the whole album thematically, so how come the LP’s title ending up changing from that to what it is?

Three reasons. For internet purposes. Having the lead single and the album with the same name seemed like a bad idea. Cause we wanted to get away from IWAGK being a “World Cup song” which it isn’t. It’s not really about football or the World Cup. and Cause The Death of John MOuse sounds good.

Q: I’ve tried to connect the dots but I just can’t – where did the title Robbie Savage come from?

It’s a misheard line. Crocfingers thought that the line “Macho Man Randy Savage” was “Macho Man Robbie Savage” So it was called Robbie Savage.

Q: You get compared to a lot more bands and artists than most (The Strokes baffled me a bit!), were there stand out influences that informed this LP in particular?

Yeah, that always happens. Well it was wrote over a long period of time. So these are the artists I was listening too the most over this period. Malcolm Middleton, Aiden Moffat, Jonny Cash, Bill Callaghan, Tindersticks, Prince Edward Island, Nick Cave, Silver Jews, The Smiths & The Vaccines.

Q: When I’ve seen you live it’s always been a pretty upbeat, funny and naked-ish affair, how will the more downbeat and sombre songs fit into you playing live?

It’s still upbeat but the sombre number, it’s only Robbie Savage, will cut through the middle of the set and give people a break from the loud noise. I have a new band and they are pretty loud!

Q: As a whole the album really reminds me of the Bills Wells & Aidan Moffat Everything’s Getting Older with the melancholic and nostalgic tone but there’s also some shifts in pace and more upbeat stuff which give colour to the overall feel in a really nice way and feel true to life, were there albums or even books that informed that?

Kind of like the earlier question. I don’t really listen to much music. I don’t have that much time. It’s mostly in the car on the way to and back from work, and cause I can’t be arsed to change the cd’s I tend to listen to things over and over and over. I think I listed to the Bill Callaghan “Sometimes I wish I were an eagle” for about a year non stop. Then yes that Bill Wells/Moffat album was on loop for some time too. I like music with words. Words are the most important thing to me, and the delivery of them. Prince Edward Island are a huge influence too. I write with Phil from the band. He pretty much does all the music. I send him songs, and he makes them happen. So you would probably have to speak to him about what influences him The books I was reading probably influenced the way I write them too. Bukowski & Vonnegut are great fun.