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Sea Mouse - Sea Mouse Newsletter Interview

22 Aug 2017 // An interview by butch181

Sea Mouse is the solo project of renowned Wellington singer/songwriter Seamus Johnson. Live, Sea Mouse is an energetic 3 piece band, channeling the thunder and swagger of Jack White and Led Zeppelin. They answered the following questions for muzic.net.nz:

Q: Let’s start off by talking about the man behind Sea Mouse, Seamus Johnson. You’ve been quite present in the Wellington live music scene over the last few years. What are some of the more notable groups that someone may recognise you from? 

A: Paperscissors, Elston Gun

Q: You’ve also managed to gain the supporting slots to many international bands such as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club? 

A: Yeah. It’s funny who you end up playing for when you hang around a venue enough. Bodega was great for that. I was given the opportunities to play with some pretty awesome bands.

Q: So what motivated the formation of Sea Mouse? 

A: Kickin out the jams! It’s a bunch of songs that have been hanging about for a while that didn’t fit the other projects enough. It felt like it was time to get them out. And now writing more to follow.

Q: There is a growing trend of groups forming with fewer members, often put down to cheaper touring costs, less conflict with the direction of the music, and a generally cleaner sound. What made you decide to go with a three-piece? 

A: All those reasons in the question more or less. Paperscissors was a two piece I started because I got tired of band politics in Elston Gun. It’s just better. There’s so much more freedom and space as a two-piece, but there’s also a hole in that space. And you gotta fill it with bass.

Q: How would you describe your sound?
A: That’s everybody else's job. I just make the sounds. I mean sure, it’s obviously a big mix of everything I’m into and have played in the past, but that’s just it. It’s pretty vast. I guess we can call it blues rock if you really want to pigeonhole it.

Q: Of course you’ll want to talk about your debut album. There is quite a variety of styles throughout the 9-track album. Are there any tracks that you are especially proud of? Why? 

A: Churches in the trenches. I like it cos it’s raw and unrehearsed. We did a few takes on the day and it was done. It feels like it's about to fall apart at a couple of points but that is good. I like all the tracks.

Q: How long did it take for the album to come about, from conception to pressing? What challenges did you face? 

A: I think we started recording in 2015. I had some random ideas and I wanted to make an album that was like a mixtape. At that time I was building houses on Waiheke Island and I hadn’t been playing heaps of guitar or singing. So I felt a little out of practice. I also had to keep flying back to Wellington to track guitars and vocals etc so it was kind of stressful for me. Some of that definitely comes through I think, but an album should be a snapshot of a time. I’m not a fan of perfectly recorded albums. It’s the little mistakes and noises that you pick up on after the third listen that make it interesting and human.

Q: You recently performed a surprise show at Meow, how has the initial response been to the debut album? 

A: Yeah that was a pretty ‘blink and you missed it’ show. But it was great. Those that were there had a sweet time. And I think we surprised a few people. There’s a lot more energy at the show than you might imagine from the album. The response to the album has been great though. We just wanted to get this one out, since there’s so much more music in the works, I didn’t want to hold onto it any longer. The album itself surprised some people too, as I said it’s a mix tape, but people haven’t been aware of that going into it. But I like that, as soon as you get comfortable, it changes tack. Playing fast and hard all the time get’s tiring and predictable. An album should surprise you.

Q: As well as being able to purchase a digital copy of the album through bandcamp and iTunes, you can purchase it on 12” vinyl. I notice no mention of CDs. Are these only available at shows? or have you avoided them for a reason? 

A: There are no CD’s. Yet. I don’t know if it needs to be on CD. Maybe it does. To me, CD seems like a dying format. Perhaps I’m wrong and CD’s will become all retro and cool in 30 years or something. I don’t know. I do know that I haven’t purchased or played any CD’s in ages. I usually play music off my phone, turntable, or desktop which doesn’t even have a CD drive. I think physical is still an important thing to have though. It’s easy to lose the value of music these days with everything seeming ‘free’ when you’re streaming that’s why the vinyl. ...Having said that, the album is on all the platforms. So take your pick.

Will we be expecting some more upcoming shows to see the debut material live? What lies in the future of Sea Mouse? 

Shit yeah. Shows are it for us. So keep your eyes peeled. More shows, here and abroad, more music, and maybe even some CD’s if you’re really that keen on them. We’ll see. The future is going to happen, you can’t change that. We’ll be there.

About Sea Mouse

Sea Mouse is the latest project of renowned Wellington singer/ songwriter Seamus Johnson, who is no stranger to the Wellington live circuit, having supported international bands such as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Helmet, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Jack Broadbent and performing in bands Elston Gun, Paperscissors and solo for the last 10 years.

Johnson's self-titled debut, recorded over the later half of 2016 with master producer Toby Lloyd at Park Road Post Production, encompasses his Delta blues origins, alongside his electrified, hard hitting energetic live performances.  

Channeling the thunder and swagger of Jack White & Led Zeppelin and the lyrical subjects akin to Douglas Adams and Alexei Sayle, Sea Mouse is the reincarnation of the primitive, visceral electric blues that you’ve been missing out on.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Sea Mouse


Evil Heart
Year: 2022
Type: EP
Tropical Fish
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Sea Mouse
Year: 2017
Type: Album

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