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Sea Mouse - Interview: Sea Mouse

04 Apr 2019 // An interview by Reef Reid

Reef from Muzic.net.nz recently caught up with Seamus from Sea Mouse who are part the way through their New Zealand tour. Here's what he had to say:

Reef: What are you looking forward to the most on this upcoming tour? and why?
Seamus: I'm just looking forward to getting out around the country and playing some shows. Going to some smaller towns, playing some music for people and then getting to meet them. I really enjoy travelling around New Zealand and seeing different places that you would often just drive through, but stopping there for an evening, playing some music, then hanging out at the bar has been and will be great!

Reef: You just played the second show of the tour at The Stomach on Lombard in Palmerston North last weekend, an all ages event, how did that go?
Seamus: It went as well as it could have, and we had a reasonable turn out considering it's our first tour and people don't know who we are yet. But it went well and I liked it! It is a cool spot and they had good sound and good production there. We had some real young guys from a high school band called "In Business" opening for us, they were really good. It was cool playing at a venue with younger people. Normally we're playing bars, so it was a different vibe and not something I'd done in a long time. I'd never been there before, but I'm keen to go back there and play again.

Reef: Your Instagram page lists 'Album 2: Keep your eyes peeled', have you been playing any new, or unreleased material on this tour? Which is a veiled way of asking "is there a new album or EP on the way?"
Seamus: This year we will be releasing a new album. We've been playing most of the tracks on the new record for some time now.  I've been writing a lot of stuff as well and we've been playing tracks we haven't even recorded yet. Our sets are mostly new material. A few of the tracks are from material we have released so far, so while there will be songs that people have heard, we've been mostly playing tunes from the album that is coming out, and, some other new material as well.

Reef: You've been likened to a cross between Jimmy Page and Robert Plant or at least to having Zeppelin tones, is this by design, or by coincidence?
Seamus: It's probably a bit of all of that really. When I was growing up I listened to Led Zep and that type of rock music quite a lot and older blues. I just kind of found it easier to emulate those sounds than anything else. There were other bands that I liked as well, but I could never  sing or make the sound that they made and make it sound cool, so I just ended up going in that direction naturally I guess, because it was something that I could pull off. It happens to everybody that plays music, they find their little thing that comes naturally to them and then they just do that. If you try to fight it and do something different it just never sounds quite right.

Reef: For the benefit of the musicians out there, tell me briefly about what makes up your "tone?" Guitar -> effects -> Amp
Seamus: I have two main guitars that I use. One of them is an airline Coronado guitar (Eastwood guitars) kind of like the red one that Jack White had in the White Stripes. Dan Auerbach of "The Black Keys" plays one sometimes and it gives a really cool blues/rock tone. It's got a tone chambered body sort of like semi hollow body. It feeds back really bad when you've got fuzz pedals on, and it's a bit of a beast to control, but that's also what makes it awesome. My other guitar is a '79 Fender Stratocaster. It's pretty old and really heavy but it definitely has a sound that not a lot of other strats that I've heard or played have, I think because of its age. For effects, it's all about the fuzz!!!  I use a Fender Super Reverb amp and a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp.

Reef: The next show at Meow, in your home town of Wellington the night before the Easter weekend should make for a good crowd, who do you have on support for this show?
Seamus: At the moment we have Transistor, a very good local psych rock band, and we have a special guest yet to be announced.

Reef: What does the future hold for Seamus Johnson and Sea Mouse?
Seamus: I Just want to keep making music really. I want to record more and we've got this album to release this year. I'm also most of the way through writing a new one and I've got heaps of music demo'd so I’m keen to keep recording, and Scott (bass) and Thomas (drums) are keen to keep recording too, so at the moment we'll just keep smashing it out!  I don't see the point in stopping! (laughs)

Reef: Are you the sole writer between the three of you?
Seamus: It started with me doing it on my own and I got people to come in and lay drums and bass down and that's how the first album happened. But as the band came together, we've written and rehearsed it a bit more in the jam room, worked parts out together, a bit more collaborative now than it was. It kind of goes in that direction when you start playing together a lot more. I have a rough idea for what I want to do and then bring it to rehearsal and then we nut it out and see what works. Sometimes we'll play something live and then decide a certain part didn't work and then re-write that part. It's more collaborative now. I write all the lyrics and the chords, but everybody has their part to play in writing.

Reef: You've been together for a few years now, so I imagine you're more familiar with each other as a group.
Seamus: Yeah definitely, I've noticed this newer batch of stuff that we've been working on has come together quite a lot faster. Everybody knows how to approach it.

Quick Fire Questions

Reef: Dark or White Chocolate?
Seamus: Dark Chocolate.

Reef: Wolfmother or The Darkness?
Seamus: Wolfmother.

Reef: Gibson or Fender?
Seamus: Fender.

Reef: Invisibility or Super Strength?
Seamus: Invisibility.

Reef: What is your favourite junk food?
Seamus: Chocolate Milk.

Reef: Beer or Wine?
Seamus: Beer.

Reef: What was the last song you listened too?
Seamus: No Spell.

Photo courtesy Nichole June Productions


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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