Musically, quite a few things have changed
with Mice. How long has this new sound been brewing ?
For me it's been brewing since the Ultraviolet days, there's one song on the
album, we did it live, called "Battersea". That was an All About Eve song we
did at the last session. Honestly, I've written 5 of these songs that are on
the album while I was still in AAE, that's now 3 years ago, so just a classic
example of missing the zeitgeist by 5 minutes as usual ! I actually think that
the very early AAE stuff like "Flowers In Our Hair" and "Our Summer" has maybe
got a tiny bit in common with those 'cause they are simple 3 minute pop songs with choruses !
In all of these bands that were around at the time, like The Primitives and The Darling Buds,
if they came out now they would be like the Echobellys and the Sleepers, so it was just an out
of time thing.
And also, indie wasn't happening then. When we were in the indie charts,
the others who were in were people like Kylie Minogue and The Beautiful South.
We were kind of ghettoized, we were weird, we weren't allowed to be on the radio.
And now, the indie charts are the mainstream.
Your first solo single "Matīs Prozac" was
released at the end of last year. What was your reason for writing a song about
a psycho medicine that caused quite a bit of sensation, especially in the US ?
There was so much sensation in the papers and all it is is another brand of
anti-depressive. This song was just about how it wasn't a big wonder drug,
all it does I think is cure depression. I don't think it totally changes
people's personality. It was very in the news and I just thought :
No, this isn't fair, this is for really sick people and it's going to save
people's lives. Because I knew people who were taking it at parties,
This isn't a fun drug, it's like an Aspirin for a headache and I'm not glamourizing
it. This [curiosity] will die if people realize that it doesn't make them go
"Where's the party ?"
I suppose it [drugs] will always be a subject for discussion and singing about."
The b-side of your recent single "The Milkman"
is a quite keyboard-heavy cover version of "Martian Man" from 70's goddess
Lynsey de Paul. Did she approve of the new version ?
Yes, I didn't speak to her but I had to send her a tape and got a nice letter
back from her and a message on the answerphone ! I think she's a bit crazy,
the message was "Oh yes the song 'Martian Man', that was about an old boyfriend
of mine who had green hair and was in a rock band" and she said
"No, I don't think there'll be a problem and I wish you the best of luck."
Her old version is very different, it's very kind of cocktail piano but it's
Lynsey trying to do "Space Oddity". I got this new keyboard with all these
old sounds in 'cause I'm a really big fan of very early Ultravox (pre-Midge Ure),
it was basically Japan and Ultravox when I was doing my O-levels,
they were my biggest inspiration.
What made you think of the new band name "Mice" ?
I didn't want to sound too mystical or anything, I did have a few strange
dreams you know, very Freudian, very standard, having your teeth falling out
and mice. And also, after so many years of writing All About Eve, I wanted
a one word name . It meant nothing but it also means a lot if you want it to.
It just sounds like a really nice word to hear, there's no great reason for it.
At the time, the Eves only played a
few concerts outside of Britain, was that because of Tim who is still
cancelling gigs with his XC-NN project sometimes ?
He was always a bit of an excuse, but I can't blame him completely. He didn't like
travelling at all, he had anxiety about flying which I couldn't understand at the
time. He used to be a very homely kind of person, didn't want to go anywhere.
He's quite different now, much more outgoing so perhaps he got over that.
But I don't blame him, I blame the record company, and I blame management.
Because it was happening here they kept pushing it here in the UK and we
got to the point where we reached the Royal Albert Hall here, but we meant
nothing anywhere else. I wanted to go to Japan, we went to America to do
some promotion but didn't do any gigs, it was so frustrating.
When I heard what Tim had done with XC-NN, I'm really not surprised,
he's just hitting it out as a reaction to the later All About Eve;
it's more like the very early stuff, that's how he used to play.
I really love 75 % of the AAE songs, and I can still listen to them but
it gets to the point where it is so delicate, so precious, so stressful
but beautiful that the first thing I wanted to do was do some big chords
as well! Maybe it's the first thing you have to do.
Me and Tim McTighe, the new Tim, started writing things and they are
now much more delicate, maybe history repeats itself, I don't know!
With 'Star' and 'Miss World',
you've written two songs about the fame theme; did you use any
personal experiences in there ?
Star was a real reflection on the silly times, like being on Phonogram
[1987-91]. Somebody came into the dressing room and said to me :
"What is it like to be rich and famous ?"
I said I know what it is like to be a bit famous but I don't know
what it is like to be rich. Honestly, we never got rich.
At that time, I was living on a mate's floor and Phonogram was sending
limousines around to take us to TOTP and I said
"Please don't send one, please don't !"
This is completely mad when you are just on a sofa bed !
I always wanted to be a musician, I never wanted to be an A-Star,
but Phonogram and MCA wanted me to be a star, they want you to go
to the parties and hang out. It's not my nature to want to hang out
with other people in bands just because they are famous. A lot of
people in bands are really boring stupid shallow people.
When you meet a nice one, that's fantastic, but that's not very often.
Miss World [a track about climb and fall] might be about a similar thing,
there were lots of people after AAE [split] who seemed to think that
we failed, and I said to them : "We haven't failed, we did everything
we wanted to do. When we started this band, all we wanted to do is
make a record; I mean, the fact that we made four and played massive
venues was really fantastic. [But] I feel much happier this time
round because as we've done it once, we know that you can play the
Royal Albert Hall and at the end you sit at home and think
"What am I going to do with my life ?"
The good thing about AAE is that we remain friends. Mark's on every track
of the album, Marty and Andy are on a few as well. It's great to be on
stage having fun again.
I love Ultraviolet, I don't regret that tour but this is more fun,
doesn't make it better or more valid, it just makes it very different.