As Loud as a Mouse

With rumours of a new album flying around town, MOUSE sat down with Evan Van Zyl to set the record straight. We talk expectation, mosh-pits, and evolution in our interview with the Durban duo.


Photo by Paige Furness


It’s New Year’s Eve, 2015, and I’m at The Winston. It’s 11 PM, and Mr Bob Perfect has approached the stage to introduce what he says will be one of the biggest bands to come out of Durban in 2016. With a slight glimmer of envy in my eye, I look to the stage and see MOUSE getting ready to kill 2016 before it even has the chance to suck. (It still sucked, I know, but we’re not talking about that right now.)


Today, I look back to that night, thinking about a band that used to cover songs like Smells like Teen Spirit and Jolene every weekend at The Winston Pub. Damon Miles, with straightened hair and bunch of pedals stuck to some cardboard. Christopher Chay, glued to his phone, steering far away from general conversation. As I sit in front of them today, I feel like I’m looking at two different people. In two short years, these guys went from playing messy covers at The Pub to playing festival stages all around the country, steadily becoming one of South Africa’s most sought-after live acts. This year alone MOUSE played Mieliepop, Lush, a ridiculous amount of tours, with scheduled appearances coming up at both Oppikoppi and Endless Daze.


Suddenly I realise Bob was right.


DIY: Taking you back to New Year’s Eve of 2015, when Bob said that you guys would be the biggest band of 2016: At the time, did you agree with that statement?


Damon:  You’re asking if we were the biggest band of 2016? Of course not, I do think we accomplished good things in 2016 – but I feel like this year has been better.


Did it feel like any pressure, trying to live up to that statement?


Damon: I just laughed. I mean, it was very nice of him to think.

Chris: Part of me wondered if he was being sarcastic.


You guys are practically always on tour now, or getting ready for tour, we don’t see you playing in Durban that much anymore. So I have to ask, why do you guys hate Durban so much now?



Chris: I think it’s more a case of, if you play The Winston too much, people get bored of you and they don’t respond very well, or at all. When you finally come back and play though, people are all in.

Damon: Also, we don’t get to practice enough to write new material. So we feel kind of bad about playing the same songs too frequently.



Does it not become strenuous to tour so frequently?


Damon: It doesn’t feel like that much. I mean, compared to how much we want to do it. We just want to be on tour… I think we’re very strange people, in the sense that, people don’t expect us to be who we are. It can be challenging, because we’re not very good at communicating.

Chris: Our social abilities are a bit sawed.

Damon: Always going to parties is different for us, and that’s what touring is really.

Chris: Especially with Tyla. (Black Math, Thee Loopholes)

Damon: Tyla the man, is a party.

Damon: (Touring) Is challenging, but really rewarding… unbelievably rewarding.


Is there a distinct difference in the crowds when compared to Durban?


Chris: The size. The look. The behaviour.

Damon: Personally, I don’t watch the crowd that much, so I don’t really know.

Chris: Jo’burg likes headbanging and mosh-pitting a bit. Cape Town really likes swaying and there are people who head-bang as well. Durban, a lot of people enjoy watching it, but if it gets intense, there’s a mosh-pit.


Let’s talk about that time you went to Johannesburg to record an album with the drummer from Zebra and Giraffe.


Damon: It was 2015. We were very unknowledgeable. Is that the right word? We were ignorant of the way in which we should do things. We thought we needed music to get gigs, rather than just play gigs and get experience and then build on that. We did that after we recorded the album.


How did that come to be?


Damon: We saw them live, at Live.

Chris: We waved at the show, that’s how we got it.

Damon: He was like “Come and pay me money, and we’ll do something”.


What made you guys decide to scrap it a few months after its release?


Chris: We didn’t like it.

Damon: I felt quite embarrassed by it, but in hindsight, I wish I hadn’t. It was a separate band.


With that in mind, are we allowed to perpetuate any rumours that a new album might be in the works?


Chris: We’ve recorded it. This week we go to Cameron’s (Lofstrand) to mix it, and then it will be done. Then we’re releasing the EP with it.

Damon: The EP that we recorded at Daniel Basckin’s studio at the beginning of last year.



Is this experience any different from the previous experiences you guys had recording?


Damon: It’s been the most fun because Cam is a good friend. He is a sexy man, and we must all pay tribute to the hard work that he’s put in.

Chris: A beautiful man.


When can we expect it to be out?


Damon: I said February in January. So if it’s September now, I’ll say by the end of October.


Lastly, do you feel like you’re a different band, after facing these last two years with the changes and the success that you have?

Chris: I can’t speak for Damon, but I feel like I’m a different person, therefore, it’s a different band.

Damon: We definitely evolved as people and musicians, and instruments.

Chris: I think we will continue to evolve.

Keep your eyes peeled for the new album, probably due for release later this month. Probably.


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