INTERVIEW: MOUSETIVAL | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Squiggles

With the welcome return of Tees lo-fi duo Mouses also comes the even more welcome return of Mousetival, the Stockton band’s own annual jamboree featuring some of the finest acts from the North East and beyond, which returns to The Georgian Theatre on Saturday 13th August.

Head Mouse, Steven Bardgett, explains the origins of Mousetival. “We put on a big show to launch our debut album back in 2016,” recalls Steven. “It was the first time we’d done something DIY that big and we loved it. When it came to organising our next local show the year after, we just kept adding stuff to the idea and making it bigger. Eventually we got to Mousetival and haven’t looked back since!” 

There’s nothing like a global pandemic to get in the way of a good idea, but that hasn’t stopped Mouses, and Steven in particular, from keeping busy. “We’ve done a few shows and put a few finishing touches on the album we recorded a few years ago. I feel like we’ve taken the songs in a different direction from the first album,” reflects Steven. “It’s more coherent as a full record. We don’t have an exact date for it yet, (but) most definitely before the end of the year!” 

Steven has also been working on his solo project, Stebee, culminating in a debut show at Stockton Calling earlier this year. “It just started in lockdown really. I found I was writing stuff that didn’t fit with Mouses. There were songs I wanted to experiment with more than was possible with just a two-piece guitar and drum sound. I’ll hopefully have an album at some point, but every song will be a totally different genre,” Steven laughs. “The only thing that ties it together is that it’s super introspective. A lot of the Stebee stuff I tend to write is incredibly personal, a lot of dealing with childhood trauma, mental health issues, coming to terms with my own being, in a way. It’s a lot like a complete breakdown with musical accompaniment!” 

We love artists that shout about important stuff and stand up for what they believe in

This year’s Mousetival line-up features Mouses themselves alongside former Spook School drummer Niall McCamley, aka Squiggles, whose emo-tinged indie is fun and danceable, Sunderland’s punk poppers bigfatbig, genre-bending rockers Scruffy Bear, Northumbria’s joycore heroes Kkett, Durham’s eclectic spoken word electro artist Faithful Johannes, Mancunian punks Animal Byproducts, bedroom music makers Mage Tears, local indie poppers Salsola and riot grrrl youngsters Sorority Grrrls. As always, the show will be a safe and friendly space for all ages, and they’ll be collecting for their local food bank too.

We try to bring bands from the DIY scene that have never been to Teesside, along with some of our favourite local bands,” enthuses Steven about the line-up. “The one thing that’s always driven how we curate is ethics. We love artists that shout about important stuff and stand up for what they believe in, and we’ve always strived to highlight minorities and people that lack representation. We don’t do rock ’n’ roll. I think that whole rock ’n’ roll attitude thing is bullshit. Just be nice and care about people, that’s way cooler in my book.”  

Mousetival takes place at The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Saturday 13th August.

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