INTERVIEW: MAUS HAUS
(FS) So this is day one of tour?
(JK) “It’s a pretty short stint. We basically hit some of the worst weather you could have on the I-5. We barely got through, but it worked.”
(FS) How’s the scene up there? I know some of you guys were in some previous bands?
(JR) “Yeah some of us were. San Francisco is great, there are some really great bands.
(JK) “There’s a lot of good places to play I think and that’s always nice (also) a lot of good intensions. As far as the scene goes, there is a big garage-rock scene and somewhat of a psychedelic scene, but we are kind of in this weird spot between a lot of different scenes, where we could blend with some of those bands and play shows with them, but we don’t have a ‘scene of our own,’ except for just a few friends that we like.”
(TH) (Mentions his band) “Battlehooch... There’s a few bands that we really enjoy that we play a lot of shows with because they sort of fit in the non-classifiable realm that we do. Which is interesting, because one of these bands happens to be the band that I’m in.
(AW) “Whoa plug, easy now. Hey cross promotion.”
(JK) “Yeah, but I think San Francisco is a good place to hone your craft, it’s a pretty open-minded place in a sense; I think a lot of the bands are tightly knit and I think work well together, it seems there is a lot of support there, where other places might (have) not quite so much.”
(JG) “I feel it’s smaller than LA or New York, well it is, literally smaller, (but it actually does) feel a lot smaller. I feel it’s easier to get known in that area than it would be.”
(JR) “It’s condensed.”
(SM) “What I find (is that) people and bands we like, that have been around for a long time, (and) kind of admire—everybody I know—has been really nice and kind. Bands like Deerhoof or The Oh Sees or something. They are very approachable, nice people.”
(FS) San Francisco is just so different from most other places. It seems the scene up there definitely fosters itself and supports itself well. Are you familiar with this part of LA (East Side- Silverlake, Echo Park)
(JK) “We kind of have that idea, the Silverlake idea.”
(SM) “Tombo’s been here his other band, a few times. Never played the Silverlake.”
(JK) “This is the first time Maus Haus has played in LA.”
(SM) “Which is amazing.”
(JK) “We are a pretty young band really, we’ve only been playing for a year and a half. 2008. The record came out Oct 28th.”
(JK) “Some people put it out, sort of, a really small micro-label in Oakland. We basically had to do that ourselves, I mean we kind of pushed everything ourselves. We went to SXSW shortly after that and did a bunch of shows there, that was fun, a really good thing, and right now we’ve been really working hard to finish a bunch of new songs—putting out a 7” next month. Two songs on the vinyl and it comes with a bonus E.P. with six.”
(FS) SXSW again this year?
(JK) “Actually I think we are just going to save our time and focus on actual touring in the country. We’re doing a Noise Pop show with !!! at the Mezzanine and were playing with a band called High Places (NY) in March in San Francisco. Were shooting for April to do some stuff on the other side of the country.”
(FS) !!! is great, it’s been years since I’ve seen them, and the whole thing with Jerry (Fuchs- drummer, who died last year) now, I wonder how that’s going?
(AW) “He was the touring drummer, or the original drummer?”
(SM) “He wasn’t the original.”
(JK) “It’s weird that he passed away so recently and then all of sudden they are on tour again. I wonder if they are raising money for the family?”
(FS) I think this is their first big jaunt back.
(JK) “You know what is interesting? Aaron went to high school with (!!! member) Tyler Pope?"
(AW) “No we went to different high schools.”
(JG) “Rival high schools”
(AW) “We had bass-offs”
(FS) You were talking about San Francisco and I feel like your sound couldn’t have come out a place like, well, anywhere else. How does the city interact with the Maus Haus sound?
(JR) “I feel like it kind of perpetuates that. We had a similar question asked not too long ago, of what it is about the city that we actually like (and how it) brings about (the music). I don’t know, it’s kind of a melting pot of so many different things, inevitably, art and music- it’s all going to come together. So many people from different backgrounds, like we all are (four of us are from the Midwest, two of us from CA.) and you wouldn’t find people meeting in the same book otherwise, in any other place. San Francisco’s history is so rich in that. It’s a relocation process.”
(TH) “Gold rush”
(JR) “Right, it’s a gold rush.”
(AW) “It sounds like all out rooms, because most of the parts end up getting recorded in our rooms, so it sounds like a San Francisco apartment.”
(FS) So San Francisco is a member of the band?
(JK) “Yeah San Francisco’s totally a member of the band.”
(AW) “A lot of our recordings for the first album ended up just coming from messing around in our rooms, and practice space and putting things together, layering things and editing them later. It’s very kind of haphazard.”
(FS) How did the formation into a band start then?
(TH) “Jason and I met, then we met Joe and Aaron, and then when ideas got bigger, Sean moved here from the Midwest (Indiana).”
(JK) “I had met Sean briefly before that”
(SM) “Four of us are from the Midwest, three of us are from Indiana. I had been back in Indiana for a year after being in San Francisco and Portland. I was in circuses and kind of all over the place.”
(FS) Circuses? That isn’t a far cry when you listen to the record?
(SM) “Well, a different kind of circus.”
(AW) “We draw most of our members from circuses, that’s where we interview, so..
(JK) We cut his hair and stole his juggle balls.”
(SM) I was actually a musician in a circus. I was a sound effects artist. Live sound effects; I was using actual objects to make sound for people doing acrobatics, things like that. I had one little act where I busted a flaming cinderblock over someone’s head. It didn’t really have a name. I think people called it crazy.”
(FS) So I understand you get quite the comical questions asked about your name and if its this whole greater meaning thing? I was curious to see what sort of funny things you’ve given or gotten.
(SM) “Incidentally we are fans of Krautrock, but also fans of Tropicalia (and other) weird stuff, Raymond Scott…etc…”
(JK) “It sounded right when it came up, actually a friend mentioned it as kind of a joke and then we thought of the German spelling and it just felt right. It’s kind of a placeholder. It is what it is-- it’s just a name.
(SM) “I think that was part of the idea right, kind of a meaningless name? And it’s very hard to find that.”
(TH) “I like the symmetry and memor-ability of it too.”
(FS) Day Jobs?
(SM) “Jason and I are both sound guys.”
(JK) “Venues and studios. I record bands too. I work in Studio Paradiso.”
(FS) So with the absence of guitars, do you guys have any favorite synths?
(SM) “I would take a Moog, those old modular synths, we got to record with one of those at Mills College last year.”
(JK) “How about a Ondes Martenot. That’s the thing that the guy (Johnny Greenwood) from Radiohead plays sometimes. It’s kind of a weird Theremin type thing.”
(SM) “It’s a string with a magnet you can play notes, but you also slide between notes like a Theremin.”
(JR) “They used one in the Beach Boys too, for that sound on “Good Vibrations” you know?
(JK) “Anything old and really expensive”
(JG) “Like that studio…(pauses to think) oh man… they have the new album 4?”
(JG) “Oh, it’s 3? I was thinking Huey Lewis and The News I think.”
(JK) “We would want Portishead’s gear inside Huey Lewis and the News’ studio. That would be our ideal situation.”
(SM) “We don’t want the band”
(JK) “We just want their stuff. If we were going to have a guest guitarist-- cause we don’t have an actual guitarist-- we would probably have…”
(AW) “Dave Navarro hands down.”
(JK) “No I was going to say Christian Bale or Steve Guttenberg or something like that. We would go with some C-list, ex-Hollywood superstar.”
(FS) So we’ve got your perfect album with Christian Bale and Huey Lewis and the News, what’s your perfect festival line-up then? If Muas Haus could curate an ATP, who would play?
(AW) “You always have to have a reunion for an ATP, so my vote would be for Can. A Can reunion would be good.”
(SM) “Outkast reunion”
(AW) “New Order”
(TH) “Actually if Don Van Vleet headed some kind of superband…”
(SM) “No, Don Van Vleet painting for an hour on stage”
(JK) “How about any of the surviving members that are still quite cohesive of Capitan Beefheart’s Magic Band doing a tribute to Capitan Beefheart? That sounds good”
(SM) “Maybe we could get that band Shocking Blue to play?”
(JK) “What would be a new band we would have on an ATP?”
(AW) “Dirty Projectors?”
(JK) “I would actually have Deerhoof”
(AW) “We listened to two Deerhoof albums on the way here to get energized.”
(JK) “That’s probably my actual favorite, current band. I like the Oh Sees right now, they are a San Francisco group.”
(AW) “The TuNeYaRds?”
(TH) “I actually really like the Girls album”
(JK) “I do like High Places”
(SM) (Black Moth Super Rainbow / Tabacco) “I really like their whole, kind of weird like fuzzy, 70’s psychedelic kids show stuff.”
(AW) “That was actually our second show (playing with BMSR)”
(JG) “We got it before we had ever played a show too”
(JK) “What was our fifth show?” (Looks to band)
(AW) “The Four Tet show?”
(JK) “The Mezzanine yeah?”
(FS) But he didn’t show up I heard?
(JK) “He cancelled the day of”
(AW) “We ended up having to headline this show. It was huge. It still went pretty well.”
(SM) “We got his green room”
Posted and photographed by Matt Draper