ARTIST / BAND: Country Mice
FILE UNDER: Garage / Psychedelic
LABEL: Wao Wao Records
What does Country Mice front-man Jason Rueger have in common with less than 300 people in the US? Growing up in Beattie, that’s ruralest of rural Kansas. On a farm of course, that was passed down through three generations of his family and old enough to be on the Pony Express route. “Family, friends, and working the land gave us a good wholesome life”.
Walking dirt road paths, working and living off the land, squinting his eyes at the sun, but with headphones on, it is not the bucolic atmosphere but music that most inspires him. At an early age, Rueger sets his sights for something different than the surrounding dirt and milo that stung his eyes and cut his hands.
Breaking away from the close-knit ties of friends and family, Rueger moves east, not to Nashville, where you might expect a country boy to venture, but to Brooklyn. It doesn’t take long to hook up with fellow Midwest transplants Ben Bullington (guitar) and Kurt Kuehn (drums) as they all quickly band together, finding comfort in their shared sense of displacement. Eventually, as the trio becomes more assimilated to their new surroundings, they recruit upstate New Yorker Mike Feldman (bass).
As Country Mice, they rally together to craft apocalyptic ballads through amplifier hazes that thicken into funnel clouds, drums that stomp-clap sedately before the storm peaks, and bass tones that thicken the bloodstream. Rueger draws on his small town rearing with sophistication beyond the ordinarily romantic and reductive Americana troubadour, and his songwriting is anything but dime a dozen.
Strong traces of Neil Young and Wilco are mixed into modern experimental guitar sounds that any fan of mid-90’sSonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. will love. Living and gigging in Brooklyn, Country Mice begin to fully develop their sound, which becomes by influenced the other hardworking bands of Brooklyn's fast-paced scene. With the release of two 7” singles and a limited edition cassette on Brooklyn-based indie labels, Country Mice embarked on several national US tours, recorded and recently released a Daytrotter Session, played CMJ and is heading to and touring around SXSW.
For the spring, they will unleash a new single “Festival” on March 28 and their debut album Twister on June 7th, a record that sonically chisels through the calloused shell of glossy rock & roll to find the dissonant live wire beneath and play it for all its worth. It tells a tale of strained memory: the hardships, joys, and love of growing up in a small town in the Midwest, with the hopes and dreams of traveling the world – a record for every kid seeing the big world from his small bedroom window.