By Elizabeth Hunter
The typical reaction people have to electronic-punk band, Mickey 9s, is confusion. Upon first look or listen, they don’t make any sense – why is the lead singer wearing a Venetian mask? Why do they refuse to use synthesisers on stage? Why are they mixing dance music with punk and funk and a thousand other genres? And more importantly, why does it sound so good?
The first question is easy enough to answer: it’s a laugh. “Looking back on it, it maybe hasn’t done us many favours,” they say. “The west of Scotland probably wouldn’t be the most receptive audience to a crazy front-man in a Venetian mask. But we don’t care.”
When it comes to the lack of synthesisers in their concerts, their answer is again straightforward. They enjoy making dance music, but synthesisers onstage are simply too much hassle.
It’s abundantly clear that Mickey 9s love playing shows, and people go to their gigs for the raw, live energy. “You can’t get that with a synthesiser. Well, maybe you can, but we can’t. And we’ve tried.”
Throughout their career, the band have consistently named their influences as Daft Punk, Rage Against the Machine, and The Stone Roses. These bands are melted into “the electro, techno, and house music that we used to hear at Optimo, The Arches, and the Soundhaus,” they explain.
Though it’s not on their playlists so much anymore, those sounds still resonate in their own music. The release of their 2017 album Galactic Radio marked a slight change in style from 2015’s The Party Manifesto, though not intentionally.
“The Party Manifesto was the result of many years’ song writing and gigging, and then we basically just decided to record our best songs in a studio in a couple of days.
“Galactic Radio was different. We wrote the songs in a short period of time with the purpose of going into a studio and having an album ‘produced’ for us. So the different input gave us a different output.
They summed up the difference between the two albums: “Galactic Radio is more polished and bombastic, whereas The Party Manifesto is an edgy, raw, punk-dance album.”
The Galactic Radio launch gig was one of their best. “We somehow managed to hire an old, disused snooker hall and kitted it out with a mega PA, top sound engineers, and world-class support in the form of Crash Club.
“It was a proper DIY Berlin-style party in the centre of Glasgow and it was totally packed out. Even Bez from the Happy Mondays was there, which we thought was pretty cool.”
Mickey 9s’ following has grown immensely since they began, though it wasn’t all plain sailing. Playing 70 or 80 gigs a year was common practice, that on top of their full time jobs. Many were in Glasgow, but the band would breach new cities whenever possible.
“The challenge was trying to get ourselves in front of new audiences. We found that a huge part of the local scene was made up of haircut bands and promoters, who were unwilling to take a risk on a band with a guy wearing a mask.”
“I’m pleased to say we’ve outlasted the majority of them.” Their final remarks make it clear that Mickey 9s have come a long way since then, with no plans to slow down.