Miski Dee Rodriguez said she left corporate America 15 years ago to follow her true love: Music.
Rodriguez fronts the Lansing, Michigan pop-punk trio City Mouse that returns to Nightshop in downtown Bloomington Aug 10. She said leaving her mundane job with a building materials sales company in southern California for a full-time go with City Mouse was a no-brainer:
“My only regret was not starting this path when I was like 15,” said Rodriguez via Skype from her Michigan home. “I wish I’d never gone to school so long, I wish I’d never had these corporate jobs for so long. Music keeps me sane and happy, and helps with every aspect of my life.”
Perspective is easier when you’ve been on the wrong path.
“I feel like the song "Exorcise" is a pretty good metaphor for that,” said Rodriguez of the catchy cut from the groups 2017 release "Get Up."
When you’re picking up the pieces/Just remember who you are/
There’s no day worth forgetting/It’s the dust that makes up the stars/
When you’re looking at yourself/You stand up straight and sing it loud/
I’m no broken survivor/I am strong and I am proud/
- from “Exorcise” by City Mouse
“The song is about finding respect for who you really are without going through any type of transformation,” said Rodriguez. “
It’s an exercise in affirmation for Rodriguez, who immediately felt at home in what she calls the “accepting scene” of punk, in that it’s a music silo easily accessible to anyone, with or without means, who wants to play.
“When you’re looking for acceptance, I feel no one has their arms open wider than punk rock,” said Rodriguez. “That’s why I migrated there, and have stayed there.”
Oh we'll ride the night forever/
We can hold on to our voice/
and we'll sing a song together/
of a new dawn/
- from “A New Dawn” by City Mouse
Rodriguez is also the groups guitarist. Drummer Mandy Waltz and bassist Nich Richard, who joined her on the Skype call, rounds out the trio.
City Mouse is 2/3 female, but punk, like most rock bands and the music biz in general, is still dominated by males. Rodriquez feels the industry is beginning to catch up little by little.
“Even though it seems sometimes things are radically changing, I feel it’s been slowly changing. But I love seeing the change. I don’t want to be like ‘I had to do this and had to do that.’ I’m really happy when women are given opportunities I didn’t have. But I do hope it moves faster and faster,” said Rodriguez.
Richard plays in bands outside City Mouse, including The Plurals, whose drummer is also female. He too sees progress, albeit slower than he’d like.
“There are bubbles of understanding and acceptance,” said Richard. “No matter what, we’re encountering people who need to be better and behave better.”
He does believe fans and other bands are getting better at calling out disrespect. And having played with female instrumentalists and band leaders for a number of years, he said it’s just natural now.
“I’ve never had a problem playing with Miski in this band. And with the drummers I’ve played with, I don’t think there’s any kind of female energy to the drum playing, I just think they are very good drummers,” said Richard.
When City Mouse returns to Nightshop in downtown Bloomington August 10 they'll again be featuring songs from "Get Right." The songs are consistently well crafted, melodic with sharp, insightful lyrics that veer from self-affirmation (Exorcise) to spitting anger about a former boyfriend:
I lost it all to you on page 13/
You fell in love with me on 17/
I turned on 21 and hit the floor/
On page 23 I realized you're a whore
- from "Journal" by City Mouse
To a surprising song about a recently deceased pet dog:
I'd give up this whole world if I could just take back my girl/
There is no heaven there is no hell/
There are no wings there are no bells/
No one looks down from above/
There are no guardians of love
- from "Guardians" from City Mouse.
"Get Right" is a smokin' full length debut with 12 ear worms that like a bad habit will have you begging for more. In a good way.
San Diego’s Squarecrow and Springfield (IL) based Attic Salt are on the bill, as is show opener Radio Indigo of Bloomington Normal. Music begins at 8:00 p.m.
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