Bright Eyes special guests and Bridgers rumors; Mousetrap’s Patrick Buchanan; Hand Habits, Amber Carew leave Saddle Creek; who is Mary Ruth McLeay?…

Mary Ruth McLeay sideways.

by Tim McMahan,

A few random notes that are getting dusty in my in-box:

Yesterday Bright Eyes announced the “special guests” on the next leg of their tour will include Stranger Things’ star, singer/songwriter Maya Hawke, who also appears in the new Wes Anderson film Astroid City. But more notable is that Cursive and Neva Dinova will be the band’s special guests for the May 14 show at Tulsa’s Cain’s Ballroom and that Azure Ray will be a special guest at the May 18 gig at Houston’s White Oak Music Hall. 

Conor also is in the news because of the release of the new Boygenius album, which has member Phoebe Bridgers doing the media circuit. Yesterday, Nylon speculated that the record’s closing track, “Letter to an Old Poet,” was about Oberst, which would be a less-than-flattering portrait if true. 

Rolling Stone asked a similar question to Bridgers back in February about lyrics she added to a SZA song, where she calls some bloke an asshole. She declined to acknowledge the asshole was Conor and went on to say she didn’t know what the future holds for Better Oblivion Community Center, the project she had with Oberst.

Ah, the complicated lives of rock stars. 

. 0 0 0 .

Patrick Buchanan, the frontman to ‘90s Omaha punk band Mousetrap, will do a one-off performance of his new project, House of Transgressor, May 11 at miniBar in Kansas City. Says Buchananon, “The live setup is actually NO stringed instruments at all. I will be singing & playing synth, there’s a 2nd guy who is playing dual synths, and a drummer who is playing a completely modular electronic drum kit AND synth. It’s a bit like a gothic Kraftwerk or an electronic Bauhaus.” Check out their recorded music here.

. 0 0 0 . 

Hand Habits announced that their next album, Sugar the Bruise, will be released on Fat Possum June 16, apparently ending their relationship with Saddle Creek Records, who release their last couple albums, including 2021’s Fun House, which was one of my favorites that year.

It also appears that the label’s Los Angeles A&R person, Amber Carew, left Saddle Creek sometime last year. Carew was involved in signing many of the band’s recent acts, including Palm, Indigo De Souza, PENDANT, Shalom, Tomberlin, Black Belt Eagle Scout, Ada Lea, Disq, Spirit of the Beehive, Stef Chura and Young Jesus. The only reason I found out was that Shalom mentioned Carew left the label in a recent interview. Carew’s LinkedIn indicates she left Saddle Creek last May, so this is pretty old news.

. 0 0 0 . 

And finally, Nebraska native Mary Ruth McLeay reached out in late February to let me know she released a new indie tune called “I Want Too Much.” McLeay, who’s a student at Berklee College of Music, produced the track and played on it with Dean Andreadas, who engineered and played guitars.

I’d never heard of McLeay before, though she said she’s played at Reverb and The Waiting Room, where she’s opened for acts and taken part in Femme Fest. I checked out her older music and it was anything but indie, more pop-flavored in the Swifty vein. Was the change intentional, and why?

“Definitely intentional and for so many reasons, many of them relating to simply growing up,” she said, adding her early stuff was recorded when she was 17 and influenced by acts like Lorde and Blackbear. She produced a couple pop rock songs at Berklee, which were examples “of me honing my pop writing chops but not necessarily carving my personal place as an artist.”

“The making of ‘I Want Too Much’ felt like my arrival to the place I’ve been trying to get for eight years. I went into my friend Dean’s home studio (I discovered that’s my favorite way to record over the years) with my only objective being I wanted to make something that sounded like my interior and my thought processing and reflected my presence. Therefore, the sound turned out like the exact path genre-wise I’d like to be on for a long time.”

Here you go. Looking forward to the next one:

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


New Patrick Buchanan (ex-Mousetrap); Built to Spill, Sunbathe, Distant Family tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:46 pm May 26, 2022
Built to Spill at The Waiting Room, Oct. 18, 2013. The band returns tonight.

by Tim McMahan,

Once upon a time in Omaha in the early ‘90s there was a band called Mousetrap that played a unique kind of acidic post-punk fronted by a sinister-looking dude named Patrick Buchanan. The trio put out a handful of albums on local imprint One-Hour Records (R.I.P. Dave Sink) and on nationally distributed indie-punk label Grass Records. National tours followed. Their music would end up influencing a bunch of kids who would eventually make up the first wave of Saddle Creek Records acts, bands like Bright Eyes, Cursive and The Faint.

After a few years, Mousetrap did as most bands do — they went their separate ways, reuniting on special occasions (but it’s been awhile since that happened).

Now Mousetrap frontman Patrick Buchanan is back, performing under the name House of Transgressor, with a new album called Love Is the Law, Love Under Will. The self-released album, a bluesy collection of keyboard-driven gothic tracks that haunt like a stroll down a dark, rain-soaked New Orleans alley in a weird ‘80s horror movie.

Based on the Bandcamp notes, the album was written, recorded, performed and produced entirely by Buchanan. Mousetrap fans or anyone with a taste for dark-ambient / darkwave music would be wise to check it out.

. 0 0 0 .

Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s the return of Built to Spill.

Based on the setlist for their recent show in Kalamazoo, they’ll be playing a mix of oldies and newies, including faves “Carry the Zero” “The Plan,” “Conventional Wisdom,” “Big Dipper,” as well as some covers. No doubt they’ll be playing songs from their forthcoming album, When the Wind Forgets Your Name, due out on Sub Pop Sept. 9. Opening is Portland band Sunbathe and Boise’s Distant Family. 8 p.m., $25.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


I’m back; new Patrick Buchanan music (Mousetrap); Ex-Girlfriends tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:37 pm March 28, 2018

Mousetrap frontman Patrick Buchanan’s new project is called Vicious Lovers.

by Tim McMahan,

Well I’m back from the Florida coast, tanned, rested and ready to go.

Out of the blue while I was in Florida I received an email from Patrick Buchanan, the frontman of Omaha golden age punk band Mousetrap. Now living in Los Angeles, Buchanan has been working on a new musical project called Vicious Lovers, and dropped the first tracks via Bandcamp.

I recorded literally everything myself,” Buchanan said. “I wrote all the songs, played all the instruments, did the production/mix. Nobody else besides me touched this project in any way, from start to finish, which is the first time that’s ever happened for me.”

The tracks have a snakey, strutting swing that sort of reminds me of Buchanan’s last non-Moustrap outing, 2004’s After Dark — i.e., this is something completely different than the rough punk you remember from Mousetrap. Check out the tracks below and download them from his Bandcamp page (and on Spotify, Amazon & iTunes). Now if only Buchanan could get a crew together to perform these songs live (and then come back to Omaha).

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaveri’s it’s Brooklyn-based female fronted punkers Ex-Girlfriends. They just got back from playing SXSW where they’re supporting the release of a 4-song cassette called You’re Next, out now on Little Dickman Records. Check it. Opening is Houma and Hussies. $5, 9 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.



Lazy-i Interview: Mousetrap’s back, but don’t call it a reunion; new Criteria video; John Klemmensen needs a kickstart…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:39 pm August 15, 2013

Mousetrap circa 2013, from left, Colby Starck, Patrick Buchanan and Craig Crawford.

Mousetrap circa 2013, from left, Colby Starck, Patrick Buchanan and Craig Crawford.

by Tim McMahan,

In this week’s column, Mousetrap’s back. You can read it in the current issue of The Reader, online here, or what the heck, read it below:

Over the Edge: Mousetrap’s Back, but Don’t Call It a Reunion

For regular readers of this column, a quick synopsis of who/what is punk rock band Mousetrap:

To use the word “seminal” to describe their impact on the Omaha music scene would be an understatement. Almost every significant Omaha band I’ve interviewed — whether they play punk, hard rock or even singer-songwriter stuff — has name-checked Mousetrap as an influence. That includes all of Saddle Creek Records’ most successful acts.

At the band’s core are bassist Craig Crawford and frontman/guitarist Patrick Buchanan. Their hey-day was in the ‘90s, when they released a couple 7-inch singles followed by their debut full-length Cerebral Revolver in 1993; the follow-up, Lover, in ’94, and their final album, The Dead Air Sound System, in ’95.

How to describe their music? It’s loud, but not macho or “tough-guy” or anything like today’s corporate metal goon-rock bands. Instead, the music is bitter and angry. Its anger is channeled more toward themselves than whatever situation Buchanan and Crawford are howling about. Actually, it’s more pain than anger — not a broken-hearted pain, but an exposed nerve physical throbbing abscessed tooth sort of agony — bright red and pulsing.

Mousetrap’s abrasive, acidic rock is not for everybody, in fact, it’s not for most people. After years of touring — a rarity for local bands in the early ‘90s — Mousetrap eventually faded away by the end of the decade.

And then seemingly out of the blue — the band played a pair of reunion shows at The Waiting Room in 2009 and 2010. And now their back again, but this time it’s different. Mousetrap intends to become an active band, or as bassist Crawford put it, “We’re a functioning band that plans to put out a new album by December.”

Crawford talked via Skype last Saturday in the band’s Chicago practice space. Also on the video-chat were frontman Buchanan, looking as sinister as ever with his mane of black, tousled hair, and new drummer Colby Starck.

Starck, a former Lincolnite who you may remember from such ‘90s bands as Pablo’s Triangle and Roosevelt Franklin, has lived in Chicago for about 12 years, where he made acquaintances with Crawford. He says Mousetrap’s first 7-inch “Wired” b/w “Train,” released on the late Dave Sink’s One-Hour Records, continues to be his favorite single.

“I’ve been a fan for a long time, and Mousetrap has always had trouble with drummers,” Starck said. “Whenever I saw them, I always said, ‘That should be me up there.’” And now it is.

Buchanan wanted to make sure I mention that former drummer, Mike Mazzola, who played with Mousetrap at the reunion shows, is a great drummer and a good friend and that the switch to Starck was a scheduling thing.

“It totally made more sense to have Colby come in because he can invest more time in the band,” Buchanan said. “We want to make this a living, breathing, fully operational band and that requires more time and commitment.”

Becoming a “real band” had been the plan back in 2010, but it obviously never happened. Shortly after the holiday reunion show, Buchanan, who works in advertising, got a job offer in Miami. “It’s the nature of the ad business, if you want to get yourself a raise, you have to move to where the job is,” he said. But it didn’t take long for Buchanan to realize that Miami is “kind of a shithole.” When he got another job offer back in Detroit, he took it. And as soon as he got back, he called Crawford and got the ball rolling again.

By the way, Buchanan said despite the city recently declaring bankruptcy, Detroit isn’t a bad place to live. “I actually love it,” he said, “and I love that the media is so harsh on it. It’ll keep all the hipster douche bags away.”

Back to our story. Detroit is an easy drive to Chicago, which allows the band to get together over the weekends. Word of this reunion leaked back in March. Since then, the band not only has been getting Starck up to speed on the band’s back catalog, but writing new material, including one new song that will be performed at Friday night’s show at The Waiting Room, and Saturday night’s show at The Chesterfield in Sioux City.

Buchanan said Mousetrap’s new material is “pretty dark.”

“It’s driven by the type of vibe that you hear when you listen to Iggy Pop’s The Idiot album, which is the greatest nighttime album ever made,” he said. “Let me explain it in less specific terms: Mousetrap of 1993 was a sawed-off shotgun. Mousetrap of 2013 is more like a sniper rifle. The stuff we’re doing isn’t less violent or abrasive, just extra concentrated.”

Both Crawford and Buchanan said there’s a void for their style of aggressive music. “The formula (in pop music) in the last year has been bands saying, ‘Hey, Ho.’” Crawford said. “I don’t see a lot of bands with balls.”

“You see a lot of dudes with beards strumming acoustic guitars wearing vests and suspenders, old-timely clothes like a frontier pioneer guy,” Buchanan added. “I feel like what we’re doing is pretty fresh right now because it’s not what’s happening. There’s a lot of dance-y electronic music and softer indie-rock stuff, but there’s not a lot of loud, aggressive rock music that’s not metal. There has always been an anti-social streak to us in a musical sense; we’ve always been dark and confrontational, that’s the music we want to make.”

And if no one likes it?

“It doesn’t really matter if not a single person buys our next album,” Buchanan said. “We make music the way we want to make it. We’ve always been musically very selfish. We’re going to do whatever we want to do. If you like it, that’s awesome. If not, there’s the door, get the fuck out.”

Mousetrap plays Friday, Aug. 16, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple Street, with Ron Wax and Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship. Tickets are $8, the show starts at 9 p.m.. For more information, go to

Over The Edge is a weekly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, the media and the arts. Email Tim at

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And yet another Mousetrap interview right here at

And here’s Mousetrap doing “Superkool” at The Waiting Room in 2010, via the YouTube.

Friday night’s show at TWR should be epic.

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In case you’re wondering what the boys in Criteria have been up to, check out their just-released Love Drunk video for yet-to-be-released song “This Reign Is Ours.” Heavy riffage. Lots of exciting woodworking. You get the idea. BTW, Criteria will be playing the local stage at Saturday’s Maha Music Festival. Get your tix right here and get ready to rock.

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Finally, Omaha’s No. 1 broken-hearted troubadour, John Klemmensen, is getting ready to hit the road on a tour that takes him to the West Coast. The only thing he needs is gas money. And that’s where you come in.

Check out John Klemmensen’s Kickstarter Campaign, where he’s trying to raise a measly $500. Prizes include a candle-lit bubble bath drawn by John himself as he serenades you with one of his slow, sad, sexy ballads…. j/k.

“j/k” stands for Just Kidding. Though John might want to consider adding it to the list. It’s got to be worth $50…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


2010: The Year in Music, Pt. 2 — Best Live Shows; Live Review: Mousetrap; Stolen Kisses tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 2:08 pm December 30, 2010

Column 303: Stage Dive

The best shows of ’10

by Tim McMahan,

Wrapping up the music year in review, here is my list of the best shows of the 100 or so that I attended in 2010. Yeah, I know there are a few missing (Where’s the Pixies? Where’s Justin Bieber?), but I can’t be at all of them. Help fill in the blanks by listing your favorites in the comment section of this story.

Jan. 22-23 — The Waiting Room re-grand opening. After gutting the interior and literally “raising the roof” (or at least the ceiling), the centerpiece Benson club celebrated with two nights of shows — a local gig featuring Little Brazil, Little Black Stereo, Ground Tyrants and Kyle Harvey, and a national show featuring afro-beat band NOMO. The verdict, Omaha had another world-class club to compete with Slowdown.

Jan. 29 — Haiti Relief Concert at Slowdown — What more could you ask for than Conor Oberst singing “Lua” backed by Nate Walcott on flugelhorn? The Bright Eyes reunion was one of the highlights of a sold-out show that benefitted the earthquake-torn country, that also included performances by Tilly and The Wall, It’s True, Simon Joyner, The Mynabirds, Bear Country, McCarthy Trenching and Brad Hoshaw.

March 15 — Digital Leather at O’Leaver’s — With a full beard, frontman Shawn Foree resembled an indie version of Jim Morrison circa Morrison Hotel. And with an extra keyboard player, he was free to get more involved on stage and with the crowd on such moving anthems as “Studs in Love.”

April 5 — Beach House at TWR — Visually, a boring show. Sonically, nothing less than amazing. Every note of their chamber pop echoed and glowed as they played all the songs from breakthrough album Teen Dream. Between numbers, they talked about Malcolm X, the Omaha Beef and 311, dedicating songs to each of them.

May 2 — So-So Sailors at Slowdown Jr. — I came to see Jeremy Messersmith, the crowd came to see The Mynabirds, but it was So-So Sailors that everyone was talking about after the show.

May 22 — Criteria at The Waiting Room — You couldn’t tell that this band hadn’t been on a stage in almost two years. Everything was tight, including Stephen Pedersen’s high-flyin’ vocals that still had that pop. They were having the time of their lives, and so was an audience that greeted old favorites with raised fists.

June 13 — The Mountain goats at Slowdown — Balladeer John Danielle did a Storytellers shtick, with bits about life on the road or what inspired the next rousing anthem or stirring ballad, delivered in the rapid-fire style of a well-seasoned stand-up comic.

June 28 — Deerhoof at TWR — As a live band, Deerhoof eclipsed their restrained, measured recordings with sheer ferocity, transforming from an art band into something that more closely resembled punk.

June 30 — It’s True at Slowdown Jr. –“This is our third to last show,” said inebriated frontman Adam Hawkins without giving an explanation. The performance had the charm of a drunken wake, with Hawkins taking double shots between songs. Despite proclaiming that he was “wasted,” he still put on one helluva show.

July 9 — Lincoln Invasion in Benson — Twenty bands from Lincoln decended on Benson for one night, but it was Mercy Rule that made the best argument for Star City’s superiority.

July 24 — MAHA Music festival — We all had a favorite performance. Some said Spoon, others Ben Kweller and The Faint. For me it was conquering heroes Superchunk playing for their first time in Nebraska.

July 31 — Concert for Equality in Benson — For one day, 2,000 people crowded the streets of Benson to celebrate freedom, or the lack of it. While host Conor Oberst shined with Bright Eyes, it was the reunion of his other band, Desaparacidos, along with Lullaby for the Working Class, that made the day historic.

Aug. 27 — Slowdown Block Party — With his stringy hair and big, crazy graying beard, Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch looked like he just walked out of a survivalist compound. And though his Neil Young-meets-Kermit the Frog voice couldn’t hit the high notes, he could still shred on guitar like few others in the indie world.

Sept. 16 — Titus Andronicus at TWR — I wouldn’t say it was “epic” as much as an attempt at being epic. Every one of Titus’ tuneful anthem punk songs started small before exploding into pounding riffs, sing-along lyrics and the occasional Celtic-flavored melody.

Sept. 24 — Serena-Maneesh at TWR — Slowdive. Ride. My Bloody Valentine. I never saw any of them perform live on stage. And after this show, I get the feeling that Serena-Maneesh will be the closest I’ll ever get.

Oct. 22 — Bad Luck Charm at The 49’r — The headliner was BLC, but the real star was the bar itself, which was celebrating its second-to-last show before closing its doors forever.

Nov. 19 — Tim Kasher at TWR — Backed by a solid band, an unually reserved Kasher was all business, serenading the crush mob with solo ballads, Good Life covers and a tip o’ the hat to David Bowie.

Nov. 29 — Mark Mallman at TWR — Ever the professional showman, Mallman played as if he were in front of a sold out Carnegie Hall instead of a virtually empty room. He deserved better.

Were we saving the best for last? An early press date kept me from including the Dec. 23 reunion of Slowdown Virginia and Polecat, and the Dec. 29 return of Mousetrap to The Waiting Room. I guess I’ll just have to include them on next year’s list.

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Mousetrap at The Waiting Room, Dec. 29, 2010.

Mousetrap at The Waiting Room, Dec. 29, 2010.

Actually, you needn’t wait for next year’s list. You already saw the Slowdown Virginia review. And last night was Mousetrap at The Waiting Room.

Before I get to the specifics, let me get this off my chest — There is something strangely timeless about Mousetrap’s music, and here’s what I’m talking about: No one — not back then in the ’90s and certainly not now — could channel rage quite the way these guys could and still do. It’s not a macho or tough-guy thing like today’s corporate metal goon-rock bands. Instead, it’s bitter and angry, but it’s anger channeled more toward themselves than whatever situation Patrick Buchanan and Craig Crawford are screaming about. Actually, it’s more about pain than anger — not a broken-hearted pain, but an exposed nerve physical throbbing abscessed tooth sort of agony. Bright red and pulsing.

Nothing sounds like Mousetrap today. Look at any of the 2010 top-10 album lists floating around the internet right now and ask yourself how many of those bands sound like they’ve ever been mad about anything. Arcade Fire, for example, channels regret and lost hope in mournful tones, as if they’ve come to accept the fact that we’ve all somehow been cheated. They’re martyrs. Mousetrap is on the opposite side. They’re not giving an inch. If you fuck with them, they’re going to let you know what they think of you at 300 dBs with spit flying from their mouths. And that is what makes their music strangely timeless. I can’t think of another band that has their ridged-back attitude. Mousetrap is that scrappy guy that no one fucked with in high school — not because he was the biggest or toughest in the crowd, but because everyone was afraid what he might do if you piss him off. Because if he snaps, there’s no stopping him. Mousetrap is that guy, that scary guy. You don’t want to get them started.

Last night they were in fine form, as good as they sounded last  year and better than I remember them back in the ’90s. They were always a great live band that spent every set teetering over the edge of the cliff. That sense of uncertainty is gone. They’re more focused; they know exactly what they want to do, and they do it. Their sound is as vicious and acidic as ever;  but Buchanan’s voice (as well as Crawford’s) is more controlled and certain. And after last night, I’m somewhat convinced that Mike Mazzola may be the best drummer they’ve worked with, giving the absent Scott Miller a run for his money. The crowd of 130 or so looked like they were paying homage to returning legends, which they were.

Buchanan ended the set saying, “See you next year,” but made the surprise annoucement that the band is considering recording a new album in 2011 — that is, if they can find a label to give them some cash. Somebody needs to step up, because it would be a shame if Mousetrap remained a once-a-year reunion gig. And we all could use a regular dose of anger in our musical diets. With the world the way it is, we certainly have a lot to be angry about.

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The reunions continue tonight at The Slowdown. The last time I saw Stolen Kisses was way back in January 2009 (reviewed here). The band split up shortly afterward when Chris Kramer moved to Chicago. Well, he’s back tonight for this Stolen Kisses reunion show that also includes performances by Darren Keen and the Fellowship of the Ring, and the debut of Our Hearts Are Stars, a new band that features members of Bear Country and Talking Mountain, among others. Show starts at 9 and is absolutely free.

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Lazy-i Best of 2010 sampler

Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of the highly coveted Lazy-i Best of 2010 Sampler CD!  Just send me an e-mail (to with your name and mailing address and you’ll be dropped in the digital hat. Tracks include songs by Arcade Fire, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, The National, Tim Kasher, Hot Chip, Sally Seltmann, Belle and Sebastian, Titus Andronicus, The Mynabirds, Zeus, The Black Keys, Pete Yorn and more. Full track listing is here. Enter today. Deadline is Jan. 18.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Column 302: How Mousetrap’s Patrick Buchanan became ‘invincible;’ Slowdown Virginia/Polecat tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , — @ 1:26 pm December 23, 2010


Mousetrap, from left, Patrick Buchanan, Craig Crawford, Mike Mazzola.

Column 302: From Russia with Rock

The return of Mousetrap…

by Tim McMahan,

Mousetrap frontman Patrick Buchanan thought he was getting the opportunity of a lifetime. Little did he know that the next six months would forever change his entire perspective on life in these United States.

But before we get to that, I urge you to get online right now and buy your ticket(s) to the Mousetrap reunion show Dec. 29 at The Waiting Room (or Dec. 28 at The Bourbon Theater for you folks in Lincoln). Guitarist/vocalist Buchanan and bassist Craig Crawford, who make up the core of this seminal Omaha punk band along with new drummer Mike Mazzola, are once again faced with great expectations. They not only have to compete with the golden memories of fans and bands that grew up watching them in the ’90s (which includes just about every Saddle Creek Records musician), they also have to live up last year’s reunion show, which was better than any Mousetrap show I’d ever seen. Read their reunion story here.

Now on with Buchanan’s version of It’s a Wonderful Life

Like Spalding Gray or Eric Bogosian or any other great storytellers of the past, Buchanan knows how to spin a yarn that’s so utterly fantastic, you’re forced to wonder if he’s telling the truth. Back in the ’90s, he would call long-distance while on tour with Mousetrap and confess to some of the sickest, most twisted behavior imaginable — all of which not only built upon the band’s already notorious reputation, but also made for some great copy, whether it was true or not.

This time, Buchanan said everything was true, and I believed him. He said he just returned stateside after spending the past six months in Russia, where he worked at BBDO Moscow — one of the largest advertising agencies in the world whose accounts include Mercedes Benz and Pepsi.

“Everything about life there was so intense and heavy, every single aspect of every minute of your day was so difficult that it toughened me up in ways that I can’t explain — mentally, physically, everything,” Buchanan said. “Stuff that would have bothered me before or pissed me off doesn’t even affect me now. All I have to do is remember life in Russia and think about how amazing we have it here.”

His description of Russian life was like a scene straight out of the Terry Gilliam film Brazil. Buchanan’s office was in a row of giant identical, numbered office buildings that resembled faceless prisons. His daily two-mile bicycle commute was like a post-war obstacle course, spotted with falling buildings and 100-foot-deep holes in the streets. “I would always listen to Throbbing Gristle’s ‘Discipline’ during the commute,” he said. “It was a meta experience of total extremism.”

Extreme, like the gigantic forest fires that blazed just outside the city throughout August. “Because they deregulated their entire fire department to make money, a fire that here would have been put out in a couple days raged out of control for a couple weeks,” Buchanan said. The blaze eventually spread to a nearby peat bog. “The combination of wild fires and the peat bog blanketed the city in toxic smoke. For a week I had to wear a full-on gas mask outside just to breathe. When I walked down the street at two in the afternoon the sun looked like the moon because the sky was so dark with ash and shit. It felt like a nuclear holocaust, like World War III had happened.”

Adding to the conditions was the hottest summer in Moscow’s recorded history. “About 150 people died over the course of two weeks because they drank themselves to death in public places,” Buchanan said. “No one has air conditioning. To escape the heat they’d get a bottle of vodka and drink until they passed out, sometimes into a fountain where they drowned. They had the choice of dying either by burning up or breathing the air.”

Luckily, Buchanan’s 300-square-foot studio apartment, which cost 50,000 rubles a month (about $1,500) was air conditioned. He hadn’t counted on Moscow’s extremely high cost of living, not only in terms of money, but in time. The simple act of making a deposit at a bank took no less than an hour, thanks to the mountain of forms that had to be filled out. “It’s like their whole system was designed by some evil architect to try to make every single factor of life as difficult as possible,” he said.

At least the city was safe from crime; that is if you could afford to bribe the police. “They’re shameless about it,” Buchanan said of the payoffs. “If the police shake you down and you don’t have any money, they’ll drive you to an ATM,” which is exactly what happened to him after he accidentally drove the wrong way down a one-way street.

Over time, things only got worse. Then out of the blue, Buchanan got a call from a former colleague who knew of a job opening at Detroit ad agency Doner. And just like that, the nightmare ended. Clarence got his wings and Buchanan was back in the U.S. of A. with a new, more patriotic attitude.

“I never considered myself one of those ‘America, I love it’ guys,” he said. “I grew up a punk rocker in the Reagan years, so my idea of the United States is more negative — the world’s oppressor. But it’s like what people say who have been to war: If you haven’t experienced it, you can’t know what it’s like. Moscow is like that. The people are incredibly tough, and it toughened the shit out of me. I feel invincible here.”

God Bless America, and pass the borscht…

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The folks at Saddle Creek Records are hinting that tonight’s Slowdown Virginia/Polecat reunion show at Slowdown is bound to sell out, so if you don’t have your tickets yet, you better get them now, right here. Show is scheduled to start at 9. See you there…

One more thing: The entire Polecat discography, including Dilly Dally and the never-released-followup album, are available for download for free at, where you’ll also find tracks by Pablo’s Triangle (pre-Head of Femur), Thirteen Nightmares (pre-Mercy Rule) and a ton more from Lincoln and Omaha. Check it out.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Mousetrap’s Buchanan “shoots himself” in Moscow; Homeless for the Holidays, Pt. 1…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 1:59 pm December 14, 2010

by Tim McMahan,

When was the last time I went to a show? Well, I guess that would have to be Mark Mallman way way way back on Nov. 29. That’s right, it’s been more than two full weeks. It seems like an eternity, but the fact is, there just haven’t been any national shows that have piqued my interest, and the local shows have involved bands that I’ve seen countless times, and have fallen on nights where the temps have been more than enough to convince me to stay inside (plus, I’ve suffered though bouts of the stomach flu and a head cold). Let’s face it, it’s been a quiet last few weeks show-wise, but the volume is about to be ratcheted up as folks return home for the holidays, signaling the annual round of “reunion shows,” and we’ve got quite a spate in store through the end of the year.

Not the least of which is another grand and glorious Mousetrap reunion show. Whilst researching a column in support of that Mousetrap show here in Omaha at The Waiting Room Dec. 29 and in Lincoln at the Bourbon Theater Dec. 28, I came across this recently produced short film called “I Shot Myself Today,” that stars Mousetrap frontman Patrick Buchanan, shot entirely in Moscow. It’s quite a head trip. And there’s quite a story behind it. But you’ll have to wait until next week to hear about that. Until then, check out the film right here on YouTube. It’s as weird and trippy as anything you’d expect from Buchanan.

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Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s the first of two nights of Homeless for the Holidays benefit concerts. Tonight’s line-up features Jake Bellows, The Whipkey Three, No Blood Orphan, Orion Walsh, and The Fergesens. The $10 cover goes to Sienna Francis House. Show starts at 8:45.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.