Dave Clarke tells the story of Mouse Records
I started Mouse Records after the first Shut Up Frank band, which consisted of me, Mick, Jim Leverton and Richard Simmons was formed.
We recorded five tracks at Konk and I paid for a batch of CDs – mostly to sell at gigs. The band then changed, with Noel Redding and Dave Rowberry replacing Jim and Richard, so I took some tracks that Noel and I had recorded in Los Angeles and overdubbed Mick and Dave in Konk to come up with another CD to sell at gigs – so it was kind of messy from the start.
There weren’t many CDs sold since the band also changed between the various members, even having Bob Henrit drumming at one gig, there was nobody to sell the CDs - and I often forgot to take them anyway. Also it was difficult when we played places in Sweden, New Zealand and Germany to actually get them there.
Having formed the label, and since we didn’t have that many gigs, I decided to release some old tracks that I had recorded with people like Noel and Jimmy McCulloch to try and recoup some of the costs. By this time I had some small distribution, but still hardly any sales.
Once the word got around that I had a registered label I started to be approached by other people and artists. Jack McCulloch found a band in Middlesborough, Tim Rose found one in New York, General Mike Rose of SAS fame introduced me to his musician half brother in California, Jim Leverton made an album with Geoffrey Richardson, and so it went on.
There were lots of encouraging false starts but nothing really worked, despite my paying for a couple of videos, getting lots of reviews in the press, and a double-page spread in Record Collector magazine. The bills started to look a bit grim, some of the artists were taking CDs to sell at gigs and not even paying back the manufacturing costs, so it all became a little expensive. I did get one licensing deal in the US, but the company went broke before it did anything worthwhile.
I still have some copies of all the releases, but since there weren’t many made in the first place there are only a few left. There won’t be any more since the factory has changed hands twice since they were made and all the artwork is lost.
At the end of the adventure I was £30,000 out of pocket, an expensive game and not really something for a one-man operation. I don’t regret it, and although it was hard work it was fun at times. I remember packing and posting almost two hundred copies of one CD to radio stations, following them all up and only getting a handful of plays. I also remember paying a publicist £200 a week for a few months to get me some airplay - and got nothing.
I will always remember Richard Simmons once asking –‘ how do you make a million pounds with Shut Up Frank?’ – his answer was ‘start with two million’ – and that about sums it up, c’est la vie.