The three punk Mice have been playing for 21 years.
“We actually started two years before as Billy Club,” explains singer/bassist Travis Poe. “Our lead singer Matt went away to rehab and never came back. We started saying, ‘When Matt’s away the Mice will play.’ He never came back.”
Part of the reason the low-fi punk trio has lasted is that Poe and singer/guitarist Rob Logic have flexible day-jobs. “We’re both managers at a casino,” says Logic. Drummer Raul Campuzano is a stay-at-home dad who markets thrift-store treasures on the internet.
...live at the Bancroft (2014)
Logic, who like Poe was a Granite Hills High grad, says he moved back to the La Mesa area from North Park ten years ago. “But there was nothing to do here. There weren’t a lot of bars you’d want to hang out at.”
So, three years ago he took over Fanny’s in Spring Valley and renamed it the Bancroft Bar. “When I took over, there were a lot of tweakers.” He says he used passive-aggressive mind games to get them to move along. “It was a slow process. Just having an owner onsite is a good way to get them out.”
Logic put in a stage and P.A. and started hosting the Mice and other local bands. Word spread and now he gets calls from touring bands who are happy to play his no-cover venue and get paid on a whatever-seems-fair basis.
“I’m very clear up front: if they want a [guaranteed] amount I can’t do it.” Band pay is based on how well the bar does.
On Friday, Hooka Hey from Texas appears with Wild Lips from Washington. “We’re still trying to get a local band for that one. The hardest part is finding locals who fit the music [of the visiting band] and who haven’t just played.”
Local punkers Scatterbombs, Horsefly, Twitching Fingers, and the Pope Version play the Bancroft on Saturday. Logic doesn’t say slam-dancing is prohibited. “If it gets a little wild there is security.”
It’s not all punk.
9143 Campo Road, Spring Valley
“We had a girl with an acoustic guitar and a loop pedal. We’ve had performance art. There was this one guy who crawls in a cardboard box and busts out. Fruit is involved somehow. This one girl tied herself to a ladder and crawled around trying to get undone. We had a 16-piece marching band with three tubas from Rhode Island.”
Poe said the “East County rednecks” were leery of the Bancroft Bar culture clash.
“But as time progresses the locals have come to enjoy that they don’t know what they’re gonna get,” adds Logic. “They are starting to embrace weird things more.”