Origin: Ottawa, Ontario
MOUSEHOLE MUSIC actually started almost by accident in 1971. Ian McLeish had been a performer and beginning songwriter upon his audition for a professional traveling production of the Dylan Thomas play "Under Milkwood". The play's producers were putting on a version for high schoolers, and thought that by adding songs to the play it would make it more palatable for a younger audience. Two actor / songwriters were hired, Ian being one. The other, Nancy White, already had some success and she looked after the royalties for both her and Ian's songs in the show.
One requisite at the time for joining the Canadian Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers (CAPAC) was to have songs used professionally. Ian's two songs in the show provided the opening to this door, so he applied for membership and was accepted. He christened his newly incorporated publishing company McMUSIC LTD.
For the next few years, Ian wrote songs and did home recordings, perfecting his craft. He was impressed by a couple of writers he had met, Ian Petrie and James H. (Jim) Robinson, and started working with them. Both eventually signed to McMusic Ltd. as songwriters.
The first product released of Ian's was a 45 rpm single of Lennon and McCartney's "Misery"(1976), backed by a McLeish composition, "Can't Wait For Long". This was followed by a songwriting demo album entitled "R.P.M. - McLeish,Petrie,Robinson & Friends"(1978), consisting of various songs from the McMusic Ltd. catalogue. Third up was a Jim Robinson solo 45, "One Time Flyer" backed with "Dance With Me (Mary Jo Roy)"(1979). None of these releases set the woods on fire, but they provided the nucleus of the musicians who would work with Ian over the next few years, specifically Chuck Kerr and John Millest.
After moving to Toronto in 1980, Ian worked on a musical, "Amazon Women" with Moses Hazan, and co-published several songs from the show with Hazan's company, Copernicus Music (BMI). While in Toronto he met and formed a musical partnership with Mary Ellen Moore.
Returning to Ottawa in 1984, a chance came to take over an existing business, a record store franchise. Having spent most of his adult life working in other people's stores, this was a godsend. The store was very successful, and it, under the umbrella of McMusic Ltd., eventually provided the funds to purchase a Teac 8-track recorder and other studio gear. The album "Random Axis"(1990), featuring Chuck, John, Mary Ellen, Ian and Geoff Pinhey, resulted from this. It bears the distinction of being one of first independantly released compact discs. The album's reception was encouraging, and work started on a follow-up. New equipment, including a Tascam 16-track recorder and a Soundcraft 24-channel mixing board meant the new album would be the best sounding yet.
Several things happened at this point to derail the new project, some of them personal. The biggest being that after nine years, the record store was put out of business by cd discounters. McMusic Ltd. went bankrupt. Ian lost his work and income, but the music was safe. So, in 1994, Mousehole Music NLC was launched to replace McMusic Ltd. as publisher of the material. (CAPAC also underwent a change of name around this time, now being called SOCAN.) Unfortunately, the 16-track packed it in few months later, and with no funds to repair it, the band and Mousehole were put on the backburner.
In the Spring of 1999, the studio was back in business. The group, now consisting of Chuck, John and Ian, spent the next few months completing the long overdue second album. As the Random Axis name had been taken in the meantime by both a southern American rock band and a computer special effects company, the musicians re-christened themselves after the initials of their lastnames: Millest, Kerr and Mcleish, or M*K*M. "Orchid Island" came out in 2000. A second album, "Cleaning the Cupboard", was released in 2002. Also released in 2002 were 2 limit:ed-edition CDs of earlier material, "RPM - McLeish, Petrie, Robinson & Friends", and "RPM - Live At Porter Hall".
The band lasted until 2003 when a hand injury John suffered made him un-able to play guitar any longer. Chuck and Ian continued, finishing up the James H. Robinson CD, "The Songs We Sing", in 2003, but Chuck after ti's release called it quits on a regular basis. Ian released a 2-CD set in 2005 called 'Country, Rock, Folk, Blues" of acoustic-based material, and is presently almost finished his final album. It was due to come out in 2007, but the loss of the studio due to a move and job change left him un-able to continue work until recently.