Music Director | Wildcat 91.9
For Frat Mouse, identifying their target audience is easy: log into a Discord chatroom.
The LA-based band is made up of Truman Sinclair on guitar and vocals, Griffin Meehan on bass, and Ben Lopez on drums. The band had their genesis in 2019, after collaborating on a school project and bonding over shared appreciation for blink-182 and Call of Duty. In their own words, “Frat Mouse is a band from Los Angeles who play fast.”
Unlike many musical projects fronted by 17-year-olds, Frat Mouse started as a recording band and moved into the garage only when things got serious. Four years later, they are headlining DIY shows, opening for artists like Pi’erre Bourne, and still playing COD religiously. Most recently, they played at The Smell—a cult-classic LA venue that has been a jumping-off point for acts like Hot Flash Heat Wave, Girlpool, and Animal Collective.
Frat Mouse is self-defined as music for losers, by losers. But this term can get diluted; the trio, who stuffed their equipment into an Uber XL to get to their first show, want to clarify that they were not unpopular in high school in a cool, ironic way.
“When we’re writing songs, it’s not about being the kind of loser who is driving in the rain and smoking cigarettes. It’s like no, I’m for real a dork,” Griffin says. His bandmates jump in, agreeing. “We actually weren’t cool in high school, you can fact check it. Ben still has a Lego account on Instagram. I mean, we definitely try to be as cool as we can—you can catch us fixing our hair before every gig—but we’re still not there.”
Although Truman was raised in Illinois, the other two-thirds of the band didn’t step onto Bible Belt soil until they visited Wildcat 91.9 in September. Despite this, their sound unmistakably evokes midwest emo excellence. Raw, plaintive vocals skate atop emotive, riff-rich instrumentals. Math-rock adjacent in their mastery of rhythm, Frat Mouse alloys the best elements of 2010s post-emo efforts with remarkable ease. Thematically, they follow classic midwest emo tropes: suburban entrapment, fumbled romances, seasonal affective disorder. Songs like “fryman” or “wet socks” could only be improved by the sound of a microwave beeping to indicate that Pizza Rolls are ready.
Frat Mouse owns that they aren’t subverting the stereotypes of their demographic, with lyrics like “You’d probably think I stay at home playing Black Ops, well you’re right and I am right now,” and “I still like Nerf guns, I still put dye in my cookie dough, and all I wanna do is make some dumb tunes with my bros.” In this appeal to the college everyman, Frat Mouse honors influences like Mom Jeans—a band whose most sensitive, doleful song is titled “Scott Pilgrim V. My GPA.”
Their impressive three-album run between 2020 and 2021 reflects the identity crises and existentialism of the band, and the pandemic-stricken world at large, during those years. The records cover complicated relationships with friends, lovers, and substances, all undertowed by the terror of growing up. While they agree that many lyrical elements have stayed consistent throughout their discography, their sound has evolved with their ages.
“Our first album is only good because 17-year-olds made it. I know too much now, and all my questions have been answered,” Truman muses. “So now we have new questions, and we have to make records about those new questions—and it’s definitely sounding different. The constant is still there, which is us, but we have new things to explore.”
As a mile-marker for the band’s progress, one track in each album is part of the “Grant Wasserstein” trilogy. Part one, released on 2020’s Rat Pack, is a blunt slew of vulnerable admissions: “I don’t smoke anymore, I don’t have time to play guitar, I miss my friends, I miss my room.” In part two on The Frag Movie, things are looking up: “I've got my room, the one with all my favorite colors in my world in their places on my wall, I've got my shoes, the ones I walk in with my friends and talk about all night with one another.” The last of the three, in 2021’s Plywood, regresses back to a state of physical and emotional cabin fever: “I think I think too much…I hate my room.” Their progress is not linear—another way they speak for their peers (have you ever met a senior in college who was doing alright?).
For anyone who has had a conversation with the Frat Mouse frontmen, watching them play is something quite similar. Smiling to himself and his bandmates, Griffin throws himself around the stage like he is sparring with his instrument. Even as he puts his glasses in constant peril, he jumps, thrashes, and leaves no room for misinterpretation: he is having fun. Truman stands as a steady axis, keeping the beat with the back of his knee and singing his lyrics as intently as if he were reliving their content. Ben, bringing up the rear, watches his bandmates with a sort of pride as he whales on the drums with an immaculate fusion of gusto and precision. On the stage, they complement and challenge each other—in conversation, they rib each other like brothers.
“We’re all friends, and we love making music, and we would do it if there was nothing else in it for us,” Truman says, encapsulating the band’s mission in a sentence. “That’s what life is about. Making stuff that you think is cool.”
Frat Mouse is for former marching band members, transfer students, and people who really miss mango Juul pods. In the four years since their first COD campaign, they’ve amassed a cult following, released over 40 songs, and made a splash in their scene—and they’re only just getting started.