What's the deal with… Malawi Mouse Boys?

Here's everything you need to know about the rodent salesmen-turned-gospel band



Add +

Is this a new Madonna-endorsed rodent adoption programme?
Guess again. The name comes from this band’s means of subsisting, in one of the poorest countries in the world, by harvesting mice from the roofs in their village and selling them in barbecued kebab form to passing traffic. They started singing to help pass the time between sales.

Is their music as tasty as their mice?

More so, we’d hazard. They accompany their beautiful gospel songs on a guitar made from scrap metal and a drum with bike spokes for hi-hats. The Boys’ album ‘He Is No 1’ squeaked into Western charts last year.

How come they got their break?
Because Ian Brennan, the guy who produced Tinariwen’s Grammy-winning album ‘Tassili’, happened to drive past them on his travels, and did a hasty U-turn. He made a field recording of the group, with local children pressing in for the choruses and tiny spiders threatening to ruin everything by crawling inside the hard drive of his portable eight-track recorder.

Do I hear chickens?
And dogs, giving a truly immersive feel to Brennan’s recording. If you can, make the journey to Malawi to hear them play – but if not, don't miss the touring version: four of the eight singer/musicians, and a whacking great helping of human spirit.

Watch Malawi Mouse Boys perform 'Ndinasangalala (I Was Happy)'

Users say


Listen to Malawi Mouse Boys 'He Is No 1'

Read more music features

Interview: La Roux

‘Where’s the fucking melody?’ Elly Jackson sets us right about songcraft, splits and the solitary life

Interview: Burt Bacharach

The 86-year-old songwriting legend reveals the secrets of his youthful vigour: lightweight sneakers and clean teeth, apparently

What's the deal with… Rixton

These Twitter heart throbs topped the chart at the weekend – here's what you should know

Interview: Dead Rat Orchestra

Meet the London band who are getting ready to tour the UK by canal boat

See all Time Out music features