Tuesday, 15 October 2013

RUTHLESS THING: An interview with "Bristol's answer to Elliott Smith'' - Tom Mitchell!

1 - What was your first musical memory and what pushed you towards pursuing a career in the record industry?
"I grew up in a home where music was constantly playing. I think my earliest musical memory is Pink Floyd’s 'Comfortably Numb', which my dad still belts out to this day, but it was hearing Mark Knopfler’s guitar playing for the first time that really spoke to me in a professional sense and made me want to pick up a guitar and one day make a living playing it."
2 - You’ve been a supporting guitarist for roughly twenty years. What took you so long in deciding to become a solo singer-songwriter and why did you decide to go solo?
"No idea really - I only ever really focused on playing the guitar for years and never even remotely saw myself as a singer other than squeaking out a few backing harmonies here and there for various people I worked with. About eighteen months ago I got a little fed up of band politics and interactions with the music industry, and I thought why not try writing and singing some songs of my own and see where it takes me?"
3 - Why did you choose to become a solo artist instead of forming a band?
"I wanted to be able to record and book gigs purely on my terms. I do miss the camaraderie and social aspect of being in a band, but at the same time I’m having so much fun and meeting so many amazing people by doing things on my own and not relying on the diaries of others."
4 - How would you describe the sound of Tom Mitchell?
"I was recently described as ‘Bristol’s answer to Elliott Smith’. If people want to say that, that’s fine by me! My sound is folky, atmospheric, and sometimes a little dark, with hints of Americana. I strive to write songs that can happily serve as background music but can also be listened to through headphones over and over again, with stories and plenty of tiny nuances to discover with each listen."
5 - Your debut album is called ‘New World’. Where did this title come from and why did you choose it?
"At the beginning of my solo venture, I was contacted by an American artist called Michelle Nardi who had some kind words to say about my music. I took a look at her website in her signature, and loved the style of her painting. She had a piece of work called ‘Autumn in the New World’ which really resonated with me in terms of its atmosphere and style. I thought it captured the feel of the music I was trying to make - natural, raw, romantic...I asked her if I could use the artwork for my album and to my delight she agreed."
6 - What influenced the songs on this album?
"Primarily my experiences and conflicts in life, love and work. 'Hammock' is about someone I used to have to deal with when I worked in housing benefit for a local council, who felt that the world owed him a favour and was happy to use the ‘safety net’ of benefits as a hammock to lie comfortably in forever. ‘Only Partly There’ is about losing someone I loved to mental illness and ‘From Experience’ is about a girl I knew who worked her way around half the town I used to live in. On the flip side, ‘He Forgot to Check his Heart in at the Door’ is inspired by a news article I read about a Brazilian hitman who fell in love with his target and tried to fake her death and elope with her, while ‘Locked In’ is a summary of my views on those who use their own religion as a justification for campaigning against the legalisation of euthanasia."
7 - The single from the album, ‘Ruthless Thing’, is a quality modern folk song. What is this song about and what influenced it?
"It’s the first totally solo song I wrote. It started off as a song about writers block, and quickly developed further into a bit of a rant about the music industry in general and my experiences within it."
8 - Do you have any 'rituals' before going on stage?
"I usually pop to the gents and go through a quick vocal warm up, which has surprised many a punter luckily enough to be in there at the same time as me. Occasionally I enjoy a quick single malt too as it seems to nicely warm up my vocal chords!"
9 - Any live dates coming up?
"I’ve a baby due in February next year so I’m starting to slow things down a little prior to the infant-enforced gig curfew. My last London one for a while will be at the Regal Room in Hammersmith on Friday 8th November. There will be a few Bristol ones too - keep an eye on my website, mitchellmusic.co.uk, for up-to-date info."
10 - Any new songs in the pipeline?
"I’ve just released ‘Michael’s Garden’ as a standalone single - it’s the first song I’ve recorded since the album came out. I’m going to carry on writing over the next few months (around caring for the new arrival of course, who I plan on training on drums as soon as he/she can hold a stick) and hopefully release a second album later in 2014."
11 - When can fans be expecting the next release?
12 - During your time as a session guitarist you worked with people as big as Duffy. Who, in your opinion, was the best artist you played guitar for?
"Duffy was great fun to play with - I worked with her while her first album and career were really forming so it was an exciting time to be involved. Cheltenham-based country singer Juey writes some brilliantly observational songs, and I also enjoyed playing with the Bristol-based Cadbury Sisters, who sing the most amazingly beautiful three part harmonies you will ever hear. I currently play regularly with Sarah Proudfoot, who has a lovely voice and writes catchy, memorable songs."
13 - Who would be your dream collaboration?
"Johnny Cash."
14 - Who would be in your dream super group?
"Jim Morrison, Mark Knopfler, Erik Satie, John Entwhistle and Taylor Hawkins."
1 - Favourite Beatle?
2 - Favourite band?
"Mark Knopfler."
3 - Favourite new band?
"Bell X1."
4 - Favourite song?
"The Boxer."
5 - Favourite album?
"Sailing to Philadelphia."
6 - Vinyl, CD or download?
7 - Style icon?
"I don't have much style I'm afraid."
8 - Favourite clothing brand?
"I don't normally know what brand I'm wearing."
9 - Favourite film?
"The Prestige."
10 - Favourite TV show?
"Breaking Bad."
11 - Who would play you in a film of your life?
"James van der Beek."
12 - Favourite food?
"Stir fry."
13 - Football team?
"Tottenham Hotspur."
Hope you enjoyed this feature on Tom Mitchell! Check out our previous feature on Thomas McConnell!
Check out Tom Mitchell here - www.mitchellmusic.co.uk
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