Having already established himself as a member of fast-rising outfit Somnians, producer, songwriter and BBC Introducing favourite Al Mitchell has now begun to make himself known as a solo act as he returns with his latest single 'Rubber For Cars'.
Following on from the release of his much-loved EP 'Hush' from earlier this year, 'Rubber For Cars' sees him adopt the same adventurous vibe as Ariel Pink, Conor Oberst and Beck throughout its breezy runtime. With its blend of lo-fi electronics with alt-rock guitars and acoustic balladry, this new delight is sure to become a summer favourite when the sun finally makes its way back out.
So with his new offering doing the rounds, we sat down with him to find out more about his earliest beginnings and what first inspired him to get into music.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
Before I fell into songwriting drums were always the first thing that resonated with me. I remember long car journeys when I was a kid and constantly asking my mum to play Cozy Powell’s ‘Dancing With The Devil’. I would often fetch pans out the cupboard and just smack them relentlessly with wooden spoons.
What has been the most prominent inspiration behind your music so far?
I’ve always written of my own personal experiences, I hit a brick wall where I didn’t write for several months before lockdown. From March I found myself writing differently. A completely different process. It may have been the strange and surreal world we all found ourselves in but I was writing from a different point of view, Like placing a magnifying glass on something small and particular and going into detail and building a world around it. I found it really refreshing. I LOVE writing stories and making songs out of them. I guess you could say I've been inspired by wanting to escape but also finding comfort in the smaller things.
What kind of music did you love as a teenager?
It's a real mixed bag! Early on I discovered Biffy Clyro. They must have just put out ‘Puzzle’. That album hit me pretty hard. When digging through their material prior to that I was in awe of the harshness and almost mathy approach to it. I played in a three piece Alt-rock band throughout my teens, Biffy really taught me how to be in a “band”. Any band being as loud as they can but still maintaining something real delicate and fragile I will always take my hat off too. Bands like Manchester Orchestra and Sunny Day Real Estate are definitely examples of that. As I mentioned in the previous question, I love real storytellers, I guess that happened then with artists like Neutral Milk Hotel, Bright Eyes, Sparklehorse and Eels. All of whom I regard as hefty influences today!
Can you remember the first song that made you want to pursue a life in music?
‘I Can Feel A Hot One’ by Manchester Orchestra. When I listen to that tune I remember the first time hearing it and thinking ‘I get it, This is what I want to do and this is how I really want to express myself’.
When you wake up in the morning, what kind of music do you like to listen to?
My mornings usually consist of walking to work. I love a bit of 80’s cheese to pump me up and to cleanse my palate in the morning. I’ve recently constructed a playlist for such times. It's simply called ‘Bangs’ with classics such as Cyndi Lauper, Tiffany, Shakespears Sister and many many more.
How many of your songs have you written about people in your life?
Lots and lots! Even when I write the stories I usually imagine myself or someone close to me in them.
What has been the most memorable moment in your career so far?
Getting played on Radio 1 was pretty mental. Was really proud of that one, won't be forgetting that in a hurry! I will always remember gigs with a big turnout or a gig where we particularly played a good show. One that will always stand out was playing to a sold out Brighton crowd at The Haunt. It was made extra special because we were supporting one of my closest buds ‘Rory Indiana’ who is now killing it in a project called ‘Pleasure Trap’.
Outside of music, what is your biggest passion?
I love history. I’ve recently become obsessed with the history of the town I live in. Hastings has a lot of it! My partner and I recently moved into what I can only call a converted castle. I’ve been digging around for months trying to find information on it. Not much luck, but in doing so I've learnt a lot of juicy goss of the happenings in Hastings and its surrounding areas in the late 1800’s. I also love a good lunch. If you’re into local history and delicious freshly baked bread then I'm your boy.
If you weren’t a musician, what other path do you think you might have taken?
Full time blood donor. I’m not actually sure what blood type I am but if it is rare at least I'd know I was doing a good job. Alternatively I’ve always loved the idea of taxidermy. Preserving the beauty of life after death.
And what advice would you give to other musicians looking to stay productive through the coronavirus lockdown?
Although I wouldn’t think of myself as a pillar of advice, I think I would say don’t think of lockdown as a clamp on creativity. You have more time than ever to experiment with ideas you might never otherwise have the opportunity to try out. Keep challenging yourself and try new things.
Al Mitchell & The New Born Sinners' new single 'Rubber For Cars' is available to stream and download now. Have a listen to it in the player below.