We were completely taken back by the debut release “Ankle Deep” by Sydney-based garage rockers, the Jim Mitchells, that we needed to take things a step further. We talked with frontman, Jim Mitchell about inspirations, future tour goals, guilty pleasures and the thought behind the newest single.
SSG Music: Where are you from? What did you grow up listening to?
Mitchell: I was born in Perth, Western Australia and grew up in the small town of Busselton. I spent my late teens/early twenties in and around Fremantle, and then moved to Sydney in 2014. Growing up, I listened to mostly anything. I am lucky enough (in my biased opinion) to have a family with great taste in music, so I was listening to bands like The Sunnyboys, The Beatles, The Doors and Creedence from a very early age. I had a huge punk/hardcore phase during high school but grew out of that and became more interested in rock and psych music. Pearl Jam were definitely my favourite band growing up, even though none of my friends liked them.
SSG Music: Even though you grew out of the punk/hardcore phase, do you consciously take inspiration from specific bands or that vibe with your own music now?
Mitchell: Um maybe..but perhaps indirectly and definitely not consciously. I think that style of music has a real passion involved and I guess I apply that to what I do now. I did find it interesting when discovering guys like John Dwyer (Oh Sees) and Tim Presley (White Fence); that they came from punk and hardcore bands as well. Guess it’s a phase most kids go through.
SSG Music: Any favorite awkward genres to associate with your own music?
Mitchell: Not that I’d specifically associate with our sound, but there’s some guilty pleasures for sure. Kylie Minogue would be one of them.
SSG Music: What’s the psych/garage scene like in Sydney?
Jim Mitchell: Sydney’s music scene is really diverse in terms of genres and the types of bands getting around at the moment, and it kind of all melts into one really. Your ‘scene’ is more about who you’re mates with, and you kind of all blend together, irrespective of styles. So, in saying that, I’m not sure there’s a specific garage scene per se, but there’s definitely some great bands holding down the garage aesthetic such as Straight Arrows, Los Tones, The Pinheads and The Ruminaters to name a few.
SSG Music: Do you still record in your bedroom? Either way, how does your recording space affect your sound?
Mitchell: The Planet Absorbed EP, as well as this newest track [“Ankle Deep”], were all recorded in our old living room, which is basically the same as a bedroom I guess. I think it adds to the sound though, as much as it may not be acoustically perfect, it allows a sense of comfort and gives you so much more time to do things; which I consider to be far more important than having all the gear in the world in a perfect room.
SSG Music: Do you mean that recording in a familiar space gives you more time? What ‘things’ were you able to explore that you think wouldn’t have happened if you had studio time with this past EP?
Mitchell: By more time I guess I mean you’re not under pressure or a time ‘limit’ as such. And you’re not paying anyone to be there (except your landlord). We’d set aside a day to track drums or bass or whatever and stop for lunch or go down the beach for a break. It’s just more comfortable. And if you don’t get a guitar part right or something you can do it again without anyone breathing down your neck. Too much time can be a curse as well though.
SSG Music: Current creative motivations?
Mitchell: I’m in the process of setting up a studio in my apartment so having a new space to create freely is definitely motivating.
SSG Music: Current aesthetic?
SSG Music: What kind of ‘love’ is your current aesthetic? Really trying to dig in here.
Mitchell: All types and all forms really. Good and bad. As an emotion and as an action. It’s kind of everything. As clear or vague as you wish.
SSG Music: Where would you like to tour next?
Mitchell: I’d love to go to Europe and play music there but being such an independent band, the cost of getting us all from Australia is pretty crazy…but hopefully one day! I’d like to visit my home state of WA for our next tour, that would be nice.
SSG Music: Who would you like to tour with? No rules or restrictions.
Mitchell: Hmm so many variables! Current band would maybe be POND, but if I could time travel, probably Bowie- that’d be fun. It’s an endless list though.
SSG Music: Can you talk about the process in writing ‘Ankle Deep’, and how that song came about? Also, how did the concept of the music video surface?
Mitchell: I wrote “Ankle Deep” not long before I started recording. I had been listening to a bit of early Beatles records and was vibing on how the sweet sounding vocal harmonies contradicted the subject matter of their songs, especially in ’Help’. I wanted to make the vocals more prominent compared to our first Ep so I took it as a kind of challenge I guess- to include more melody and have the vocals more up front. The song itself is about a [realization] of self and what you’ve become or how you’ve changed and, whether or not that’s a good thing; knowing that there’s no turning back. Committing to your reality in the face of fear.
The video was a collaboration with some good friends of mine and was directed by Ed Trigone of Lagoon Collective. The idea was pretty simple but we took the basic themes of love and commitment from the track and replaced them with one of our good friends and a shop mannequin that we hired from this weird guy we found online. I had originally wanted to do the clip idea for a different song but it seemed to fit well with Ankle Deep and we knew that our bud Thommy was perfect for the role. He made the clip really; without him, I don’t think it would have worked!
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