Lee Mitchell

By paul

Lee Mitchell is the latest signing to piano-popper Luke Leighfield‘s own record label, Got Got Need Records. Lee’s debut 7″ single comes out on 24th April and can be pre-ordered at http://gotgotneed.bigcartel.com. Luke’s latest album can be downloaded for free from http://lukeleighfield.bandcamp.com

Luke: O hai, Lee. When did you start making music?
Lee: Hey Luke, I started playing the guitar about 11 years ago I think but only started writing sweet tunes about 6 years ago. So yeah, 2003/4.

Lee: Luke, why did you decide to do music as a profession? Was it something you couldn’t not do?
Luke: I’d always wanted to make music, but it only really became a viable proposition when I was 19. I took a year out of university to play violin for Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, but that lasted three months (as opposed to the year it was meant to last) so I had a year with nothing to do. Instead of getting a job in McDonald’s, I recorded my debut album Garde Ta Foy, Garde Ta Foy on a shoestring budget with my drummer Dan Halliday, booked a load of house shows and awful pub gigs, and we hit the road in my mum’s car. That was the second half of 2006. In 2007 I hooked up with Sam Isaac, and we booked loads and loads of gigs together. Gradually momentum has built up and music is becoming something that I could potentially do for a few years, or possibly for a career if I strike lucky!

Luke: Can you tell me what the two songs on the 7″ are about, lyrically?
Lee: They are both about love I guess. ‘Heart Over Head’ is just a simple love song, about how love appears when you don’t deserve it and ‘Love Is Here’ is about actually being in a relationship and realising how unbelievable it is. To have someone who supports you and lets you be yourself is something really special. I’m such a fruitcake aren’t I?!

Lee: I know this album has been a bit of an emotional journey for you, what songs on it sum it all up?
Luke: I’m not sure that there is one song that sums up the record. There are a few about love because I’d fallen in love, then there are a few about self-improvement, striving to do better, and religious uncertainty, stuff like that. Maybe the title track ‘Have You Got Heart?’ is the closest to summarising the album. It’s all about digging deep down to find the will to try harder and keep going, and about being honest and true.

Luke: What albums have you been listening to lately? Which records are you excited about in 2010?
Lee: I’ve been listening to ‘Have You Got Heart?’ By Luke Leighfield obviously! And of course other less attractive artists… Ryan Adams’ ‘Easy Tiger’, I flipping love this album, ‘Halloweenhead’ is ridiculously great. I’ve also been getting into a girl called Lissie, she’s going to be massive. I’m looking forward to some great new music from Bangor.

Lee: Musically, who have been your inspirations for this album?
Luke: I don’t ever really try to consciously write in a certain style, but there are inflections of different artists through the record. Tom’s drumming style is pretty similar to Zac Farro, the drummer from Paramore. Really powerful and beefy, lots of fast, heavy fills. ‘I Won’t Look Back’ was influenced by the first record by The Fray. It’s probably my favourite ballad that I’ve ever written, and we tried to emulate some of the drum and guitar sounds from The Fray on that one. The idea behind the huge guitar solo at the start of ‘King and Queen’ is taken from the introduction to Michael Jackson’s ‘Black or White’. ‘60,000 Miles’ has splashes of pop punk.

The record in general is more overblown than my older albums, and that’s partly down to my newfound affection for Toto, Kirk Franklin, Mariah Carey and Blessed By a Broken Heart, just artists that are perhaps more musically excessive than others! When you think you’ve put enough guitar tracks on, add another ten to be sure. That kind of thing. That’s the ethos with which we approached the record. Excess.

Luke: Now that you’ve relocated to Coventry from your native Bangor in Northern Ireland, which place do you prefer to be in?
Lee: It’s hard to say to be honest. Ireland will always be home for me, there’s something about the beauty and the people that you just can’t find in England. No offense obviously, I love English people, don’t get me wrong, but the Northern Irish are heroes. Pure and simple. Coventry has it’s charms but I guess I love it for a different reason to Ireland. It’s the first place I settled after leaving home but I don’t adore it. I’d rather live somewhere with fields and log fires, there’s just a strong group of friends here that help me not go mental and for that I’ll always appreciate it.

Lee: You have done over 500 shows, give me your best and worst.
Luke: Ha, this question always gets asked and it’s impossible to answer! My best shows have tended to be in Southampton, which is my adopted hometown. There’s nothing quite like playing in front of all your friends, and I generally get better turnouts there too so it makes for a better night. My first shows in Russia back in 2008 were pretty incredible too. Big crowds and feeling like a rock star! I always enjoy playing in Germany because the people there are really polite and lovely.

As for worst shows, I’ve played too many crap pubs to mention. Way too many.

Luke: Do you wear boxers, y-fronts or thongs? Please explain in terms of hygiene, comfort, etc.
Lee: Now we are getting into the deep, heavy questions. Obviously boxers mate. For no other reason than I’ve never worn anything else. The idea of a thong just makes me want to die and y-fronts are an unknown territory for me. Never thought about the hygiene, thongs can’t be great for that, too much chafage…

Lee: If you could enjoy a deep tissue massage by any artist ever, who would it be and why?
Luke: I reckon Elton John would be really competent, and a great listener. When young stars become crackheads, he’s always the celebrity that takes them under his wing and helps them out. I think this might correlate with him having good massage skills. Maybe. It just seems llke the king of thing that he could do.

Alternatively, I’d probably have to plump for a hot chick. I’m lookin’ at you, Hayley Williams. Or maybe Frankie from The Saturdays. My drummer introduced me to her the other day. Not personally, obviously.

Luke: What are your top five films? Give reasons, proper ones.
Lee: In no particular order:
1. The Usual Suspects – Bloody great, twist at the end, clever thriller. It has everything, including an unbelievable performance from Kevin Spacey.

2. Anchorman – It brings random strangers together. Quoting this film has made me so many random friends.

3. 500 Days Of Summer – I’m not one to roll with the crowd (I am) but this film was great. The soundtrack is unbelievable, Zooey is a babe and it portrays love from a realistic viewpoint. Win.

4. Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels – Cheeky gangster films about geezers. I like clever, well written movies…this is one.

5. I should really put something really cool like Donnie Darko or the early Batman films while Burton was still doing them but I really enjoy Finding Nemo. Makes me laugh.

Lee: What are your top 5 live gigs you have been to? It can be signed or unsigned. Give reasons too…
Luke: This is a toughie. I’m not sure that this is my definitive answer but I’ll give it a go. In no particular order…

1. Shoe! at Worcester Arts Workshop, 2003. I used to go to DIY punk and hardcore shows in Worcester, and Shoe! supported Vanilla Pod there once to a crowd of about twelve people. I thought their name was awful, and that it would represent their music. How wrong I was. Invigorative, posi, poppy punk (not pop-punk). I had goosebumps for the entire set. Members of Shoe! are now in The Cut-Ups, but you can check Shoe! out at http://myspace.com/shoefromcullompton

2. Sigur Ros at Latitude Festival, 2008. Sigur Ros are incredible, but nothing prepared me for how beautiful this show would be. Incredible lighting, massive brass band all dressed in white, mind-blowing.

3. Ben Folds in Bristol, 2008. I finally got to see my hero perform in 2008. Every tune was a monolithic hit. I guess that’s what happens when you release 8 killer albums or however many it is. Ultimate gig.

4. The Rocket Summer at Southampton Joiners, 2008. I’d been waiting to see Bryce for about five years and this was an incredible experience. Seeing Bryce live just has this amazingly palpable sense of energy and expectation. There really is something special about his live shows.

5. Tellison at Lark in the Park, London, 2007. I promoted this show with my friend, Del, and it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been involved with. There had been a bit of buzz about Tellison for a few months, but I don’t think anyone anticipated how much their set would go off. The venue was totally rammed, there were stage invasions, broken glass, broken equipment, sweaty bodies, encores, singsongs. Such a special night.

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]