An Interview With Brett Mitchell
Brett Mitchell just released a great new single called "Almost But Not Quite (The Story of My Life)". The track suggests a slightly darker style than it actually is, as its humorous approach to life’s little failures is something to which anyone can relate.
Plucking guitars and whistles provide a fresh, almost ‘beachy’, vibe as the song goes on and gets you pulled in more with each chorus.
The great things about his song is that musically, it's ageless. I think from kids to adults can really get into this track with ease and that kind of makes it timeless. Funny thing is, we can pretty much say the same for the lyrical content.
We had to have a chat with Brett about well..everything.
TSWS: So Brett, "Almost But Not Quite (The Story of My Life)" has a very radio friendly pop feel to it with bopping guitars and even whistles. Where did this song come from exactly?
Brett: The music for Almost But Not Quite came from a guitar riff. I was just sitting around and playing my guitar over and over and out popped the whistle melody. I always seem to hide sad and depressing lyrics under happy music. It wasn’t until I recorded it in my studio that it became sort of a reggae vibe. Reggae always makes me happy. This is a song about how, no matter how hard you try, you just never seem to get there all the way. Based on true life, in second grade I really was put behind a wall. My story was, and is, about not fitting in or being able to learn the right way to succeed.
TSWS: It's a pretty relatable song of course. So, you used to be a drummer? What made you switch things up and take on your own project?
Brett: When I was around the age of 20 or so, I wrote a chunk of songs that I didn’t think would amount to anything. Some close friends enjoyed them, but it wasn’t until my manager, Jan, bought me a gift certificate to a local studio that things grew into something more. I quickly realized that I needed to make an album. So that’s exactly what I did. It was predominantly performed by myself, with the help of the engineer on bass, and few musical guests. As I started to play professionally more, as a solo artist, the album gained some local buzz and I began interacting with more and more musicians around the area and eventually had a band and that just grew into what has become a 15 year career thus far.
TSWS: The single is very well written. You've obviously been writing songs for quite some time. Can you give me some actual influences for this project musically? Any bands that really changed you?
Brett: Thank you. Yes, I would say that I have been writing songs for a good part of the last 20 years. However, I didn’t really start developing my songwriting skills until my first album came out in 2005. My father grew up in the 40s and 50s so I grew up listening to a lot of the music that he and my mom loved, like oldies and stuff like that. So I have always loved older music. I would say probably some of the biggest influences on me have been musicians like Neil Young, Ben Folds, The Beatles, obviously, and I am a huge Wilco fan, and admire Jeff Tweedy’s lyrical style. But when it comes to my influences, we could do a whole separate interview just on that. There are too many.
TSWS: Are you playing most instruments on this track? If so, how do you record? Everyone has their own process. What's yours?
Brett: Yes, I am playing all the instruments on this track. I recorded it myself, as well. This entire album is all written, performed and played by me. I am by no means an engineer, but I made it work with what I had. Most people record on a computer using Pro Tools, but I used a TASCAM SD card unit. I always wanted to have my own home studio because I am a night owl by nature. By the time I am up and around and wide awake and have inspiration to record, it’s usually already after midnight. So it is nice for me to be able to record at any given time of the night. Usually I start with a rough guitar track. Then I will start to layer some better parts over that. And then move onto vocals and then drums, and usually add bass last or just random percussion like tambourine or hand claps or something.
TSWS: Is "Almost But Not Quite" just the beginning? Is there anything more in the works right now?
Brett: Well, Almost But Not Quite (It’s the Story of My Life) is my second single that I’ve released so far. Those two songs will be on my album. My upcoming album will have 10 tracks. The album is already finished; it’s just in the last part of mixing and mastering right now. So there’s definitely more music to come! I also plan on recording a cover album this winter and who knows what new music will come out of that.
TSWS: When things get back to normal, are you going to put together what you need to perform live?
Brett: Well, I was fortunate enough to have played a few outdoor shows throughout the summer. But I definitely plan on having some full band shows that will showcase the new album. I definitely plan on making up for lost time.
TSWS: This track seems to be a great follow up to "You Are The Only One" released earlier this year. It seemed like there was a few years before that where you slowed down a little. What happened there? Were you focusing more on drums?
Brett: Unfortunately it has been almost 10 years since my previous album was released. In 2011, I released Falling Apart at the Seams. And just after that my father became sick with cancer. I lost him at the end of 2012. Shortly after that, I moved from the Midland area, and I have been up here in Northern Michigan ever since. I have been playing full time since 2005, so I stayed busy, performing and traveling to shows with my band. Besides staying busy with performing, I continued to write songs that would eventually be on this new album. I started recording this new album three years ago, when I first built my studio. I had some ups and downs and went through some dark times but tried to work as much as I could. That’s the one downfall about making your own deadlines. You sometimes put more off than you would if you were paying for studio time, or making appointments. So it’s not like I’ve been working on this album for 10 years or anything, but it certainly has seemed like it’s taking forever. I am definitely excited to get it out there.
TSWS: Anything you'd really want to say to fans before we go?
Brett: Well, I guess I just want to say thanks for supporting original music. And thanks for being so patient with me. But I am very excited for this new album to come out. I am very proud of it in many ways. Seeing that it took so long and that I did it all on my own, it’s something that I feel is very personal. And I can’t wait to share it with people. And let’s hope that the future is brighter than it has been, and that there will be a new chapter in my career once this new album comes out! So stay tuned!
Check Out Brett Mitchell HERE