The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
The Rockpit 2013 Interviews

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS 2013 - ISAIAH MITCHELL of EARTHLESS & THE BLACK ELK MEDICINE BAND

ANDREW TALKS TO ISAIAH MITCHELL

OF EARTHLESS

INTRODUCING THE BLACK ELK MEDICINE BAND

TO AUSTRALIA IN MAY

 

 

Andrew: First of all, it's an honour to speak to you and thanks for doing the interview for the Rockpit as well, it's much appreciated.

 

 

 

Isaiah: Cheers man, the feeling is mutual. Thanks for showing interest.

 

 

 

Andrew: That's alright. You've been to Australia a couple of times before, is that right?

 

 

 

Isaiah: Yeah, 2010 around new year's time and then last Christmas so yeah, 2 years apart.

 

 

 

Andrew: How was your experiences previously, how did you find the audiences down here?

 

 

 

Isaiah: Oh awesome! Of course the first time we went it was mellower because it was our first time and everything but still fantastic. But last time, it was better, there was more people, word of mouth kind of spread I guess which is the thing to do sometimes. I have a blast, I had a great time, the crowds have always been really really good. We've never been out to the west coast yet, just mainly...Is that Adelaide a little bit west...

 

 

 

Andrew: Adelaide would be a little more east and Perth would be on the west coast which is where I am now.

 

 

 

Isaiah: Right, maybe I'm thinking Canberra or something?

 

 

 

Andrew: Perth is pretty much the only city on the west really. Adelaide is sort of more in the middle I guess but closer to the east than the west.

 

 

 

Isaiah: Yeah, that's what I'm thinking of, is Adelaide. But yeah I dunno, I've had a blast. Of course that's  the bigger city there are a little bit more attended but every show I've had a blast in. It's crazy to come super far away and having some fun.

 

 

 

Andrew: So this time around you're coming as a solo and playing with Black Elk Medicine Man, how did this come about?

 

 

 

Isaiah: Well that's a project that I started and haven't really done much with it until these...I still had a 7 inch on a label called Valley King Records and then Tym records, that's on Tym guitar in Brisbane, he put out an A side and B side with Cam Butler and myself on it. But that's just a band that's just a solo project that I started one day and that's what I called it and coming to Australia, I'll be doing 5 in total just solo shows by myself which is still Black Elk Medicine Man but then getting to actually do it with a band and have it be a totally different set.

 

 

 

Andrew: Thats the other thing I was gonna ask you, what's the difference between the solo shows and the Black Elk Medicine Man?

 

 

 

Isaiah: Well, we'll kinda get to find out cause we've never performed together or rehearsed or anything. I'm just sending these guys music and then we're gonna have a couple of days to practice it. But the difference is I think I'm pretty sure that might stay a little bit more instrumental but I'm still trying to figure out if we oughta do some songs with vocals and also get Nick Allbrook to do some singing with me. We're still working that out but I mean, the thing with me, solo is gonna be more like loopers and more just me and a guitar and doing maybe older bluesy kind of stuff and then you know, instrumental stuff, like surfey style thing. It's gonna be all across the board but since I haven't practiced with those guys yet, I think it's gonna be very rockin', I think it's gonna be pretty ambient and a lot of fun. I think people will enjoy it.

 

 

 

Andrew: Yeah definitley, it sounds like it's going to be a very interesting project. The show that you are doing here in Perth I believe is just with the Black Elk Medicine Man, not the solo show is that right?

 

 

 

Isaiah: Yeah, it's with the full band.

 

 

 

Andrew: OK so how is the writing process normally then for like when you come up with stuff like this? How do you actually come up with song ideas and putting the songs together and stuff, is it just a sort of jam session kind of thing?

 

 

 

Isaiah: In regards to the band itself?

 

 

 

Andrew: Yeah, or when you come up with a new project or whatever.

 

 

 

Isaiah: Well yeah I dunno, a lot of stuff happens organically in our practice space with the jam or something. Some of the stuff that I'm sending to Nick and Rob (McManus) is stuff I've already jammed with other people on the same project and it's just getting the feet wet and all that stuff and the stuff that I like I'm sending over to them to review and kinda get under our boat, get the jist of it and Nick's gonna do a lot of homework cause he's gonna get pretty sonic on his end of things so we can just keep it interesting. The solo aspect, that side of the Black Elk Medicine Man, it's just songs and bits that I come up with then I have time to build them on my own, do what I want with them. But yeah I get to rehearse these which the other ones I just send to the guys and we're just gonna go have at it when we all meet after I get off the airplane.

 

 

 

Andrew: So I guess there is a bit of improvisation going on as well at some of these shows?

 

 

 

Isaiah: Oh yeah there will be some improv. There's gonna be structure but there's gonna be improv. It's not gonna be like an Earthless improv thing at all, it's gonna be different, sonically it's gonna be different. Right now I have all these pre-conceived thoughts of how it's gonna be, I don't know if it's gonna do that but there'll be loops, there'll be maybe some synth in there, just atmospheric sounds but you know, just think of like a good drive and like fast work kind of jam and you're taking off I dunno. I'm a big fan of Wooden Shjips, I mean who knows people might go, oh that's kinda Wooden Shjipsy but you never know. It's hard to tell, it may or may not come across like that but it's inspired by the same like 70's and 80's grout rock and all that kind of stuff.

 

 

 

Andrew: Sounds like it's gonna be good then. So some of the other bands that you do like Golden Void and Howlin'Rain, how do they differ from each other and what do you personally get from each of these different projects? Do you sort of look at them all equally or are they different in their own sort of way?

 

 

 

Isaiah: They're definitly different, I do it for different outlets and creative needs. Like Golden Void I get to have a major hand in writing the songs and writing the melodies and being the lead singer and calling a lot of the shots, that's pretty great people trust me with that. I don't write all the songs for it but the drummer and I have a really good relationship, we played in our first band since we were teenagers together so we work pretty well together. With something like Howlin' Rain, I just go in there and...I don't play in the band anymore, I'm no longer in Howlin' Rain but I was kinda like a hired gun in a sense even though I was a part of the band but I was playing Ethan's songs and just playing the part and trying my best to make it sound good and serve the music, that was my job. It was a lot of fun too because I don't do that too much. I used to play in a lot of blues bands that would tour the States and Europe and stuff and right there you're more of a side man, you're backing up the front person. I like doing that too so this solo project is a totally different world.

 

 

 

Andrew: You would have a lot more control over the solo stuff I guess more than the other stuff.

 

 

 

Isaiah: I sure hope so, I sure hope so. We'll see what happens but yeah I have more control over it in the fact that I've written it and I'm playing exactly what I want, I get to do exactly what I want to do. Before anything get's performed I'm gonna be the judge and hopefully I pick the right stuff to do and people like it more or less. Yeah you can't hide on anyone else, it's all on me. It's just a new world that I've never gone to so it's like setting sail for the first time, not knowing where the horizons gonna be.

 

 

 

Andrew: So with all these different band's that you do, do you have any other time to pursue other interests outside of music or is music pretty much you're sort of thing only?

 

 

 

Isaiah: I really like music. I teach but I teach music, I really enjoy teaching, I like taking photographs

 

 

 

Andrew: So music is pretty much the top sort of thing then I guess.

 

 

 

Isaiah: Yeah, I definitly put all of my eggs in music's basket. It's just what I like, it doesn't leave my head. It's kind of a shame, my wife is...it's not really a shame, it just depends on how you look at it.

 

 

 

Andrew: I don't see that as a negative thing at all.

 

 

 

Isaiah: Yeah, but it's so great to see other people like ah they're great painters and they're great photographers and they write well AND they play music well, there is really creative people all around and they're able to bounce back and forth. But then again she's like, all you've done is music and you're good at that but yeah, it's crazy I wish sometimes I was more broadened but there's still time to do that but I just love music, it's just fun for me, it's a lot of fun.

 

 

 

Andrew: So what are your musical influences, at the moment are there any bands out there that you are really into at the moment that are catching your attention?

 

 

 

Isaiah: Like newer groups?

 

 

 

Andrew: Yeah, newer bands that are sort of just coming out now.

 

 

 

Isaiah: Yeah there's a lot partiularly in San Francisco there's some really good bands. There's a band called Hot Lunch that I highly recommend people should check out. I mean it's funny enough as it is that I get to play with Nick but yeah Tama Impala and Pond, they're absolutely a great band. But now I really enjoy their music quite a lot. There's not a whole lot of new stuff that I really enjoy that's current. I'm not like a really big searcher for music, people usually turn me onto it or see them at a show and just get blown away or something like that. There's another group that's here, one more though, Once and Future Band. I'm gonna try and bring some CD's over and hand them out because this is an amazing local band.

 

 

 

Andrew. A San Francisco native as well are they?

 

 

 

Isaiah: Yeah, they're amazing.

 

 

 

Andrew: So in saying that, is there any band's that you would love to tour with or even record with at some time like not just newer band's but older band's that you have never had anything to do with before?

 

 

 

Isaiah: It would be probably crazy to do something with Chrome, Astral Temple that would be a trip. Maybe High Rise or...I dunno ZZ Top that would be amazing. There's so much it's unbelievable.

 

 

 

Andrew: So what's next after the Australian tour, and what's the go with Earthless? Are you going back into that anytime soon?

 

 

 

Earthless: Yeah, we just recorded the meat and potatoes of a new double album that's coming out I think in September. I've still gotta do some overdubs, I try and do that next week but I'm definitly going to pick up most of the pieces when I get back and we'll mix that and then Earthless is gonna go to Europe for about 10 days. And then after that I think Golden Void has like a really mini tour playing at a festival here in the States called Hopscotch in September and yeah that's kinda it. I think I'll be trying to focus more on making an official solo album, that will be my ideal thing to do. I dunno, start another band with my wife doing maybe more like Fairport Convention kind of stuff. I'm a big Richard Thompson fan, she is as well, Sandy Denny fan so always wanted kinda to do something like that.

 

 

 

Andrew: OK cool. Well I have a couple more questions before we wrap this up. Just wanted to know, if you could be a fly on the wall for the recording of any great classic album in history which would it be?

 

 

 

Isaiah: Oh man that's a really tough one. Maybe Axis: Bold as Love (Jimi Hendrix) or maybe even ZZ Top's Tejas. Yeah those are the first 2 that come to mind. Or maybe even Neil Young's Tonight's The Night, I think that would be very far out. It's so hard!

 

 

 

 

Andrew: Yeah it is a hard question, I mean everytime I ask that question it's always a bit of a stumbler for a lot of people. It's hard to pick just one album.

 

 

 

Isaiah: Yeah totally.

 

 

 

Andrew: And last one, what is the meaning of life?

 

 

 

Isaiah: Experience to the fullest, be brave and go for it. Don't hold back and experience to it's absolute fullest and don't cut yourself short.

 

 

 

Andrew: Sounds good, good advice.

 

 

 

Isaiah: Yeah, good advice!

 

 

 

Andrew: Thanks again for the interview and as I said it's an honour to be speaking to you and I cannot wait to go see you when you come down here. You're playing in Fremantle as well which is a great city for live music so I can't wait to see you guys.

 

 

 

Isaiah: Awesome, again I'm really looking forward to it, I've never been there and yeah I'm really excited. I'm actually just right now...my wife is playing a show so I'm at home rehearsing! Yeah I'm excited, I'm really looking forward to being there.

 

 

 

Andrew: It should be a good tour and I'm sure everyone is looking forward to it. So yeah, thanks again, it's an honour to be speaking to you.

 

 

 

Isaiah: The pleasure's mine, all the best and yeah come up and say hello at the show.

 

 

 

 

By Andrew Schizodeluxe April 2013

 

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