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PHIL MITCHELL - INTERVIEWS

 


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ON THE COUCH WITH PHIL MITCHELL - 2004

Ian Fawkes invites Dr Feelgood bassist Phil Mitchell for a private consultation.

1.) What's the best and worst part of being a member of a working band like Dr Feelgood?

Worst part is the travelling long hours day after day sat in traffic jams, airport lounges, early mornings and late nights and it gets harder as we get older and also your family suffers.

The best part is knowing that through all the ups and downs this band has been through it still entertains and excites our followers who have in the main stayed with us. After Lee passed away it seemed like the end for Feelgood but for the fans who supported and endorsed the continuation of our music which looking back now would have been even more sad to disappear. Lee was very keen that all his years of hard work making Feelgood what it was should not just be allowed to die with him and even though Robert puts a different element into the band we know that he would have approved of his commitment, approach and involvement. You can't please all the people all the time (as our friends Nine Below Zero sang) but you can certainly give it your best shot, which we do. Another best part is the gig seeing a happy crowd makes up for all the problems that surround making it happen and we all have a good friendly and working relationship within the band.

2.) When Pete Gage joined the fold it seemed that things would just carry on where it left off but somehow it hit the buffers. From your view point what do you think went wrong?

I think that people fail to realise the kind of stress a band is put under when touring, living, performing, travelling together day in, day out. It takes a special kind of patience to survive without occasionally cracking up and losing your focus on what you're meant to be doing. Myself, Kevin and Steve have spent all our working lives dealing with this. Pete, however, came into the band from a semi-pro background stepping into Lee Brilleaux's shoes was a big step which eventually took it's toll. He was a very complex man who could blow very hot and cold - fortunately his hot times were on the stage but there is more to being in a band than the 60-90 minutes on stage and there were times when his down side was having a negative effect on what we were attempting to rebuild which was already a mammoth task after the devastating effect of Lee's untimely death. Pete had a good run in the band, made a good album, saw a lot of the world but we all knew including him that a change was inevitable if we were to survive. We see Pete from time to time and he is happily getting on with his life gigging occasionally in his own right and we wish him success.

3.) I do believe that you own or did own a recording studio, did the Feelgoods record there and what other artists or events have taken place there?

Yes, I did build my own studio during the time I was not with the band (1991-95). When we restarted we recorded ''On the Road Again'' there. I also recorded some tracks for Wilko Johnson which for me was interesting as I am a big fan of Norman Watt-Roy. He is one of our countries finest bass players. It was also interesting to be a fly on the wall as Wilko put together some of his new songs. There was always a very mixed array of music from gospel singers to heavy rock and also some voice over work as a working studio is busy most days of the week. It was interesting but I was more than pleased to pick up the bass again with Feelgood as nothing beats being on stage with the band. This eventually meant that I had to hand over Mushroom studios to someone else where it still functions today.

4.) Does Chris Fenwick still play a role in the Feelgood empire?

Yes, Chris has actually taken a more active role within the band over the last year or so and can often be seen out on the road with us manning our merchandising stall at gigs.

5.) I've had the fortune/misfortune to be in the company of quite a few other name bands and to be honest some of them can be miserable devils or just plain big headed. On the other hand I've met all the Feelgoods past and present and they are always easy going jovial chaps up for a drink and a laugh. Is this in the job description or is it ''something in the (Southend) water''?

I think we're all reasonably down to earth chaps and I for one enjoy what we do and it's always a pleasure to mix with our audience. After all we wouldn't be here without them and I can honestly say I've made some good friends along the way.

6.) You have obviously travelled one or two miles ''on the road'' in your time. Have you any funny/bizarre travel stories that you can share with us?

The good thing about the road is you never know what's going to happen next, the best laid plans often fall foul of flight cancellations, emergency landings, missed runways, torrential storms at outdoor events, blackouts, blowouts, hotel floods, break ins - you name it, it has happened to us at some time. Averaged out over the year we probably travel about 1500-2000 miles a week and we see some incredibly bad drivers (yes most of the worse is on Sundays) and if you have ever seen Spinal Tap it's a lot nearer the truth than most people realise. Most of the dangerous stunts seem to befall guitarists (there's a surprise)! At a show in Dublin the stage crew had thoughtfully covered the orchestra pit in front of the stage with black material so it looked like an extension of the stage. At a guitar high spot Steve ran to the front only to disappear down a large hole. He was very lucky, in the pit was a drum kit set up and he was nearly impaled on the cymbal stands. The audience thought it was great and cheered him as he rose from the depths still playing - what a trouper.

(Source: Dr Feelgood Newsletter Feelin' Good Issue 35/April 2004)
 

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