The Restless Soul of Tony Mitchell
The Restless Soul of Tony Mitchell
Tony Mitchell is best known for his work in bands such as Kiss Of The Gypsy and Dirty White Boyz – as well as performing with the likes of Alice Cooper and Rick Wakeman. Church Of A Restless Soul is the name of Tony Mitchell’s latest solo endeavor, an absolute rock and roll epic of a recording – now available worldwide through AOR Heaven. In this wide ranging interview with Highwire Daze, Tony Mitchell discusses the making of the amazing and ambitious Church Of A Restless Soul. Other topics of intrigue also include his days with Kiss Of The Gypsy. working with legendary performers throughout his brilliant career, future plans on the horizon, and a whole lot more…
How did your association with AOR Heaven come about?
I heard great things about AOR Heaven from fellow musicians and when I had finished the recording of the album, I contacted Birgitt Schwanke as I have been in contact with her over the last few years. After hearing the album, she suggested sending them directly to Georg Siegl. He suggested releasing ASAP, so we all pulled together to get the artwork and masters ready. The AOR Heaven team have been very professional so far and I’m looking forward to working with them in the future.
Where are you based of and what is your local music scene like there?
I currently live in Fleetwood near Blackpool, Lancashire. The music scene is quite healthy but sadly, it’s more of a cover songs culture mainly playing bars, clubs & pubs which are on the decline. In my early years, playing covers live was great for my development, constantly gigging up and down the country as well as locally.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the Church Of A Restless Soul album title?
People who know me, know that I don’t stand still whether it be writing, recording or filming/editing music videos. As a songwriter for myself & others, in the past, I have written, recorded & filmed punk, metal, Americana, psychobilly, A.O.R, acoustic, ballads etc and love to be versatile. I think it’s important to explore and experiment as much as you can as a writer and musician. Everyone always tells me that I am a restless soul and will probably never change.
Select any two songs from Church Of A Restless Soul and what inspired the lyrics?
“I BELIEVE IN ANGELS”
I December 2019, I lost my 36 year old niece who was like a sister to me and was also a singer. She just died suddenly without warning and was an angel in every sense of the word. I had to write this song to express exactly how I felt and still feel now. The lyrics are straight from the heart and hopefully reaches out to others that have lost anyone close to them. To record the vocals on this track was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life and knew I only had one shot at it. The vocals were shaky but I decided to leave it as it was, as I think it captured the moment.
“KILLING ME TO LOVE YOU”
When writing so called love songs, I like to put a spin on them. With this, I wanted it to be a dark love story, twisted romance. Love is pain, poison and torture as well as the beauty that it portrays.
How did Danny Vaughn from Tyketto become involved with the new album?
In 2019, I played a few acoustic dates as a special guest for Danny Vaughn on his Myths, Lies & Legends tour and on a few occasions, we sang together on stage and it was pretty evident then that there was a definite chemistry. And we said that we would try and work together at some stage. When I wrote Mighty Fall, I knew straight away how I wanted to do it. I messaged Danny to see if he would be interested in recording his vocals as a duet with me, sent him the track and instantly loved it. With the wonders of technology, he recorded his vocals in the country where he lives and sent the audio files to me to put on the track – and that’s when the magic happened.
Who did the cover art for Church Of A Restless Soul and how much input did you have on it?
The cover artwork was a combination of my ideas and Ingo Ertl’s. Originally, the album was going to be called Black Valentine as it was also the original title of Killing Me To Love You to which I had the artwork for, but because we had deadlines to meet, I decided to go with the Church Of A Restless Soul concept.
What has it been like to release new music right in the middle of a pandemic and so much social unrest in the world?
Fortunately, I have my own studio that I work from at my home and when I am in writing/recording mode, I tend to live like a recluse anyway. Home tutor to my two sons, by day and creative musician, by night. I used the lockdown to finish the album and make sure it was right. I also started other project ideas and continue to do so.
Will you be doing any live shows after the pandemic comes to an end?
I am hoping to play some live shows maybe in 2021, maybe a few festivals whether that be as a band or solo acoustic. Everything is so uncertain at the moment and it’s hard planning too far ahead as things can be cancelled at the drop of a hat.
When you look back on your work with Kiss Of The Gypsy and your time with Atlantic Records, what do you think of it now in retrospect? Any chance of new Kiss Of The Gypsy material?
Even though we had some fantastic times before getting a record contract with Atlantic and totally awesome memories from the live tours with the best fans ever, it’s not a time I look back too fondly of and I always pledged to move forward and never look back. We have been offered countless deals for a Kiss Of The Gypsy reunion and new release but we all feel the same way abd as I understand it. Rhino now have re-issued the album but not sure if it’s only digitally. I did write and release an album called Far Away From Home in 2011 as a possible new Kiss of the Gypsy album as we reunited for a charity event that year but just wasn’t meant to be so I recorded and released it. We all decided, some things are just best left as they are.
What was it like working with Rick Wakeman on the Return To The Centre Of The Earth album?
In 1999, Rick called me after hearing the Kiss of the Gypsy album and asked me if I would like to sing on his album, he sent me a demo of Mr Slow with a rough vocal mix. I enjoyed recording it in London with all the choirs and orchestra on it. Rick’s a really nice guy, very funny, totally professional and we both love our football. Meeting all the artists at the album launch at the National History Museum was amazing and one for the memory bank for sure.
What is your Alice Cooper connection and what was it like working with him?
In 2000, I was asked to be a part of the British Rock Symphony South American Tour. I was part of the band including John Beck and Dick Nolan” from It Bites among others. I was lead vocalist for Alan Parsons Project, played guitar and backing vocals for Alice Cooper, Jon Anderson and Tony Hadley as well as performing a set of my own. Alice was a really nice guy on and off stage, very easy to work with and every morning when we had breakfast together, we would talk golf, completely different persona from when he’s pretending to whip me on stage when I’m playing guitar.
Are you still involved with Dirty White Boyz and will there be any new music in the horizon? Some of the band member played on this solo album.
I’m still involved with the guys. As you stated, Paul, Nigel & Neil played on the album. We remain great friends and always said we would record and release a future album under a new name. Watch this space.
What’s up next for you?
I’m looking at various projects which I have been offered, suggested and what I have in mind. One project I have had in mind for a while is an 80s retro synthwave with a melodic AOR spin on it maybe? Record a new album with Dirty White Boyz under a different name. I have already started work on new material for another solo album. I also want to write & record a new Kingdom of Deadmen album as I think the time is right to unleash this to the world as it’s an acquired taste for a few people.
Any final words of wisdom?
I don’t know about wisdom but what I would like to say to everyone is this …
In this world of uncertainty: Try to be good to one & other & don’t be taken in by the shit that the mainstream/social media are constantly spouting.
In a world of ever changing music consumption: As a music artist, we all know that we don’t earn much (if anything) from album sales & streaming. We just do it simply because we love it. We are fortunate to be a part of a genre of music that has longevity & the best fans who support the bands & artists by still buying the albums that help us to continue to produce new music.
To the record labels that have the belief & passion to allow us to create & supply the best of what we’ve got. To the magazines and; radio stations who keep this awesome music in the spotlight …
To you all, thank you so much …
Keep the Rock Flag Flying High …
(Interview by Ken Morton)
Tony Mitchell on Facebook