Larry Mitchell Interview
Larry Mitchell is one of the fastest rising guitarists on the rock scene
today. He's toured with Billy Squier, Tracy Chapman and Ric Ocasek. He's recorded
with Mica Paris, Ric Ocasek and Red Bone. And now Larry Mitchell's debut CD “Mind,
Body, Soul” has been released on the Ridgetop music label.
We spoke to Larry Mitchell about his career and his music.
Q. Larry, is this your first solo recording effort?
A. No it's my second. My first one came out on a label called Grudge/BMG,
distributed by BMG Records, in 1990. It was self-titled and it’s out
of print now. But, I'm probably gonna try to re-do it, at some point, or do
a "live" record that has somebody else on it.
Q. Didn't you also release something on Guitar Player Records?
A. I had met some people at a co. who started working with Guitar Player,
and Guitar Player wanted to start a label. So, they recommended me. I had already
recorded a record myself with the help of some friends who played on, people
who had been playing with me for awhile. Our friend at a studio lent me a studio
and we recorded a record. Guitar Player got involved and they wanted to put
it out. So we did. We were trying to get the distribution together but it was
just not happening. Someone recommended to Guitar Player that they talk to
the people at Ridge Top. They called up and were very excited about it. We
talked for awhile, and everything's been great.
Q. Is your studio band the same as your road band?
A. All of the people on the CD have at one point been in the band. All of
93 they were pretty much in the band. I'm not sure, but I think Jimmy Jackson,
the drummer who played on six of the tunes is probably gonna go on the road
with me. I'm not sure yet.
Q. You were playing the New York City club circuit for years?
A. Yes, from 1988 doing my stuff. I've been playing New York City clubs doing
other people's material for years.
Q. In cover bands?
A. Not really cover bands, other people's original bands.
Q. You did a mid-west Clinic Tour. Were you offering playing tips to up and
A. Playing techniques. We talked about what it's like being on the road with
some of the other people I've been on the road with. How do I write songs?
We did the Clinic Tour as a band, the band I was using at the time. It was
Q. You toured with Tracy Chapman and Billy Squier. They seem like they're
A. They are. (Laughs)
Q. How did you get those gigs?
A. They had shared the same management that managed Ric Ocasek. I had worked
for Ric and he recommended me. They called me up and I thought they were kidding.
I though it was somebody playing a joke on me. I investigated it a little more
and it was for real. I sent Tracy a couple of my CD’s just to make sure
she knew exactly what I did most of the time. She liked it. But one of the
things I got from playing in many different bands is playing many different
styles. In 1986, 1987, 1988, I was playing in about nine different original
bands in New York City at the same time. One was a very strange, almost punkish
band called "The Mystery Girls", fronted by Debbie Valente. Another
one was very straight ahead rock 'n' roll. I also played in pop bands behind
female singers, behind male singers. One group had a duet, two singers. Some
bands we played an R and B Funk Rhythms. With Tracy I had to learn how to play
banjo or fake banjo quickly for one song.
Q. Were you working another job during the time you were in all these bands?
A. No. The people doing the showcases usually pay you. They usually pay you
for rehearsals and the gigs.
Q. In one of these photos you bear a resemblance to Jimi Hendrix. Is that
a comparison you like or dislike?
A. I dislike it. (Laughs) I mean I like Hendrix. It's just that after awhile,
you try to do something someone compares you to Hendrix, and it's kind
Q. Is anyone out there doing what Hendrix did?
A. I think there are people that are like him, but it’s not gonna be
someone who sounds like Hendrix; people who are pushing the envelope, yes.
If anybody comes out now and sounds a little bit like Hendrix, even if someone
thinks they're just as good, they're still going to be compared to Hendrix.
When you compare somebody to somebody else, it's not the same. They're
not gonna live up to it. Hendrix is bigger than any guitar player could ever
Q. Larry, where do you want to take your music?
A. Hmmm. On a small scale around the world. I've traveled through Europe
and America with other artists. I'd like to be able to do it with my stuff.
I'd like to get people's reactions. I like to play for people and get their
reaction to it. I like to hear people laugh, smile, cry, whatever. If they
enjoy it then that's great. If they don't enjoy it, I understand that.
Music is a personal choice, so I don't expect everyone to like it. I just hope
I can reach a lot of different people. I've gotten interesting letters from
people over the years, about they're in a particular place or time and they
were listening to one of my records or listening to one of my songs and they
tell me what happened, about what kind of mood it put them in. So, I kind of
Q. What do you do with yourself everyday? Is there such a thing as a typical
day for you?
A. I get up and I'm taking vocal lessons from a wonderful teacher named
Kerry Cole. So I work on some vocal exercises. I usually, depending on what
time of day it is, and what I have to do, I'm making lots of phone calls. I'm
trying to get a booking agency together right now, which means I don't have
a booking agency right now. I'm booking my own shows. I make sure I have the
band together for it. Making flyers for the shows. I teach a little bit, prepare
for students. I'm trying to write some columns for a couple of magazines and
I write music. So I have a little sequencer and I write songs. I've been doing
a lot of writing the last two years with a sequencer, and taking it to the
band and saying this is pretty much the way I want the song to go. Then I go
out and see bands. I have so many friends that are playing out all the time.
Sometimes the day goes by really quickly and sometimes the day drags on.
© Gary James All Rights Reserved