10 Q’s with John Mitchell (IT BITES/ARENA)

1. What are you currently up to?

I’m about to go to Rockfield Studios in Wales to produce Island Records latest signings Lower Than Atlantis.

2. Could you take us through the new album ‘Map Of The Past’?

The whole thing was inspired by a family photo that I hadn’t seen in years. I’ve always wished I could go back and fix certain things in my past and that’s the theme of most of the lyrics on the album. The premise is a guy dreams his way back into time gone by and averts a lot of tragedy that historically affected a great many other people’s lives but can’t change his own undoing… seeing as we really can’t, in reality it seems quite pertinent.

3. Why did the band decide to make a concept album now and will the live dates involve playing the whole album?

Because I said so LOL!!! :) Seriously though, I just thought by making this album I might stop in some strange way living and trying to recreate certain aspects of my childhood. It’s kind of therapy in recorded form. Let’s hope that from now on, we can write about something cheerful!

4. Was it easier recording this album, given that the line-up was more settled with Lee Pomeroy on bass and the fact the band had an album under their belts?

Well for starters the album seriously benefits from having REAL bass playing on it instead of myself and John Beck kidding ourselves that we’re both Stanley Clarke. From a writing point of view, with The Tall Ships there was a conscious effort to sound like ‘The Best Of It Bites’ (as cynical as that may seem) because we realized that coming back after 15 years and with a different front man, it would have been a MASSIVE disappointment if we had sounded like the Banana Bunch :)

5. What have been the live highlights of the past year for It Bites and why?

I really enjoyed the tour we did with Mostly Autumn and particularly the Holmfirth gig which was just great as it always is. Also it was great finally finishing this album, which seemed to take forever. We weren’t sure if we were going to do another one, but I’m really glad we did. It’s the thing I’m most proud of having been involved in the writing of. I think it’s ace!

6. Has the internet helped you get your music out there or has it in some ways hindered it by websites offering free downloads? Do you still rely heavily on CD sales as opposed to downloads? Or is it a case where tour merchandise is the big earner for the band now?

Well I’ve never seen a single penny from making music with It Bites apart from maybe the initial advances from the two record companies. The simple answer is I do this for the love of doing it and any money I see from tour is a bonus. I wouldn’t even be able to tell you how many units we’ve sold, so I wouldn’t be able to tell you what affects what. I make my living by owning a studio. It Bites is more or less a hobby.

7. You’re a busy man away from It Bites including running the Outhouse Studios. How did you get to produce newer bands like You Me At Six and Enter Shikari? How do you juggle to fit production/studio work around It Bites and Arena commitments?

I got to be involved with those bands by over the years building up a solid reputation and word spreading more or less by mouth. I’m very very grateful indeed to a few key people who have championed my cause over the years, I’ve had some wonderful experiences and met some brilliant people simply by owning Outhouse. As for juggling stuff, if you’re your own boss, it’s very easy to do what you like when you like. I have two very talented guys that work at my studio who keep the wheels turning regardless if I am there or not. They should probably take a bow at this point as I’m the seldom seen kid these days J So much kudos to Benny Humphreys and James Billinge

8. Will there ever be another Kino album or was it only ever intended as a one-off album?

Who knows. Maybe. Maybe not. In the words of Pete Trewavas, “We need to consider if Kino is musically relevant in the current climate” LOL. He may well have been teasing, I’m not sure. Is any progressive rock “RELEVANT”? Does it really matter? It will certainly never be ‘cool’. And I don’t care what anyone else says, music isn’t art, it’s just a bit of fluff designed to entertain people and provoke some sort of emotion. Nothing more.

9. Is rock and metal music in a healthier state now than ten years ago? How important has it been to have specialist magazines – ‘Classic Rock’, ‘Classic Rock presents Prog’, ‘Fireworks’, ‘PowerPlay’ – in the High Street stores raising the profile of the music and online websites?

Jerry Ewing took a SERIOUS gamble launching Classic Rock Presents Prog. A gamble which seems to be paying off. Maybe that market was always there and waiting to be tapped into, maybe it was all about timing. Either way, I have huge respect for anyone that manages to make any kind of success in the field of music in this day and age and to anyone that manages to run a successful magazine. Those mags and certain websites are about the only reason anyone has the first clue that It Bites is even about to release a new album. So hats off to anyone that gives us the time of day and thank you!

10. What do you enjoy doing in your time away from music?

I like sailing, tinkering with vintage cars, collecting antique bric a brac and watching films. I certainly don’t pick up a guitar when I don’t have to :)

Anything else to add and a message for your fans…

I really hope you like the new album. If you don’t, don’t tell me about it as I’m waaaay to sensitive for this caper LOL



The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk Sunday 21 February, 16:00 EST, 21:00 GMT

More about Josh: http://getreadytorock.me.uk/blog/?s=%22Josh+Taerk%22

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 14 February 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 9 February 2021.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.

Featured Albums w/c 22 February 2021 (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 RADAR Lost In The Atlantic (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 DURBIN The Beast Awakens (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN – The Darkest Days Are The Brightest (InsideOut Music)

Power Plays w/c 22 February 2021 (Mon-Fri)


ALLY VENABLE Road To Nowhere

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