We catch-up with John Mitchell (It Bites/Arena/Frost*) whose new album goes out under the Lonely Robot moniker and is entitled ‘Please Come Home’. It is released on Inside Out on 23rd February. It includes guest appearances from Nik Kershaw, Nick Beggs, Steve Hogarth (Marillion), Peter Cox (Go West) and many more. Over to John…
What have you got planned for the next few months e.g. recording, touring, etc.
I’m doing quite an extensive tour with Arena coming up soon, apart from that, just keeping the wolves from the door in the studio :)
Lonely Robot is a solo album, albeit under the name Lonely Robot, how did you decide on the guests? Did you approach them as you wrote the music or did you have a ‘wish list’ ready before recording started?
Everyone who is on the album has been in a “wish I could work with them” queue in my head for a very long time. I’m pleased to say that queue is now empty. And I wrote the songs with the people in mind and what respective skills they bought to the table. In fact I wrote ‘Why Do We Stay’ as Heather was on her way down to my studio on the train, that’s almost built to order :)
Could you take us through the excellent new album ‘Please Come Home’ e.g. ideas behind the songs, song writing process
I had eleven final titles I wanted to use. The mood the titles suggested defined the mood of the song. I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS write to a title. Without context from the very start, the process seems shallow and listless to me. The album isn’t a concept album but heavily leans on the themes of childhood isolation and a need to belong somewhere.
Any plans to take Lonely Robot on tour or could a one-off show for DVD be an option?
More likely the latter. I only want to gig it if it’s special and there’s a demand. So the Dog And Duck in Croydon in front of twenty people has no appeal to me. Demanding aren’t I? :)
The music is very epic and cinematic in parts, are there plans to record visuals/videos for the music or perhaps hope a song or two gets picked up for a film soundtrack?
Yes, that’s ENTIRELY the plan.
Arena have a busy year coming up. Do you have a big input into the recording and production process? How do you juggle your time between Arena, It Bites and Frost*?
Well Frost isn’t really operative any more, It Bites got put on the back burner due to John Beck touring with Fish and the Arena machine whirs into life once every 3 years or so… it’s all an illusion, I’m actually exceptionally lazy. Simon Hanhart is producing this Arena album and I’m happy to take direction for a change, I’m done bossing other musicians around lol.
There was rumour of a possible second Kino album this year. Is this the case and if so, any chance of further live shows?
No chance whatsoever. The reason I’m doing Lonely Robot is because in many ways, my notion and ideal for Kino failed. Pete was too busy with Marillion which I understand,
Chris quit before we finished the album to get a proper session gig which I also understand and then it all turned in It Bites which was not really my plan from the outset.
We made a decent enough album, but let’s leave it at that. Lonely Robot is the new Kino if you like. At the end of the day, they’re just different names, it’s the same guy writing the music for the most part.
(From my daughter!) You have produced many newer bands like You Me At Six and the Blackout. What was it like working with these two bands? Are you ‘hands on’ with these bands e.g. offering advice in the construction of songs or do you concentrate just on the sound and let the band get on with it?
I only every mixed The Blackout but YMAS was a production job. I bossed those lads into the middle of next week, believe me :) You HAVE to offer direction to bands if you’re producing, more often than not, bands are too close to their own music to be objective.
I see you are working on some music with former Radio 1 DJ Mike Read. Is this an album or just a few songs you are doing?
It’s a whole album of war poetry set to music. Mike is a top bloke and I thoroughly enjoy working with him. He still loves music as much as he ever did.
It Bites have really established themselves now. What have been the live highlights for you and what is next for the band?
I guess the Frostbites gig was the pinnicle of everything live wise and certainly Map Of The Past was something I was very proud of at the time. As for what is next, I’m not really sure. I’m sort of enjoying writing stuff on my own at the moment and one of the reasons I started doing that was that the next It Bites album wasn’t really jumping out of the page at me. Maybe we’ll reconvene when John finishes with Fish, but no plans as of yet.
What are the plans for Frost* for the next twelve months?
No plans. As far as I am aware, that is that until Jem says otherwise.
Message for you fans…
I love you all, please buy my album and make a Lonely Robot happy lol.
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