The northern Michigan drummer and guitarist today reveals the rock, jazz, soul, alt-country and funk influences which helped shape his own music, plus some artists he’s listening to these days.
EDITOR’S NOTE: All musicians trace their inspiration to key recordings that captivated them and influenced their own music. Writer Ross Boissoneau today showcases the albums that changed the world for Bellaire’s Brett Mitchell. leader of Brett Mitchell & The Mitchfits. Scroll down for a Spotify playlist of his picks, plus a couple tracks of his own.
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Brett Mitchell does it (almost) all. The Midland native and current Bellaire resident is an award-winning drummer, guitarist, singer and songwriter. He picked up the sticks in his early teens and by 17 was playing professionally. When Mitchell began writing songs, he taught himself guitar. By 2005, he had recorded his debut album “Stereo,” playing virtually all the instruments. He recently released his fourth album, “For The Most Part.”
His musical tastes run the gamut. “I’m a record collector. My first was the Fat Boys, the ’80s hip hop group. I thought it was fun. I was really into hip hop. In the ’80s and ’90s, I was a huge Michael Jackson fan. He was God to me. Prince was the first tape I bought with my own money. It had a ‘Parental Advisory’ sticker. I loved how the songs led into each other and the drum sound.” Mitchell plays the Short’s Brewing Pull Barn Tap Room in Elk Rapids at 6:30 p.m. Friday (Oct. 1) and Music on Main Street in Midland at 7 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 2).
1. Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” (1991) – That’s gotta be the first one. The sound of the drums and the production, it didn’t sound like anything else. It doesn’t have the ’80s sound anymore. There’s 20-some tracks, over an hour of music. It just kept going.
Listen: “Give It Away”
2. Wilco, “Being There” (1996) – I’m a huge Wilco fan from the late ’90s. I remember the video (for) “Outtasight.” That album got me through some tough times, dark times. The country rock was a big inspiration for my songwriting and my approach.
3. John Coltrane, “Blue Train” (1958) – It’s another album that made me fall in love with jazz. It’s an instrumental, and I could focus on melody or harmony. As a drummer, I loved the energy of that album. I would play it all the time.
Listen: “Blue Train”
Currently loving: My Morning Jacket, Budgie, Ben Folds & a Variety of Things – I’m usually all over the place: old ’70s metal, then Janis Ian. Right now, I’m into proto-hard rock like Budgie. I’ll go down a rabbit hole like psychedelic rock, all the legends and classics. Recently, I got My Morning Jacket’s “Z,” it was just released on vinyl. I’m a huge Ben Folds 5 fan, Beck, Neil Young. It’s not soft, not hard, right down the middle.
Listen: My Morning Jacket, “Wordless Chorus”
MUSIC THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: Brett Mitchell’s Playlist on Spotify
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