The Final Week of School Holidays – Mitchell Museum interview

Mitchell Museum are officially back today with the release of their second LP ‘Everett Trap’ to be followed by a launch gig in Glasgow next month.

But it’s fair to say that the band have had something of a stop start career since the release of their excellent debut LP ‘The Peters Port Memorial’ as far back as 2010.

A hiatus was announced the following year although that proved to be fairly brief as the band returned the following year with a new set of songs and a new member.

Yet that intense burst of activity proved short-lived (if fairly well documented on here). There was a couple of live tracks and a further E.P. in the shape of ‘The Spanner Works’. Then almost nothing. For five years.

Then earlier this year the MM Twitter and Facebook accounts stirred. And announced that the second album was almost upon us.

Well, as of today, that album is finally a reality. Over the course of its 11 tracks, ‘Everett Trap’ is recognisably the same band that made ‘The Peters Port Memorial Service’. Yet, it’s undoubtedly a progression on that debut.

So to get the lowdown on ‘Everett Trap’, I spoke to singer Cammy and he started out why explaining just why it had taken so long to get to this stage.

“Life happened. Directly after those gigs we released the Spanner Works ep. Recording and mixing that ep was probably equally one of my most favourite and saddest times in Mitchell Museum.

“By the time we got around to mixing them it had become apparent that Gav (our guitarist at the time) wasn’t going be able to continue playing with us because he had so many other commitments and that Kris was going to be leaving us to go to America with his wife.  

“It was disappointing that Gav wasn’t going to be able to play with us anymore but it was incredibly sad that Kris was leaving and we knew that he wasn’t going to be back for at least a couple of years.

“We mixed that ep in the two weeks leading up to Kris’s departure. We mixed, laughed and played a motorbike game that we called Kickstart (but wasn’t called kickstart) on the Playstation.   It was great fun but underneath the fun there was that feeling of dread that I used to get in the final week of School Holidays.”

It appeared that the double departure might spell the end of the band.

“I knew that once Kris was gone we couldn’t continue as Mitchell Museum. After Kris left he would try and badger me and Raindeer into continuing Mitchell Museum without him.

“We were both very against that. Mitchell Museum has always been very much Raindeer, Kris and myself. It just wouldn’t be the same without him.

“Aside from that I was really still a bit of a mess after breaking up with my long-term girlfriend. I was very messed up indeed. I needed a break and some time to sort my brain out.” 

Cammy had explained back in 2012 that the break-up had very much influenced the songs that he was writing at the time. And with some pre-hiatus songs as well as the seven that made up the bulk of the set at the 2012 shows, it was clear that the band weren’t lacking in options. What’s perhaps surprising is that only a few of those songs made it into 2017 and onto ‘Everett Trap’.

“Oh man, we had loads of stuff. What I would say though is that I had written a lot of stuff that was way too dark and far too depressing for anyone to listen to. Some songs weren’t even songs, they were these weird “soundscapes” of white noise. I got a bit obsessed with making that kind of thing as I felt that the sound of that reflected my mental state…but I hadn’t really considered that nobody would want to actually listen to that.

“We had to whittle the songs down and try and work out what would make a cohesive and listenable album. There’s a couple of short snippets of those depressing “soundscapes” in the album but they only last about 15 seconds rather than 10 minutes. You’ll know them when you hear them.”

Kris’s departure for the States didn’t just lead to the E.P. being mixed – work also went on apace on the new songs as Cammy recalls – even if the band ultimately had to develop a new way of working.

“In those two weeks of mixing the ep before Kris left for America we tried to record as much of the album as we could before he left. And after he left we would record tracks and email them to him for him to add his parts to the songs.

“We recorded and mixed the majority of the album in that way… which was quite an odd experience.”

The final results are at last available for everyone to hear.

“I think it’s pretty different. I think that there was a lot of fun around ‘The Peters Port Memorial Service’. Essentially that album was an account of a time that I had a manic episode when I was a teenager. I think the mania comes out in a fun sounding way in that album and so it sounds pretty upbeat overall.

“In my opinion ‘Everett Trap’ is not a fun sounding album. It’s got its upbeat moments but overall it’s pretty dark. I think that will probably be a bit of a surprise for some people.

“I was exhausted and sad whilst working on those songs. I was very much working my way through my feelings in making those songs. I tried my best to remember to not get too self-indulgent and to include the odd chorus here and there.”

 The title for the record has been kicking around for quite a while – it was a header on the band’s website at one point and it has its roots in the same time.

“Well, after the break up I’d either spend most of my time watching Arrested Development over and over again and if I wasn’t doing that I’d be listening to music …. but it was the same sad albums that I was listening to.

“One album that I couldn’t stop listening to was ‘Electroshock Blues’ by eels. I would play that album over and over and over again.

“The frontman’s name of the eels is Mark Everett. Listening to that album over and over again = an Everett trap.”

The record gets it official release today but initially only as a download.

“On 26th May it will be available to buy on ITunes and Amazon. It will also be available on all streaming platforms, Spotify ITunes, Amazon, Deezer, Apple Music, Bandcamp etc.”

With the return of Kris to these shores the band are officially a 3 piece now and will perform for the first time with that line-up.

“The biggest change is probably the fact that we don’t have a guitar player and the solution to that seems to have been forcing Raindeer to play guitar and drums at the same time. He’s seems to be coping incredibly well with that … which is insane because it not an easy thing to do.”

If the band have their way then you should get plenty of opportunity to see the innovative solution in the flesh as the band have an old school route to promoting the record in the coming weeks and months.

“To try and play as much as possible. And get my mum to tell everyone she sees about the album!”

Finally I asked about something I’d been curious about for a while. Although both playing in each other’s bands, Cammy and Raindeer have (so far) kept their songs apart. Given that it’s taken seven years to produce a new Mitchell Museum record (and, in that time, the promised Behold, The Old bear LP has still to emerge) I wondered if the two had ever considered bringing their songs together under the same banner.

“It has been considered in the past. However Raindeer and I both tend to write albums as a whole piece that tells an abstract story. In the past we’ve not wanted to interrupt the flow of the albums by introducing a different writing style.

“I’m definitely not against it though. Raindeer is undoubtedly one of MY most favourite songwriters of all time.”

Here’s one of the songs with a chorus …

‘Everett Trap’ is available now from the band’s own Bandcamp site as well as some of the major download sites.

Mitchell Museum play the Glad Café in Glasgow on Friday 16th June.