Ambient prog rocker John Mitchell aims to cut the pomposity

John Mitchell's Lonely Robot

John Mitchell's Lonely Robot - Credit: Archant

A producer for the likes of Enter Shikari and You Me At Six, John Mitchell’s own debut album, Please Come Home, is released under the moniker of Lonely Robot. Ahead of a show at Scala on Sunday, he talked to Alex Bellotti.

Q You spoke about wanting to pay tribute to your love of film soundtracks with Please Come Home. Why are soundtracks so important to you?

A Having spent the best part of two decades producing and mixing heavy metal, I found myself needing an antithesis to all the screaming and shouting at the end of the recording day. Film sound tracks have vast dynamics which sadly a great deal of heavy metal doesn’t so I found my post-mixing solace in the likes of Moon by Clint Mansell, Contact by Alan Silvestri and Sunshine by John Murphy… all of which come highly recommended.

Q Your sound has a lot of prog rock, concept album and ‘80s hallmarks. All have had somewhat of a maligned musical reputation in recent years, is that unfair?

A Well I’m a child of the ‘80s and so rightly or wrongly, there is always something of the Top Gun about my guitar playing and something of The Police about my melodies.

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Much as a man of my advancing years would like to pretend to be “down with the kids” and contemporary and hip, let’s be honest, I’m about as fashionable as NHS glasses (which I hear that lot from Shoreditch are starting to wear).

Q Well on the other hand, the themes of the new album seem very contemporary, concerning humanity’s disconnect with the world around us. Do you think this in turn affects the music we make, and what it means to us?

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A No, I don’t. In fact music at large seems to be teetering more and more and more towards the vapid and vacuous, so directly proportional to the endless paradigm of social media and declining social connect and human accountability.

At least the chronically unhip and musically bold had a voice and an open ear way back when I was a nipper. Welcome to the Starbucks iOS generation!

Q “Pink Floyd on a Blue Peter budget” is how you describe your plans for a live show. What can we expect?

A Hopefully some level of escapism. Some people consider music to be high art. I don’t afford it such pomposity; it’s light entertainment at best, the point of which is to escape the day-to-day grind and hum drum. If a couple of space suits, incandescent lighting and epic music goes anyway to making people’s hearts beat a little bit faster on a Friday night, then my job is done.

Q What has being a producer taught you about making your own music?

AThat no matter how uncool and old I get, the fans of prog rock are fiercely loyal and they generally don’t leave you by the wayside.

Enter Shikari and the YMAS boys have had to work really hard to constantly reinvent themselves to appeal to a more mature fan base.

Fortunately (because I’m a lazy so and so) I don’t have to worry about such temporal matters.


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