Phil Mitchell
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Phil Mitchell
Interview - June 18th 2011
Blues à Jarnioux

(c) Copyright Dr Feelgood

(c) Blues à Jarnioux
(c) Blues à Jarnioux

  1. Phil, we are very pleased to welcome you here in Jarnioux for the Festival, the Blues Festival, we are in France, you are here today for a gig near Lyon. What are you first impressions ?
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    Well, first impressions, when we arrived this morning the sun wasn't shining, it looked like it was going to rain, but the sun has come out now so it's looking very good for the festival ! The setting is beautiful out there, we hope we'll have a very good night with good music !

    AM : Yeah. What do you think of this kind of Festival because it is not too big ?

    We do lots of festivals through the Summer of this kind of size, which is very nice, because it's very personal, you have a nice crowd. When the festival gets too big sometimes the people are so far away, it's more difficult to interact with them, but a festival of this size is good, you get to see the people's faces and I see yours and it's good fun !

  3. If you had to introduce the band Dr Feelgood in only three words, what would you say ?
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    Good Time Music, 3 words !

  5. Back to the past, do you remember why you have chosen to play the bass ?
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    Why I've chosen to play the bass ? Originally, when I was in school, we started a band and there was the boy that had a guitar, the boy whose father had a drum kit, another boy had piano lessons, one boy thought he was a great singer, he thought all the girls liked him, nobody had a bass guitar. I wanted to be in the band so I got a bass guitar, so I could be in the band. I started playing the bass really just because I wanted to be in a band and that was the instrument that the band didn't have, so I got one !

  7. Who are your favourite bass players ?
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    I've been lucky enough to meet my two heroes, if you like to use that word. We did a gig in 1986 I think with The Jack Bruce Band. Jack Bruce was a big influence on me when I was learning to play, and we did a gig in Budapest in Hungary, I was playing on stage and Jack Bruce walked to the side of the stage and stood just this far away from me, very nerve-wracking. A nice man, I met him afterwards and told him he was a big influence on me, he said let's get a bottle of whisky and talk about it. We went and sat in a room and we got drunk together on whisky. And also another influence of mine was Larry Taylor who is The Mole from Canned Heat, and we've been lucky enough with Dr Feelgood to do quite a few gigs with Canned Heat over the years, so I've met with Larry and we had one special night when we played in the Paradiso in Amsterdam we had a gig the next night in Nuremberg in Germany, Canned Heat were travelling from Amsterdam to Germany in their tour bus and Larry let me travel in their tour bus with them so I spent all night with Larry, drinking and having fun, talking about the bass guitar. He was a big influence, So luckily for me the two people that I really admired I've met, talked to, had a good them with them.

  9. You have been in the band for 28 years, as the bass player of Dr Feelgood. So 1983 was your first gig with them.
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    AM : Do you remember it ?

    The very first gig with Dr Feelgood, I remember very well. It was in France, it was in Monte Carlo. I met with Lee Brilleaux in a local club, a few weeks before and I knew that Dr Feelgood was kind of in a transition period, some members were leaving, and I went to the same school as Lee Brilleaux, so I knew him anyway, so I saw him in a local club and I said if you need a bass player, I would love to be in your band. He phoned me the very next day and said, I have a gig in Monte Carlo, just one show. Would you like to do it ? I said, I'd love to, and one month before that, I'd been in the same club and Geno Washington's band was on and in Geno Washington band they had Gordon Russell on guitar and Lee said to me we have a new guitar player Gordon Russell and I said I know Gordon, I played one month ago with Geno Washington, so we were already friends and the drummer of the time with Dr Feelgood was Buzz Barwell. He was on holiday with his girlfriend, so Big Figure did the gig. So my first gig with Dr Feelgood was with Big Figure on drums, Gordon Russell on guitar, Lee Brilleaux of course and myself. We drove all the way to South of France (c) Copyright from England for one show, you know a little bit like this, an open-air festival, it was a very good show but it was just for one gig. On the way home, when we were on the road, Lee and Chris the manager thought it was a good show, the band sounded good and Chris contacted the agency and said the new band sounds great. By the time we got back to England there were gigs coming in. I thought it was maybe just a one off gig but it's turned into 28 years !

  11. The next Dr Feelgood weekend will be on March 2012, the exact dates are 16-17 March 2012.

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    I'm not sure about the exact dates, I think you probably know better than me !

    AM : Could you speak about it ?

    The Dr Feelgood week-end in March ?

    AM : Yeah.

    It's a week-end we get, the hotel with the band is based in Canvey Island, The Oysterfleet hotel, the fans come and they stay in the hotel, there is room for 80 people in a hotel to stay. On the first night we do a very personal acoustic gig for the 80 people in the hotel, we have dinner with them, we talk with them, we drink with them, we have a party atmosphere, they stay in the hotel and the next day in the hotel function room we do our electric show which is open to the public, it holds about 250 people, so a private night one night, then a full on electric show we normally do the next night. We get people come from all over the Europe and stay for the week-end, it's very good and we have a good time. Last year on the 19th March, which is my birthday so I had a few drinks that night, it was a good night !

    AM : And a birthday cake too ?

    Not birthday cake but plenty of birthday alcohol !.

  13. Do you have an anecdote, memory to tell us about Lee Brilleaux ?
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    An anecdote from Lee Brilleaux. Let me think. The one that springs to mind was when I was in my first band at school, we got together, our very first show, we've never played in public before, very young and we went on the stage, we sold tickets in the school, in a hall, we hired a hall, we didn't know anything about gigs, we didn't know about organizing for extra music, disco or something, so we started our gig with the band and because it's our first time on stage we all played very very fast, adrenaline and nerves, and after about 45 minutes we played all of our songs, we meant to play for one hour and a half, it last 45 minutes. We made a kind of an excuse that we've broken an amplifier, we shut the curtains and said we'll be back with you in ten minutes to solve this amplifier problem out, and as I said before Lee Brilleaux was in the same school with me, he was at the gig, he came round at the back of the stage he said you ran out of songs haven't you ? you've played too fast and you've done your whole show and it's too early, we said yes, what will we do now ? we went into the crowd and got some of his friends together and I formed an impromptu blues band and played Blues for an hour, saved the night, made a fantastic night of it. I remember that Lee getting a beer bottle and smashing it on the stage so he could put it on his finger to play the slide guitar and that was my very first show. Lee was there and saved us from a riot from the audience because we didn't have enough music, but it was a good experience.

  15. Have you seen the film Oil City Confidential ?

  16. (c) Copyright Yeah. I've seen the film.

    AM : Released in 2010, telling the story of the band formative years featuring the Wilko Johnson era.

    That's right, yeah.

    AM : What do you think of this film ?

    It's a very nice film. It features a little bit of history of Canvey Island when Dr Feelgood were children and it's a very good film about the formative years, the first 4 years of the band with Wilko. The only thing I can say about the film is that the director was a big Wilko fan, so the film really is just about Dr Feelgood with Wilko Johnson. When Wilko leaves the band it's the end of the film and I would say there's a lot more to Dr Feelgood than the Wilko Johnson four years, but it's a good film. It would have been nice if it had carried on. I'm sure if Lee Brilleaux was still alive this day, it would have been a different film, it would have been about the whole history of Dr Feelgood, but it is really about the Wilko Johnson years, but that was the reason Dr Feelgood were a big success was down to that 4 years onwards, so you know it's been an important 4 years.

    AM : Maybe it needs a part two.

    Well it would be nice if there's a part two but I don't expect so...

  17. What do you do or like to do when you don't play with Dr Feelgood ?
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    Me, I'm a big sports fan, even at my age, I still play football. In England we have quite a big veteran leagues for older people, so I've been playing in that. I'm a keen golfer, I like to play golf and I've got a motorbike, I like to ride my motorbike.

    AM : What kind of motorbike ?

    I've just bought a new one last week. A Triumph, it's called a Triumph Trophy 1200, sort of sports bike, I've to be careful not to go too fast though, because I've got lots more Dr Feelgood gigs to do !

    AM : Any plans for the future ?

    I think the plan at the moment is to keep Dr Feelgood going for as long as we can, people seem to like hearing us and that's what we do, keep on playing.

    AM : So, that's it, thank you very much.

    Thank you very much.

    AM : For your time with us Phil, and we wish you a great night and a great show for tonight !

    Yeah, I'm sure it will be a good show, the sun is shining it's going to be a nice weather and I think a good crowd should be here, so everything is good.

    AM : Thanks a lot.

    Cheers !

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(c) Copyright Dr Feelgood

(c) Blues à Jarnioux
(c) Blues à Jarnioux