(Guitar God: AKA “Guitar Hero”. A guitarist known for extraordinary skill, flash, style and influence.)
Since March 20, 1967 -the day Jimi Hendrix first set his guitar on fire during a performance at The Astoria in London, many other legends have joined that exclusive fraternity. One name I believe that shall be included within also is Huntington, West Virginia’s Jimi Mitchell.
Known for his cutting fretwork as a member of both Dark Fantasy and Mindlapse, Jimi is currently perfecting a labor of love entitled “The Devil’s Music” and graciously took the time to discuss it along with other aspects of his career with me.
MARK ST. JOHN: Jimi what inspired you to become a guitarist in the first place?
JIMI MITCHELL: I grew up around rock, metal, classical, and blues music as a kid growing up. It is something that has always been in my blood. For me, it has not ever been a phase. I am it and it is me. Actually, I learned how to finger tap on a guitar at age 8 from my Uncle long before I ever started to play the guitar. All I knew was I wanted to be a metal musician and play the guitar and the bass. I started playing bass at 15 studying Steve Harris, Geezer Butler, and Cliff Burton. A year later I decided I needed to learn the guitar so I could write my own songs. So, I started playing along to some slow melodies from things like Fade to Black by Metallica and Black Candles by Candlemass. At age 18 I rediscovered Yngwie Malmsteen when a close friend of mine named Andy Haught (lead vocalist for the band Zeroking) brought over a live concert video from Japan in 85. I watched that and said that is what I want to do on the guitar. From there on I never looked back I just kept going and studied the playing styles of Yngwie Malmsteen, George Lynch, Joe Stump, Kai Hansen, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, KK Downing, Glenn Tipton, Paul Gilbert, Tony MacAlpine, Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Angelo Batio, and many others. This was in the early to mid-1990s too when playing metal and being metal was the most uncool thing one could do. I did it anyway and did not care what people thought. I was on a mission to be the best metal guitarist/composer I could be.
MSJ: How is “The Devil’s Music” coming along? I’ve heard a couple of songs from it and was totally blown away!
JM: The album is coming along very well. It is a work in progress going on for almost 2 years now. There have been continuous delays due to the pandemic and fellow musicians’ work and family matters, so the album has been taking longer to complete than others I have done in the past. However, everything is sounding killer. It’s going to be a strong album once all mixed and mastered.
MSJ: Does anything separate this upcoming album from any of your previous releases?
JM: Yes actually. My previous releases were mostly or all instrumental. This one will be 95 percent songs with vocals and only 2 or 3 instrumentals. All strong stuff too. The song structure is very much influenced by the NWOBHM, European Power Metal, and Thrash Metal scenes. This is my ultimate heavy metal offering. The other albums were more Neoclassical Metal. That element will always be a part of what I do. Just now it’s not the main focus. All of these songs which I have created for this album were meant to be performed at big European Festivals like Wacken, Hellfest, and Bloodstock.
MSJ: Any interest from Record Labels or Distributors currently?
JM: I plan to shop the album or at least a few songs worth of material around to some labels in Germany once I have some final mixes. So hopefully I can get some help doing a good package with this album.
MSJ: What gear do you use both in the studio and on stage?
JM: My Mexican Fender Fat Strat, My Jackson Rhodes, my Zoom G2-1u effects pedal for distortion, reverb, and delay. As far as amps go, I usually use whatever I can get my hands on. However, my preferred choice is either a Mesa Boogie 50 or 100-watt dual rectifier.
MSJ: Can we expect to see Jimi Mitchell touring in the next few months?
JM: I am not sure when I will get to do any touring at this moment but there are plans to go overseas to Europe and the UK sometime this year. However, the pandemic and various government regulations keep changing so it’s hard to say when that will happen. I do plan on it though especially with the melodic death metal band Mindlapse whom I play for. Working with Dark Fantasy influenced my material for “The Devil’s Music” I am hoping to do my first set of shows for that in Germany when things are possible. My bassist and I have been trying to plan it but as I mentioned the regulations keep changing so we will have to wait and see.
MSJ: On a final note, what advice can you offer to an aspiring guitar player regardless of their age?
JM: Play guitar because you love to play it. Practice as much as possible and do not worry about what trends exist in music because they are short-lived. Be true to yourself and never surrender! \m/
Linda Neal (Journey Artist Management.)
Tel: (918) 814-0764