Interview With Mitchell Museum

Posted on June 14, 2010


Mitchell Museum are definitely not your conventional band. Being compared to the likes of Animal Collective and The Flaming Lips is big praise, but this act has developed its own place on the musical horizon and is really starting to take to the skies. The basis of the music is pop melodies that stick in your head more than a wayward arrow. This hook filled core is supplemented by rampant indie stylings and a myriad of quirky sounds and beats that offset the overwhelming feeling of joy within each track. It is unique and quite brilliant stuff.

Today sees Mitchell Museum release their debut single, Warning Bells, on Electra French Records. Have a listen below (all details of how to buy it and where to get 6 FREE remixes are at the bottom), while we see what frontman Cammy MacFarlane had to say when answering some questions.

The band is starting to get a lot of national press attention, does it feel like things are starting to take off?

Yeah…It feels very much like things are taking off ,and it’s really great…and strange…. Our single was reviewed by Kate Nash in the NME last week…and… that just seemed a bit too bizarre. Really weird in fact. It is very exciting times indeed.

Warning Bells is your new single, what is it about? And what are the plans for release?

This is a difficult question as most of the songs are quite personal…and even though I don’t have a problem singing about all my darkest personal thoughts. When it comes to talking about the songs… I’m not so comfortable with that. A lot of the songs on the album use some pretty cryptic imagery that makes it a bit hard to work out what it is that I’m actually trying to communicate to the listener. I like the idea of the listener getting their own perspective on our songs, as that way the song becomes more personal to them. What I will tell you though is that there was a point in my life when brain wasn’t working in what you could call…the traditional way…and I kept hallucinating…and I saw a dancing rabbit…and it wasn’t a very pleasant experience.

The good news is that my brain has been working in the traditional way for many years now, and the single has been released today (14/06/2010) on Electra French records.

Where did the concept for the Warning Bells video come from?

I don’t really have an answer for that as it was our Electra French label mate Muscle Pony that put the video together. I know that the videos are constructed from stock footage that’s gone out of copywrite… but aside from that…I’ve not got a clue…

We just checked our email one day and found that (without being asked) Muscle Pony had made this amazing video for us. We couldn’t afford to pay him so we gave him a tube of Pringles and a second-hand copy Final Destination 3D (without the 3D glasses) and….he was surprisingly happy with that.

The debut album, The Peters Port Memorial Service, is out 12th July, what can we expect from it?

You can expect to hear 13…slightly schizophrenic pop songs that have a lot of sampled machinery noises crammed into them….An album that has a solid through line without turning into a new version of Dark Side Of The Moon and we hope you like it.

How does it feel to be chosen from thousands of applications to play T break? And what are your thoughts on what playing T Break does for a band?

It’s was quite a nice surprise for us as we didn’t know we had been entered for it! And there must be so many bands that enter T Break that it’s a wonder how anyone can get through it all… What playing T Break will do for us is yet to be seen, but I know we’ll have an amazing time playing at the festival and I’m absolutely certain that it’s going to be an awful lot of fun! Hopefully we’re not on at the same time as Eminem as I’d quite like to see that…

You were on the road last week, how do you find touring?

I love touring in the band. It is absolutely one of my favourite things ever. I really enjoy sitting in a van watching Dougie and Kris punch each other in the face with sleeping bags. That’s just one of the many inventive games that we make up whilst we’re on the road. There’s also “VAN MAN”- in which the last person to hold their fist in the air…actually I probably shouldn’t tell you about that….I’ll tell you about “Hot Dog” In the game Hot Dog everyone puts their hand in the air and shouts “Hot dog”….and well…that’s it….It’s a lot better than it sounds. There’s a good game that Kris plays with Dougie called “Wet Slap”….That game involves Kris putting his hand in a drink and then slapping Dougie….umm…these aren’t really games are they?…They are fun ways to pass the time in a van for 9 hours or so though. Aside from the van “games” I think it’s fair to say that we all really enjoy playing new venues to new people. That’s probably the best part about touring.

The only thing that’s not so good is my travel sickness…I get a bit ill after a while and have to listen to Paul McKenna hypnosis tapes to help me get to sleep so that I can forget that my inner ear really wants me to be sick…Yeah…that’s not so good.

What is the Song Writing process for you?

Quite often the song writing process starts with me banging my fist on a table whilst singing random phrases off the top of my head. Eventually this creates some kind of melody that I can work some “proper” lyrics around. From there I’ll make a demo on an 8 track recorder with basic drum, bass and guitar parts. Next I play the song to the rest of the band and they say “I like the song but my drum, bass, guitar part is a bit rubbish”. So everyone else goes away and builds on my original idea and makes it a lot better….and then after all that, I sample some dinosaur roars on my DJX and hide it within the final mix so that you can’t really hear it….but I know its there…and that’s the main thing.

Have there been any particular highlights in your music career so far?

Yes. We all agree that the highlight of our music career so far has been getting invited to record a Maida Vale session for Huw Stephens. That was very very amazing! The session was recorded in the studio that John Peel used to record his shows in….Which kind of freaked me out a bit during a recording of one of our takes. Half way though recording Warning Bells I realised that I was in John Peels vocal booth, my brain went blank and for a brief moment I completely forgot how to play the rest of the song….but then I remembered again…and it was ok….but it was a close call.

What are your plans in music for the next year?

Well, we’re currently looking at some songs that didn’t quite fit on The Peters Port Memorial Service. They were slightly more electronic and…sort of “glitchy” , so it looks like we might be looking towards making an ep with those songs. Aside from that we’re already working on album 2 which looks to be shaping up nicely so far.

If you could steal a song from an act on the Scottish unsigned circuit and have it as your own what song would you take?

“I Make a Plan, She makes a plan” by Jesus. H. Foxx. I love that song. It’s got a bit of a Pavement feel to it…and I love it. I would happily nick “ I Make a plan, She makes a plan” from them.

If your music was to be the soundtrack to a film or TV programme which one do you think it would suit best?

Hmmm… I think our music would probably work quite well in a Danny Boyle film…In fact when 28 Days Later was in early production Danny kept calling us to ask if he could use some of our music for it, but we were like “Sorry Danny ,but…Mitchell Museum isn’t going to exist for at least another 7 years. You’ll have to put a Grandaddy song in your film and like it or lump it.” It’s fair to say that he was disappointed…. But we’ve been in “Talks” about scoring the soundtrack for Slumdog Millionaire 2.

And finally, a random question from Shambles Miller: Daddy or chips?


A big thanks to Cammy for taking the time to answer some questions, and here’s how you can hear/ see more of Mitchell Museum:

Buy Warning Bells

Get 6 free remixes of Warning Bells

Mitchell Museum website

3rd July – Kelburn Castle Garden Party, Ayrshire

9th July – T in the Park, Balado

12th July –  The Peters Port Memorial Service is released

18th July – The Latitude Festival, Suffolk

24th July – The Wickerman Festival, Dumfries

Also, make sure you check out the Electra French Records website

Posted in: Interviews