ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 20, 1984
By Steve Newton
Former Max Webster guitarist/vocalist Kim Mitchell will be “going for his sodas” this Monday and Tuesday (July 23-24) at the Club Soda on Homer Street. The Ontario-born rocker has just released his second solo album, Akimbo Alogo, on the newly-formed Alert Records label. He’ll be performing with the same musicians who play on the new LP: rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Peter Fredette, bassist/keyboardist Robert Sinclair Wilson, and drummer Paul DeLong.
Kim phoned the Straight from Toronto last week and talked about the new album, the old band, and the rock and roll life.
I’ve been listening to your new album quite a bit lately. I just heard “Go For Soda” on C-FOX.
They’re playin’ me finally! Goddamn!
I wanted to ask you about that song. What’s the message there?
You know when the fat husband comes home screaming at his wife? Or when the wife that’s in curlers is screaming at the husband? Or when you watch the six o’clock news and it’s making ya puke? There’s a time when all that gives you the blues. You’ve got to throw your arms up in the air and say, “Hey, I might as well go for a soda. Nobody hurts and nobody cries, nobody drowns and nobody dies.”
How do the musicians you’re working with now differ from the members of Max Webster? [Newt note: at the time Mitchell’s band included rhythm-guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Peter Fredette, bassist/keyboardist Robert Sinclair Wilson, and drummer Paul Delong.]
These players just know how to translate what I’ve written a little better than Max did. Max was more of a live, fanatic, very calculated sort of thing, whereas this is more like, “Let’s count to four and go!
But that’s no slight against Max Webster—I’m very proud of that past. I actually held a couple of the songs on this album from the days with that band.
There’s a ballad called “All We Are” and another ballad called “Called Off”, which is right on the end of the album. And a rock and roll tune “Diary for Rock and Roll Men”.
You’re working with Pye Dubois again.
I always have and always will, and that’s because I’m Pye’s biggest fan. Max used to have trouble getting American deals—or keeping them—because they were saying, “The lyrics are weird, they’re esoterical, and we can’t identify with them.” And I was saying, “Well, piss on that, because there’s nothing wrong with ‘The Party’, there’s nothing wrong with ‘The Hangover’, there’s nothing wrong with ‘She comes across like diamonds diamonds’. Those are not weird, esoterical lyrics—they’re amazing lyrics. And I have an audience here in Ontario and across Canada that’s got me six gold albums and one platinum that’ll back me up on that statement.
How do you and Pye work the songs out?
We send telegrams [laughs]. Actually, Pye lives about five minutes away from me, so I just walk over. Sometimes it’s written on matchbox covers, sometimes it’s written on toilet paper. You know, it can even be written on a piece of wallpaper that he ripped off from a washroom.
A song like “Lager and Ale” for example—that whole song was like that. It was written very recklessly. We barely knew the changes we were gonna do musically when we started to record that song. All we knew was we wanted to record it for the sheer fun of it. I had to nod at the guys when the chords changed and we took the first take!
That’s a real all-out boogie tune.
Yeah, it is. And that song is receiving quite a bit of attention in Toronto. Because the real hardcore Max Webster fanatics like it. They like “The Hangover”, they like “The Party”, and they like “Lager and Ale” now, because it’s got that abandoned disinhibited recklessness about it.
“Rumour Has It” is another speedy rocker. Do you find yourself rocking harder and harder as the years go by?
That’s not really an intentional thing. I am a lover of all kinds of music, and I keep my eyes open and my ears open all the time. Sometimes certain kinds of music influence me, and when I pick up the guitar maybe I’ll start playing something like that. But I don’t really sit down with the intention of writing a rock and roll song or writing a ballad. I just sit down and start dicking about on the guitar, and then if I’m lucky in a couple of hours I’ll be on to something, and I’ll just ride with it. It’s just a simple process like that, but a very magical simple process that gives me a real nice high when I’m doing it. It’s one of the nicest highs in music—all of a sudden seeing this song start to unfold, even though it’s just you and the guitar. You’re seeing this song more than anybody else could at that point.
Your solo in “Rumour” is a real fret-burner.
A real fret-burner, yeah. That solo travels as fast as any rumour could [laughs].
Did you have to practice it a lot at first?
Well, that was the only solo on the album that was really worked out. I sat down and wrote it out on manuscript. Because we demoed that song about a year ago, and the solo I played on the demo was just a terrible guitar solo. So every time I listened to that demo I kept going, “Goddamn man, this guitar solo stinks. I’m gonna make sure when I go in the studio I’ve got something that I’m happy with.” So that was the only solo on the album that was worked out; the rest were basically one take. They’d roll the tape and I’d play just to make sure the sound was allright, then we’d roll back and I’d bang off the tune. Then I’d set the guitar down and go for a fuckin’ soda! [laughs].