with Phil Mitchell of Double Handsome Dragons
Name: Phil Mitchell
Bands: Double Handsome Dragons
Websites: doublehandsomedragons.bandcamp.com, myspace.com/doublehandsomedragons
QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?
Phil – It was a Rosetti Airstream 3 bought from a junk shop in Norfolk, UK for £60. I’m told its worth nearer £300 now. It’s still in my guitar rack. I love it.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?
Phil – I have my trusted Gibson SG Faded, a Boss Tuner, Deucetone Rat, & Ibanez Delay pedal through to a Peavey 4x10 Combo (I forget what its called but its awesome).
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig – guitar, amplifier, or effects?
Phil – The guitar. It has to be easy to play & easy to throw around. Mine is nice & light.
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Phil – I have a Peavey 4x10 Combo as my main amp because it’s small enough to carry around. I also have a vintage Marshall JMP with 4x12 cab which I use on special occasions.
QRD – What’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such?
Phil – A Gibson SG Faded Cherry Red. It plays really well & it’s light. I also have a sentimental attachment to it - my granddad bought it for me just before he died.
QRD – If you had a signature guitar, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Phil – It would be bright red, have over-sized pick-ups, really low action, large knobs & tuners, & be called the Mitchellometer 3000.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?
Phil – It would make a noise like “waaaarrrrrrrr”.
QRD – How many guitars do you own?
Phil – Six.
QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?
Phil – In my studio in a big rack.
QRD – What do you wish guitar cases had that they usually don’t?
Phil – I wish they were full of a never-ending supply of money.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a guitar?
Phil – It must be red.
QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost?
Phil – Less than £500. If you spend over that you’ll be scared to play it with any enthusiasm.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your guitars or just stick with what you get?
Phil – Just stick with it.
QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it?
Phil – I go on Harmony Central briefly.
QRD – Do you change your rig around often?
Phil – No.
QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Phil – I have my own sound & know exactly where to turn my knobs to to get it.
QRD – What are some guitars, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Phil – None really - I’m not much of a guitar geek.
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first guitar that aren’t always there?
Phil – A lot of cheap guitars are hard to play. The action is too high.
QRD – What have been the best & worst guitar related purchases you’ve made?
Phil – Best guitar was my Gibson. Worst was a guitar made of plastic I bought off a friend for £10.
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & guitar brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?
Phil – I’m not a brand person.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar?
Phil – An E minor.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar?
Phil – 15.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing?
Phil – 29.
QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you more so than other instruments?
Phil – It allows you to be a lot more expressive than other instruments. & you can run around with it.
QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is?
Phil – Yes.
QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music?
Phil – Ally.
QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Phil – Omar Rodriguez - he changed how I thought about guitar. Before that it was Kurt Cobain.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their guitars is natural or silly (e.g. naming their guitar)?
Phil – It’s ridiculous.
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it?
Phil – I used it a bit like a surfboard on stage. The neck snapped.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Phil – Nothing.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like to?
Phil – I don’t play enough. An hour at home & a couple of hours at practice.
QRD – What type of pick do you use & why?
Phil – A Dunlop .88 vinyl because it gives just the right amount of flexibility.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Phil – 10s because they give just the right amount of definition for my sound.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Phil – If I don’t change before every gig they snap. My sweat is corrosive & I play too hard - bad technique.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Phil – All the time.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Phil – Strumming. I can’t do solos.
QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?
Phil – I set it up myself - badly.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Phil – Just the standard E to E - it saves messing about.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Phil – I’ve never written my stuff down. I don’t understand it. I have a good memory.
QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)?
Phil – It covers my crotch nicely.
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Phil – I’m always bashing my fingers on my strumming hand - I wish I had learned properly to avoid that.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing?
Phil – Piano/keyboard. When I play my microkorg it always gives me ideas for my guitar playing.
QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you can’t?
Phil – I wish I could shred. Shred really fast.
QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?
Phil – I’ve haven’t written the best song ever yet.
QRD – What’s the last guitar trick you learned?
Phil – I learned how to tap a bit.
QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget (ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc)?
Phil – My fist.
QRD – What’s a guitar technique you’d like to master, but haven’t?
Phil – Tapping.
QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Phil – I’m totally self-taught. No lessons at all. I just learned by writing my own songs. I don’t know how to play any body else’s songs at all.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher?
Phil – I would teach them that what’s in your heart is more important than in your head.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Phil – They would have to have very bad technique & listen to a lot of interesting music.
QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?
Phil – They should die.
QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?
Phil – Never.
QRD – What do you see as the difference between lead guitar & rhythm guitar players?
Phil – Lead guitar players are responsible for ruining a lot of good songs.
QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Phil – No no no. Drums & bass are the most important part of a band - they are the backbone. Good drummer = good band.
QRD – What famous musician’s guitar would you like to own & why?
Phil – I would like to own a Pete Townsend Telecaster - I don’t know why.
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative guitar player & why?
Phil – I have no idea. The guys from Battles are pretty innovative.
QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?
Phil – On Double Handsome Dragons latest EP, although the previous one was pretty good - just recorded badly.
QRD – Anything else?
Phil – Yes.