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QRD #53 - Guitarist Interview Series V
QRD - Thanks for your interest & support
about this issue
Guitarist Interviews:
Jason Handelsman
Andras Fekete 
Phil Mitchell
Jessica Bailiff 
Jason Lamoreaux
Ben Weyerhaeuser
Greg & Kyrsten Magnuson
Brandon Helms
Matt Guess 
Rachel Staggs
Jun Minowa 
Michael Cosma 
Cheryl Hall
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Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
Guitarist Interview with Phil Mitchell of Double Handsome Dragons
March 2011
Phil Mitchell
Name: Phil Mitchell
Bands: Double Handsome Dragons
Websites: doublehandsomedragons.bandcamp.commyspace.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.