Interview John Mitchell (It Bites):

“I really like concept albums as a matter of fact”

(April 2012, text by Martien Koolen, edited by Peter Willemsen, pictures by Arthur Haggenburg / Lee Blackmore)

Founded in the UK in 1984, It Bites are still a relevant and thought-provoking band in 2012. In 1986 the band had a hit single with Calling All The Heroes. It Bites split up in 1990, but made a come back in 2006 with the new front man John Mitchell (lead vocals, guitar). Furthermore the band consists of John Beck (keyboards, backing vocals), Bob Dalton (drums) and Lee Pomeroy (bass guitar, backing vocals).

Their latest album Map Of The Past (see review) was recorded in Mitchell's own studio. This concept album is a personal journey through the past exploring hate, love, remorse and loss through the eyes of a previous generation against the history of England. So, it's time to ask John Mitchell to elaborate about this concept album and some more interesting things.

John Mitchell

John, there is a four-year gap between The Tall Ships and Map Of The Past. Why did it take so long to release a new album?

John Mitchell: “It feels like Peter Gabriel, right? No, we are just lazy people actually. The recordings took about six months, so that was rather quickly done. John Beck came up with a good idea and then the engine started; the process ended rather quickly and painless in fact. I already read a couple of reviews and thank god, they were all rather positive. I hate bad reviews! It still bothers me that people write negative things about an album that I have been working on very hard. The main question still is: does the new album sounds like It Bites or not, or does it sound like Genesis, Dream Theater or whatever... if you know what I mean!”

Map Of The Past is a concept album. Could you please tell our readers something about the concept or the theme?

“I really like concept albums as a matter of fact. This one deals with the past; trying to repair mistakes that were made. Maybe even try to change the course of history, but that's of course not possible. We explore the past as seen through old family photography mostly taken in Cornwall. We tried to capture a constant sense of nostalgia running through all the songs. I think that we succeeded in that as the whole album sounds rather bombastic and preposterous...”

Why you recorded an 'old-fashioned' concept album in the first place?

“We have never done that before so we thought it might be fun to do. It's rather different from the last album, so there you go. In fact it's really a joke as our drummer hates concept albums the same as he hates middle classes; so we made this album rather ridiculous. We wanted to make an album that was better and more ridiculous than The Tall Ships, and so we did... However, it was rather difficult as we had to overcome our own insecurity and try to repair the past. The photo on the inside with the horse-drawn carriage is the picture that started this album. It was the inspiration for Map Of The Past. On that photograph you can see my grandfather in Cornwall way back in 1913.”

What are the main differences between The Tall Ships and this new album?

“The new one is more my album, but it still sounds like It Bites. Of course not like It Bites sounded in 1986, but who cares about that. I think it's a great album, so enjoy it.”

It Bites: (l to r) Bob Dalton, John Mitchell, Lee Pomeroy and John Beck

Will you be playing live the entire new album in one take seeing that it's a concept album?

“It has been discussed, believe it or not! Maybe we'll give it a shot. I think that the flow of this new album is great, so, surprise, surprise!”

Which additional songs did you record for the special edition?

“A couple of live tracks and some interviews, for those who enjoy it!”
John Mitchell (also live on video screen)

Any plans for a DVD already?

“No, not yet, sorry about that. The music competition is very tight and so is the money to finance a DVD. So, first we need some financial resources and then we'll surely make a DVD.”

Could you tell something about the name of the band?

“I don't know who came up with the name or what it means. I think it is a real eighties name and that says it all, right?”

You're a kind of workaholic. How many bands are you working with at the moment?

“In the beginning of this interview I told you we were lazy, didn't I! But seriously, I play in a couple of other bands, guilty as charged, among others in Arena and Frost. But it's fun to do, so...”

Will you be playing live in The Netherlands as well?

“Yes, we will, as we always like your country to play in. Recently we did a gig with Arena in a place I cannot pronounce, which is in writing Ittervoort.”

Thanks for your time, John.

“You're welcome, cheers.”

More info about John Mitchell on the Internet:
       It Bites Website
       It Bites on MySpace
       It Bites on Twitter
       It Bites on Facebook
       review album 'Map Of The Past'
       Gig review Arena 19-Nov-2011
       Review Arena album 'The Seventh Degree Of Separation'

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