Somojo Magazine

Moonshine Crows

Would you mind introducing yourselves and telling us what instruments you play?
On the current CD Cakeisdone the lineup is:
Kent Mitchell- Vocals, Guitars, Kazoo and songwriter
Gareth Winstone- Drums, Background Vocals, Kazoo
Tracey Beardmore- Bass, Background Vocals

Current CD is Cakeisdone which was first released by us, but is coming out on Leaping Cat Records soon.

How long has the current band line up been together?
This line-up was together for almost 3 years.

How did you meet each other?
I put an ad up in a local music shop and Gareth called me, we met and held auditions for a bass player.  Enter Tracey

How did you come up with your name for the band?
It is a combination of Crow, which is a powerful Native American symbol, and Moonshine which I liked for the home made booze aspect, but which others liked for the stellar aspect.

Did you always want to be in a band?
Yes……… ‘nuff said.  I prefer band over solo.  I enjoy the interaction between players.

What music did you listen to while growing up?
I enjoy most types of music, and growing up in the 70’s there was a wide variety of stuff to enjoy.  I hope that this comes through in the music.

How long have you played your instruments?
I have been playing guitar since I was 14, so that’s quite a long time…….
Gareth has been drumming for over a decade, toured with Riverdance for 5 years.
Tracey played guitar for a few years, but had just picked up the bass when we recruited her.

What was your first instruments?
My first instrument was the Viola, then the
Recorder and Coronet.  Happily switched to Guitar as soon as the parents weren’t looking….. 
Currently I play Guitar, Bass, Mandolin, Zils, Arabic, Irish and African hand drums and am learning the Portuguese Guitar.

What is your current equipment?
I have a guitar I made which is based on the Doug Irwin guitars that he made for Jerry Garcia.  I run it through multiple stomp boxes into a small Fender and Marshall amp.
Gareth uses DW Drums.
Tracey uses a Peavy Bass.

Are you self taught or did you have lessons?
For me it was both, I am dyslexic so lessons are difficult, but every so often I reach a ceiling and need a bit of help to get through it to the next level.

If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
Alembic and Resurrection guitars, rack mounted fender and marshall heads with rack  mount EQ.  A home studio…. And a really bitchin’ tour bus…

Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?
Yes, I am a firm believer that if you cannot play it live then you should not do it in the studio, so my studio rig is my stage rig.

Do you record at a purpose built studio or do you record at home with portable digital equipment or pc/mac with audio software?
I usually run demo’s at home, then take the finished and road tested song into the studio.  I feel that a song needs to be played in front of people a few times to settle it in and knock the rough edges off it.  Songs that I write very often change when toured, getting stronger and tighter.  Also makes recording much easier since everyone knows the song.

Which software do you use?
I prefer Avid for digital.

Would you sign with a major record company?
Yes, depending on the deal and if Simon Cowel was not involved….

Do you have any new recordings planned?
I am writing at the moment and with luck will be in the studio next year some time.  With the changes of locations (I am moving to the US in January, and Gareth will follow in the spring), the creative ness will be in full swing over the summer.

Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
I have always hated the studio process; it is about as much fun as a trip to the dentist.  However, I know how important it is so I try very hard to struggle through.  In the past I have gotten bored very quickly and tended to cut corners thus making a bad record.  This one I worked very hard on keeping my interest level up and doing what it takes.

Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
Hell yeah, I feel that a studio recording should sound as ‘live’ as a canned environment can make it.  However, songs in the studio should be shorter and tighter than live, but then that is not hard for me as I very much enjoy extending songs live and stringing them together in new and interesting (I hope) ways.  Plus live they never sound the same way twice.  I feel that is vital for the fans that come to see you, if you keep a set list (of which I never do) in stone and play them the same way over and over, not only do you get bored out of your skull, but so do the fans.

Do you any favourite tracks from your album?
Sure.  Terrorist has been a favourite of mine for a long time, same with Dreams of Reality.  New favs are Dark Cloud Rising and Werewolves Local 649, and Meadows of Light.  That one changes nicely in a live setting….

Who are the main song writers for the band?
I am.

Do you have a method for writing songs? (lyrics first, music first, etc)
Each song comes out differently, I prefer to write the music first then fit words, but have several that are the other way around, and a few that just burst out together, like Zombie Love and Leave my Monkey Alone.

Do you write songs only about personal experiences?
No, I do a lot of political stuff and a few silly things.  Of course there are always going to be personal ones too, like Zombie Love, that one is a real story……… really….

Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
Overall it is not the easiest thing to do, but enjoyable when it works out.

Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
Sure, the list is almost endless…….

Who are your favourite song writers?
Bruce Cockburn and Warren Zevon are probably the main two for me, with Frank Zappa and Robert Hunter/ Jerry Garcia coming in 4th.

Which countries have you gigged in?
I’ve Gigged in the US and UK, Gareth with Riverdance has gigged in most of them.  Tracey is getting over to Europe with her new band quite a lot.

Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
US, Canada, Australia and most of the EU.

Who would you like to tour with?
Would love to go out with the other big Crow bands, Counting Crows and Black Crows, that would be a hoot.

How do you promote your music and get your music to new fans?
We use all of the normal online sites, plus our own web site.  We have also done some adds in Mojo and other Mags, as well as really hip on-line mags like Somojo……. ;>

Do you use any websites like ‘Reverbnation’ or ‘Soundclick’?

Do you think such sites are good for independent and unsigned artists?
I don’t know, while it is a great way of getting your name out, there are so many thousands of bands on these sites that you get lost in the muck very easily.

Do you think the internet overall is a good or bad thing for new artists?
Ooooooooooo controversial question…  I do feel that in the ‘old’ days when a record company was required, bands got a lot more attention and money for their work, but the downside is that there were very few bands.  With the internet, everyone has a chance to get their music out there, but it is very hard to make a living at it as the net is clogged with so much stuff.  To truly make it still requires a major label’s help in some way.

With all the various websites out there for independent and unsigned artists, is there still something that is missing from them that you think would benefit the lesser known artists?
Viewers.   Most of the main sites, myspace and the like, only really give the promo space to the bands on major labels who are poised to ‘make it’ Kasabian for example.  Not a bad band, but if it was not for the major label, myspace and the like would not be running full banners for them.  It would be nice for the big sites to mix things up a bit more.

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
Proper Rock and Roll, more old school 70’s vibe.

Who do you listen to or do when chilling out?
Zappa, Grateful Dead, Zevon, Cockburn, Arrogant Worms, Neil Young and stuff like that.  Basically my iPod is always on shuffle so I get a wide mix, might be a Fado tune or Caribbean rap followed by some jazz then Metallica flowing into the Grateful Dead.

Have you ever entered any ‘battle of the bands’ competitions?
No, I don’t feel they are a good way to get your music across since it is usually who looks the best, not sounds the best.  Waste of time.

What’s your best/worst experience at a gig?
Woof, so many of both, too many Spinal Tap moments in the past to count. My faves are the ones with the raging crowds that won’t let you stop and love everything your do.
I prefer the latter….

Do you get nervous before a gig? How do you calm down?
Sometimes I do, but not so much as I used too.  I do breathing exercises to calm down, and have a beer.  In the old days calming down was much more chemically orientated….

What are your day jobs if you have one?
I work as an area sales rep for a supplement company since I am also a Naturopathic physician.  Gareth teaches drums.  Not sure what Tracey does.

Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Not knowingly!

Is it something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?

Is there anything you’d like to add?
Just like to add that we are looking forward to relocating to the US, the rock and roll scene there is very strong.  We have a good fan base in the New England (Boston) area and Chicago.  So anyone who reads this and is in the Boston Area (where we will be setting up shop), keep an eye out for the Crows!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Kent.


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