This month’s Gut Feeling podcast is an interview with Adam Mitchell, a mainstay of the Vancouver underground who currently plays with post-punks Spectres, alt-pop quartet Tilted, and d-beat mashers Madness Cartel. The talk bounces between what it was like to be touring the U.S. with Spectres last March as COVID restrictions really started to ramp up across the world, and what some of our respective favourite releases of the year were. We also got into a bit of a gear talk, which you’ll find below!
Having mostly played in hardcore bands over the years, what can you say about exploring a different tone and style through Spectres?
Adam Mitchell: I started out as a bass player, and for years I was only a bass player. I’ve never really been formally trained on anything, so a lot of it was me sitting in my room, just playing guitar and doing what I wanted to do. For a couple of years I was doing a band called Circles that, while our recorded output never showed this, started veering towards Embrace/Rites of Spring territory, and I got to explore beyond power chords. Having, for a lack of a better word, a flowery, jangly guitar style was a learning curve. I’d sit around my house playing Smiths songs, or McCarthy songs, or James Dean Driving Experience songs...now, maybe, I can actually write stuff like that.
Even throughout the time I’ve been in Spectres, [my style has] evolved, which is nice! As a musician, you force yourself to try new things. I’m certainly not a great guitar player— I wouldn’t even say I’m a creative guitar player—but considering the vast majority of my recording/touring life playing in hardcore bands, getting to do something melodic with arpeggios and flourishy guitar stuff is a nice change of pace.
Have you had any significant gear changes since joining Spectres?
A: Historically, I’ve played my Les Paul through a 50 watt JMP, a 1980 JMP. In Circles, I dabbled with pedals a bit—some delays and some chorus. Other than that, with Vacant State and Cheap Appeal it was straight through the amp, with a tuner. With Spectres, my primary guitar for the first while was my Rickenbacker 330. Shortly after I joined the band, since I didn’t think the Marshall would fit with what I wanted to play, I bought a Vox AC30.
About this time last year, I bought one of those Johnny Marr signature Jaguars, being a bit of a Johnny Marr sycophant. I was impressed with it. It did away with everything that I didn’t like about Jaguars. I thought Jaguars looked cool, but they didn’t really have a sound that I thought was appropriate for me. But the Johnny Marr signature is the guitar I used predominantly on the tour that we did at the beginning of this year. We also just recorded a new single with Jesse Gander in October, and I exclusively used the Jaguar on that.
As far as pedals go, I always have my Diamond Compressor and my Electro-Harmonix Small Clone chorus pedal on. I use a Nemesis Delay sparingly, and an Electro-Harmonix Super Pulsar trem pedal sparingly. And just little, you know, bits and pieces on top of that. I would say for the most part I can do 90 per cent of what I need to do either running the Rick or the Jaguar through my chorus pedal, into the Vox.
Deaf Club “The Wait” (Bandcamp)
Deaf Club made their debut last year with Contemporary Sickness, a six minute acid bath of discordant guitar shred and blast beats. The quintet are going a different route with their latest single, a relatively faithful, darkly melodic cover of post-punk icons Killing Joke’s “The Wait”.
Structurally, the cover rumbles as hard as Killing Joke, with the biggest difference coming in how Justin Pearson’s (The Locust, Retox, Dead Cross) inimitable hollow point howl punctures the mix instead of Jaz Coleman’s coarse, flanger-affixed melodicism. Its video packages footage of drone strikes and citizen uprisings with factoids on the military industrial complex.
Deaf Club’s cover of “The Wait” is available now as a pay-what-you-can download through vocalist Justin Pearson’s Three One G records, with all proceeds from now until January 4th going towards Fair Fight’s efforts to protect U.S. voter rights in the upcoming run-off elections in Georgia and beyond.
Deaf Club are apparently finishing up a debut LP, and I’d be stoked if they explore this kind of style in addition to the grinding.