Conventional wisdom says you keep your wishes to yourself if you want them to come true – when you’re blowing out the candles on your birthday cake – but that wasn’t the case with iconic Canadian musician Kim Mitchell.
Instead of keeping them to himself, Mitchell shared his wishes with friend Greg Wells, which lead to the recording of Mitchell’s first full-length album in 13 years.
“It’s my first album since 2007, and that’s quite a long time away,” he said in an interview this week.
The Big Fantasize shows a more mature and relaxed side of a musician known for rocking standards such as ‘Go For Soda,’ ‘I am a Wild Party’ and “Rock n’ Roll Duty.’
Mitchell says the more reflective material on the album harkens back to the ballads in some of his earlier work. The tenor is set in the first single from the album, ‘Wishes,’ released on June 26.
“It’s a poem that I read 10 years ago and turned it into a song, and it’s just a song about how a lot of things that we wish for in our lives – some want wealth, some want beauty, and there are other things that we can wish for too. And I’m not saying we should wish for these things. What I wish [for] are simpler things in life – you know, obtainable things and beautiful thing,” explained Mitchell.
Noting it can take a great deal of effort for an artist to get back into the studio to record new music, he said he was encouraged by his friend and producer Greg Wells, eventually heading to Los Angeles to make the new album.
“He visited me in Toronto on his way back to Los Angeles – he’s originally from Peterborough – and I gave him the USB key-of-shame with all my demos on it. I just kind of went, ‘Hey, man, if you got some feedback, got time for this, give me some feedback.’ He got a hold of me a couple of weeks later: ‘Please come to Los Angeles. I love this material. Please come, and let’s record this and I’ll produce it.’
“So that’s kind of his fault, because I was going to sit around, and I have gigs. I’ve had a good recording career. I’m content to sort of roll along like that until I don’t want to do it anymore. But he said ‘no, no, no. Let’s do this music. Let’s put it out because it’s a big undertaking,’” Mitchell explained of the process.
Wells has produced albums for an array of successful musicians ranging from Twenty One Pilots to Katy Perry, and Otep to One Republic. Wells, who helped on One Republic’s track ‘Apologize’ by playing violin, plays most instruments on Mitchell’s latest effort.
Though labelled a Canadian rock icon, Mitchell doesn’t see himself that way.
“I’ve never tried to maintain any status – just a musician with his head down and making music. We have 12 months to work with, and I just tried to get my music to where I love it. And I think that’s all we can do as musicians. All the icon, all the descriptives that people put on me, the label’s people put on me, I’m not trying to maintain any of that. I don’t have an ego wall in my house with gold, platinum records all over it, I gave them all away to charity auctions. So I’m just a dude, I’m just one of us, with his head down working, and I think we’re all here to do something for humankind and or the planet. And that’s what I do, I try to help people escape for a couple of hours. I like to describe my job as to take you away to Rocklandwonderland.”
With time off from the road courtesy of the coronavirus pandemic, Mitchell jokes that he has taken the opportunity to reinforce his mediocrity at activities such as gardening and cooking. “I always was average, but I’m doing them so much right now and I’m not getting any better.”
Though he’s dabbled in some live-streaming of his music, he says his real desire is to get back out in front of an audience. In the meantime, there’s a new album for fans to enjoy.