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A Short Conversation with Chris Mitchard of Charlton Lane

30 March 2022

Can we start with a bit of background? What musical path has brought you to where Charlton Lane is today?

Chris Mitchard: Charlton Lane started really with me messing around on an old 4track tape machine I had, I’d bought an iPad and downloaded loads of drum machine apps and just plugged that into the 4track and jammed over the top…I always had an idea to do something on my own away from any band I was in. I got into making little 1minute jams really and then started working on songs that I had that didn’t fit with the band I was in at the time (The Dynamite Pussy Club) I got into the real mix of old drum machines and rock guitars…I ended up with an albums worth of songs which I shared with a friend who was then working with a USA label and they loved it..this came out in 2015 as the album Get Off The Good Foot.

That was sort of where I left it really but with the lockdowns and having time on my hands I started just doing little things again which then expanded to writing a whole album again…it was nice to visit older songs I had ditched and breath new life into them…this album I did mostly in a studio in Wells, Somerset as oppose to more home recording method of the first album.

You have also put in plenty of time behind the scenes, can you tell us a bit bout your activities as a promoter and everything else you have been involved in?

Chris Mitchard: I started a night called KILLINGMOON this was back in 2004, I was in my first proper band, Rusty Springfield and we got fed up with being on bills with bands who we had nothing in common with. Mates would come watch whichever band they had mates in then leave and we just wanted to start a scene really with like minded should where all the bands shared a common theme and the whole night gelled, these turned out to be great and took on a life of their own and I booked in bands from all over and it ended up running alternatively in Bath, then Bristol each month, we sold out nights and ran a few all-dayers back when that sorta thing was rare…this was from 2004-2014.

Ed who was in Rusty Springfield and then The Dynamite Pussy Club also got on board and we had a great run of it, I always remember Ed saying to me after selling out the* Louisiana* in Bristol after an all day event “If you ever mention all-dayer again I’ll slap you”. We did a couple more.

We stopped it as The Dynamite Pussy Club were pretty active gigging and recording and the time needed to hold down a regular club night just wasn’t there. I now also run a little label called KMRECORDS which is onto its 19th release, mostly cassettes but we have done a bit of vinyl/cd. I’ve really loved this finding or being sent new bands nd we’ve just put out a reissue of the Workdogs album, In Hell they were a cult 90s band who were in that same scene as the likes of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Jesus Lizard.

There is an amazing weave of musical styles running through Mendip Soul Stew Vol 1, can you unpick them a bit and talk about your influences?

Chris Mitchard: I love music that grooves, I love stuff like James Brown, all the Hi Records stuff, old gospel, as well as bands like AC/DC ,The Stones, its hard to say about influences really as its such a wide range of stuff, I cant say I set out to try and make it sound a certain way it just ends up like that but mixing that guitar sound to electronica or dance beats was something I wanted to try and do in a more song based way…but yeah I just love groovy stuff…I’m getting right into Hammond trios, I love Devon Lamarr Trio and old Jimmy Smith, I might have to do an album of B3 get downs.

Can you explain the album title for those who might not get the geographical reference? An perhaps your chosen band name for this?

Chris Mitchard: Charlton Lane is a road near to where I grew up, I always loved that it sounded like a performer, a bit of a crooner maybe.I always thought if I do a solo thing that was gunna be the name. The Mendip Hills are the area I grew up in, such a great place, we had Glastonbury Festival every year that was a lot easier to get into as a teenager and that whole vibe each year gave the area a buzz. The small town I grew up in, Midsomer Norton had 2/3 small venues that cultivated an amazing music scene that not only had local bands but bands from Bristol*/*Bath would come play. Unfortunately these venues have now shut and looking back I realise what an amazing moment it was. All the songs on Mendip Soul Stew are my stories to that time really growing up, I’m the west country Bruce Springsteen…haha….I had that title in the back of my head for a while.

Is there a set way that you write songs for this project or is it different every time?

Chris Mitchard: I don’t really set out to write for Charlton Lane or for my current band Leathers as separate things, some songs in Leathers come from Ed and me jamming, others I take to the practice room, some come when I just repeat a riff over a beat and it sort of feels right for Charlton Lane.

There has been quite a gap between this latest album and the previous release, is there a reason why you have put the Charlton Lane mantle back on or is it something that you always planned to dip in and out of?

Chris Mitchard: This album really came through having time and being not able to play gigs or practice with Leathers, I got a bit like a coiled spring and had to do some music though I hadn’t really thought I’d do another Charlton Lane album but I’m glad I had the time to do it again, I’m proud of Mendip Soul Stew the reaction last year to “GIMME GIMME” which I just sort of put out on a whim was amazing and gave me the push to finish an album, its been a joyous thing.

And so, where next for Charlton Lane, your other musical outlets and for you as a person?

Chris Mitchard: I’d definitely like to gig it a bit more, I’ve done a few dates as one-offs here and there but I’m getting to grips with it and really love playing these songs.I have started recording the next album and I’m excited for that, its taking it to a different place again.

Leathers has just recorded an album which sounds amazing so that will be out later this year.On a personal level I’m keeping it positive in these hard times, enjoying music old and new, I love the new BODEGA album big time and I’m just taking my dog for a walk now so that’s my immediate future..

Thanks Dave.always a pleasure.

The pleasure was all mine.