Down with Alien Ant Farm’s singer Dryden Mitchell!
What is happen?
Just enjoying my time off getting some food with my girlfriend and took our two dogs to the dog park. We’re just hanging out.
Is it good to have some time off?
Did you set a goal going into the new record?
Just finish a record. I’ve read so many reviews, even as a kid, that there is this mysterious thing and we play music because we like how it sounds. We wrote fifteen or sixteen songs that were important to us. We met the DeLeo brothers and had an amazing time making music with them.
Are you talking about the sophomore slump?
Yeah, I mean some bands have it and some don’t and some bands have freshman slumps. We fortunately didn’t. I have a ton of friends who are in bands, not like we got huge success, but they never received anything. Sophomore slump is a great thing just because we had an opportunity to do a sophomore record.
Where did the DeLeo brothers come into this as producers?
We were looking for producers and their name came up and we thought it would be a good thing. We had a meeting with them and it went really well. We have all been fans of that band (Stone Temple Pilots) since the beginning. We tried it the producer way and we just felt it because they played instruments and felt it was a match.
Was it because they have a different perspective as musicians?
Yeah, and they’ve never done it and they’ve had all their records produced by Brendan O’Brien, that is great company. If they didn’t learn anything from that guy about producing then I don’t know who could. We felt like we were getting Brenden as well with them, he actually mixed it. It seemed like it all made sense to us. We already knew the record was going to be good in our opinion anyway. This album has been ripped to shreds review-wise and I know we are a good band and I know what this band is capable of. I know we have one of the best rhythm sections in rock now unless Primus got together and then maybe there might be a conversation to be had. There might be better drummers, but I know there aren’t better bass players.
Do you let the reviews roll off your back?
I read them all because I’m interested. I like whenever I see the band name and see what they think about it. Most often they review us as people and not as a band. Whenever “Smooth Criminal” comes into it I know they aren’t reviewing the new album.
It’s an opinion.
I’ve read bad reviews on movies I love and Weezer’s Pinkerton album got voted worst album of the year and it’s a top five album for our whole band. You can’t get affected by it, as long as they are writing about us I’m happy.
Well Nirvana never really got great reviews for Nevermind early on.
For sure, they were doing something important for them. They didn’t care what came of that record. They didn’t expect to take over the planet. They knocked metal off the face of the earth with that record. I remember seeing “Unskinny Bop” and Motley Crue’s “Don’t Go Away Mad” all the time. Then all of the sudden “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came and it was gone.
I remember “Cherry Pie” was played all the time.
That one I didn’t mind because I could see Bobby Brown showing her big ass – whatever’s. (We both laugh)
How many tracks did you have done before you recorded?
Everything was completely done. We made a full mock record in pre-production and went in and duplicated it. Just for fun I played the demos and listened to them against the record and the performance is the same, but the songs are the same.
How are the songs born?
I wrote most of the songs completely with music and lyrics for the acoustic songs. I’ll bring in songs or a vocal melody to the guys. I don’t really have lyrics and we’ll track it and I’ll take it home or in the car and karaoke to it until I have lyrics.
What’s harder, lyrics or melody?
Lyrics. I don’t have anything important to say. It’s usually relationship driven, half fiction and non-fiction. Lyrics are pretty easy, but if its not I’ll put it away. It’s fun, when it’s not fun I’ll get another job.
What is it like to bring a song in and hear the band put it all together?
That is the most fun to me. To hear this little thing go from like a campfire jam like “Glow” and watch it grow. That is more fun than recording or touring – us hashing it out is typically the most fun.
What is it like now to go overseas?
It’s cool, after that accident I’m weary about touring. I love doing shows, but I’m not excited about traveling. I used to love it and would stay out forever, but now I count the days until I’ll get home.
That accident is the first thing in the bio. Do you hate to even think or talk about the accident?
If I was going to interview someone and they went through it I’d ask them about it. It was a pretty amazing experience even though it was a very negative experience.
You say it was amazing, was it the reflection on life?
It affected our personalities. It didn’t affect the record. I really wanted to get past it. I was happy to get past it and was really excited to get on with life and make music.
Does it blow your mind that so many people bought the first record and were excited about the new one?
It’s overwhelming. I’m just glad. I have a heavy dog and he needs dog food so I’m glad people are buying the record. (we both laugh)
What is it like to know you are helping people through things with the music?
I have people come up to me and tell me how much the songs mean to them. Some people really get heavy into it and it’s really about me and my situation and it’s a trip to hear someone take it so seriously that I’m flabbergasted about it. They are real lovers of music. I read lyrics word for word along with the songs and that is what fun about having a cd. When you first buy it you open up the book and read it line for line.
What group moved you?
The whole White Album from the Beatles. This sounds cheesy but when I was going through puberty I liked Wham a lot. I thought George Michael was the shit. I didn’t know he was gay, I didn’t care. I just liked him and the songs. I thought they were good love songs. I like the Bee Gees. Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb wrote great songs together and had great duets.
If you could duet with someone who would it be?
Edie Brickell. She is the best singer in the world. (dog starts to bark)
What kind of dogs do you have?
I have a chocolate lab and my girlfriend has a miniature pincher.
What do you dream about now?
That we can keep doing music. I want to do some side stuff and write stuff by myself. I don’t care if I hook up with celebrities and good players, other than my own band.
Just to try something new?
Just to see what someone else might add to it. I don’t really write differently, just that I write more folky. Someone might go full force and make it completely folky. Ant Farm makes it more rock and I like that. I like the songs I’m writing and it’ll stay that way.
What is the feeling of waking up and knowing that make music is what you do for a living?
It’s a good feeling. The best part is being out with friends and they have to leave because they have to get up in the morning to go to work and don’t want to go to that job I realize how good I have it.
+ Charlie Craine