Hi, Dave here. I’m sure you’re thinking, “What’s HE doing here?” You know what though? I never really left. It’s time to add “rock journalist” to my Crime resume. Natalie asked me to do a piece on the newest member of the Crime, Jeanne Mitchell. I know most everybody reading this has seen her at shows – shredding like this, laying down tone like this, and performing like every show is here, or possibly here. I know she’s been formally introduced to the public as a Crime member, but on the eve of the new album, I think it’s time we all got a little better acquainted. The interview we did was over email because of a time constraints (journalism is hard, y’all!), but I hope it’ll helps a little bit to humanize that lady up on stage doing arm windmills. I’m so glad you’re a part of the group, Jeanne!!
Ok, first things first: Who is your guitar idol?
This will surprise a lot of people who haven’t known me a long time, but I have long modeled my gear, style, and sound after Tom Dumont (No Doubt, Invincible Overlord). Before I even had my own, I borrowed a friend’s guitar and learned how to play from watching videos of him playing live. Some other influences over time have been Jimi Hendrix, Ladd Mitchell (Park), Laurie Webb, Ani DiFranco, Elliott Smith, Jo Snyder (Sixty Stories), and various other punk and hardcore guitarists.
I think you are an absolutely sick performer. You’re a great player, but when I think about what I’m flat-out jealous of, it’s how communicative you are on stage. Where did that come from?
Aww! Thanks! I used to play in a punk band and a hardcore band. That’s where I learned most of my dance moves. During that time, I was writing music on an acoustic guitar, so it was pretty hooks and metal riffs. It was like standing on a cliff, screaming at the top of your lungs. Then, in a split second, you’re watching leaves fall in front of your childhood home. Playing live became a very intimate and emotional thing for me. APC has very energetic songs, so when I play, I really feel it. The rest of my dance moves come from Napoleon Dynamite.
I feel like the Crime has a really different way of writing, playing, and being in general. I kind of wish they would write a book about how to be a band, and all bands were forced to read it. What has surprised you the most about the way APC works? What’s your chapter in the APC book?
Oh, absolutely. It’s a very collaborative effort and I love the conversation that goes on when we’re writing music. It’s funny that you mention APC writing a book. Natalie and Teresa are really good at articulating a message, but letting you apply the meaning to a song. I’m really pumped about the new record because it reads like a story. I think people will find something new to interpret every time they listen to it. I think what has surprised me the most about the band is how musically professional everyone is, but they haven’t turned this into a job. That’s what makes APC so fun. We write music, plan shows, calculate expenses, but most importantly, we have fun.
I feel like we’re in chapter 5. At least I hope it’s somewhere in the beginning chapters of a very long story.
What if anything is your kind of ultimate goal in playing music? To put it another way, is playing mostly a way that you stay happy, something that feels good for you, or are you trying to accomplish something else too? What are your measures of accomplishment?
When I answered the ad APC put out for a guitarist, I hit a point where I realized I need to be playing music to survive the other aspects of life. What sold me was that they used the word “optimistic” in the ad. Genius. Playing music makes me happy and playing in this band just feels right. Having a good tour would be my measurement of accomplishment. Of course having multiple great tours is even better. That…and being interviewed by David Smith.
*blush!* Have you seen sexism from bands, venues, etc in your time with APC? While you were with other bands?
Ha ha! We’ve had a number of laughs on this topic. I don’t think I’ve had the “wonderful opportunity” to experience it as much as the rest of the band, but it’s definitely there. And I’ve had my fair share in past bands. In one of my bands, 2/3 of us were female. Someone once said to me that they knew a female drummer if we wanted to have an all girl band.
Tell me about a rock show really early in your career, or your very first.
Oh, man. I think it was called the Drake at the time, but my first band played a show there and something was wrong with the electrical wiring on their PA system. The bass player and I kept getting zapped by the microphones on the mouth. The worst part was I kept jerking from the shock and hitting my tooth on the mic. It was funny, but sucked getting shocked every minute for half an hour.
How does your family feel about your rock and roll career? Do they love it? Do they reach for some sort of holy book and pray for your soul?
I think they always thought music was a phase that would pass. They’re happy for me as long as I stay out of trouble. I told my mom about the band and she thinks it’s a vandal, metal band because of the name. It could easily be cleared up if I just let her listen to one of the albums, but I like the idea of how shocked she’ll be when she actually sees us play.