Kim Mitchell sings his personal mission statement in the song Rock N Roll Duty. That’s what it’s all about. Not the money, the fame or the trophy case; it’s his uniquely Canadian duty to serve his audience.
“It’s what gives me life, it’s as simple as that,” says Mitchell flatly. “We’re all here to do something for humankind. I get onstage and play music.”
For more than four decades, he’s done just that. Mitchell led the enigmatic prog-rock outfit, Max Webster, in the 1970s but went on to have an iconic solo career in the 80s and beyond. His live shows have long been, in part, a guitar driven celebration of Ontario’s beer soaked social culture but his biggest hit, Go For A Soda, has the exact opposite message. This contradiction is where you start to get a better picture of Kim Mitchell, the artist.
“A painter walks up to his easel and paints what he feels like painting,” explains Mitchell. “It’s not like I set out to write about something. I just set out to write.”
It’s hard to argue with an approach that has led to 1.5 million records sold and a touring career that has remained vibrant since the first Prime Minister Trudeau. In the late 70’s and through all of the 80’s he played the largest arenas in the country and continues to perform at festivals, casinos and theatres across the country.
In fact, the only real time off from the road he’s had was in 2016 when he had a heart attack.
“Yeah, that was a scary moment; I wouldn’t recommend it,” he remembers with a laugh. “I’m a lucky guy though; not everyone has the privilege of living as long as I have, let alone doing what they love to do.”
True to this spirit, he was back to work in 2017 with a new workout and health regimen. In addition to his return to the stage, he oversaw the release of a long overdue Max Webster box set.
“I’m glad they included me,” Mitchell explains. “They didn’t have to. This company called ‘Ole’ bought Max Webster’s catalog and asked me.”
The company made sure to remaster the old releases and worked with Mitchell to dig deep into the archives and find some recordings no one has heard before. Mitchell compares the experience to finding a scrapbook kept by your parents that you forgot existed.
“It was a kinda cool trip down memory lane” he says. “I’m proud of all of it. You can’t be ashamed of what you make.”
When asked about his proudest achievement however, he eschews his career almost entirely.
“The thing I’m most proud of is family; having kids,” he says, and then adds, “I’m proud that I have a passion in life; that I have something that I get up in the morning to do.”
Mitchell does have new music on the horizon. He’ll be making his third trip to Los Angeles this month to record new music. He’s working with Canadian producer extraordinaire Greg Wells (Adele, One Republic, Mika) who started professional life as a keyboard player in Mitchell’s band. Mitchell isn’t promising anything till it’s done, though.
“I’m not on a timetable at this point in my life,” he says with another laugh. “You’ll just have to wait and see.”
In the meantime, he’s looking forward to coming to Brampton on January 19.
“It’s a nice setting, The Rose Theatre,” he says.
When pressed, Mitchell avoids bragging and plays it like a true Canadian.
“Honestly, I just try and read an audience. We don’t have the budget for flashy stuff; pyro and screens or whatever, and if I had the dough I don’t know if I’d bother anyway,” he says, with a chuckle. “It’ll be two sets of good vibe with a cross section of Max Webster and my solo stuff.”