“I still remember, about fifteen or sixteen years on, the very day I wanted to learn guitar. It was at a small school assembly when I was about ten or eleven years old and there was a “special guest” which just so happened to be a bloke with a Fender Stratocaster who played a few songs for us. At the end of this school assembly those of us who put our hands up were allowed to meet the nice guitar man after everyone else had left, naturally I was one of the kids to stay back. After I got home and no doubt spent a few hours telling my parents how excited I was to touch this amazing instrument earlier that day, they decided to buy me a classical acoustic guitar and enroll me in the school’s special guitar class.”
After many years and a few setbacks, Simon gained a bit of a reputation amongst his friends as being a bit of a guitar wiz. He had spent many years learning the usual teenager stuff like the entirety of Metallica’s Black Album as well as bits and pieces from bands like Rage Against The Machine, Pantera, and Sepultura amongst others.
“I was a big Metallica fan and bought the tablature book for their self titled album. It took me a while but eventually I learned every song. Unfortunately for some stupid reason the book didn’t have any solos in it so I had to search the internet for tabs and work a lot of it out by ear. Guys like Hammet, Dimebag, Vai, Andreas Kisser from Sepultura, Hanneman and King from Slayer were pretty big influences on me to start with. I know that’s a pretty typical list of influences on a heavy metal guitarist but hey, I was a teenager and I loved that stuff!”
But it wasn’t until the formation of his band Chaos Divine that his chops would get a chance to be heard by more than just a few of his mates.
“Even then it took me a few years to gain a bit of a reputation. For the two or three years after the band’s inception Ryan was the lead guitarist and I was the rhythm guitarist because let’s face it – Ryan’s shredding skills absolutely trumped mine. After playing with him for a little while I realised my technique was not very disciplined at all. It was kind of a case of ‘hit as many notes as I can with my left hand and pick as fast as I can with my right’, meanwhile Ryan who came from a more precise guitar upbringing learning from guys like Petrucci and Michael Romeo had much better technique than I. It took me a while to learn to control my playing and actually get both hands to work in sync but I think I got there to some degree. Unfortunately as I got better at shredding, my interest in guitar started to drift away from that aspect and more into songwriting and melody so my shred skills aren’t quite what they were a few years ago although I do still enjoy a good shred-fest from time to time so I certainly won’t stop playing fast altogether, just in moderation.”
Chaos Divine are proving themselves to be a bit of a mixed bag in terms of guitar work. While there is some pretty serious shredding in their music, there are also some fairly quaint passages through to highly textural and progressive sections which give many prog metal bands a run for their money. This diversity, while maintaining solid song structure is perhaps one reason why they are gaining fairly significant critical acclaim.
“It’s nice that the band is doing quite well but at the end of the day I just love playing guitar. I love creating melodies and licks and I sometimes find myself playing the same little bit over and over again for minutes at a time devising a way of making it feel better and thinking about how to incorporate it into a song or a guitar solo. Nothing beats coming up with a guitar hook that makes a song stand out from others. I could sit down and play a catchy guitar melody literally all day.”
For news on Chaos Divine, visit their website at www.chaosdivine.net
Simon is also a qualified sound engineer so for his engineering/production/mixing services, visit his facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Simon-Mitchell-Recording-EngineerProducer/117085555040068 to keep up to date with what he is working on and also to listen to some of his previous works including Chaos Divine’s latest album The Human Connection!