First/Last-The Mittenfields

April 25, 2012

“Combining a densely layered three‐guitar attack with raw, nervy vocals, Mittenfields have drawn comparisons to some of the best indie rock acts of the 1990s. Far from an exercise in pure nostalgia, however, the DC‐based ensemble has crafted its own unique sound combining elements of indie rock, shoegaze and noise pop. Singer/bassist Dave Mann formed Mittenfields in 2008 with guitarist Sam Sherwood. After adding wunderkind math‐rock drummer Brian Moran to the mix, the lineup of the band was completed with the arrival of guitarists Donald Seale and Michael Ball in late 010. The quintet quickly headed into DC’s Inner Ear Studios, cranked up a wall of amps, and let it rip. Mittenfields released their debut EP, The Fresh Sum, in July 2011, with the tracks “My Mind Is An Avalanche” and “Goliath FTW” being featured on college radio and podcasts in the US and Canada. The band plans to return to the studio later in the year to record a follow‐up, and in the meantime is planning a series of east coast dates in support of The Fresh Sum.”

The band begins their tour in Pittsburgh tomorrow night sharing the bill with Caleb Pogyor, Elephant and Dewey Marquee. Two of the band’s guitarists Sam Sherwood and Mike Ball were nice enough to participate in this edition of First/Last.

  • The first album you ever bought?
  • Sam Sherwood: If we’re starting from the CD era, it was the Wayne’s World soundtrack. First tape was either the Top Gun soundtrack or “The California Raisins Sing the Hits.”
  • Mike Ball: Don’t quite recall. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was definitely one of the first. Or it may have been a Sesame Street send-up of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
  • Your last album bought?
  • Sam: I bought my wife an LP copy of Joy Division’s “Closer” for Valentine’s Day. Whether that strikes your readers as weird or awesome is probably an excellent indicator of how well we’d get along.
  • Mike: Telekinesis “12 Desperate Straight Lines.” Bought this based on a friend’s recommendation. Never heard of them before but digging it so far.
  • Favorite album of all time?
  • Sam: Velvet Underground’s “Loaded”. Or maybe “Marquee Moon”.
  • Mike: U2 “Achtung Baby.”
  • Least favorite/most disappointing album?
  • Sam: “Adore”. Billy Corgan would later destroy my teenage music memories more thoroughly, but it started there.
  • Mike: I almost feel like continuing the Billy Corgan theme and saying the last Pumpkins album, “Zeitgeist.” But my expectations were pretty low for that. I’d have to go with either of the last two Interpol albums.
  • First concert attended?
  • Sam: This is so so deeply uncool, but I’m pretty sure it was Live on the “Throwing Copper” tour. I think everyone who was between 7th and 10th grade in 1995 was issued a copy of that CD and a pair of concert tickets by some secret government agency. At least I went with a girl.
  • Mike: Belinda Carlisle when she toured behind her “Heaven on Earth” album. I guess that was 1987 or 1988 when I was in jr high school. Yeah, I’m not ashamed to say I listened to some pretty poppy stuff as a kid.
  • Last concert?
  • Sam: We just got back from SXSW so that’s a difficult question to answer. Walking down 6th Street at night it feels like you’re hearing every band in the world play at the same time, which is just as god-awful a racket as you might imagine (not that we didn’t have an excellent time). Some highlights though: Galaxy Express, Alpine, Ray Wylie Hubbard & The Foreign Resort (who did an awesome Stevie Nicks cover).
  • Mike: I’ve had the chance to catch a couple shows since SXSW. Last night I saw Wild Flag at the 9:30 Club. Fun show, including excellent covers of songs by Television and, of course, Fugazi.
  • Favorite concert ever?
  • Sam: Smashing Pumpkins, 1997. I was 17, I had sprung for good seats for once, all my friends were there, and there was an hour-long post-encore performance that was basically one enormous guitar solo punctuated by bouts of brooding noise. Been chasing ever since.
  • Mike: U2, 1992 in Anaheim for the ZooTV tour. The best stadium show I have ever seen. Added bonus of having Public Enemy and The Sugarcubes as opening acts.
  • Least favorite concert?
  • Sam: I think it goes without saying that my first concert (see above) is way up there on that list.
  • Mike: The Walkmen at the 9:30 Club several years ago. I can’t completely fault the band. But the sound was just horrible that night.
  • Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
  • Sam: I have never been, but my wife is going to be living there for a year starting this fall, which means I’ll be living there part-time as well. Everyone seems to think we’ll dig it, so I hope they’re right. Consider this an open solicitation for Pittsburgh newbie tips.
  • Mike: Never been, but looking forward to it. I saw a bit about Primanti Bros. on one of those “extreme sandwich” type shows on Food Network or something a while back. May have to check it out.

Thanks fellas. Welcome to Pittsburgh Mike. We are very friendly here and I am sure you will fit in very well buddy.