by Jeff Jolley
Mitchel of Ajax spent the most generous amount of time speaking with RAD
Cyberzine about her musical career: about her past, where she is now, and
where she (and Ajax) hopes to be in the future. But most importantly, we
were able to talk deeply (heart to heart, one might say) about her cats.
- Going through your bio it's kinda hard to tell how long Ajax has
- I guess it got together around '89. I was working with two other
people at the time and we sort of just got together to write this
kind of industrial song called "Mind the Gap" because we had been
to England and there was this recorded thing "Mind the Gap" at the
tube station. So everybody was kind of doing sort of housier
stuff, but we wanted to combine it with more industrial. So we
just ended up writing that song. We didn't really plan on turning
it into a group or anything. But we gave it to Wax Trax, and they
ended up signing us and so they wanted us to do a whole album.
So I guess, really, in '89 and we released "Mind the Gap" I think
it was '90, and then the album right after that, '90-'91. It was
alright at first. We did some shows here and there, but we never
really tour with it. We did sort of a cheap video, and then they
weren't interested in doing another album because budgets were
really low and they were about to go under anyway. Kind of a bad
time. And then I stopped working with those people.
One of the guys went on to do a book about the grunge scene that
just came out. I think he sort of positioned it about Coutney
Love mostly, because he used to go out with her. Kind of like his
claim to fame....
- And, of course, working with you....
- Yeah, I'm waiting for that book to come out next. The other guy
is not doing music at all anymore. He sort of moved to the
country. It wasn't a good experience at all for him. So now I'm
working with Joe Hornof.
- Yeah, when did you and Joe get together?
- About two and a half years ago. I just gave him a tape and said
that I want to do something different. And when he called me back
and said, "Oh, that's the same thing I want to do" (that no one
else had understood). We started working together and did the
whole band thing again, but it just didn't work out. We basically
changed direction about three times in the 2 1/2 years that we've
- I'd like to talk a bit about music and the internet. I talk to a
lot of bands who say, "Oh, yeah, I think the internet is cool,"
but they know nothing about it. What do you think about the
internet, how long have you been on the internet?
- About a year and a half.
- How have you found the music scene there?
- You know, it's weird, because when I first started doing it I was
like, "WOW! This is unbelievable." I really thought that I'd
hear about music that I'd never heard about before and that I'd
find all this cool stuff that was just completely different and
would really open up my eyes. Now, I don't really feel as
passionate about it as that. I sort of think of it as a lot of
the stuff I kind of already know about, and I'm not seeing any
really really new thing pop up, except for local bands and things
like that, that are just really letting people know they exist.
But people are willing to give information, or willing to answer a
question. Where someone is asking about a song, oh that song is
called this, written by this person, and you can buy it at this
record store. People are willing to give information, and I like
that part of it. I'll put out a post and people will send me all
kinds of Email121112111211 back saying, "what can I do to help," "I'll call
these record stores," or "I heard the song on the radio, and I
want to do something so I'll call the radio station six times
today and request it."
And that is so encouraging, because I want this stuff to get out
there as well, because this is what I do. I'm not pretending in
my room and making songs for my cats. I really want this to
happen for me and for a lot of other reasons. I think it's good,
and I think I have something positive to say, and all of that.
And when I get that kind of feedback, I think that's the best
because people are still positive and not completely jaded.
We have met some really good people, actually. People who have
become really good friends, that we have to remind ourselves, "how
do we know this person, again?"
- Yeah, you can get really close to people. I've found one of the
best groups of people I've been associated with is the 4AD mail121112111211ing
list. They have a very international flair and very interesting
look on music. I learned a lot about some cool music by hanging
out with that group.
You said that the internet isn't as underground as you hoped it
would be. Where do you think "the underground" in music is? Is
it still New York?
- You know, I don't even think it's New York. It's funny, I'm doing
a thing for Spanish Television--not Spanish television in New
York, but Spanish Television in Spain that this friend of mine is
affiliated with. I'm producing this thing on Clubs in New York.
We're going from a poetry reading and ending up in a hip hop, so
we're doing like seven different genres in one night. I've called
all these places--most places I've been to, but some places that
I've heard about that are really new, that are supposed to still
be "underground"--and it's like everybody is advertising in paper
magazine and they advertise in the Voice, and when I ask them
about that, I say, "why is this not really underground anymore?"
And they go, "oh, well, no one would come if we didn't put it in
the paper." And even four years ago NOTHING was advertised, you
just had to know. It's kind of just clique-y in a way to expect
people to know, and people that knew, of course, knew by
word-of-mouth and in the beginning the same group of people, but
that goes pretty quickly. Like when there's something great that's
happening people just talk about it, so everyone will find out
And as far as the internet, it just seems like people still say,
"Who is Portishead?" As early as a week ago somebody wrote, "I
heard this really cool song--it has the word 'Seether' in it!"
And of course the guy got completely flamed. And I'm
exaggerating, because the guy didn't get flamed as much as I
thought. At one turn, they seem completely up on everything and
at the same time, completely out of it. You know, you read
alt.music.alternative, and that's what I'm talking about.
- Is Ajax looking for a label?
- Yeah. I mean, we want to keep Infinite Love growing-that's our
little label we have now. I would like to help people and get
some records out, but we just don't have any money. It takes us
all of our energy and all of our money just to get this one
single. It takes a lot to make a dent.
Some people are happy just putting a single out and being able to
play with their band, because they have a contained band and doing
it that way. But, we're not really like that, because we don't
have a band-band together. The only thing we can do is record
more music and put records at the moment. And then eventually
play out. But right now, I'm sort of limited to doing it on my
- When's the next full album due out?
- We have it done. We have a lot of songs completed--about twelve.
And five that are in various stages. If something comes along,
then we'll take it and put out an album as soon as we can. But
it's like the business thing and the art thing couldn't be further
apart. It's all very strange to me. What we do to make money is
write stuff for television.
- Yeah, like with The Big Picture and stuff?
- Yeah...how did you know we did that? And a lot of stuff for
VH1...ESPN. That's our big thing right now is ESPN stuff...E!
Entertainment. Sometimes we make a lot of money, sometimes we
make no money. We just came out of a hole, looking at each
other like, "We haven't made money in four months!" Not one job,
but now all of a sudden we have a lot of work.
And with Ex-Junkie, it's kind of like everything is happening now,
which is usually the case.
When we work a lot, like the TV stuff, we don't take that long.
We just knock out demos and then if we get the job it's just
honing the demo and mixing it. Other stuff is already written, or
if we're working with Tim and Rita to do something else...it
doesn't require all of us to do phone work. We kind of split it
up so that we can be creative and they can do the business. I
like to go back and forth, like I can do the business for a while
as much as I can tolerate it, and then I go, "That's enough for a
while." That's how we have it worked out.
- How many cats do you have?
- Two. I have the mother and the daughter. The mother has what
they say is breast cancer. I have a hard time believing that a
cat could have breast cancer, but that's what they told me. They
removed the lump and then it grew back a couple of months later.
I don't know how long she can go like this, but it's already been
a year and a half. And we have the daughter. Do you have cats?
- No, I want to get a dog. My wife wants me to get a dog, I don't
Ohhh...what's your favorite canned food?
- Canned food?
- Yeah, food found in a can...
- I don't know. I don't eat canned food...
- ...Good answer...
- ...I eat fresh food. The only canned food I deal with is for the
cat. And that's when we're completely broke. Otherwise I give
her this other food that's better food. I don't even know what's
in cat food. But that's the only canned food I use...I mean I
have in the house. Yeah, when I'm really broke I eat cat food.
We go to this really sleazy supermarket, and there are these old
baglady-women in there. They don't have anything, but they have
25 cats. This one woman was filling up her shopping cart with
tons of cat food, and she said to me, "Oh honey, buy some more cat
food. It's four for a dollar! It's NEVER this cheap!" So Joe
started to say really loud, "Let's get some more cat food. We
haven't gotten paid in four months and this is all we can afford."
And we talk like this and people believe you there, because
that's what they're doing. "Let's get the salmon tonight. Let's
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