Local artist Adrian Mitchell plans to debut his first extended play record, “The Id of Adrian EP,” as a solo artist Friday.
A Grand Rapids native, Mitchell launched his music career shortly after graduating from Lowell High School in 2014. With a passion for making music and a little help from a Red Hot Chili Peppers band member, Mitchell moved to Los Angeles with his band, Afterglow, in 2016. Two years later, the band relocated to Montana, where they currently live and produce music. Mitchell frequently returns to his roots in Grand Rapids to reconnect with family and play local gigs.
Grand Rapids Magazine: What new material are you releasing?
Adrian Mitchell: It’s going to be an EP, just a couple of deep, personal songs. I didn’t even realize how personal they were until just the other day. I’m nervous to be putting this into the world, but I’m also excited.
GRM: Is there anything special about this release?
AM: This is my first official release under my solo artist name. I also play in a band called Afterglow, which is more crazy, raucous and upbeat. These songs are a lot more laid back. You can really feel the anguish in the songs.
GRM: What was your inspiration behind this new music?
AM: The first song, “Trestle Bridge,” came about because I was reading “Acid for the Children,” an autobiography by Flea, bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Flea talks about going to the Trestle Bridge in Lowell when they were kids to jump off of it or just do bad kid stuff. That blew my mind because that’s where me and all my friends in high school used to go and do all our bad kid stuff. That’s where I smoked my first cigarette. When I was reading Flea’s book and he talks about going there, it just blew my mind.
I think Flea and I have some things in common as far as loss. We both took a crazy life trajectory and ended up losing friends along the way. Back in 2015, I lost a lot of friends to drunk driving and drug overdoses. Those losses and that connection the Red Hot Chili Peppers were the major inspiration for “Trestle Bridge.”
GRM: Is “Trestle Bridge” the highlight of your EP?
AM: I would say so. The other song is called “Gabby”, and it’s about my first love. It starts off as a heartbroken Christmas carol and blossoms into this deep longing for something that’s impossible.
GRM: How has your upbringing in Grand Rapids influenced this release?
AM: This is very meta, but the coldness of the winters is very present in the songs I’m about to release. Some of my memories just driving around Grand Rapids, hanging out downtown or doing bad kid stuff also influenced the songs.
GRM: How can listeners hear these new songs?
AM: My plan is to put the music on Bandcamp only for the first week or so. It’s going to be $1.99 for both songs. Right now, I’m donating all the proceeds to this film that my friend is making about missing natives in Montana. The songs will eventually be free on Soundcloud, YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music and all the major platforms, but you’d buy them on Bandcamp to support a great cause.
GRM: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the music industry?
AM: I got my first guitar when I was about 8 years old. In third grade, my parents took me to see The White Stripes at the Masonic Temple in Detroit. It blew my mind. I became obsessed with The White Stripes, guitar music and just that complete freedom found in music. My dad got me my first electric guitar for Christmas a year later. He painted it red, very much in the style of The White Stripes. My family always encouraged me to pursue a career in music and helped me along the way.
GRM: How did you get your start in the music industry?
AM: My bandmate Jack Simmons and I started going official with our music in the fall of 2016. Simmons’ uncle, Anthony Kiedis, is the singer of the Chili Peppers. He was listening to our music, and he said we should move out to L.A. so he could introduce us to the right people. We did that, obviously, because how could you not. By the time I was 21, I’d met pretty much all my idols in the music world. Once you do that, you realize that it’s not this intangible, other world. It’s right there in front of you, you just have to grab it if that’s what you want.
After a couple years of living in L.A. around different agents and the music industry bureaucracy, we decided that you don’t really need that to get your name out there. You can do it 100% by yourself. That’s why we moved to Montana, to kind of get away from the city and all the people. We’ve been able to just live quietly and work on music in a more peaceful location. It’s also been amazing to be our own bosses.
GRM: Do you still have connections in Grand Rapids?
AM: Absolutely. The band has been back to play a few times. I fly back to Grand Rapids frequently to visit my family, and I still feel very connected to the city.
GRM: What are your favorite venues to play for in Grand Rapids?
AM: The Tip-Top Deluxe Bar & Grill is the first place where I ever played music and had someone sing my own lyrics back to me from the crowd. That was one of those magic moments when I thought, ‘That’s right. I can do this.’ I remember it perfectly.
I also remember playing at Rocky’s of Northville with my old band, The Id of Christ. We were just jamming out and some guy came up to me and said, ‘Dude, you guys are amazing. I’m inspired. You guys are inspiring me right now.’ That was the first time I’ve ever gotten that reaction, another unforgettable moment of choosing this path.
GRM: What does your music career look like moving forward?
AM: I have another single planned after this EP release. It will be out in the next few months. I would definitely like to work on an album under my solo name, too. I’m currently recording an album with Afterglow in my house in Montana. As much as I want to plan what my music career will look like, I think the future is so unpredictable, especially right now. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing, and I believe more doors will open, even if I don’t know what those doors are right now. I take it seriously, but I’m also laid back about it.
Editor’s note: This interview was edited for length and clarity.