Alex Mitchell

By Geordie Plethur
(SugarBuzz Nation)

SugarBuzz Magazine


"Nobody holds your hand, when it's super-real..." (-Zodiac Mindwarp)

"Well, the coup d’etat is over, and they won. We lost. And now we have to learn to cope with it. It is very clear that the engines of corporatism and globalization are going to kill the ecosystem, no matter how many dead zones are created in the Gulf of Mexico or protests organized. We are going to have to make some very serious decisions about acts that dispute a system that in theological terms is a system of death and exploitation. And yet even then, it’s probably too late. If you read closely the science on global warming, it’s disrupting, even if we stop emissions, global warming will accelerate because of what has already been emitted. I think we have to begin to prepare for collapse, and if you want to survive, that’s going to mean access to a local food source. So, in the end I’m with Camus, I don’t think we’re going to fool ourselves into thinking we can make a change. It’s all hijacked, the political system, financial system ... hijacked military complex, it’s hijacked, even all of our social and educational systems. I’ve taught at places like Princeton and they all function like corporations. We’ve allowed these corporations to snuff out all voices of sanity and decency and why we listen to this garbage and why we watch it. ... Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow are as bad as the right wing; they are all playing the same wing, nobody is addressing the institutional methods that are strangling us. I don’t care if it’s from the left or right, it all acts as diversion to keep us in a state of self-delusion." (-Chris Hedges)

"I can't pay my rent, but I'm fucking gorgeous!" (-Semi-Precious Weapons)

"Some of us prefer illusion to despair...." (-Nelson Muntz)

"You're only as young as the last time you changed your mind.” (Timothy Leary)

"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." (-Samuel Johnson)

"There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people." (-Howard Zinn)

"We have to stop believing that we can effect change through established political or social organizations or electoral politics, and I think that still remains a huge hurdle for us people who in the end, through accommodation of fear and very clever advertising, are herded like sheep into a dysfunctional system, which is how so many people who should have known better voted for Obama. The environmental crisis that we're about to face will be even more catastrophic than the economic, and we have to, on a personal level, reconsider how we relate to the society at large and to the ecosystem. We have both personal and social decisions to make. At this point most people are not willing to make those choices or take those steps." (-CHRIS HEDGES)

"In 2009, Rahm Emmanuel scolded progressive groups in Washington for attacking backstabbing Democrats who were obstructing progressive policies on Capitol Hill. Rahm called the strategy 'fucking retarded' and ordered the professional left to stop. Much of the left did, in fact, stop the attacks on the backstabbers. The under-reported scandal here is not that the White House tried to control and muzzle the professional left. The scandal is that the Left, for the most part, complied... I don't share Gibbs' outrage that the "professional left" is currently being too critical of Obama. What I am outraged about is that the professional left wasn't more critical of Obama a year ago." (-Sally Kohn)

"The old get old and the young get stronger/May take a week, and it may take longer..." (-Jim Morrison)


Alex Mitchell was my favorite singer to emerge from the eighties hard rock scene. Okay, maybe it was actually, Ian Astbury, but it was one of those two. 'Depends on my mood. Alrite, and if I was to get drunk, I might say Frankie C. Starr, from the Four Horsemen, but those three were my favorites, Post-Stiv Bators! CIRCUS OF POWER were one of the reasons I formed my earliest bands. I covered their songs. They sound tracked my road trips, as a teenager. We drove all night to see them open for the Ramones, and turned right around, and drove back, as soon as it was over, fourteen hours; in eleven and a half, just in time for work, agonizingly hungover, the next day. They were all great guys, sweet, sincere, authentic, good people. What a band. Everybody was badass, in their own way. ALEX MITCHELL was my generation's shamanic poet motherfucker. Fantastic lyricist, really great singer. Charismatic front man. No bullshit, AND a kind and decent human being. Ricky and Gary are both amazing guitarists, probably better than Slash and Izzy. More in league with Andy McCoy and Nasty Suicide. "Circles" absolutely haunted me, for a number of years, while I was drinking myself to death, mourning my divorce. "Needles" was the story of all my friends, and they died..."Vices" was important to my circle of gentleman gangsters, as well...then, there's the whole first album. They were like the Doors and Stones and Patti Smith and Alice Cooper and C.C.R. and Ricky Warwick's The Almighty, and Motorhead, all wrapped up, together. He had Lizard-King chutpah and Willie Nelson like sensitivity. A rare, soulful, honest voice.

We could always identify with Alex Mitchell's poignant, poetic lyrics. He was a blue collar bluesman who spoke our language. Me and my gang, we never stopped listening to CIRCUS OF POWER, they are one of the most important bands of our whole lives. They never got fat and lazy from having too much money to waste, gettin' cheek implants, overdubbing more shredder guitar tracks, or wanking off with yes-men, bodyguards, gurus, and cocaine...ALEX may hate garage punk, but believe me, kids, if you dig stuff like the Seeds, the Standells, Love, 13th Floor Elevators, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Bomp! Records underground bands, Mick Farren's Deviants, etc., etc., you're just as likely to dig CAPTAIN ZAPPED, as the sleaze-metal crowds, grebo-punks, or the hair band minions.

CAPTAIN ZAPPED is like, psychedelic soul...Smart...emotional...experimental, hardcore blues, with pop sensibilities, and a home made, D.I.Y., underground appeal. This ain't no corporate rock bullshit. It's like "The Soft Parade". It's got a lot of heart, and genius, invested in it. Hallucinogenic Motorcycle Punk For Yippies And Hesshers, Malcontents, and Freedom Seekers. It's...THE TRUTH.....DIG IT:

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What was your family life like, brothers and sisters? Early introductions to music, your folks?

ALEX MITCHELL: I come from a traditional, old school, off the boat Scottish family. My Mom and Dad immigrated to Toronto and I lived there till I was 12, then we moved to Florida. My Mom's side of the family were all musicians, Mom played piano, Uncle J played pedal steel, uncle Al the bagpipes and my Dad can sing like Tom Jones. I used to get naked and sing "It's Not Unusual" at my parents parties when I was six years old with my wiener hanging out. I have a brother and a sister, both amazing.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: I've always discerned a diverse array of influences in your work, from Ozzy to Fogerty, Morrison, to Hooker, but Captain Zapped is really reminiscent of sixties psychedelic garage punk bands, like on the Lenny Kaye compilations, reminds me of Chocolate Watch Band, Balloon Farm, Monkees "Headquarters", and Lollipop Shoppe, do you guys listen to lotsa old sixties punk vinyl, or is it just part of your DNA?

ALEX MITCHELL: I am, and always have been, influenced by many, many musicians. I dig The Carpenters and I dig Queens Of The Stone Age. Sinatra and The Damned. Mahavishnu Orchestra and Roxy Music. And thousands in between. One thing I didn't like about hanging around the punk rock scene was that they didn't think it was cool listening to Van Halen's second album. I understand that: scenes are born out of a certain sentiment and need to be extreme to be what they are- but Van Halen's second album kills.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: I was planning on asking you about the time you met Roth on the roof of Danceteria, in the second part of the interview. Of course, I concur, wholeheartedly...Weren't you in some Florida punk bands prior to CIRCUS? What's your favorite Iggy Pop album?

ALEX MITCHELL: Yes, in bands in Fla. and NYC, too. Florida had a small, but great punk rock scene. Changed my life. Two great bands from that time- The Reactions and Charlie Pickett. Charlie still plays and I thing he's great, the real thing.

I met Ricky at a punk rock party in Miami. Those parties were wild- booze, drugs, sex in the bathroom, fights, car crashes, you name it. I met some very cool people on that scene, still friends with some after thirty plus years. Favorite Iggy album is "New Values". Love his solo stuff much more than the Stooges. I know that's not hip to say, but fuck it. Really dig that guy, think he's an amazing person.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: So are you a big collector of ancient garage punk wax?

ALEX MITCHELL: No, I really dislike garage music, but I like keyboards. The Captain Zapped album is truly organic- that is we do what we do not according to any rules or direction. Like on, "Closer to Sunday", I said to Billy,"'Can you give me some Partridge Family on that motherfucker", and he was like 'Oh yeah, check this out". It's my favorite record I've done, and it just poured out. we wrote, recorded, mixed and mastered it in three months, and it could have been three weeks. Every session was majical, there was never a bum moment the whole time. Love "Hot Rod Girl". Love "Sugarbox". Love "Lost in Space", love all that shit. Very happy with it, it feels good.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Where exactly did you live in NY, in the late eighties? Memories of Zowie?

ALEX MITCHELL: I lived all over the Lower East Side, on Ludlow, On 5th, on tenth- I lived in over twenty places in eleven years. It was a helluva time to be in NYC- I've never been able to quite get it out of my head, or put it to rest- it haunts me, it was so good. That city was something else, back then. I recently heard that Zowie is still alive, after hearing he was dead, for the second time. Not good. I wish him well...

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: WOW! HERE I WAS, TRYING TO PIECE TOGETHER A COHERENT OBITUARY! Okay. Rumors of my death have been exaggerated before, as well, so you know, we're all glad you're still among us, Zowie! Call Ricky and Gary and start organizing a true reunion, willya? Whatsamatter witchoo guys?

Sorry, Alex...Please discuss what it was like to be part of the NYC rock scene in the late eighties...the Ramones, Michael Monroe, Nolan and Thunders, Waldos, Raging Slab, the Throbs, the Fuzztones, Dictators...what were some of the highlights? Who were the other artists you were tightest with?

ALEX MITCHELL: Well. out of all those bands you mentioned, only a few I liked. Huge Thunders fan, I mean, what the fuck Johnny's the King. The way he sang, dude and the way he played, unreal. Thought Slab was so cool, a real original sound. Very fun playing with them and partying with them too. Oh Lord!!! The Lismar Lounge was the hub for all us bands, little dive on First avenue where we all hung out and played, good times, good times. Goddammit Geordie, you're making me nostalgic! Ha ha. Things will never be like that again. Not me, not anyone else, not NYC. Knew Joey a little bit, fantastic creature. Knew Johnny some, complete nut. Knew Handsome Dick and he welched on a bet. He said that if our band got signed before Wild Kingdom than he would show his naked hairy ass in the window at Macy's!!! Never did, but it's not too late. He needs our record for his show.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Ever meet Zodiac Mindwarp?

ALEX MITCHELL: Never met Zodiac. Of course, I might have, but many nights I can't remember. Met the other guys.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What do you remember about the Johnny Thunders Tribute Show?

ALEX MITCHELL: Just that I met Johnny's family, and dug their old school, Italian, New York vibe.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What was Morton Downey Jr. like? He seemed really smitten with your group.

ALEX MITCHELL: I don't remember much of the Morton Downey thing, but as I got older, I really grew to detest right wing cartoon characters on t.v.-Beck, O'reilly, Hannity, and the rest---all human scum.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Are you friends with the surviving members of FOUR HORSEMEN?

ALEX MITCHELL: Don't know any of those guys, but was friends with Frank all the way to the end. Used to visit him when he was in a coma and talk to him, even though I don't think he heard me. A real motherfucker, that one. Loved Frank so much.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Why did you guys relocate to Hollywood?

ALEX MITCHELL: Always wanted to live in Cali, even as a child. I love it and I hate it, you know the deal. 'Still miss NYC, but I live in the mountains by the sea, and raise wolves, 'can't do that there.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What do you remember about ROCK CITY ANGELS?

ALEX MITCHELL: Don't know anything about the Rock City Angels, Ricky knew those guys.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Ever see the Nymphs, the Coma-Tones, or the Hangmen?

ALEX MITCHELL: 'Like the Nymphs, 'tried to produce a record for the Coma-Tones, but couldn't get one of the guys out of the bathroom for like, six hours, so it didn't happen...kinda funny, now.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Since leaving C.O.P., Gary Sunshine's worked for Larry Flynt, recorded with Guns N Roses, tried teaching Axl Rose guitar, performed with NY LOOSE, the SILOS, etc., you guys ever hang out together? What's he doing, last you heard?

ALEX MITCHELL: I think Gary is very talented, he's a smoking guitar player, which has become a lost art, in the vein of Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, those cats. I talk to him, once in awhile, and would love to work with him again, if the Gods are willing. He is in Cleveland, somewhere. Hello, Cleveland!

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Forgive me for ranting on and on about Gary, Ricky, Zowie, and Ryan. I deeply loved the band, and like yourself, they were all really kind to me, when I was a kid, coming to see your shows, and your songs had real meaning, in my life, and you know, it's like a divorce, when your favorite band breaks up. never get over it....The way you might feel about Classic Van Halen...Okay, next question...How many books have you published and where can your fans buy them?

ALEX MITCHELL: Published two books: "Life Is A Phantom K-Mart Horse Starting Up In The Middle Of The Night", and "Working Class Superstar". "Working Class Superstar" is the one I just did, it actually holds some water. The first one, I was just getting my feet wet. Available at I also wrote short stories for the now defunct (always wanted to use that term) Far West Almanac, great little rag out of Topanga.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Who are your literary influences?

ALEX MITCHELL: Well, I dislike most books, but when I read something I really like, it sure gets me off. 'Love Steinbeck, Fante, Casteneda, Kerouac, Bukowski, tried reading Dostoyevsky but thought he was too tedious, albeit brilliant. Hemingway, Salinger, lots of 'em...

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What do you remember about working with Alice In Chains? The night I met Andy Wood from Mother Love Bone, he was proudly wearing a Circus Of Power rising sun t-shirt....What other "grunge" bands did you like?

ALEX MITCHELL: Well, Alice In Chains were some talented dudes. The singer was something else. Jerry is something else. Sean is a great drummer, unique style. I was very un-inspired tho, during that period of my life, too bad, but so it goes. I wasn't that into the grunge bands but they had great moments. "Badmotorfinger" is crazy good. Nirvana's "Nevermind" is a classic. Hey, maybe I am into grunge!

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: When you're not recording your own sounds, what types of music do you most enjoy listening to?

ALEX MITCHELL: On my I-Pod, a few bands: Discharge, Burt Bacharach, Dylan, Tom Jones, Chet Baker, Deadbolt, David Allen Coe, Gen X, Janis, Lesley Gore, Marvin Gaye, the Faces, The Supremes, the Bad Brains....and on and on.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Discuss Plastic Gator Machine, and Fat Nancy's albums, and where they're available...

ALEX MITCHELL: Most of that stuff is hard to get. Fat Nancy had three or four great songs, though. "Hot Lottie" is a burner.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Is it frustrating to be collaborating with people as talented as Billy Tsounis and Daniel Rey and still being hounded about the original Circus Of Power roll call?

ALEX MITCHELL: No, Circus is one of those bands that people still hold in their hearts, and that's nice.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Highlights of the Circus Of Power reunion shows?

ALEX MITCHELL: The show in NYC was fun and emotional, too, bringing it all back home. I got so nervous, a little piece of shit blew out of my ass, right ass we were about to go on. The theme from Shaft was playing as our intro, and I was supposed to look like a bad ass, walking out onstage, but I was busy, trying to fling a brown nugget under the carpet, oh well, so much for being cool!

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Dig any of the current music, seepin' out, in recent years?

ALEX MITCHELL: No. I'm interested, I rarely hear any good rock music coming out, anymore, it just doesn't happen. Except, of course, for Captain Zapped. Fuck those rock stars anyways, they get lots of press, whereas, I need MORE! I like some of the Them Crooked Vultures stuff , but didn't think the songs were so good. Big fan of Josh's, though, think he's the shit, and Grohl is a monster.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Did the DOORS ever try to get you to participate in any of those cattle call concerts?

ALEX MITCHELL: Ha ha, no Doors calls. I think I would be the only singer to fill that spot, though. They need a guy like me, working fucker, hungry, and still wild.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Will there be more original CIRCUS OF POWER full lengths, if the fans all rally together to demand it?

ALEX MITCHELL: The Circus thing all hinges around Ricky, and he isn't into it, I actually think he hates even talking about it. Shame, but now there's Zapped, so who gives a fuck. Bury the dead.


ALEX MITCHELL: How is he? I don't know, he doesn't return calls for like, a year, now. Hope he's good.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: CRIPES, fellas, what's more important than CIRCUS OF POWER? Ricky, Gary, what about YOUR FANS???!!! Who were your favorite cuts from the Circus Of Power tribute album? I wanted to cover "Junkie Girl", but I couldn't get it together in time.

ALEX MITCHELL: I dunno, that's a tough one. That guy Bob who did the album, and does our website is a real killer, though, what a great guy. Helps me out a lot, and I appreciate it.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: You seem like a really happy person. Are you? What's your secret?

ALEX MITCHELL: I am, and I'm not. I get up and I get down. I have a lust for life, though, that keeps me going. My secret is Noxplode, a half a scoop in the morning before i work out!

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Still have the car from the Hole video?

ALEX MITCHELL: Oh yeah, it has a 505 HP crate motor in it. You can see it on the Alex Mitchell Fan Page on Myspace.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: The making of Captain Zapped, current operations....

ALEX MITCHELL: The Captain Zapped thing came out of nowhere, and I'm grateful for it. We're just getting it off the ground, and I hope people love it, as much as we do. It's loose, as far as boundaries go, but we're really strict about making the songs catchy, and filled with melody. I think it has a fresh sound, very 'now', kids! Ha ha. We have lots more songs, and things are flowing. It was the most fun I've had making a record, and I was really into all aspects of it- the mixing, everything. Billy is a blast to work with, and we're just going to keep doing it as long as we can!

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Thanks for taking the time to answer all our questions, Mister Mitchell. Best Regards, from all of us at Sugarbuzz...

R.I.P Michelle Youkhana

SugarBuzz Magazine