There is something special about the Mitchell Brothers. For starters, Tony and Teddy are not actual brothers – they’re cousins.
Mike Skinner (of The Streets) ‘discovered them’ by performing a “reverse pick pocket manoeuvre” in Barclays bank in 2002 by Tony and Teddy slipping their demo into his bag. Having been doing their own thing since 1998 Mike was doubtlessly impressed because he rang up the number on the CD, suggested they meet up, the result.
Before even setting eyes on the designated location for our interview I have already determined that this is going to be a good interview if only for its remote location – a shed by the rail tracks somewhere off Ealing Broadway station which takes me about an hour to find, thank God they were later than I was.
They’ve done this a million times before, so they tell me, and appear naturally at ease with themselves. More noticeably they are very much at ease and open with one another and the nervous prying stranger sitting opposite them with her Dictaphone. They’re dressed casual cool; they are after all renowned for their love of fashion and are often depicted in the scrumptiously British tweeds (property of Tony’s dad). They are otherwise renowned throughout the fashion industry for their single ‘Harvey Nicks’. Which, caused a bit of a stir with the nice staff at Harvey Nichols when the posters went up; “Harvey Nicks on sale NOW.” As a result of which they don’t think they can ever go back.
“The whole blinging, rapping-about-girls thing…” goes Tony, “Is bollocks!” chimes in Teddy. “Yeah,” Tony continues, “Mike has changed a lot of people’s perspectives on music. He was talking about ordinary things, and people could relate to it.” What they discuss in their music is what they know – the signature of any good song writer/rapper.
Album track/highlight, Routine Check is dedicated to people that regularly get routine checked. It’s a sensitive subject, but they’ve been there and they’re willing to speak out for what they believe in, making it one of their best songs to date.
What soon becomes apparent is that they have great respect for Mike, but they don’t want to be known merely as Mikes’ protégés, or rather “Michael’s monkeys”. Conversely, in their minds Mike Skinner is the other brother in the family “…that missed out on the holiday”. Mike thinks equally highly of them; “They’re great rappers with a grasp of subtext.”
The interview is interrupted when the question as to whether they read their own reviews is put forward. I would like to say that a huge argument exploded and there were knives involved, but there weren’t. The only item close to a weapon within my visual proximity in the shed that houses Skinner’s label (The Beats) is Teddy’s comb.
This heated exchange of words is over an interview that Teddy saw the other day in some magazine and didn’t show Tony. Needless to say, things don’t get messy; to my great disappointment they are very controlled and there are just words. They don’t even swear at each other either. This leads nicely onto the topic of their new single ‘Excuse My Brother’ which, they are all too happy to plug alongside their shoes and their album – A Breath Of Fresh Attire.
Instead of an argument I get a compliment; they like my bag and I leave smiling and shaking my head in awe. What a pair.