Lisa: Hi Stan, thank you and welcome to the first Q & A on urbanseashell—a collection.
Stan: Hello Lisa. Thanks for doing this.
Lisa: You grew up in New Zealand.
Stan: Yes, born and raised on a sheep farm.
Lisa: Cool! When did you become interested in music?
Stan: I drummed madly all through my youth. The live music scene in NZ during the 1970s was very vibrant and I went fully pro at the tender age of 17. Over the course of that decade I toured and recorded extensively and became one of the country’s premier drummers. As a result of these experiences I figure I’ve played every form of popular music in existence.
Lisa: Can you tell us how you got started here in the States?
Stan: I originally joined the newly formed band, The Drongos as their drummer in August of '78'. But after personal changes early on in New York, I began writing more and doing a third of the vocal chores. The band toured and promoted constantly from 1979 through 1985/6. Before breaking up we returned to New Zealand for a tour in 1985/6. During this time we were made Cultural Ambassadors by the then Prime Minister David Lange, who happened to be a fan of the band.
Lisa: Can you give us a little background about The Drongos?
Stan: The Drongos were formed specifically in 1978 in New Zealand to provide music for a guerrilla theater troupe called Red Mole. We only ever gigged in New Zealand for 7 weeks prior to our departure to the big wide world. The Drongos worked as a separate band for 7 months in San Fran but then got the call from Red Mole to move to New York to take part in a season the troupe had booked in the Theater For the New City in April of 1979. After completing the season, Red Mole traveled to Europe while The Drongos remained in New York to establish themselves in the then highly active alternative scene.
Lisa: Did The Drongos release any albums during the time you performed with them?
Stan: Yes in 1983 the songs released on singles were 'Don't Touch Me' and 'Halloween'. The E.P. (Extended play. 3 songs) contained the songs 'Just Another Winter', 'Pass The Sugar' and 'Standing on the Corner' released in 1982. This was released in cassette form and I think all copies have since turned to dust blown away. The 1st album was called simply 'The Drongos'. Released in 1984. The 2nd album was called 'Small Miracles'. Released in 1985. A now defunct indie music label called Proteus released all the two singles, the E.P. and the albums.
Lisa: Where did The Drongos perform?
Stan: We played at some of the clubs like CBGBs, Max’s Kansas City, Trax and the Ritz. For 6 years The Drongos worked the Eastern college circuit sharing the stage with top acts of the day including The Stray Cats, The Fixx, Bobby Wier (Of The Grateful Dead) to name a few.
Lisa: What happened after The Drongos disbanded?
Stan: For a short time after that I had my own band simply billed as 'Stan the Man'. I released a well-received album under my name 'Stanley John Mitchell' and pushed through my own label-'Clever Sheep Music' starting in 1987. It received some nice reviews including a very encouraging one from Billboard magazine. The band toured and gigged for the better part of a year before I became involved in a boogie band called 'The Lone Sharks'. This profitable band became very popular in the Hamptons and Eastern Long Island and soon became the focus of my attention. I worked constantly with the Lone Sharks for the best part of 8 years before moving to LA in '98'. The band still exists and is still a hot ticket on Eastern Long Island.
Lisa: What did you do in LA?
Stan: I was a freelance drummer and gained experience as a music educator, working in the Ventura County elementary school system. My experience with teaching music and drumming began in California when I became involved with the ‘Artists In The Classroom’ program for the Ventura County elementary school system. For over 5 years this program took me into many classrooms teaching a curriculum of my own design. After 7 years in LA I moved back to home base in NY with my family. These days I divide my time between NYC and LA.
Lisa: Did this experience inspire you to start your own after school program?
Stan: Yes and I use the same teaching model I used in California.
Lisa: What can you tell us about your program?
Stan: These are 'Music and Rhythm' classes where we do things like play rhythm games, listening games, drum, write and record simple songs. Classes will be after-school on all weekdays. They will take place at my home on Westminster Rd in Prospect Park South. It is a family home with a warm and inviting atmosphere. They are $25/class and last an hour. I take boys and girls from age 5 and upward. Parents and caregivers are invited to observe or even join in if they wish. I also give private drum lessons.
Lisa: Your contact information?
Stan: I can be reached at email@example.com or phoned at Home-718-284- 5492.
Cell: 818-216-6804. They can visit my website for more detailed information: http://web.mac.com/stanleymitchell.
Lisa: I would like to conclude this Q & A with a little background on the instructional materials you have had published.
Stan: The book 'Get Locked’ I co-authored with bassist Greg Hyatt. It is a unique instructional for bass guitar and drums. The book explores the relationship between the bass and drums as they lay down the foundation for a band. This book is the only one of its kind on the market. And received a 4 star review in the premier drummers mag. 'Modern Drummer'. The DVD is called ' Easy Rock Drum Beats. No Reading Required’ and is an instructional for young players. As yet unreviewed. Both book and DVD are published through Alfred Music.
Lisa: Thank you Stan, it’s been a pleasure. Good Luck and I hope you’ll come back to give us an update.
Stan: I most certainly will. Thanks again for doing this. Cheers.