Brian John Mitchell laughs when he says his mother didn't make it past the first track of his record label's new Mother's Day compilation, Silber Hearts Mom: "She acted like she was interested, so I gave it to her to listen to. She listened to the first track, and then that was it. She didn't even make it to my song."
Mitchell's not surprised: Over the past 11 years he's issued nearly 40 albums of experimental music on his Silber Records, and he's content that his parents, who listen to classical music and heavy metal, just don't understand. In fact, he was dumbfounded when they came to see him play a set in Raleigh (Mitchell performs as solo guitarist Remora) in March.
"Afterwards, there wasn't any conversation of what they thought of the show," he says. "When I first started doing music and a label, my parents were kind of interested in it conceptually, and the more they heard it, the less they were interested."
But that hasn't stopped Mitchell's ostensible fascination with the connection between music and family. He says it stems largely from his belief that making art doesn't have to be a solitary, selfish affair without social grounding.
"I've always felt that was bogus, the idea that art was this thing reserved for highly liberal, far-out-to-the-left people," says Mitchell. "I think art without family values is bogus, while some may think art with family values is bogus."
The Mother's Day compilation is only the first completed phase of his exploration of families and music: He plans to publish a collection of 20 interviews from musicians who are fathers and musicians whose fathers were also musicians but quit to devote time to starting a family up by Father's Day on his webzine QRD (www.silbermedia.com/qrd). He is expecting contributions by Low's Alan Sparhawk (who released a solo guitar album on Silber last year) and Wire's Colin Newman. For several years, Mitchell has also been collecting entries for a project where musicians have one of their compositions covered by a non-musical member of their family, or at least a member of their family with limited experience in the vein of the original composition. One contribution, for instance, features a piece written by a rock guitarist interpreted by his father, a longtime banjo player.
"It's a release that's hard to get people to work on," Mitchell says. "Conceptually, it's 'Oh, that's a great idea for a comp!' But, as far as people being able to get things like that to happen, it's tough."
In the meantime, Silber Loves Mom is available as a free download at silbermedia.com.
After an apparent arrest while on tour, CocoRosie will not play Cat's Cradle on Wednesday, May 9.... If that puts a pain in your plans, Raleigh's Annuals will play a free show at Urban Outfitters at Durham's Southpoint mall for a Free YR Radio showcase benefiting WKNC 88.1 on Wednesday at 7 p.m, and Snatches of Pink will hold the Raleigh edition of its CD release party for Love is Dead at Slim's in downtown Raleigh on Friday, May 11.