Quoted as being “one of our premier singer-songwriters”, which is a sentiment echoed by many media outlets, radio, industry, peers and fans alike – Kevin Mitchell has grown up in the Australian music spotlight.
Forming what would become a seminal Australian band in Jebediah, at age 16 and after a series of band competition dates, the four-piece outfit secured a spot on the massive Summersault Festival after only 13 shows. Within a year of this festival Jebediah had gone from a tiny band out of Perth, Western Australia to a household name. They penetrated the radio and TV waves with their unique punk sound, featuring Kevin’s distinct voice and larrikin style video clips, solidifying them as the fun loving darlings of the Australian music industry and gracing stages with major international acts. The band’s debut album sold double platinum in Australia and was released in New Zealand and Japan to critical acclaim. The massive success saw them nominated for an ARIA Award, given tour supports for Australian and international heavyweights such as Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Silverchair and You Am I and an invitation for them to tour and release their second album in the US. As a a young Aussie band in a big US market they took it on strong, played nearly 200 shows in a short period and wound up releasing a split EP with influential American band Jimmy Eat World. During this time, Kev and peers started their own independent record label, Redline Records which sought out and released other noteworthy Australian musicians such as Gyroscope in their first ever EP release and Blueline Medic.
Unbeknownst to many, the pop punk lead singer was also busy writing pure pop tunes with a country tinge; exuding the stories of growing up in suburban Australia. As Jebediah was busy racing up the charts and going gold and soon after, platinum, the seeds of what would become Kevin’s solo project, Bob Evans, had sprouted. After 4 studio albums, numerous nominations, awards and accolades and 9 years of touring the world putting Australian punk on the map with Jebediah, it was time to take a punt on these solo creations.
Bob Evans’ debut album may have quietly slipped into the marketplace while Kevin was still busy with Jebediah but it didn’t go completely unnoticed. A record label and devoted fans caught wind of the wonder of these heart-warming tunes and with that starting support, it wasn’t until the second album, Suburban Songbook, that Kevin truly landed rewards of glowing praise and elevated his existing recognition as a top songwriter. The genuine storytelling of his timeless tunes, which span across the three Bob Evans albums, the latter two having been recorded in Nashville with Brad Jones (Sheryl Crow, Josh Rouse), rewarded him with numerous accolades including an ARIA Award and Rolling Stone “Man of the Year”. In addition, he has had the wonderful opportunity to play with and/or tour with acclaimed musicians such as Crowded House, Keith Urban, The Black Keys and Powderfinger to name a few. While Kevin relocated to Melbourne during this time, the success of Bob Evans carried overseas to South Africa, the UK and particularly Spain where a song was chosen for a well-known brand advertisement.
The much loved larrikin that he is, Kevin was invited to host Triple J’s morning show for two weeks while Zan Rowe headed to SXSW. Keeping the audience of the national youth broadcaster entertained was a dream come true and a grand time for Kevin. Listeners loved his time there and repeatedly ask for him to return to the airwaves. However, it is not time for a radio career just yet, in another example of his wide range of writing talent, Kevin quickly became busy in an all-Australian collective called Basement Birds. The band, oft dubbed a ‘supergroup’, also includes Kav Temperley (Eskimo Joe), Josh Pyke, Steve Parkin (Autopilot). Basement Birds was intended to be a small, fun project however it grew to a rather large and successful Australian tour including festivals and a full self-titled album, Triple J Like A Version, an ARIA nomination and a slew of hungry fans.
A brand new Jebediah album, Kosciuszko, kept Kevin very busy recently. Undertaking a massive 6-month Australian touring schedule filled with sold out shows, Kosciuszko hit home with both diehard fans and new listeners. The album debuted at #6 in the ARIA Charts, was Triple J Album of the Week, nominated for an ARIA Award, scored in the Triple J Hottest 100 with the single “She’s Like A Comet”, which also went as high as #1 in the radio charts for weeks, went Gold in sales and took home a WAMi. In addition, the band took up invitations to play the NRL Grand Final, Splendour in the Grass, Hamish & Andy’s last broadcast and more.
During the last few years, Kevin has also started to dabble in co-writing, having penned a few songs with up-and-coming Aussie artists including indie-pop songstress Lisa Mitchell (who shares that same surname but unrelated) and, more recently, budding pop-country starlet Kirsty Akers, who was recently nominated for a CMAA. He hopes to continue these collaborations in between other projects.
There is a wealth of opportunity on the horizon for Kevin Mitchell. With 15 years of touring, recording and writing under his belt already, this is still the beginning of many more years of writing and performing to come.