On his return to Canada, he formed the band Max Webster with fellow Sarnia native Pye Dubois. Max Webster toured extensively and built a string of hits. Mitchell’s solo career began after his departure from Max Webster, with session work and a succession of solo albums.
A new sound was tested on the club circuit and recorded on his 1982 self-titled mini-album. Songs such as “Chain of Events” featured Mitchell’s lead vocal and guitar and Dubois’ suburban storytelling, anchored by the visceral drum/bass combination of Paul DeLong and Robert Sinclair Wilson. Peter Fredette added a vocal and guitar counterpoint.
In early 1985, the song “Go For Soda” from the Akimbo Alogo album became an international hit and remains his best known song outside of his native Canada. The song was also featured in the opening scene of the 1985 Miami Vice episode “Buddies”. It was popularized in a series of television commercials for the soft drink Mr. Pibb. More recently, that ad campaign was lampooned by American Dad!, in the episode “A.T. the Abusive Terrestrial”. The song was later used in the Trailer Park Boys seventh-season episode “We Can’t Call People Without Wings Angels So We Call Them Friends”. His most successful Canadian album was the follow-up, 1986’s Shakin’ Like a Human Being, featuring the hits “Alana Loves Me”, “Easy to Tame”, and the biggest hit of his career, “Patio Lanterns”.
In 1992, Mitchell played guitar on the track “Brave and Crazy” from Tom Cochrane’s album Mad Mad World. In that same year he also made a cameo appearance (as himself) on the third season finale of the popular Canadian sketch program The Kids in the Hall.