I hope he doesn’t mind, but I’m copying and pasting the following from Bryan Beller’s BellerBytes email update. (By the way, you should totally sign up for it at the recently redesigned bryanbeller.com).
WesFest 5 Headlining Band: Tal Wilkenfeld, Vinnie Colaiuta, Oz Noy and John Beasley
Yes, that’s right. Tal’s band for WesFest 5, at The Roxy in L.A. on Sunday, 2/28, is as follows:
Oz Noy – guitar
John Beasley – keys
Tal Wilkenfeld – bass
Vinnie Colaiuta – drums
Getting an itchy trigger finger for tickets? Understandable. Go with it:
CLICK HERE NOW FOR TICKET PURCHASE
I’m also really pleased to announce this year’s WesFest sponsors. Their generous and gracious support is key to making this event a success:
I appreciate, as always, your indulgence in reading about a cause that’s near and dear to my heart, the Wes Wehmiller Scholarship at Berklee College Of Music. This show raises money for that scholarship fund, which benefits some of the best bassists coming out of Berklee today.
And if you’re in L.A. or anywhere close, it’s going to be quite the scene. Check it:
WesFest 5: A Concert To Benefit The Wes Wehmiller Scholarship at Berklee College of Music
Sunday, February 28, 2010
The Roxy Theatre
9009 West Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Doors open at 7:00 PM
**ALL AGES WELCOME!**
WesFest 5 Performing Artists
* Tal Wilkenfeld (HEADLINER)
* John Montagna
* Joe Brooks
* Danny Mo & the Exciters (featuring 2009 Wehmiller Scholarship Winner Justin Schornstein)
* The WesFest All-Stars (featuring Mike Keneally, I, Claudius, Tamara Silvera, Kira Small, and Ali Handal)
$35. per pair of tickets in advance (advance tickets are available through February 25, 2010)
$20. for single tickets in advance
$30. for single tickets at the door.
* All advance tickets will be held for pickup at the box office. Paper tickets will not be mailed.
After my little blog post yesterday about getting to LA and stuff, I thought I’d fill you in on my amazing Saturday night. First up I went out to dinner with Andy Brauer – one of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet and a legend in the world of guitar gear. Check out Andy’s site here for more info. It was great to finally meet Andy in person after conversing with him through Twitter, and after dinner we returned to his studio to try out some killer guitars that had been given his special treatment – the extra mojo he’s able to add to a Fender Road Worn Strat has to be heard and played to be believed. Andy also turned me on to Sheptone pickups, which sound phenomenal, and the Marshall JTM30 amp. You can read more about this little monster and Andy’s thoughts on it here.
After that, Andy dropped me off at The Baked Potato in Studio City for a very special Mike Keneally gig. In addition to Keneally (obviously), the line-up included Rick Musallem on bass, Brendan Small of Dethklok/Metalocalypse fame (and creator of the exceedingly brilliant Home Movies) on guitar and the mighty Atomic Clock himself Mr Gene Hoglan on drums.
Here’s the setlist from Mike’s Twitter:
Set 1: 1st 5 are Stevie Wonder songs Too High/Visions/Living 4 The City/Golden Lady/Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing/Improv/Why Am I Your Guy
Set 2: Kid Charlemagne/Killer Queen/Reelin’ in the Years/Too Much To Lose/Land of Broken Dreams/Improv/You Know What I Mean/Thunderhorse
I’ve been a Keneally fan since 1997 so it was great to finally get to see a show like this, and in such a tiny, cosy, friendly venue as the Baked Potato. It was utterly awesome to hear Gene play funky jazzy stuff, and Brendan has some super tasty guitar licks. During the evening I got to chat with Brendan, Mike and Gene, which rocked. The rest of Fear Factory showed up too, as did Thomas Nordegg. If you’re any sort of Vai, Zappa or Keneally geek you’ll know why that’s utterly awesome.
Oh incidentally, the staff at the Baked Potato simply could not have been nicer and more wonderful if they tried. And it was cool to meet Jamie (@echo_doll on Twitter) and her friend whose name I’ve forgotten due to the fact that I hadn’t slept in, like, 40-something hours by then – stupid international flight preventing me from stupid sleep. I was utterly delirious by the end of the evening but it was oh so much fun!
Anyway, here are some dodgy iPhone pics.
Oh, also, today we went to Santa Monica Pier. I saw this and just had to take a picture, in honour of the movie ‘Big.’
Mike Keneally’s been one of my favourite guitarists for, jeez, about 12 years now. After seeing him live with Steve Vai in early 1997 I tracked down a copy of his debut CD ‘hat’ and that became the soundtrack of my year. A few months later I also got Boil That Dust Speck, and from then on have followed each new release (you totally have to hear ‘Sluggo!’, ‘Nonkertomph’ and ‘Wooden Smoke’).
Mike’s new CD, Scambot 1, begins shipping next week. Pre-orders have been open for a while and I can’t wait to get this album in my little mitts. You can order it from Moosemart. The following is an email update sent to Mike’s mailing list today.
Scambot 1 Starts Shipping Next Week!*
Yes! And to celebrate, I’m going to do a couple of live chats next week over at RadioKeneally.com. Chat #1 is Monday, Nov. 2, 8:00 pm East Coast time. Chat #2 is Tuesday, Nov. 3, 12:00 pm noon East Coast time. RadioKeneally.com! Come chat with me!
Scott Chatfield sent me a small boatload of questions about Scambot; here’s my responses:
Q. In a nutshell, what is Scambot about?
A. Antagonistic consciousness manipulation, a/k/a soul control.
Q. Who did you write Scambot for?
A. Anyone who makes time to sit down with a good set of headphones and a clear head, and listen to an entire album from start to finish. I still love to listen to whole albums whenever I can. I think it’s a fantastic art form.
Q. When you began the project, did you have a clear vision of its direction, musically and narratively?
A. Not at all; it started as a drawing, a one-page comic strip continuity I drew in my sketchbook while I was working on Wooden Smoke in 2001. I made up this little character named Scambot, spontaneously drew his character design. He seemed grumpy, and he had a weird friend who felt compelled to loudly defend him against critics: “Scambot ain’t RONG!” he said. I showed it to Scott Thunes in 2003 and he shook his head and said “I don’t like it.” I realized then there was something intrinsic in the character of Scambot that made me need to rescue him, make SOMETHING interesting of him. Over time I developed this idea of simultaneously devising a narrative (which might possibly mutate into a comic strip or an animated cartoon or a stage presentation or whatever) alongside a set of new music which would be influenced by the narrative, and that new music would inspire further narrative work which might inspire me to draw new characters, etc. Each prong of the creative fork inspired the other prongs to further achievement. The final important component of creating Scambot was that I imposed no schedule pressures on the process; it would take shape at its own pace. I ended up releasing 6 or 7 other projects while working on Scambot, starting with the release of Wooden Smoke in 2001 to Wine And Pickles in 2008 – while I was putting together all of that stuff, Scambot was developing in the background, and finally in 2005 it became my primary concern. Enough music was created to form the foundation of three volumes of music, and the plotline was developing in a way which made me realize that I really wanted to take my time in telling the story as well. Instead of trying to complete the whole trilogy and release it as a set, it made obvious sense to release it in installments.
Q. Scambot 1 has some very accessible songs along with some of the most complex, layered music you’ve ever produced. How would you suggest that a listener approach this record?
A. With an open mind and an adventurous disposition. And feel free to pause every so often; it’s 67 minutes long, it’s a lot of music. Maybe take time to mentally “turn the side over” every 16 minutes. Or crank the whole thing loud from start to finish, whatever gets you off.
Q. Are the story and characters an integral part of Scambot’s music, or can story and music be enjoyed independently?
A. I discovered early on that I didn’t want the plot of Scambot to demand undue attention; the plotline and characters, ultimately, were a kind of ruse to inspire me to create different kinds of music. The story is a luxury – the point of the album is the way it sounds. I didn’t want to clutter it up with dialogue and exposition – it’s such an abstract story anyway, and it didn’t need to be spelled out letter by letter in the audio. The story – at least, the initial stab at it – is in the CD booklet for people who are interested, and it adds depth to the listening experience.
Q. Did the Scambot characters arrive in your imagination fully formed, or did they develop over time?
A. These are good questions! I sketch junk all the time, and most of the specific character ideas arrived after drawing them. What happens is a face or body shape will materialize in my mind – I’m not thinking about inventing characters or even of something to draw, necessarily – and I’ll quickly sketch it out. If it looked interesting, it was likely to be drafted as a Scambot character, and then I’d invent a backstory and a way to insert them into the plot. I just wanted to create something long-form and intriguing, and would accept input in any shape and form.
Q. Do you see the Scambot saga manifesting into other media in the future?
A. Oh yep. I have an urge to do a comic strip, heavily influenced by the 60s strip Odd Bodkins by Dan O’Neill. The plan is to present the strip online, running concurrently with the 3 albums as they’re released, and eventually collect the strips in a book once the whole trilogy has been released. I’d also be real delighted to see these characters animated. And eventually I will take some representation of this music to the stage, although I don’t think I’d consider a heavily narrative stage version until at least Scambot 2 has been released. But if possible (given other projects going on, including work on a second album of Steve Vai solo piano reductions, a collection of new songs co-written with Andy Partridge, and my touring as guitarist with the [adult swim] metal band Dethklok – the new album The Dethalbum II recently debuted at #15 on the Billboard pop chart, and as I write this we’re halfway through a six week tour with Mastodon, so there’s momentum for us to continue touring in 2010), I’d love to take an ensemble out next year to perform Scambot music. It won’t be easy to construct the instrumentation for a group that can do justice to all the textures and styles in the album, but it’ll be fun.
Q. I can’t count the number of times I walked into the studio to find you leaning back in a chair listening to mixes, headphones on, eyes closed, and a gigantic smile spread across your face. How do you feel when you listen to Scambot 1?
A. I imagine, exactly the way I looked then. I love it. But I also feel that the styles covered on this first volume have been thoroughly dealt with here, and that the next two albums will differ significantly in style. I envision Scambot 2 being much heavier and faster, and Scambot 3 as airy and slow.
Q. What were your most pleasant experiences making the record? Most difficult or frustrating?
A. I honestly can’t categorize my feelings what way. The whole experience is one huge pleasure blob to me and I’m very excited about continuing work on Scambot 2 (I’m targeting early 2011 for its release).
Q. How can the second disc from the Special Edition, Songs & Stories Inspired by Scambot 1, enhance a listener’s appreciation of Scambot?
A. First of all I want to be clear that the second disc of the Scambot 1 Special Edition is not Scambot 2 (which is about one-third recorded right now). Songs & Stories Inspired by Scambot 1 uses plot material which fits into the continuity timespan depicted on Disc One. Some of the songs were intended for the main disc but didn’t fit for time reasons. The majority of the material was created specifically for this disc, done very quickly and spontaneously, as a spasmodic, cathartic response to finally finishing the first disc after so many years. The raw approach of Disc Two contrasts the relative polish of Disc One and I think they work nicely together as a listening experience. Also, if you’re concerning yourself with the narrative as it appears in the CD booklet text, there are major tentpoles of the plotline which are fleshed out musically on Disc Two. So you would want the Special Edition in order to hear the whole story.
What else is up. The Dethklok tour roars onward. Tonight was a sold out gig in NYC (and I met David Cross backstage – I nearly swooned). Tomorrow night is Halloween in Washington DC. Seriously, see this tour if you can. We’re just over halfway through, you got plenty of chances. I hung out for most of the day with Paul Green, that was fun. I’ve got a couple of Cream Tribute gigs with Kofi Baker in early December. The guys in Mastodon are all outrageous and entertaining to hang with. And I’m completely deliriously sleepy right now.
Chat with me this Monday and Tuesday at www.radiokeneally.com!
OK! Nite nite!
Love, me: Mike
* Editor’s note about Scambot 1 shipping: Orders will begin to be filled next week in the sequence they were placed. Since there are hundreds of ‘em, it will take several days to fill them all, so your patience and understanding is kindly beseeched.
Scambot 1 Standard Edition
Calling the first volume of Mike Keneally’s Scambot trilogy “ambitious” might be understating things a bit. For five years Mike held it close to his heart as his main project, employing nine engineers and many musicians at six studios.
“We devoted intense energy to every second of the album,” says Mike. “There is a plot, and a bunch of characters. The CD booklet contains a very long story I wrote which lays out all of the action. Musically speaking, it’s about two-thirds instrumental. It encompasses a little bit of straightforward-ish rock and pop, a lot of rigorous composition and arrangement, some obsessively intricate vocal and instrumental harmonies, some improvisation which has been orchestrated, some digitally-manipulated musique concrete, some purely uncategorizable stuff and, I think, some of the most interesting melodies I’ve come up with. It is a peculiar album but I think very satisfying as a journey, and emotionally it hits a lot of different moods.”
And here’s another clue for you all: Scambot 1, Mike adds, is “dedicated to anyone who still listens to entire albums with their headphones on.”
Scambot 1′s songs:
Big Screen Boboli
Hallmark (see video HERE)
Tomorrow (download song for free HERE!)
Cat Bran Sammich Part 1
You Named Me
Cat Bran Sammich Part 2
We Are The Quiet Children
Life’s Too Small
Behind The Door
Scambot 1 Special Edition
The Scambot 1 Special Edition includes the complete Scambot 1 CD, plus a second 53-minute CD crafted by Mike entitled Songs & Stories Inspired by Scambot 1, all packaged in an attractive Atticus Wolrab-designed slipcover made of genuine cardboard. This Special Edition is made even more special because Mike is individually numbering and signing the first 3000 copies!
Here’s what Mike has to say about Songs & Stories Inspired by Scambot 1: “This is a very uncompromising album, with a lot of guitar improvisation, demanding sonorities, alien vocal textures, truly insane song structure and many crucial pieces of the Scambot plot continuity. Plus a very entertaining credit sequence. If you are intrigued by the conceptual world of Scambot, it’s heavily advisable to hear both albums.” The great majority of the music on Songs & Stories Inspired by Scambot 1 is unique to it; three of the pieces are remixes of songs from Scambot 1, plus one demo.
Songs & Stories Inspired by Scambot 1′s songs:
Tiny Red Bug
Tomorrow (Karaoke version)
Saturate (demo version)
Some Crazy Mishap
The 3rd Eye
Hallmark (2006 acoustic album mix)
The first commemorative Scambot T-shirt is a simple but elegant affair. As tradition dictates, it’s a black 100% cotton pre-shrunk heavy duty garment designed for years of Scambotian wearage. On the front is Mike’s white, orange and black rendition of Scambot himself, along with both of their names. Somewhat high upon the reverse side are the prophetic first words Scambot hears, from the song “Hallmark” (“What did you see? Can you remember?”), along with the www.keneally.com web address. Clothes that ask gentle questions are a good thing, we think. It’s yet another Atticus Wolrab design, as if you didn’t know.
Most bands don’t even have 15 albums during their entire career. But for Frank Zappa, that’s pretty much the number of records he would release before his first coffee in the morning. With that in mind, I find it impossible to pick just one favourite Frank Zappa album, so here’s my top 15. Click on any of the titles to buy the album from Amazon.com
1. Over-Nite Sensation
Home to a whole barge full of particularly well-known FZ songs: the track listing is ‘Camarillo Brillo,’ ‘I’m The Slime,’ ‘Dirty Love,’ ‘Fifty-Fifty,’ ‘Zomby Woof,’ ‘Dinah-Moe Humm’ and ‘Montana.’ Out of all of those, only ‘Fifty-Fifty’ is unlikely to show up on a list of the ‘big ones.’ I’d love to hear this one on vinyl some day. It has that dry, clear sound that is a bit sterile on a CD or MP3 but really comes alive when it’s streaming off a big slab of shellac.
2. We’re Only in It for the Money
Wow. I only heard this one for the first time about, what, a year or so ago? Maybe two years? I dunno. I’m a busy dude and I’ve kinda lost track of my own temporal orientation. What I do know is that pretty much everything I want to hear in music is here: virtuoso performances, unique rhythms, amazing tones, powerful concepts, lyrical diversity, funny stuff, dense arrangements as well as simple clobber-you-over-the-head arrangements… I thought I was getting far too cynical and grouchy to have my life changed by an album these days but We’re Only In It For The Money totally did that for me. If you’re skipping through the CD for the first time looking for good bits, don’t pass over ‘What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body.’ What may sound initially like a straightforward doo-wop tune has the coolest from-out-of-nowhere middle section (the ‘All your children are poor unfortunate victims’ bit) which moves me in ways I can’t describe.
3. Broadway the Hard Way
Most of these songs are about social issues that are uniquely relevant to 1988 America (lyrics about Ronald Regan, Oliver North, Surgeon General C Everett Coop and the Iran Contra scandal are far too overt to be taken as allegory), but while the issues and topics may be dated, there’s something that feels eerily current about this one. It’s almost like listening to a musical production of The Daily Show if it was around in the late 80s. Yet for all its humour, cynicism, criticism and occasional downright meanness (Tammy Faye Baker is described as “an ugly little weasel bout three-foot-nine” in ‘Jesus Thinks You’re A Jerk’), Broadway The Hard Way includes a couple of my all-time favourite Frank Zappa guitar solos, in ‘Any Kind Of Pain’ and ‘Outside Now.’
4. Zappa in New York
This one would be worth it even if it was only a single with ‘I’m The Slime’ on one side and ‘Titties and Beer’ on the other. But the performances by drummer Terry Bozzio and the inclusion of tracks like ‘The Illinois Enema Bandit,’ a killer ‘Pound For A Brown,’ a crazy ‘Punky’s Whips’ (one of my all-time favourite Zappa tracks) and two totally different and equally headspinning ‘The Black Page’ renditions elevate Zappa In New York from mere cool album to the status of Monolithic Achievement Worthy Of Being Blasted Into Space To Remind Our Future Alien Overloads Who They Were Messing With And What Mankind Was Capable Of Achieving When They Weren’t Being Absorbed For Their Lifeforce By Gelatinous Space Monsters.
5. Uncle Meat
This one is very compositional and eclectic. It may be too trippy for some. For others it’s musical and emotional nourishment of the highest order. It’s all here – the pretty little bits, weird flourishes, songs changing direction almost arbitrarily in ways that don’t make sense in the moment but which reveal themselves as perfect in the wider scheme of things. And ‘Louie Louie’ played on the organ at the Albert Hall. If you’re new to Zappa this is probably either the worst or the best introduction possible, depending on your perspective.
6. Jazz from Hell
FZ, meet computer. Computer, meet FZ. One of the most daring musical extrapolations ever to issue forth from the hard drive of the now archaic Synclavier music system, Jazz From Hell was one groundbreaking mother of an album. Back when you actually had to have a pretty thorough knowledge of musical notation in order to make electronic music in a computer, Frank and his assistants tirelessly fed musical scores into the Synclavier to recreate the music Frank heard in his head but was unable to get live musicians to perform to his satisfaction.
7. The Yellow Shark
If Jazz From Hell is the sound of computers doing the musically impossible, Yellow Shark is the sound of musicians doing the computationally impossible. Recorded with the Ensemble Modern and worth buying just for the liner notes even if they forget to put the CDs in at the store, this set is the last thing Frank released during his lifetime and in many ways it sums up everything about him, from heartfelt sentimentality to artsy extrapolations like ‘Welcoome to The United States’ to downright musical obscenity. There’s an amazing, unmissable rendition of ‘G-Spot Tornado’ from Jazz From Hell to cap off the album.
8. You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore – Vol. 6
So there were two Frank Zappas, right? There was the stunningly virtuosic genius musician/composer, and there was the hilarious guy who wrote filthy, filthy songs. Often the two would mix – Frank wasn’t a fan of strict definitions and segregations within his music or life – and so we have You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 6. This live album features performances culled from many different line-ups and eras, and it’s full of tawdriness, lewdness, sexual innuendo, sexual outuendo, sexual inandoutuendo, naughty words, provocative squats, fetishes and kinks. Real ‘listen to it with headphones on so you don’t get it confiscated by your parents’ kind of stuff.
9. 200 Motels: Original MGM Motion Picture Soundtrack
Disclaimer: I saw the film 200 Motels again recently and found it a bit too, uh, esoteric to really dig the way I used to. However, in the context of happy memories and impact on personal development this was a pretty big one for me. For some bizarre reason nobody will ever be able to explain to me, my local video store in small town Australia had a VHS copy of this for hire when I was in my teens. I used to take it out every couple of months, wait til nobody was home or at least had all gone to bed, then have my little 14-year-old mind exploded by the psychedelic perversity therein. Don’t go looking for any real sense of plot in the movie. Don’t go looking for much pretty in the music. Just enjoy the ride, and the awesomeness of a track like ‘Magic Fingers.’
A live album recorded here in Australia in the 70s. FZ pulls some very cool guitar tones on this one, and there’s a great spontaneous vibe. Dig FZ’s delay and wah-drenched solo on ‘Carolina Hard Core Ecstasy,’ not to mention a melancholic and restrained ‘Zoot Allures,’ which beat Steve Vai’s ballads to the punch by a decade and a half. Also includes the hilariously filthy ‘Poodle Lecture’ and some great versions of ‘Dirty Love,’ ‘Black Napkins’ and ‘Camarillo Brillo.’
Frank’s Shut Up And Play Your Guitar series of albums and the album simply titled Guitar are pretty well known. They’re all constructed pretty much entirely of FZ guitar solos and nothing else. Which is cool. But for those who may have drifted away from Zappadom over the years and not paid any attention to his posthumous releases, there are some great moments on this one. Check it out. Although some of the posthumous Zappa releases are compiled by the Zappa Family Trust, this one was completed by Frank and he always intended for it to be released in this form. Dig the subtle Simpsons reference in the title ‘Good Lobna.’
12. Make a Jazz Noise Here
Mainly instrumental, this one has rearrangements of many a classic Zappa tune, with the focus squarely on the 5 piece horn section. Personal highlights are the ‘Let’s Make The Water Turn Black/Harry You’re A Beast/Orange County Lumber Truck’ medley, a great clean-toned guitar solo on ‘Stinkfoot,’ and Mike Keneally’s tapping extravaganza on ‘Stevie’s Spanking.’ There are also some pretty outstanding pieces that are unique to this set including ‘When Yuppies Go To Hell’ and ‘Fire And Chains.’
13. Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch
This one can be pretty difficult to digest – the majority of the songs are too wacky for most people, but it’s worth pushing through the parody disco beats of ‘I Come From Nowhere’ and ‘No Not Now’ to enjoy what’s below the surface. And if you are able to digest the fiendishly intricate ‘Drowning Witch’ and ‘Envelopes’ (not easy for first timers, such as me when I happened to choose this as my first Zappa album), you’ll find some amazing playing by a very young Steve Vai. Challenging but brilliant.
14. You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore – Vol. 2
This one features probably my favourite Zappa line-up – Frank Zappa, Napoleon Murphy Brock, George Duke, Ruth Underwood, Tom Fowler and Chester Thompson – performing tracks like ‘Inca Roads,’ ‘Stinkfoot,’ ‘Village Of The Sun,’ ‘Pygmy Twylyle,’ ‘RDNZL,’ ‘Uncle Meat,’ ‘The Dog Breath Variations’ and ‘Montana (Whipping Floss).’ The band are at the top of their game and their relaxed interplay kinda makes you feel like you were there. I guess the fact that it’s the only one of the six You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore releases to have its own subtitle is evidence that Frank recognized its uniqueness.
15. Apostrophe (‘)
A few indisputable rock classics are on this album. ‘Cosmik Debris.’ ‘Stinkfoot.’ ‘Uncle Remus.’ All that stuff about yellow snow, including the incredible ‘St Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast’ (and did you see Dweezil play the marimba bit on guitar with Zappa Plays Zappa?). By the way, check out the title track for some mournfully teeth-grinding fuzz bass tone courtesy of one Mr Jack Bruce of Cream. I really enjoy this one but it’s probably my least favourite of my 15 favourites.
The latest Mike Keneally Kennealist email today features an extremely interesting and awesome offer: Mike and Bryan Beller play a gig in your house! Now, Mrs I Heart Guitar and I are both big Keneally fans (I commissioned Mike to write a song for her last Christmas and it’s gorgeously amazing). Unfortunately this MyKeneally Tour concept is not yet being offered internationally but if it was I would so be into it. We wanna have Mike and Bryan perform Eno & The Actor, with Mrs I Heart Guitar and I playing the parts of Eno and the actor.
Anyway, take it away, Mike:
Announcing the MyKeneally Tour, featuring Mike Keneally and Bryan Beller performing live at the venue of your choice — your living room, your favorite local club, your school auditorium — you name it, you set it up, and Mike and Bryan are there!
MyKeneally lets you present a customized Keneally concert for you and your friends. You can work with Mike in advance to put together the setlist YOU want to hear. Mike and Bryan play for you…hang out with you…they can have dinner with you and your family…answer that question you’ve been wondering about…leave an insouciant outgoing message on your answering machine…the possibilities are somewhat endless!
For more info go to keneally.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hot off the presses (well, Myspace actually), Mike Keneally says he’s finishing work on the first disc of his multi-album mega-project, Scambot, at this very minute.
Here’s an excerpt from Mike’s Myspace blog posting:
I’m finishing Scambot today
volume one of it, anyway…I’m posting regular updates from the studio on my Facebook and Twitter pages if you want to check out that action. Right now we’re bouncing down the final mixes of each song from the album in sequence.
SPOILER ALERT! Here’s the names of the songs on the album:
Big Screen Boboli
Cat Bran Sammich Part 1
You Named Me
Cat Bran Sammich Part 2
We Are The Quiet Children
Life’s Too Small
Behind The Door
You can follow real-time Scambot updates on Twitter.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009 Guitarworks 996 South State Road Greenwood, IN 46143 7:00 p.m. Admission $5 Info: 317-885-1510
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 Tumbleweed Trading Post & Guitars 7831 Airport Highway Holland, OH 43528 7:00 p.m. Admission Free! Info: 419-861-3512
Thursday, May 14, 2009 Firehouse Music 3125 28th Street SW Grandville, MI 49418 7:00 p.m. Admission Free! Info: 616-532-3473
Friday, May 15, 2009 Midlothian Music 15645 South 94th Avenue Orland Park, IL 60462 7:00 p.m. Admission Free! Info: 708-389-4041
Monday, May 18, 2009 Music Makers 3611 W. Willow Knolls Drive Peoria, IL, 61614 7:00 p.m. Admission Free! Info: 309-692-9000
I Heart Guitar news – sifting through the internets so you don’t have to.
Rare Mike Keneally albums available again
Mike Keneally has made available via download three long out-of-print titles: Sluggo! (probably my personal favourite), The Mistakes (an amazing collaboration between Keneally, Prairie Prince, Andy West and Henry Kaiser that I had to pay fifty bucks for on eBay), and Half Alive In Hollywood, which I’m going to buy the hell out of come payday.
In his most recent email newsletter, Mike says: “It has been our plan to do expanded, remastered special editions of these albums since we started the reissue campaign with hat. and Boil That Dust Speck, but with all of our current operating capital going towards the manufacture of the three upcoming Scambot CDs, we couldn’t wait any longer to make these archive releases available. These downloads feature the albums precisely as they were originally issued, including all artwork lovingly reproduced, and all feature new updated liner notes by moi (which is French for Mike Keneally). Available in both FLAC and mp3 format for the same low price. Will we ever reissue these albums on CD? We don’t know? (Ask us when Scambot:Three is done.) In the meantime, we feed a music-hungry world as best we can.”
To download the albums, go to http://store.moosemart.com
Source: Mike Keneally
Riot! signs Fozzy
Riot! Entertainment, the crew who hooked me up with my Derek Sherinian interview, recently signed wrestler Chris Jericho’s metal band Fozzy (with Stuck Mojo guitarist Chris Ward) to a worldwide deal for their forthcoming album, ‘Chasing The Grail.’ This is a huge move for Riot! and is sure to mean lots of label support and promotion for Fozzy. Chris Jericho said of the partnership, “I’m very excited to know that the new Fozzy record is going to be released by John Howarth and Riot. Riot was by far the biggest supporter of Fozzy’s last album ‘All That Remains” and did everything they could to spread the Fozzpel not only across Australia, but around the world as well. As a result ATR was by far our most successful album to date. To make this partnership even more exciting is the fact that we have written the absolute best album that we have ever done. This album will see Fozzy reaching new heights and breaking down more barriers to show all fans of heavy rock and heavy metal exactly who we are as a band. I guarantee that all of our fans will agree and be blown away and that all of our haters will hide their faces in shock when they realize that they were wrong about this band. I’m so stoked to unleash these tunes upon the world and just as stoked to know that it will be the people at Riot who will be making it possible! 2009 is the year of the Fozz!”
Manny’s in New York closes
Dammit, I always dreamed of going to Manny’s in New York when I was a kid, after reading about it guitar magazines and books and stuff. Now it seems that unless someone throws a bunch of cash at me, I’ve missed my chance. Manny’s is shutting its doors in May.
Source: Premier Guitar
Trent Reznor disses Chris Cornell on Twitter
Are you following Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor on Twitter? www.twitter.com/trent_reznor. He posted this yesterday: “You know that feeling you get when somebody embarrasses themselves so badly YOU feel uncomfortable? Heard Chris Cornell’s record? Jesus.”
Source: Music Radar
Singer search for my band
And finally, in other news, my band is looking for a singer. The music is influenced by Alice In Chains, Extreme, Devin Townsend, Living Colour, Primus, Joe Satriani, Frank Zappa and Mike Keneally, as well as a whole bunch of other things. I’ll post an audio sample over the weekend to give you an idea of the style, but if you know of anyone in the Melbourne, Australia area who has great stage presence and can sing their ass off, email me at email@example.com
As if the news of the Tech 21 Private Stock division wasn’t noteworthy enough for devotees of fine analog amp modelling, the company is releasing a 20th anniversary version of the SansAmp, the revolutionary stompbox/direct recording device which changed the face of recording for many guitarists, including Mike Keneally who used one all over his album ‘hat.’
Now, just last week I saw a pair of SansAmp units at a secondhand store that looked pretty much like this, except it was achieved with good old-fashioned irresponsible mistreatment, not precise relicing. I know some I Heart Guitar readers are dead against the idea of relicing, so what do you think of this?
Here’s the press release:
In celebration of their 20th anniversary, Tech 21 is releasing a special relic-style version of their SansAmp Classic. The exterior design is taken from an actual “vintage”SansAmp pedal used on a world tour by a renowned artist. The main heart of the circuitry and inner workings remain virtually unchanged.
The SansAmp Classic pedal is B. Andrew Barta’s innovative invention which debuted in 1989. It’s a little known fact that Barta never intended on becoming a manufacturer. He initially tried selling his technology to some of the major manufacturers, but was turned down. Unable to abandon his idea, Barta formed Tech 21 and set out on his own. In spite of the fact this kind of product had never before existed, it took a surprisingly short amount of time to gain acceptance. Players simply had to hear it. Players like Mick Jones of Foreigner, who, early on, helped Barta get the word out. The rest, as they say, is history.
Tech 21 pioneered the direct recording movement and was responsible for creating an entirely new category of signal processing. Barta’s proprietary, 100% analog technology captures the warm, rich, natural tones of the most sought-after tube amplifiers. SansAmp can be used with almost any instrument, for any music style, and for multiple applications in the studio as well as live performances. Currently, the SansAmp is available in 15 different models, including 5 in their SansAmp Character Series released in 2008.
Barta’s technology stands alone in the analog domain, a domain to which he remains loyal for several reasons. According to Barta, “Overall, I think analog is much warmer, more organic and more responsive. There’s also the issue of clarity. At extreme settings, digital tends to produce more “artifacts”(garbles) and unnatural noise in the background. So, in turn, this needs to be reduced by artificial means such as a noise gate, which I am not fond of. I also prefer analog because there’s no latency. No matter how minor it is, even with the improvements in digital technology, latency can still be felt and I find it distracting while I’m playing.”
Of the pedal formats, SansAmp Classic is the most sophisticated. There is a bank of eight Character switches to adjust tonality, harmonics and dynamics; a 3-position input switch offers a choice of pre-amp styles; and four knob controls to shape pre-amp contours, power amp contours, volume and final tone.
Manufactured in the U.S.A. MSRP: $375.00. Contact Tech 21 USA, Inc., 790 Bloomfield Avenue, Clifton, NJ 07012. Tel:973-777-6996. Fax:973-777-9899. E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLICK HERE to buy the standard, non-relic Tech 21 SansAmp GT2 Tube Amp Emulator from Musician’s Friend.
CLICK HERE to buy Mike Keneally’s ‘hat.’ (Expanded and Remastered) from Amazon.com
I’m back from my little Christmas exile, and I’m in a reflective mood, so here, for the heck of it, is my list of stuff I liked this year, in the world of guitar. 2008 was a pretty cool year for me. I wrote about a squillion articles for Mixdown and Australian Guitar, recorded a few tunes, wrote a huge batch of songs for my new band (watch out for us in 2009), interviewed Joe Satriani, John McLaughlin, Zakk Wylde, Steve Lukather, Page Hamilton, Max Cavalera, Bryan Beller, George Lynch and more, and started this here blog (with encouragement from the ever clever Mrs I Heart Guitar, who is an avowed blog-reading fiend).
2008 was also a pretty bitchen year for the world of guitar. We had releases by Steve Vai, Mike Keneally, Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, the reunited Extreme, Guns N’ Roses, and even a freaking Van Halen tour (which never made it down to Australia or anywhere else outside North America for that matter… hopefully that will be rectified in 2009, but I shan’t be holding my breath for that one). There were also some very cool gadgets released during the year. So here’s my list of cool stuff in 2008. Click on any of the links to buy the stuff if you like.
Meeting Paul Gilbert in person after many years of email communication and two interviews – he was just as cool as I could have hoped.
Hearing from Mike Keneally that he’d checked out my blog. In an email he said “Your website is EXTREMELY readable! Lots of cool articles.” I think I still smile in my sleep about that one.
Attending an album preview party for Trivium, and almost accidentally making a baby with the back of Corey Beaulieu’s head thanks to an uncomfortably posed photo.
Buying a crapload of new pedals while the Australian dollar was at 98 US cents. I went on an MXR spree and bought a Dyna Comp, Custom Audio Electronics Boost/OD, EVH Phase 90, Carbon Copy Analog Delay, and Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Octave Fuzz. Now the dollar sucks again, so I’ll have to hold off on buying a Dunlop Buddy Guy wah and an eBow until it recovers. Dammit.
This unexpected new direction follows two highly successful instrumental albums from Gilbert. Sounding like a cross between Queen, Paul’s own solo stuff, and a tiny dash of For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge-era Van Halen, the songs are memorable, the performances are powerful, and the shredding is noodletastic. You should also totally check out Gilbert’s ‘Silence Followed By A Deafening Roar’ CD, which was released earlier in the year. The link above will take you to CDJapan.co.jp, but you can also buy it at Amazon.com now too by clicking here.
When I was a kid, I thought Gretsch guitars were the coolest freaking thing in the freaking world. All that metal stuff really looked like it did something, and I couldn’t wait to grow up and get my hands on one. Later my attention drifted to pointy Ibanezes and never really went back, but I still think Gretsches are cool, and the PRS Starla taps into enough of that vibe to make me say ‘dayum’ every time I see one. PRS, if you can find a way to make a Bigsby perform just like a Floyd Rose without changing the look at all, I’ll let you rebadge the Starla as my signature model. Just putting it out there, okay? Cool.
Yep, I’m an Ibanez geek. What can I say? The second I saw Steve Vai hoist that heart-shaped triple neck guitar on David Lee Roth’s ‘Just Like Paradise’ video in, what, 1988 or something, I was hooked. Having said that, I’m not just into spiky neon metal axes, and my favourite Ibanez in 2008 was the new FR series. These Telecaster-inspired axes feature a fast neck and modern pickup switching options while still carrying more than a little old school soul. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before someone with a lot of sway in the industry picks up one of these and declares it their main squeeze forever more. It’d be me but I think I need to sell some guitars before I even think about buying any more.
MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay
I’m not sure exactly when this pedal was released – it could have been some time in 2007 – but I got mine in mid 2008 and it’s one of the best delay pedals I’ve ever encountered. It’s stupidly simple: controls for delay time, number of repeats, and volume of repeats, plus a button which adds a light warble to the delayed effects if you wish (and a few internal controls to adjust this modulation effect if you wanna, but really, they seem to have selected the most useful settings at the factory). The repeats mush up in a gloriously lo-fi way, and they get muddier and noiser as you increase the time between repeats, but that’s part of the charm of this vintage-vibed, sparkly green little beauty.
Bogner Alchemist series
I haven’t even played one of these suckers yet and already they make me go all a quiver. ‘Real’ Bogner amps are kinda outside my financial reach at the moment, so it’s encouraging to see a Bogner amp out there which the majority of players can afford (I’ll be sticking with my Marshall DSL50 cos we’re totally in love, but that doesn’t mean I can’t check out a hot amp from time to time, right? I’m sure my Marshall checks out other guitarists when I’m not looking). Anyway, the Bogner Alchemist series takes the vibe of the company’s far more expensive and covetous amps, and distils it into Asian-manufactured units for the player who wants to show off with a Bogner logo, but doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to hoist an Uberschall and Ecstasy into the back of the van for a pub gig.
So what were your highlights of 2008? Any gigs that totally did it for ya? Any new gear that you would hock your right leg to own? Favourite albums? Meet any of your heroes?
I’ve been embarking on a bit of a jazz discovery kick lately, so it’s perfect that I discover Razl, or Raúl Huelves, at this point in my musical journey. We were originally put in touch by Bryan Beller after I interviewed him, and Razl sent me his amazing CD, Rotonova, to check out. The music is funky, varied, passionate, always interesting, and is packed with emotion and groove. The cover art is also awesome (who doesn’t love robots?), winning the immediate approval of my 2-year-old, which is always a good sign cos he has impeccable taste.
PETER: Why do you play guitar? What was it about the guitar that drew you in?
RAZL: I remember well when I got a guitar in my hands for the first time. I think there was an old classic guitar in the basement of the Pharmacy where my father used to work, it had several cracks and it had almost no strings. One day, my father showed up with that thing when my brother in law happened to be around. He played a couple of Dire Straits and Eric Clapton songs and right there and then he draw a simple guitar method. Then I went to my room and stayed there the whole day practicing. Two days later I called him for more material, since I had already learnt the two songs.
PETER: So where did you go from there? What was your next guitar after the cracked-up classic? And did you take formal lessons?
RAZL: The next guitar after the classic “thing” was a red strat from korea, I don´t know the brand. Few years later I had to sell that guitar to buy a better one, and at that moment I knew how I loved that axe! I took some formal lessons from time to time, but I consider myself as a self-taught guitar player because all that I really know about playing, I learnt it from the music that I listened to the albums that I loved.
PETER: How was the album recorded? It sounds very live and real.
RAZL: Rotonova has tracks that I wrote a really long time ago. Groovin Ants has been in my head for several years but others like Glow Pig just came out while I was recording the album. It¹s quite complicated to gather all musicians at the same time, especially if their names are Mike Keneally or Dean Brown and live a thousand miles away from you. Some of the musicians recorded their part when they were on a tour in Spain or just visiting and others did that in their home studios or studios they liked. In order to keep the live and real touch, I tried not to give many instructions about what each of them had to do, just simple guidelines so they could feel as free as possible and leave room for improvisation, which was the main ‘directive.’
PETER: I like how you start the album with Glow Pig, and finish it with Glow Sheep it’s like a book-end either side of the album. I find that it makes me want to go back to the start and listen again.
RAZL: Well I like that you have noticed that because that’s really what I tried to get. I’ve always liked albums that tell a story, like when you read a book. For many years I¹ve followed symphonic or progressive rock bands and one of the things I liked the most was to ‘read’ the music, so to speak. I just had to listen to the albums from the begging to the end because listening to just one track meant losing the meaning the album had for me. Obviously Rotonova doesn’t have anything to do with those bands musically but I think this perception has somehow remained in my brain and subconsciously the album took that ‘reading’ feel.
RAZL: I’m a fan of the organ sound, I love the way it naturally integrates itself in the sound of a band and it’s especially amazing when it¹s a trio band. I’m a big admirer of music with a big presence of organ, especially funk and blues. I love Medeski, Martin & Wood and their aggressive sound, dirty and elegant at the same time. I¹m actually listening to the last Stanton Moore trio album right now and it’s brilliant. Since I discovered the Rotosphere pedal (that simulates a Leslie amplifier) it has become part of my sound, it gives the guitar a great expression. It also has been one of the main sounds of Charlie Hunter for many years. From my point of view, Charlie took a giant step in guitar expression with his way of playing, extraordinary.
PETER: What was Jungle Karma influenced by? I like the way that the nice ringing notes are balanced out by fast little runs it has a very effective use of space.
RAZL: Jungle Karma is one of the most complex tracks in the album. It also has a complex story since I wrote parts of it a long time ago, while others I just improvised when I recorded the album. It’s influenced by some Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny and Erik Truffaz bits and pieces, especially when it comes to rhythm. I love what you have mentioned about the use of space, especially in more contemporary tracks when there is a dialog between the main player and the drummer that I particularly admire. It’s really incomparable.
PETER: The album features guest appearances by Bryan Beller and Mike Keneally. What was it like working with them? Are you a long-time Mike Keneally fan?
RAZL: To be honest, I still can’t believe that these incredible musicians have participated in my album. I thought of it at the beginning of the project in a very naive way and then I saw that all of them were delighted to accept the invitation. I obviously liked their professionalism and how easily they understood my suggestions but most of all, I saw that they were all really great guys. In fact, I had been a fan of Mike for many years, he has always been one of my favourite musicians since he has many of the qualities I like in a guitarist: his unique sound, his sense of humour at the guitar and the ability to move in very different styles but always making them his.
RAZL: Wow! This is a very difficult question because there’s a lot of favorite Keneally songs for me. I think that maybe the album that contains the great majority of favorite Keneally songs is ‘Dancing.’ I love that album from the beginning to the end, and it’s very special for me because it was very hard for me to find it here in Spain. So once I had it in my hands I felt very happy.
PETER: What guitars do you use?
RAZL: The one I normally use, both in gigs and in the album, is the Carvin SC90. It has a spectacular thick and percussive sound, and that goes perfectly with my finger-picking style. I also use the Gibson ES 137 Custom a lot, it has a more classic tone and it sounds incredible even if you plug it into a toaster.
PETER: What amplifiers and effects do you use?
RAZL: Through out the years I’ve been reducing my equipment to the minimum. I had a really awful period when I had to set up a thousand pedals, effect processors and stuff like so after the concerts I ended up being really pissed at the end because something had gone wrong. At some point I decided to get rid of all that and I¹m happy now just plugging my Carvin to my Fender Blues Deville 4×10 amplifier, my pedal H&K Rotosphere and my wha-wha Carl Martin.
PETER: How did you develop your style? It’s very complex, yet natural and relaxed.
RAZL: Well, I’m not sure if it’s complex but it’s certainly relaxed. I really like the natural sound and that¹s why I started to leave my pickup behind and play only with my fingers. That has given me the expressive qualities that I was looking for. You find a great deal of nuances playing like that and for some reason it enlarges my vision of the fretboard. I’m still investigating finger-picking possibilities although always turning them into my style.
The ever-awesome Mike Keneally has just released the SCAMBOT Holiday Special as a free bonus for shoppers at his website, or as a $5 download.
If you buy $50 worth of merchandise f you’ll receive a free copy of the limited edition CD-R, The SCAMBOT Holiday Special. Now the SCAMBOT Holiday Special is available as an instant download for only $5 at MooseMart. (The only way to get the physical CD-R hand signed by Mike is still to by $50 worth of MK stuff at MooseMart.)
According to Mike’s latest website update…
ABOUT THE SCAMBOT HOLIDAY SPECIAL
Two days ago (Dec. 4) was the fifteenth anniversary of Frank Zappa’s passing. I’ve been obsessively listening to his music in the car for several months without being specifically conscious of the upcoming significance of Dec. 4, but when I realized yesterday what day it was, I was struck by how strongly Frank’s presence has been exerting itself in my life lately. Sending out strong love and gratitude to Frank right now.
Possibly as a result of all that, I think he had an unusually strong influence on the construction of The SCAMBOT Holiday Special, but I also feel strong echoes of Firesign Theatre in it, and of Brendon Small’s work on Home Movies. And also, very specifically, the influence of variety TV shows from the ’60s to the present. So that’s a little listing of some of the influences on this insane little thing.
This is an interesting little holiday presentation which I’ve written and produced here. It’s about fourteen-and-a-half minutes long; five tracks, with tracks 1, 3 and 5 acting as framing devices for tracks 2 and 4, which are full-length studio recordings of the songs “Holiday Face” and “Salve-Dependent Scorpions.”
“Holiday Face” is a new acoustic instrumental recording done specifically for this CD. It reminds me compositionally of “Thanksgiving” but has an even more intimate studio vibe than that song, and I tracked it with Mike Harris engineering at Chatfield Manor. Me on all instruments: two acoustic guitars, bass, organ, tambourine and other percussion. Bunch of vocals and a wah-clavinet solo at the end that I’m really happy about.
“Salve-Dependent Scorpions” is an alternate take of an instrumental piece from the upcoming multi-volume work SCAMBOT. The basic track was recorded on analog tape by Tom Trefethen, and has me on Hammond organ, Rick Musallam on electric guitar, Bryan Beller on bass and Joe Travers on drums. (This was, surprisingly to me, the first studio session of the Guitar Therapy Live version of the Keneally Band.) Later at Chatfield Manor we overdubbed two takes of Evan Francis on alto sax, and two takes of me on lead guitar. The version which will be on SCAMBOT will be entitled “The Scorpions” and will feature such completely different guitar and sax performances that it’s essentially another composition. Have to admit to a strong Frank influence on the guitar performance.
Tracks 1, 3 and 5 of the The SCAMBOT Holiday Special (“The Quest,” “The Swordfight” and “The Owl”) are twisted little combinations of electronic music done on a Moog, other added effects, and dialogue/narration/singing which advances a peculiar narrative (I originally wrote it as part of the actual SCAMBOT album-slash-comic book story continuity). I couldn’t find a way to wedge it into SCAMBOT comfortably, but it now forms the conceptual backbone of this Holiday Special. It’s in these short segments, which illustrate a surreal imaginary late-’60s television holiday special about a quest of some kind, that the Firesign and Brendon influences come to the fore, but there’s also some heavy Lumpy Gravy and Läther influence in there. I can’t help it, sorry.
The CD-R was mastered by Scott Chatfield at the Manor, and served up fresh to those of you who wisely choose to treat themselves and/or their loved ones to fifty bucks worth of quality Moosemart merchandise (a copy each of the hat. and Boil That Dust Speck special editions, for instance, and you’re already there. Just saying).
I downloaded it the other day and I freaking love it, plus it’s totally awesome to have a preview of sorts for the monumental SCAMBOT project.