Tag: Mike Keneally

Consulting with Bryan Beller, Part 2

(In case you missed it, you can find part 1 here.)

On the topic of promotion

One thing I mentioned to Bryan was my discomfort about self-promotion. It’s something that I just very much dislike doing, but I wanted to hear his genuine thoughts about it.

Nobody owes you their time.
Nobody owes you a thing.
You’ve got to go get it. Every time.
You’ve got to go out and tell people about you, because nobody’s going to advocate for you more than you are going to advocate for yourself.

If you think that you’re for whatever reason not worthy of shouting from the rooftops about what it is that you’re doing, then that’s what other people are going to think too.

Part of it is crafting materials that you’re proud of.

– Bryan Beller

Other cool clinic/consulting interviews of Beller can be found here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-GY6aY1mKc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rr-xVodrpgo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwlYXqKnPyk

Consulting with Bryan Beller, Part 1

A couple of weeks ago, I scheduled a consulting session with one my favorite musicians, Bryan Beller. Bryan needs no introduction, but he’s played with Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Mike Keneally, Dethklok and of course his own superhuman band, “The Aristocrats”. He has a solo career too, where his own touring band members are the exact same members as the Mike Keneally Band. I’m a huge fanboy, and always found his bass tones ridiculously amazing. I’m not even really a bass player and I’m a fan. Go figure. While some of the conversation topics shall forever remain private, there are other things that I can share here that may be of interest to folks out there.

On how he got his bass tones from the studio, on the latest Joe Satriani record “Shockwave Supernova”, as well as on his own records (solo, Aristocrats).

For the recent Satriani record, he used the A-Designs REDDI. Distortion came from the Sansamp plugin. The recording chain was decided by the staff, rather than him. There was an AMPEG rig in an isolation room, miced up. DI was duplicated, and SansAmp bass-driver plugin was put on one of them.

On his own records (Aristocrats, Solo), he decides on the recording chains. The signal path is not the same as his live rig. On records, they’re typically DI – one clean DI, one dirty DI, blended together. The dirty DI is done using overdrive pedals.

For the song “Oh No” from The Aristocrats “Culture Clash” album, he used a combination of overdrive/distortion pedals – the Dark Glass Electronics B3K overdrive, and the Dunlop M80 distortion DI together. No mic cabs were used.

On whether the Aristocrats albums were mixed In-The-Box (ITB) or Out-of-The-Box (OTB)

First two albums “The Aristocrats” and “Culture Clash” were completely done ITB – i.e., within protools. The third record “Tres Caballeros” was mixed hybrid – i.e., with both protools and the console. I have always been curious about this because I’ve always really enjoyed the sonics (and the songs) of the 2nd record (“Culture Clash”).

If you’ve watched some of Bryan’s DVD extras for his solo records, you would notice that those albums were all mixed ITB as well (AND sounded awesome).

On how he works through writers block

Time. When forced a deadline, you’re just pushed to write. There was one song that he wrote in 6 hours because of this. But he recommends going away and coming back to it.

“Sometimes you need to live through the life experiences to be able to have something to write about.”

On how he keeps himself from repeating himself when coming up with new parts or contributions (on his own records or records for others).

He doesn’t really think about it like that. He just writes whatever works. The parts would always be like “different children from the same parent”.

This is an interesting answer, because I know Mike Keneally has mentioned publicly that he really puts emphasis into not repeating himself. These are very different approaches from two people that have worked so closely together for 20+ years! Fascinating indeed.

On how he approaches his work differently when it is his own project vs supporting another artists

Doesn’t try to approach anything differently. Some artists might want something a bit more basic, and just to play the song as it was written. It’s just whatever that works to serve the song/songwriter.
It’s usually up to the producer to make the balance. For Aristocrats each member produces his own songs. (Typically, each member contributes 3 songs – and their producing styles are quite different.).

On what piece of work he’s most proud of and why

  • “Love Adrenaline” (which happens to be my favorite song he wrote too). Writing process for that: He had a good idea of where he wanted the song to go, and he just ‘chipped away at it’.
  • “Through the Flower” (Aristocrats).
  • Playing-wise, couple of songs from Keneally’s Sluggo album. “Life’s too Small”
  • Proud of “Smuggler’s Corridor” too.
  • He’s more interested in compositions than anything in his playing.
  • Hopefully his playing makes the song better. Otherwise he feels that he’s doing it wrong.
  • Favorite work of his usually are ones that are the better songs and ones that he has an emotional attachment to.

On how he writes

Yes. He grew up playing piano and his writing always comes from it first. The piano is how he visualizes music.

Bonus tidbits if you’re still reading this:

  • I found out that Bryan went to school with Tobias Ralph from The Crimson Projekct (who also played drums on my record)!
  • Bryan finds my music weird. I was a bit surprised to hear that at first, considering some of his past work he’s done, so I’ll more than gladly take it as a compliment (… even if it wasn’t meant to be one!)!

(Continue to Part 2 here)

Mike Keneally Live at The Alvas Showroom 2016

Last weekend, I went to catch a Mike Keneally show with Gregg Bendian and Doug Lunn.

Watching Mr. Keneally is always a special treat. It was my first time seeing him play a Steinway Grand live. Let me tell you, it was the most beautiful experience I have ever experienced. The sequence of unexpected surprising complex harmony/ note choices, perfect instrument in a great sounding room, amazing touch,… it was as if all planets were aligned for this special moment.

Mike Keneally ended the show with “The Barbarian” by ELP. That was the first time I had ever heard the tune. So badass! Without knowing what it was, I asked him after the show if that final chord he played was a “Tarkus” chord, purposeful played as a tribute to Keith Emerson (who just passed away earlier this year) and he said that whole 2nd half of the tune he played was actually from ELP’s debut record – a tune named “The Barbarian”. He said he started off with his own tune then morphing into the cover. He then agreed that “The Barbarian” is an awesome song with a giddy smile/grin that I’ll never ever, ever forget. ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ :D. He started off on the Steinway then went over to the the Organ patch off the SV1 and for the explosive cover. Oh, drive level was set to 6 for most tunes. All EQ settings at around 6, with a bit of hall reverb. Yes, I’m such a geek… ๐Ÿ˜€

Here’s the original tune by ELP (- the first song in this video), in case you had never heard of the tune before. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1Robezbkhg

Mike Keneally Interview with SweetWater

Here’s an excellent 40+ minuteย  Mike Keneally interview. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgyNco_JISQ

He talks about his work, his upbringing, as well as his philosophy. 40+ minutes long.

Here’s an excerpt:

…especially nowadays where it becomes increasingly unlikely that anyone even at levels that appear to be successful. You’ll see bands that are touring all the time and are making records and people like the records and you’d think , “Oh, they must be doing ok,” and then you find out that they’re struggling, you know…. It’s just not easy.

There’s no shame in saying that I’m working 9-5 –ย  I’ve got this gig that subsidizes my life…. and then when I get home at night, I’ll get on the computer and work on music for a couple of hours, and maybe on the weekends, I’ll go out with my buddies and play in a bar or something.

Somebody will say that to me, “I’m not really a musician. I only play on weekends or anything. I’m only able to work on the computer once in a while and stuff, because I’ve got this gig.” …and I’d go, “That’s great! That’s really cool.” You’re not struggling, and you’re not panicked about the fact that music isn’t paying for your life. You have a thing that pays for your life, and then you’re able to do music for the best reasons to do music – because you love it.

They ain’t nothing wrong with someone that has a 9-5 gig and just does music when they can. The challenge of course is just making the time and having the energy, and that’s just something we all need to go through at any level – Just got to prioritize.

– Mike Keneally

 

As a very good friend of mine says, “Mike Keneally is a national treasure!

Best. Line. Ever.