KENEALLY ON TOUR! SCAMBOT 2 NEWS!

WE’RE HITTING THE ROAD A FEW MOMENTS FROM NOW

tore-kersten-hi-res-photo-3

 

 

 

(Photo by Tore Kersten)

Hello! Mike Keneally & Beer For Dolphins (trio version – that’s me, Bryan Beller and Joe Travers) will be on the road beginning at the end of this week. The Travis Larson Band will open for us. The dates and info can be found here. We are all psyched!

It starts with Progtoberfest at Reggie’s in Chicago: on Friday the 21st I’ll be guesting at a Keith Emerson tribute show, which has had me very busy over the last week practicing some insane keyboard stuff, and on Saturday the 22nd MK/BFD will appear at the same venue.

From there we move on to the East Coast. For those of you planning to see us in NYC on Oct. 26, please be aware that there’s been a venue change: we will now be performing at Leftfield Upstairs, 87 Ludlow St. This venue doesn’t sell tickets in advance so show up early to buy tickets at the door. Travis Larson hits at 7pm. I’m excited to try out a new venue in NYC and grateful we were able to line this up at such short notice.

We then wind around through Richmond, Raleigh and Charlotte. Then we’ll head back across the country for two shows at the Baked Potato in LA: the trio will play on Sunday, November 6, and on Tuesday, November 8 – Election Night in the US – Rick Musallam will join us for a full night of quartet madness.

I hope you can see one or several of these shows. If you can, bring lots of friends! Bryan, Joe and I first played as a trio in the mid-’90s, and in all this time we’ve never been out of California as a trio – come out and celebrate this rare occasion with us!
SOME SCAMBOT 2 STUFF PART 1: A NEW INTERIVEW

Here’s a nice interview I did with Cameron Piko for Echoes & Dust, primarily about Scambot 2. Keith Emerson, Gentle Giant and Kendrick Lamar are also referenced therein. Cameron is a very cool dude – he created this insanely detailed interactive map to the conceptual continuity of Frank Zappa‘s catalogue. You can easily get lost in this thing for hours. In contrast, the Echoes & Dust interview will only take up about six minutes of your time. Thanks for a very enjoyable interview Cameron!
SOME SCAMBOT 2 STUFF PART 2: A NEW LYRICS CONTEST

Way back when, in ’94, in the liner notes to Boil That Dust Speck, I challenged people to figure out the secret backing vocals during the second verse of “Top Of Stove Melting.” If I remember correctly, I offered to give the winner a bag of donuts. I can’t remember if anyone collected. (I am happy to now share those lyrics publicly: “Once upon a time when you saw roadkill, you said ‘awww’/now you say ‘good for you’/maybe it’s a certain enzyme you lack/and may all your T-shirts be black.”)

Well! On Scambot 2, during the song “Pretzels,” there are two separate sets of backing vocals, where I once again didn’t stick the lyrics in the booklet. They occur at 0:33 and 3:27. I don’t think they’re as difficult to discern as the ones in “Melting” were.

You may see where this is headed. The first person to figure out those lyrics will get a bag of pretzels from me! (Gluten-free option available on request – I know a REALLY good brand.) If you do Facebook, please send me a message there (here’s my profile). If you Twitter, send me a message here.

One clue – one of the lines involves the name of one of my dear departed uncles, and he had an unusual nickname, so if you hear something that seems completely grammatically bizarre, that might explain it.
SOME SCAMBOT 2 STUFF PART 3: THE GENIUS OF RICK MUSALLAM ON “CRAM”

I suppose that this is technically some Inkling stuff rather than some Scambot 2 stuff, but since Inkling is only available as part of the Scambot 2 double-CD package, it’s virtually the same thing, yeah?

I’m now putting on headphones, and I’m going to play the song “Cram” and provide a guide to some of my favorite Rick Musallam moments within it. Please refer to this the next time you listen to the song!
MUSALLAM in “CRAM”:

His Les Paul appears on the far right of the stereo spectrum.

0:13 Rick tiptoes subtly into frame for the first time.
0:16 He provides commentary on his own initial utterance.
0:19 He asserts himself fully with an insouciant upward flourish, followed by a sprightly “sprang” at 0:21.

Starting at 0:24, Rick begins to bring the funk in earnest for a short series of lovely phrases.
My favorite of these is at 0:38. It sounds like the guitar is saying “Bongoes? Blahhh.”

1:11 A beautifully untranscribable chord that sounds like geese complaining.

1:16 is a real gift to the song, a very memorable four-note hook that pushes along this part of the song perfectly at its crucial mid-point.
At the end of the section at 1:27, his guitar literally laughs at the song. It is masterfully irreverent.

1:33 He returns to the motif he’d established back in the opening section, but more assertively. His note choices kill me here.

1:53 Another perfectly timed chord clunge.

2:00 He scrubs his strings rhythmically, adding percussive oomph to the new section.

2:09 A chromatically ascending series of quick string bends that works in perfect alchemy with what’s happening in the rest of the track right there. One of my favorite moments of the song.

2:24 A moment that is satisfying to me for reasons I can’t even explain. This little three-note descending lick frames the beginning of this new section perfectly for me, and it doesn’t make any sense why it does or should. But it does! And he follows it with the perfect chord, and, understanding that he’s just done something perfect, plays the SAME three-note lick and chord again. Then he does it a third time, but for the resolving chord, he plays a rather shocking, much higher chord, that turns out to be the first chord of a beautifully relaxed and bluesy descending chord melody. This whole episode demonstrates masterful arranging/production/performance skills, served up in real time on the spot. Way to go Ricky.

3:19 A few bars of funky chucking and quacking, providing a nice contrast to the ’70s West Coast CSNY-style acoustic stuff I overdubbed in this section.

4:24 Rick plays a perfectly complementary note to the dive-bombing low note in my solo. I overdubbed my solo months after Rick’s track was recorded, so Rick really had no idea at the time how perfect his note was in relation to it, but I choose to believe that he somehow knew what I was going to play later on.

4:35 A perfect four-note Rick-ism to close out this section. I had Mike Harris make it louder than my solo in the mix because I love it so much.

5:58 After laying low for a while, Rick toys around with a little Lydian-mode flourish that adds a very understated and nice touch to this new section.

6:35 The first of some little bluesy tossed-off licks he plugs into the spaces in my playing. I might have turned him up more in this section, but this whole closing section of the song has a haziness to it that I really like and I didn’t want anything to stick out too much. He is ubercool in this section though.

7:06-7:25 He’s still quiet in the mix here, but adding some really pungent notes that blend in with my chords, and add some dark and lovely harmonic complexity as things begin to wind down. You might not hear him, but you can feel him here.

7:32 A little two-note rising melody that I liked so much, I had Mike Harris copy/paste it (along with Kris Myers‘ deep groove) and repeat it over and over for the closing 30 seconds of the song.

Ladies and gentlemen, Rick Musallam is a beautiful beast on the git-tar! I love him, and so do you!
THANK YOU FOR READING THIS

Thank you for reading this!
Your obedient serpent,
Mike Keneally

Mike’s final Scambot 2/Inkling song diary!

(Photo by Frank Wesp)

Hello pals! Beyond its easy availability from all of us here at Exowax in the USA, Scambot 2 has begun its wide release and will soon be showing up at Burning Shed in the UK and iTunes, and has already appeared at Amazon.

Many thanks to Chris Ingalls for this great review of Scambot 2 at Pop Matters!

To honor these glorious developments, I now offer the final installment of the ongoing Scambot 2/Inkling song diary, this one covering the second half of Inkling.

Mystery Song

This 4-second song represents the pinnacle of my compositional efforts to date! And it’s a fun moment of interaction between myself and Mr. Minnemann, and nicely punctuates the space between the ethereal ending of “Cram” and the startling introduction of…

E

Ever since hat. and Boil That Dust Speck I’ve enjoyed messing around with tiny little songs. For this project I made a bunch of them, merely two of which ended up on SB2 proper, resulting in a bumper crop for Inkling. This one has a link with “O” on SB2, quoting its ending piano part. So far we’ve got “M” (from Scambot 1),”O” and “E.” Will Scambot 3 continue the trend?

The Scorpions

So titled, because Ophunji (by the end of Scambot 1) had The Scorpions (the band), along with members of Air Supply‘s touring group, chained up in his recording studio disguised as the Quiet Children. This song is an alternate version of “Salve-Dependent Scorpions” from The Scambot Holiday Special, with an entirely different guitar performance, some added keyboard parts, less saxophone, and a radically different mix. This new version is a whole other trip for sure, and I really love it – I’m happy with the guitar playing and with the highly attuned work of Messrs. Beller, Musallam and Travers. Suitable for loud crank-age in the car.

Skating Backwards

One time in the ’90s I woke up in the middle of the night in a French hotel room, and the radio was playing some very eerie and bewitching organ music (I had fallen asleep with the radio on – it wasn’t a supernatural radio occurrence). The piece went on for a long time. Ever since then I’ve had the desire to write a long-form organ piece (organ was my first instrument after all) in tribute to my memory of that night – which still hasn’t happened, but “Skating Backwards” provides a sliver of an inkling of what one section of such a piece might sound something like. I really like the ending. I like the whole thing but I think the ending is especially neat.

Tom

So titled, because that is the name of the tiny red bug who shows up in the story every now and then. The first minute and 24 seconds was scored on paper without an instrument at hand, so it was fun to record the parts and hear how they sounded. The second part is a long blues progression, over which I challenged myself to play the most economical guitar solo I could. Later on I decorated the solo with synthesizer commentary – sometimes phrasing or harmonizing with the guitar, other times heading off into its own world. Part three is super atmospheric and chill, and extremely suitable for late night contemplation with headphones engaged.

Mayday!

As anti-news-media screeds go, this is pretty cute. I mainly did it in order to provoke a reaction from news addict Bryan Beller (he liked it!). I really enjoy the analog synth backdrop, made up of four tracks of edited Moog Voyager improvs (I drew from the same bank of recordings used for the comedy sketches on The Scambot Holiday Special). I love how weirdly expressive abstract synthesizer sounds can be – I use them here in kind of the same way Raymond Scott used electronic sounds to punctuate advertising copy. At the end of this track it used to go “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!” for a lot longer, but I edited it down (it’s still plenty long enough). I did this for you.

Lovesong

At one point this song had lyrics about Ophunji’s crush on Karen Carpenter. I do have a working version of this song featuring Ophunji singing in his gnat-voice. You might want to hear it. I enjoy the weird turn the guitars take at the end of this track, and the hard cut to black.

Back It Up

“Three and say it!” and “Back it up! Y’all look so beautiful, buttercup,” were part of a dream I had that made me wake up laughing. This song makes me very happy. If it didn’t have a middle section in 11/8, I would ask all the world to dance to it with me.

Inkling

I knew I wanted to write a song called “Inkling” – I’ve known that for years, and have tried to write lyrics for one a few times. I came up with the basic track of this song years ago during the Court TV sessions, and for years I didn’t realize that it was “Inkling,” but during the Scambot 2 sessions I finally figured it out. I want to explore this melody further, and I’m considering coming up with a live arrangement for it. Maybe for the BFD tour next month? I’ll take it up with the authorities, run it up the flagpole and see if anyone falls over when they look up at it.

Uncompressed Rag

Not unlike Sluggo!, this album ends with a jaunty little piano ditty. It was recorded immediately after I wrote it and I had only the most basic grasp of the piano part. Maybe that’s a good thing? This one features Evan Francis‘ bold exhortations on clarinet. I love the way he dances around the chord changes.

And with the actual resolution into E Major that we’ve all been waiting for, Inkling saunters off into the sunset. Why not go back to the start of Scambot 2 and play both albums again? We all have time for that, right?


Thank you for hanging with me throughout this song diary – it’s been extremely fun for me, and I really hope it’s enhanced the album-listening experience for you.

And finally, I hope to see a bunch of you at the MK/BFD shows next month (please go here for all dates and ticket links). Me, Bryan Beller and Joe Travers doing our thing, with the Travis Larson Band opening – it’s going to be a good time for everyone!

Galangal!
Mike


Scambot 2 Factoids

We’re currently shipping the 2-CD Scambot 2 signed and numbered limited edition of 2000. The double-CD set consists of the Scambot 2 album (65 minutes of music) and the Inkling album (48 minutes of music) in a colorful digi-pak, with two handsome booklets nestled within. You’ll get an immediate download of Scambot 2 as soon as you pre-order. (You’ll have to wait until your CD set arrives to hear Inkling, which, by the way, features the brilliant RICK MUSALLAM on the song “Cram”!!)

Scambot 2 itself is now available as a single-album paid download. (Inkling won’t be available as a download – it’s only available as part of the 2-CD set.)


SCAMBOT 2

1. In The Trees (10:28)
2. Roots Twist (3:02)
3. Sam (3:20)
4. Clipper (4:36)
5. Forget About It (0:46)
6. Pretzels (4:25)
7. Buzz (4:32)
8. Race The Stars (3:44)
9. O (1:26)
10. Roll (6:23)
11. Constructed (3:46)
12. Freezer Burn (5:23)
13. Scores of People (5:22)
14. Cold Hands Gnat (4:00)
15. Proceed (3:19)


INKLING (More from the Scambot 2 Sessions)

1. Presence (0:48)
2. Scambot (2:17)
3. Boghe (4:01)
4. Sickness (2:01)
5. The Coma (2:11)
6. I Named You (0:45)
7. Falafel (1:29)
8. O Elastic Love! (1:23)
9. Cram (8:10)
10. Mystery Song (0:04)
11. E (0:37)
12. The Scorpions (5:32)
13. Skating Backwards (2:15)
14. Tom (7:01)
15. Mayday! (1:25)
16. Lovesong (1:27)
17. Back It Up (2:54)
18. Inkling (1:37)
19. Uncompressed Rag (2:04)

Mike Keneally’s Bonus Disc Song Diary, Pt. 1!

What would it be like if I said a few words about each track on Inkling, the second album which comes with the physical edition of Scambot 2?

I think… it might go… a little something… like… this:

Presence

This is a little scene-setting thing I recorded at home around 2008 or so. It was in fact meant to be the introduction to “Popes,” a song that ended up on You Must Be This Tall. In fact after YMBTT came out and I found this track in my files (under the name “Popes Intro”) I was a bit distraught that I hadn’t included it on that album – but now I’m glad I waited. I think that opening chord, and the odd cascades of melody which follow it, work nicely as a welcome into the world of Inkling.

Scambot

It’s kind of funny that this song isn’t on the main album. It was a starting point for the entire series and was under consideration for both Scambot 1 and 2. I love Marco’s drumming on it, and the sound of the SG on the solo. Lyrically the song is a reminder to myself to meditate – maybe that’s why it didn’t end up as part of either of the key Scambot releases, because the message is so personal that it kept acting like a roadblock to the fictional narrative. I’m certainly very happy about its placement now. Everything on Inkling feels to me like it’s exactly where it’s supposed to be.

Boghe

The synth tracks for the main body of the song were recorded for Court TV in the late ’90s at Lyle Workman’s studio, and the acoustic guitars, and everything in the coda, were done years later at Scott‘s. In its original unadorned form, it very nearly was the opening track on Wine And Pickles. When I sent an early version of the Wine And Pickles running order to my friend, composer/producer/radio presenter Co de Kloet, he said that “Boghe” sounded to him more like one of his own ambient compositions than anything particularly Keneally-ish. It is unusually spacious for me, and I think might provide some indication of what Scambot 3 might eventually sound like. The coda of “Boghe” is one of my favorite little bits of music I’ve ever written. It fades languidly away until…

Sickness

…barges in like a plastic pineapple to the head. The basic track for this was acoustic guitar (me) and acoustic bass (Bryan), recorded in 2006 for a Keneally/Beller acoustic album that we decided not to complete (it was mainly to be duo versions of previously released tracks, plus four new songs: “Hallmark,” “DaDunDa,” “Land” and “Sickness”). Once I realized that this one didn’t need to remain a duo piece, I allowed myself to run rampant with the overdubs. There’s a lot of crazy, noisy stuff on this track, but my favorite section is the contemplative bit starting at 0:39. The first bass note that heralds the new section makes me more happy than is reasonable. And the three clean electric guitars that play the harmonized melodies in this section sound like dreams come true to me.

The Coma

“Sickness”/”The Coma” were going to be a set-piece on Scambot 1, but the plotline never made room for them, so I didn’t bother finishing them at the time (if I had they would have ended up on the bonus album Songs And Stories Inspired By Scambot 1). The basic track for “The Coma” went like this: me writing the main rhythmic motif on my Charvel guitar, and showing it to Marco, and then me conducting the ensuing composition by jumping up and down and contorting my body while playing variations of the main motif, and Marco orchestrating my spasms in real time. That was recorded in 2006, and I spent a good part of the next nine years on and off with Mike Harris ladling gallons of guitar and other overdubs onto it, then painstakingly tweaking the proportions. I have so many mixes of this in my laptop it could practically be its own album.

I Named You

This little kitten was very nearly going to be the second song on Scambot 2, as a major left turn after “In The Trees.” Evan’s flute sounds great, and coming as it now does after “The Coma,” it is a major left turn, and it also nicely ushers in “Chunk 2” of Inkling (check out the back cover of the Inkling booklet to see how I think these pieces group together in four chunks. Maybe four sides of a ten-inch pair of 45-rpm discs?).

Falafel

Don’t know why I called it “Falafel,” other than I think it’s a cool looking word. This was actually the original ending of “In The Trees,” before it became clear that “In The Trees” was more effective at a trim, concise 10:28. “Falafel” is a return to the groove heard behind the guitar solo at 3:30 of “In The Trees,” but taken at a slower pace for a heavier grind. It’s a good jolt of adrenaline for Inkling.

O Elastic Love!

Another synth soundtrack excerpt from the Court TV recordings, heavily modified with guitars. The twisty guitar riff that comes in at 0:19 shows up again on the piece “O” from Scambot 2. I like how much ground “O Elastic Love!” covers in such a short span of time, and the piano solo at the end is one of the most personally satisfying keyboard solos I’ve ever played.

Cram

More than any other song that didn’t make it onto Scambot 2, taking this one off kind of broke my heart a little. I really, really, really like “Cram.” It’s based on the same guitar tuning I used for the song “Weekend” (D A C F# B E, an open D13 chord), specifically because I wanted to be able to go directly from “Weekend” into another song (or the other way around) during a gig without having to switch guitars. The day after the Keneally Band rehearsal for NEARfest 2012, only Kris Myers, Rick Musallam and I remained at Chatfield Manor, enough people to get “Cram” (and “Roll”) off the ground. The initial “Cram” jam lasted well over half an hour. The groove on this thing is supremely exhilarating to me. I’ve spent hours blissing out listening to rough instrumental versions of it. When I sent an early version to Kris Myers, he declared it to be cramtastic.

There are so many things I dig about it: Ben and Jesse‘s vocals, the synth bass, the absolutely insane and masterful Kris Myers drum performance, and the interplay between my and Rick’s guitars. (And I may have mentioned before that Rick’s name was accidentally left off the credits of this song? One of the things I will do in the future, believe you me, is to write an essay specifically about all the wonderful things Rick plays in this song. Until that time, strap on your headphones [make sure you’ve got them on the right way] and pay special attention to all the little Les Paul chatterings on the right side of the mix. Beautiful.)

Well that’s half the album and it feels like a good spot to take a breather. I’ll come at you soon with words about the second half of Inkling. Y’all are freaking sweet people. Have some green beans, man, they’re good for you.

Lozenge,
Mike
PS. We just added a couple of Baked Potato gigs to the end of the Mike Keneally & Beer For Dolphins tour in October/November (see keneally.com for tour dates). They’re on Sunday November 6 and Tuesday November 8 – the second of which is Election Day in the US. I think we’ll all be in the mood for a blowout gig that night. On Sunday it’ll be the Keneally-Beller-Travers trio, but on Tuesday it’ll be Keneally-Musallam-Beller-Travers as we gleefully welcome Rick Musallam back into our ranks.


Scambot 2 Shipping Now!

We’re currently shipping the 2-CD Scambot 2 signed and numbered limited edition of 2000. The double-CD set consists of the Scambot 2 album (65 minutes of music) and the Inkling album (48 minutes of music) in a colorful digi-pak, with two handsome booklets nestled within. You’ll get an immediate download of Scambot 2 as soon as you pre-order. (You’ll have to wait until your CD set arrives to hear Inkling, which, by the way, features the brilliant RICK MUSALLAM on the song “Cram”!!)

Scambot 2 itself is now available as a single-album paid download. (Inkling won’t be available as a download – it’s only available as part of the 2-CD set.)

For the moment, the Scambot 2/Inkling 2-CD limited edition is only available through Exowax. It will go into wider release, through other distributors and retailers worldwide, starting in September.


SCAMBOT 2

1. In The Trees (10:28)
2. Roots Twist (3:02)
3. Sam (3:20)
4. Clipper (4:36)
5. Forget About It (0:46)
6. Pretzels (4:25)
7. Buzz (4:32)
8. Race The Stars (3:44)
9. O (1:26)
10. Roll (6:23)
11. Constructed (3:46)
12. Freezer Burn (5:23)
13. Scores of People (5:22)
14. Cold Hands Gnat (4:00)
15. Proceed (3:19)


INKLING (More from the Scambot 2 Sessions)

1. Presence (0:48)
2. Scambot (2:17)
3. Boghe (4:01)
4. Sickness (2:01)
5. The Coma (2:11)
6. I Named You (0:45)
7. Falafel (1:29)
8. O Elastic Love! (1:23)
9. Cram (8:10)
10. Mystery Song (0:04)
11. E (0:37)
12. The Scorpions (5:32)
13. Skating Backwards (2:15)
14. Tom (7:01)
15. Mayday! (1:25)
16. Lovesong (1:27)
17. Back It Up (2:54)
18. Inkling (1:37)
19. Uncompressed Rag (2:04)