It’s me, Mike again, with a few things to discuss with you. Well I guess it’s a little bit one-way on my end, so not exactly a discussion, but I absolutely welcome you to respond verbally, even if I can’t hear you.
Today’s items of interest:
1. THE THING THAT KNOWLEDGE CAN’T EAT now available for download-only purchase!
We are pleased to announce, for those of you who prefer to sidestep (for personal and/or environmental reasons) the physical Compact Disc issue of my new album The Thing That Knowledge Can’t Eat, that you can now purchase it as a high-quality 320kpbs mp3 album, or an absurdly high-quality FLAC album. Both come with a high-res digital replica of ALL of the album art (right down to the CD label) with all the lyrics, liner notes, a photo of a windmill I saw out of a van window in Germany last year, another photo of the rabbit-shaped finial that lives on top of my bedroom lamp etc. etc.
Those of you who’ve requested this download-only option, we have heard you and we aim to please you! All you need do is visit the download page at the Keneally Store and there it awaits, along with another three pages worth of album, EP and single downloads you might really enjoy filling up your hard drive with (including a passel of free downloads you should know about).
Released in 1995, only 1000 copies ever printed, this collaboration between me, Henry Kaiser, Andy West and Prairie Prince once prompted Matt Resnicoff to suggest in the pages of Guitar Player magazine that we should “consider this all-star aggregate the new Traveling Wilburys – roaming the underground and armed with automatic weapons.”
It is undoubtedly a unique release, and one of the more notable one-shot deals in the history of avant-rock.
Several tracks from The Mistakes – most notably “Aye-Aye Monster” and “Career Politicians” – became staples in the live Beer For Dolphins repertoire, so if you know those songs but haven’t heard the original versions, now’s a good time to get acquainted…especially since today is Bandcamp Friday, the magical day when all proceeds go to the artist without Bandcamp taking their customary cut – a selfless act, thank you Bandcamp!
Your Bandcamp download includes all original artwork, plus newer liner notes I wrote in 2009.
To our friends in Europe who would like to order the new The Thing That Knowledge Can’t Eat CD, but have been understandably put off by excessive postage costs, talks are in the works to defray some of those costs for you by obtaining new distribution on the European continent. Please remain patient a while longer while the details are worked out – we really do want to make this easier for you, and we’re sorry that the postage situation is so ridiculous. Hang tight, please, and thank you.
4. Two new YouTube vids of note!
Here’s a two-and-a-half hour conversation I did with Chris Siebold this week, discussing pretty much my entire solo album catalogue:
This was an epic talk, and I’m tremendously grateful to Chris (who is a really amazing guitarist) for his passion on the subject, for instigating this conversation and for pulling so much information out of me. Even if you’re super familiar with my work and past discussions about it, I’m hopeful that there’s something in this talk that will be new and interesting to you.
Another YouTube interview hit the airwaves this week, this one with Kyle Yates at The Vibes Broadcast – Kyle is a very attentive, patient interviewer and I enjoyed this talk a great deal.
Good gracious I just typed “Jan. 27 2023” and it reminded me that it’s 2023 now. What a crazy, science-fiction-sounding year to actually be in. For some reason I don’t think 2024 will hit me the same way, but check with me when it happens. Actually it probably will.
The response has been very gratifying – it’s mildly unnerving to put out a new solo album after nearly seven years, and I was certainly curious to see if my current idea of what good music sounds like still made sense to people who’ve liked my stuff in the past.
I couldn’t be happier to find that the album is being received really well – we’ve already had to order up another batch! Thank you so much for that, too.
It’s the ‘Big Hit Song’ Video!
The main news for today is that the second video from The Thing That Knowledge Can’t Eat (I’ll just write TTTKCE going forward, ‘cuz that’s a lot to type) is online as of today – it’s for “Big Hit Song” (shown above).
This video, like the “Celery” video that premiered two weeks ago, is excerpted from the upcoming short film by Mikko Keinonen, The Complete Adventures of the Unrelated Sound Guy. The full film will be released February 24, the same day of the wide release of TTTKCE. This movie is based around five songs from the new album (and also includes some otherwise-unreleased incidental music I did for it). Keep an eye on https://www.unrelatedsoundguy.com/ for more about the film, and for now please enjoy the new “Big Hit Song” video.
I love this video (and the entire film) and I’m grateful to Mikko for having the inspiration/desire to make this movie and for doing such a fantastic job of it.
Interviews n’ articles galore
I’ve been talking my head off about the new album to various outlets; there are some interviews/podcasts that will be popping up over the next few weeks, but here are three print interviews that recently came out:
Our pal and supporter for many a year, George Varga at The San Diego Union-Tribune, did this quite excellent piece (shown above), including some quotes from other guitar players you might know.
An interview with Greek blues guitar website Blues.gr.
(The Blues.gr interview is in English, the Cronaca interview is in Italian, but you can work with that.)
A most refreshing spate o’ shows, indeed
The five nights of shows I just did with Beer For Dolphins were really intensely fun (the Alvas gig is shown above.). Man I loved it. It’s been so long since I did a little run of dates in a series of different venues with my band and it really freaking whetted my appetite to do more of it.
Pete Griffin, who had to learn 19 songs in an insanely short amount of time in order to fill in for the unavailable Bryan Beller, acquitted himself fantastically well – the whole band were killing actually and the audiences were magnificent.
Our openers, and dear friends, the Travis Larson Band are also a dream come true. I loved the heck out of all of it and seriously hope I’m able to do more MK/BFD stuff this year, in places other than CA, with TLB opening if we can make it happen, but I also have other business I need to take care of as well, f’rinstance…
Devin Townsend Lightwork European Tour 2023
I’ll be touring Europe with Devin Townsend Feb. 21 to Apr. 5. For the love of gosh, please come to one of these shows if you possibly can.
Where will we be playing, you said? Well, in Norway and Finland and Sweden and Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany and France and Switzerland, and Austria and Italy, and Spain and Portugal, and France and Belgium and Germany again and then we end up in the UK. Look, look all the dates are above, and here. I was on the road with Devin in North America when COVID told everyone to go home, three years ago already (good lord), so I’m well beyond grateful to finally get back to biz with him.
I really love working with Devin (I know I’m using the word “love” in this missive a lot but it’s TRUE, dammit) and if you haven’t checked out the Empath and Order of Magnitude albums in order to experience what-all we got up to the last few times we were hanging out, well, y’oughta.
I’ve been Bandcamping
Hey listen, long as I’m here I want to publicly thank Chris Opperman who’s been working behind the scenes with me and Scott Chatfield on the roll-out for TTTKCE, not to mention maintaining our relatively new Bandcamp page which you should also check out, because we’ve been posting some of the more esoteric catalog items (which in some cases aren’t available for streaming anywhere and are out of print), here have a look.
For that matter I want to thank Scott Chatfield, who has been working tirelessly to get this new album turned into a real-life thing that exists in your lives, just as he’s done for so many of my albums since the late ‘90s – Scott and Chris, seriously, thank you so much. I love you guys. It’s TRUE!!
…and Patreoning, too
I need to also let you know that I’ve been uploading so much rare and weird and interesting and otherwise-unreleased stuff at my Patreon page since mid-2020, and there is now a very large archive of me-related material residing there, and I add to it constantly.
It is seriously like a Mike Keneally boxed set that never ends, and all the content is available to all patrons no matter what dollar amount they choose to subscribe at (the lowest tier is $5/month, if anyone chooses to pay more it’s out of the goodness of their heart). I am very much loving it at Patreon and encourage you to check out that action if you have the time.
Jeez that’s enough to read for now, yeah? It’s 2023! Who has time to read more than a tweet? There’ll be more to type about soon enough, so I’ll be back soon. Thank you!
You can order the CD plus mp3 or FLAC download ($15) now. (MAKE SURE YOU CHOOSE MP3 OR FLAC WHEN YOU ORDER!) Mike Keneally Store order CDs are shipping pretty quickly, and you’ll get your download right away. The official wide release date for the album (Amazon, streaming, download, etc.) is February 24, 2023.
The new album is called The Thing That Knowledge Can’t Eat. It is a beautifully succinct album – nine songs, 42 minutes long, in the honorable, this-album-is-not-too-long tradition of Pet Sounds, Rubber Soul, and Kid A!
You can pre-order the CD plus mp3 or FLAC download ($15) now. Mike Keneally Store pre-order CDs should ship around the end of January, but you’ll get your download right away when you pre-order. The “official” wide release date for the album (Amazon, streaming, download, etc.) is February 24, 2023.
The songs on the album are these:
1. Logos 2. Both Sides of the Street 3. Mercury in Second Grade 4. Celery 5. Spigot (Draw the Pirate) 6. Ack 7. Lana 8. Big Hit Song 9. The Carousel of Progress
Hey, I worked up a short li’l audio sampler called The Thing That Knowledge Can’t Suite. Wanna hear it?
Here are some words from me (Mike) about each song, and the ultra-fine people who play on them:
LOGOS – Sort of an alternate-reality show tune, based around piano and multiple vocals. In it I proclaim my desire to have a beautiful logo, and just wax enthusiastic about logos in general. It’s meant to be ironic, even though I do appreciate a well-designed logo now and then. An interesting way to start an album, I hope. Me on all vocals and instruments.
BOTH SIDES OF THE STREET – I had a dream that I was onstage with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and at one point everyone onstage was sitting on the floor, except for one of their roadies (whose body I was now occupying). I, as the roadie, played this whole song while facing away from the audience. As soon as the dream was finished, I got out of bed in the middle of the night and played the guitar part into my phone, and later in the day made the basic track for this recording. Me on all vocals and instruments, again. It sounds nothing like CSNY, by the way.
MERCURY IN SECOND GRADE – Acoustic tune bemoaning the lack of calm reason in much online discourse, seasoned by some Dad-style complaining about people spending all their time on their phones, as if I don’t do the same exact thing. Me on MOST vocals and instruments, but also featuring a beautiful drum performance from Eric Slick (who has played with Dr. Dog and the Adrian Belew Band, and also recently played on “You All Over Me” from Taylor Swift’s Fearless (Taylor’s Version), thus greatly reducing the points of separation between me and Taylor Swift.
CELERY – This song, and the following one, were written to fulfill a need for some new material to record at an engineering workshop at Sweetwater Sound in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I recorded the basic tracks for both songs at this workshop, with Pete Griffin (Dethklok, Zappa Plays Zappa) on bass and Nick D’Virgilio(Spock’s Beard, Genesis, Tears for Fears) on drums. “Celery” is a hard-rocking instrumental guitar number. I asked Steve Vai if he would record a couple of solos for it, and he came through beautifully.
Check out the first video from the new album, for the song “Celery” (featuring Steve Vai). This video is excerpted from Mikko Keinonen’s short film, “The Complete Adventures of the Unrelated Sound Guy” coming soon!
SPIGOT (DRAW THE PIRATE) – This is the second song from the Sweetwater sessions, with Pete and Nick on bass and drums. Lyrically, this grew out of my love and admiration for the work of Charles Schulz. The phrase “Draw the pirate” refers to old advertisements for the Art Instruction School of Minneapolis, to which Schulz sent artwork as a young boy for assessment, and then later went on to work there to support himself as his burgeoning cartoonist career began to, um, burgeon. Reference to Schulz’ admiration of painter Andrew Wyeth is also made. Somehow these references are folded into a love song, encouraging the recipient of the narrator’s affections to come out of their shell and experience the world.
ACK – In 2003 I did an orchestra-and-guitar suite called The Universe Will Provide with the Metropole Orkest in the Netherlands. Later on I reunited with the Metropole to do a second performance of the piece in Haarlem, but radio producer/Creative Catalyst Co de Kloet had an additional, fiendish plan for me: to write, on the spot, two brand new pieces and teach them to a smaller subset of the Metropole (which we dubbed the “Minipole”). “Ack” is the second of those two pieces (the first was “Chee” from Scambot 1), and it features the following wonderful musicians, in addition to myself on guitar: Peter Tiehuis on second guitar (he plays a great solo at 1:13), Bart van Lier on trombone, Herman van Haaren on violin, Hans Vroomans on acoustic and electric piano, Ruud Breuls on trumpets, Leo Jansen on tenor saxophone, Marc Scholten on alto saxophone, Murk Jiskoot on percussion, Bryan Beller on bass, and Arno van Nieuwenhuizen on drums.
LANA – Originally called “Prawna,” this song is about a meditating shrimp. Decided against the punny title and changed the shrimp’s, and the song’s, name. The main riff popped out while I was recording something else with the Framus guitar, with low open-C tuning, that Devin Townsend gave me in 2019. I didn’t record to a click because I was just experimenting, but then I edited together my favorite chunks into a “structure” and that became the “song.” I then sent that stitched-together “form” to Ted Morton, drummer from the band Pet Shark, and he had to navigate all my insane, click-less tempo shifts, which he did heroically. The other instruments and the vocals were by me. Probably the densest track on the album, and the one that gave me the most trouble mixing. I could probably have gone on tinkering with this tune for the rest of my life, but I got tired of keeping you waiting on the album.
BIG HIT SONG – “Big Hit Song” is a multi-movement piece about a person named Billy who discovers a big hit song, and decides to try and change the world with it. The middle part actually consists of the very song itself that Billy finds, and it’s the weirdest part of the song (my song, I mean), so good luck Billy! Instruments and vocals by me, except for the marvelous drumming which is by Tobias Ralph (24-7 Spyz, Adrian Belew Band), who is a serious force amongst drummers and I sure am glad to have him on this tune.
THE CAROUSEL OF PROGRESS – This is the proggy seven-and-a-half-minute epic of the album, and lemme tell you, I’m so honored to have Malcolm Mortimore playing drums on it, he who played on Gentle Giant’s Three Friends album (a HUGE album for me), and who is currently drumming with veterans Colosseum and just killing it. This is another multi-movement piece, and traverses a fair bit of stylistic ground. Many, many hours were spent on this one and I hope you find that it was worthwhile time spent. Lyrically, it’s about managing to survive 2020 (which is when I wrote it). All vocals and instruments by me, except for Malcolm’s drumming (which I still have a hard time believing is true but, yep, he’s really on this song.)
(At one point towards the end of “The Carousel of Progress,” the word “Yielbongura” is sung as a background vocal texture. The word is found in the following quote by author/workshop leader Malidoma Patrice Somé: “In the culture of my people, the Dagara, we have no word for the supernatural. The closest we come to this concept is Yielbongura, ‘the thing that knowledge can’t eat.’ This word suggests that the life and power of certain things depend upon their resistance to the kind of categorizing knowledge that human beings apply to everything. In Western reality, there is a clear split between the spiritual and the material, between religious life and secular life. This concept is alien to the Dagara. For us, as for many indigenous cultures, the supernatural is part of our everyday lives. ” [Quote from Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic, and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman.]
I found this quote inspiring, and now you know where the album title came from. (After the album art was completed, I learned that Somé passed away in December 2021. If I’d realized this sooner, I would have dedicated this song to him in the liner notes, so I very humbly dedicate it to him here, instead. Gratitude and respect sent out to Malidoma Patrice Somé – thank you for the inspiration.)
Thank you for reading all of this! I’m incredibly excited to finally be delivering some new solo music to you.
HOW TO GET THE PHYSICAL ALBUM EARLY IF YOU LIVE IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!
I’m going to do some Southern California shows with Mike Keneally & Beer For Dolphins in just a few days. The CD will be at the merch table for these five shows, so if you’re in the neighborhood, you can come by and pick up the album in advance of its official release (and enjoy a dang fine show besides). If you desire an autographed copy, feel free to approach me after the show (I tend to wander around the venue after gigs and am very accessible) and I’ll happily scrawl upon it.
If you’re not able to make it to this very limited run of shows and you want the album, simply pre-order and we’ll be deeply thrilled to just deliver the thing directly to you. Can’t beat that for convenience!
We must repeat: you can pre-order the CD plus mp3 or FLAC download ($15) now. Mike Keneally Store pre-order CDs should ship around the end of January, but you’ll get your download right away when you pre-order. The “official” wide release date for the album (Amazon, streaming, download, etc.) is February 24, 2023.
Esteemed music writer George Varga writes in the San Diego Union-Tribune that the six-year gap between albums was “…well worth the extended wait. From the near-Broadway piano lilt of “Logos,” the jaunty, multi-vocal opening cut, to the breathtaking intricacies of “The Carousel of Progress,” which concludes the album with a finely calibrated art-rock flourish, “The Thing That Knowledge Can’t Eat” is a multifaceted aural treat. It showcases Keneally’s accomplished songwriting skills and dazzling musical prowess without him showing off.”
THE THING THAT KNOWLEDGE CAN’T EAT Produced by Mike Keneally Associate Producer: Sarah Crochet Executive Producer: Scott Chatfield Mastered by Mike Harris (assisted by Mike Keneally and Scott Chatfield) at Chatfield Manor, 2022
Portrait photography by Martin Mann Other photos by Mike Keneally Art director is a secret, shhhhhhhh