An Interview with Keith Kenny

0 0
Read Time:12 Minute, 48 Second
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is thumbnail_Original-Logo-899x1024.png

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with the talented Keith Kenny. Among other things, we touch on what he’s been up to during the lockdown, his newest music, his opinion of the music scene today, and what he’s looking forward to the most once COVID-19 breaks.

If you would like to learn more about Keith Kenny, you can head over to his website, and dig in. Once you’ve done that, check out this interview with Keith. Cheers.

Andrew:
Keith, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. It’s been a weird year, hasn’t it? What have you been doing to pass the time?

Keith:
Hey, yeah, it’s been absolutely bizarre. When the shutdown first started, I took to live streaming and it was a great way to connect with fans when there was nothing else to do. As things started to open back up I think everyone was a little burnt out on live streams so I’ve just been doing it once a month or so now. It was a great way to pass the time and I learned a lot of cool stuff about the technical side of it. Other than that, the quarantine was a good opportunity to put the finishing touches on this new record that I had been working on in the background. I’m excited for it to finally see the light of day!

Andrew:
Tell us about your backstory. How did you get into music? What was the gateway?

Kenny:
My first real exposure to music was watching my Dad play his acoustic guitar in the living room when I was a kid. He wouldn’t play all the time, but when he did, I felt like something special was going on. It seemed like a way for him to vent at the end of a day’s work and eventually he turned me onto playing. Most of the time he would improvise lyrics over a few chords and he also had a small repertoire of songs that he wrote. That gave me a desire to be a songwriter early on.

Andrew:
As an artist, who were some of your earliest, and more important influences?

Keith:
The first few bands that totally floored me as a kid were ACϟDC, Aerosmith, and Metallica. Metallica being the biggest influence on my early playing. It was loud, fast, technical, aggressive, perfect for any teenage guitar player. I would just play that stuff for hours and would never get tired of it. When I was around fifteen or so my Dad barged into my room with Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Texas Flood” and just said, “I bet ya can’t play this.” He left the CD in the room and walked out. On my first listen I was thinking, “Oh man this will be easy, it’s not too fast, I’ll show him.” And then of course you start to try to play like SRV and you realize the guitar is a lot more complicated than you thought. I spent hours just trying to get the feel and timing of his playing. It was a huge milestone getting turned onto his stuff.

But the guitarist that changed it all for me was Michael Hedges. His compositions and guitar technique were just mind-blowing. I couldn’t believe that one guitar was making all that sound. That definitely influenced me to get into alternate tunings and this percussive fingerstyle kind of thing on acoustic. He died tragically in a car accident in the 90s long before I had a chance to ever see him live, but his impact on me was tremendous.

Andrew:
Your first album, Limit Is The Sky, was released in 2008. Looking back, what can you tell us about the recording of that record? How do you feel about it now?

Keith:
Ahhh yea, my first attempt at producing my own album. It was an amazing learning experience, but I look at most of what I’ve done as an artifact from that time period. It’s a pretty good representation of where I was at back then. We had just built this little 20’ x 20’ studio and didn’t quite have all the tools or “know-how” to make a great record, but we tried anyway. I worked on it with my friends Tyler Chiara on Drums and Jonathon Luberecki on Bass, and we had a great time during those sessions. I specifically remember having a big party at the studio to record the gang vocals on “Bedrock.” It’s cool to have that memory saved somewhere on an album. Even though I think it’s far from perfect, there are songs on it that I still perform at shows today and it has a special place in my heart.

Andrew:
In 2010, you released your second studio effort, Evil Fuzz Magic. How did the recording of your sophomore album differ from your debut? How would you compare the two?

Keith:
With Evil Fuzz Magic we figured out how to record in more of a live studio setting so we could track guitar, bass, and drums all together which I think gave the album a cool vibe. That made the whole process move a lot faster than Limit is the Sky which was more pieced together with parts done separately. At the time, I was playing with Ian Luberecki on drums and his brother Jonathon Luberecki on bass. We had been jamming almost every day during that time, and I think we wrote some songs with this rock power trio sound in mind as opposed to singer/songwriter. Evil Fuzz Magic has a lot more electric guitar and some jams that go pretty far out there. It’s fun to listen back to that one.

Andrew:
Since then, you’ve released two more records, And The Light Came Blaring In… in 2013 and Keith Kenny in 2017. How have you evolved as an artist with your most recent efforts? What’s changed for you?

Keith:
And The Light Came Blaring In… was a really important album for me because I had just fully committed to being a full-time musician. I left the day job behind and went all in. It was a pretty scary and exciting time. Since my first few live shows, I always had this one-man-band show thing going on but never quite had an album that represented that. When I recorded And The Light Came Blaring In… I just set up my rig in the studio and performed the songs just like I would at a live show with a few overdubs, so it’s totally raw. I listen back to it and think about how I could have produced those songs a lot more maybe to make them more accessible to a wider audience, but at the time I just wanted something that sounded like me. There are definitely a few songs that stand out as some of my all-time favorites on that record.

Then when it came time to make the self-titled album in 2017, I felt like I had finally figured it all out. I had worked out most of those songs on the road, so I really knew what I was after when I was recording it. For that album, I was fortunate enough to work with the three-time Grammy award winner, Justin Guip, who completely opened my mind to the endless possibilities in the studio. I brought him up a bunch of tracks that I recorded at my studio and we just expanded on them at his place in Milan Hill, NY. What I love about this album is the diversity of sounds and influences from track to track and I feel like it’s a great representation of what I love about music. I kind of consider it to be my debut album if that makes any sense. Also having a guitar solo from Dean Ween featured on that album was a dream come true!

Andrew:
It’s been a few years since your last album. That said, you’ve got a new record coming out called Lifetime Ago Motel. Tell us about your new record. What was the inspiration? Where can we get your new album and what formats will it be on?

Keith:
Yes! The new record, Lifetime Ago Motel. I recorded it over the span of three years, between tours and other recording projects that came up. It took a while because I was going through a divorce at the time and the songs were so personal that I’d have to take a break for a little while and then come back and revisit. I tried to approach each song as a producer as well as a songwriter, so it was a really big endeavor for me, but I’m so happy with how it came out. My biggest fear when working on the record was that I would make something that was a total bummer to listen to because it was coming from a pretty dark place in my life. I’m glad I gave it some time though because a few more songs came to life that I thought fit really well into the landscape of the album. It’s kind of a rollercoaster of emotions that you go through when times are tough. I think it’s a great follow-up to the last record and takes you a little farther down the rabbit hole of some of my favorite musical stylings. It will be available on Vinyl and CD (which you can order at www.KEITHKENNY.com) and most streaming services iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc. I have to give a huge thanks to my fans who made it possible to have physical copies of this album with their contributions to the IndieGoGo campaign. THANK YOU ALL!

Andrew:
Let’s talk about songwriting a bit. I know often times artists’ lyrical content can come from a deeply personal place, and other times they are merely telling stories so to speak. Which is it for you?

Kenny:
Songwriting has always been a very personal thing for me and that is definitely apparent on this new album. Sometimes, I wish that I could separate the two a little more and I’m working on that, but it’s difficult for me. Music is an escape, but it also ends up being a lot like therapy. I really admire the storyteller-style writers. I think being able to write from a different perspective is an amazing talent and something I really hope to get better at in the future.

Andrew:
In your opinion, what is the state of the music industry these days? What needs to change for both the betterment of the artists and fans alike?

Kenny:
I’ve always been a little fish in a big pond when it comes to the music industry so I’m not sure that I have too much insight on where it’s headed. No one said it better than Hunter S. Thompson though, “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

If anything, I think it’s only gotten a bit more negative! [Laughs].

But if anything can save it, I think direct support from fans to artists is where it’s at. Obviously, the craft of music cannot survive without financial support. It’s easier now for artists to be accessible without the middle-man and it’s easier for fans to directly support the artist. So, if you like an artist…buy stuff from them. Easy as that.

Andrew:
What are a few albums that mean the most to you, and why?

Keith:
Aerial Boundaries by Michael Hedges — This was a transformative album for me. I couldn’t believe that this was the sound of one guitar and it completely changed my musical direction.

Kill ‘Em All by Metallica — for its pure raw energy and attitude, makes me feel young every time I put it on. My alarm clock was “Hit the Lights” for a year straight in high school.

Déjà Vu by CSNY — another album that changed me from a metalhead to singer/songwriter. The coolest thing about this album is how every song is produced differently. I think that made a big impact on how I approach making an album.

Andrew:
Aside from music, what else are you most passionate about, and why? How do your other passions inform and inspire your music?

Keith:
It’s kind of sad to say but everything else kind of pales in comparison to music. My other passion is going to see live music! There have been so many times that I’ll see a concert, and come home inspired to write or try something that I haven’t done before. That is what I have been missing the most during the quarantine…lack of inspiration because I haven’t been able to see any concerts. I would like to get into some other mediums of art though to have something besides music all the time. But If I have to take a break and decompress it’s usually hiking or camping. Try to reconnect with the great outdoors, ya know?

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? Where do you like to shop for music?

Keith:
I love it all honestly with vinyl being the heavyweight champion. There is nothing cooler than a vinyl record. That big ‘ole spinning slab of wax with artwork displayed on that 12” x 12” jacket. That’s the best way to experience an album for me. But I also love the convenience of streaming platforms when you’re on the move, they have their place for discovery. The cassette tape was my very first listening experience so that will always be special to me and CDs were my first way of collecting albums. They are all cool.

Andrew:
Last question. In a world that’s been so confined by the constraints of big business and the alienation caused due to the internet age, how do artists find their footing these days? What advice would you have for younger artists?

Keith:
Man, this is a great question…there has always been some form of struggle for artists and I’m not sure that will ever change. I never got into music to become famous or anything like that, I always did it because I loved it and there is always more to learn. I think if you can stay on that path then you’ll be in a good place. It’s easier now than ever to compare yourself to someone having a great deal of success but that doesn’t necessarily come with happiness. You definitely have to be passionate and honest about what you’re doing and then you’ll find where you belong somewhere in the mix.

Interested in sampling the work of Keith Kenny? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full catalog of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Andrew has always felt himself to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found Vinyl Writer in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Stories from the Stacks. Over time, the column grew into a website which now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process.
Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Average Rating

5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%

Leave a Reply

Social profiles
%d bloggers like this: