Question 1 - from asirium
hey mike machine! i was just wondering if you guys ever considered doing video tour blogs or tour diaries. since you do extensive touring and international shows. itd be pretty cool to see whats goin on. i mean i've seen other bands that have you gysy in there video blogs. just wonderig if ud consider it? this artist forum is kick ass! ur amazing guitarrist.Answer 1
We've been planning on doing tour videos for quite a while. Hopefully on the next few tours we do, we'll be filming stuff for everyone to check out. Sit tight!Question 2 - from wearenil
how is it working with Steve? is he well educated in music theory? if so, does that make it easier for you to write music knowing you have a good rhythm guitarist to support and emphasize certain aspects of your playing and the music you write? what is it between your lead & his rhythm relationship that makes it work so well? do you butt-heads at times? if so, why? do you give each other constructive criticism? have you grown more as a musician with his input and vice versa? do you guys sit down and jam things out, like in the traditional sense, or do you guys write separately then bring it to each other and the band?
As two guitarists in a intricate metal band, I assume you must need to balance each other out. What are your strengths(i.e. improvisation, shred, theory) and what have you noticed are his (i.e. improvisation, shred, theory)? I know you are a knowledgeable musician from the interviews I have seen, but I'm curious to your point of view of your fellow partner that supports the material you write. This is more of a question directed towards you as a member of The Faceless and how you work with your band mates, rather than one specifically aimed at you as a individual regarding personal techniques, which I have seen the forum is already asking. I know this isn't a Steve discussion forum nor am I trying to make it. I am just curious as to how you and your colleague work and I hope you can answer them all and I know that's asking a little too much, but I kinda see it as a One time shot to ask one of your favorite guitar player questions. I am sure I am not the only one wanting to get to know a little bit more about you as a member of The Faceless and your role as a guitarist working with another guitar player. Sort of like the politics regarding the guitar duties and how your fellow guitarist contributes as well.
Anywho, I believe you are brilliant and very diversified. Solid structures in your writing and your consistency is superb. Machine!, you are a real shredder. Thanks in advance and for taking time to answer your fans and being real down-to-earth for reaching to us. hope to hear from you! you rock brotha!Answer 2
Steve is a ridiculously good guitar player. We both have our stronger points and so the way we write is very different. The good thing about that is, when he brings something to a song, sometimes it's initially very difficult for me to play because of how different our playing style is. The same is true in reverse as well. It's made us both much stronger and well-rounded guitarists. We write mostly seperate and then will bring our ideas together and end up making changes together and add a lot of things at that point. I'm the primary song writer of the band and kind of the on-the-spot producer with everyones parts, but by the time a song is finished, everyone in the band has been an integral part in its creation and added to it.Question 3 ï¿½ from jimsmithsr
Just wondering if the economy has affected the way you approach music as a business? Are you recording and performing less than you normally would? Great playing on the NAMM video that's posted on the home page of this web-site! Hope to hear you soon...live.Answer 3
The place where the economy has really affected musicians the most is touring. Gas is expensive, people don't have the money to spend on concerts and tee shirts that they used to and I think most bands are feeling it a little bit. It's honestly not too much of an issue though.Question 4 - from caseypwns
Does smoking weed help your writeing process and has it helped with the past albums? Funny question but was dying to ask sience your last album was so experimental haaAnswer 4
I don't smoke weed actually and any time I've ever been stoned and had a guitar in my hand, I've gotten so frustrated at how terribly I'm playing that I immediately put the guitar down. I'm just a lunatic on my own. Ha!Question 5 ï¿½ from thedecrepitlesscynic
1. I know you use the vetta heads live, but what about the studio? how much of your tone is coming from the line6 gear (pod/vetta heads)?
2. that beutiful washburn you play. are there any modifications to it or is it simly the factory model WM526 in green?
3 Practice routine. I'm sure you're a bit busy to actually sit down and practice now, but when you did have time what did you focus on the most and how?
4. how do you feel about the current metal scene as far as fans go? do you feel that the music has taken a backseat to a look or appearence and an emphasis on the scene itself as apposed to the actual support of the musicians that make it up?
and lastly your influences. I hear a lot of Cynic in the new album but who else really influenced your approach to phrasing and writing?Answer 5
1. The Vetta is definitely in heavy use in the studio. As are my Randall V2's. Both amazing heads.
2. That particular one is pretty much stock with a custom paint job.
3. I've always just tried to create my own tricky things to work on rather than doing routines or things like that. I think it makes you develop more of a signature style.
4. Unfortunately bands are catering to young kids that want to relate to a lifestyle more than music. It's very disappointing. I hope this underground movement of musicality explodes and people start to develop an appreciation for music again.
5. I really love Cynic. Also, Spawn of Possession, Allan Holdsworth and Ron Jarzombek are big influences.Question 6 - from LuketheBeef
Hello Michael. I have met you about 3 times in at the Houston venue Java Jazz, and once at Summer Slaughter 08'. I love seeing your and your band live, and i will continue to be at every show that you play in houston, if possible. some questions i have for you i was going to ask next time i saw you, because there is no way of getting a hold of you. haha.
i would love to hear more about this. What it will sound like, how often you wok on it, who will be on it, influences for this, etc.
when i heard about this, the first thing that came to my mind was Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects. lol. i am a big fan of his work, and i know you are too. i would love hear some of your Holdsworth influence shine through this as well.
Any idea of the theme for the next album yet? will it be a concept alnum? good work so far?
I also noticed you played the Line 6 Vetta 2. what brought you to make this decision? i noticed Fredrik also uses it, but i hear he recently switched to the AxeFX.
What books have you or the band been reading lately? Or have you been reading books at all?
I also noticed in an interview you stated that you got to chose the bands you toured with on your Planetary Duality tour. Will there be another tour like this soon? whos decision was it for this? was your booking agency just being nice? lol.
i know you have done work with Veil of Maya, Born of Osiris, and Burning the Masses, from what i know they recorded at Michael Keene Studios. Is there anyone else who has recorded with you? am i wrong about this and you just mixed/mastered for them? also, do you do your own mixing/mastering for your work? where did you record akeldama? mix/mster?
i would love to be able to talk to the rest of the band as well! oh yeah, and tell lyle i said that he should record with SoP. haha. he did a great cover of lash by lash on youtube.
well thanks for putting up with me. and other fans...lol.
i cannot wait for you to come back to houston!
This is a s**t load of questions! Here we go....
1. My solo album is going to be an experimental fusion/metal album. Very guitar heavy, some clean vocals, a lot of wierdness, etc. I've been in talks with some amazing musicians to play on it and hopefully it'll start to come together some time in 2010.
2. Not sure if we're going to do a concept album next time around, but if we do, I have a pretty rad concept brewing.
3. I just read up on the Vetta a ton and had to try one. I didn't know of anyone who played it when I bought one actually. It's an incredible piece of technology. As is the AxeFX.
4. I'm reading an amazing book by Ray Kurzweil called The Singularity is Near. I'd highly recommend it.
5. We kind of pick the bands for all of our headline tours to a degree. We're actually planning a pretty awesome one right now. 6. I engineered, produced and mixed them. I also did The New Reign By Born of Osiris if you haven't checked that out.
7. I mixed and mastered both of our albums.Question 7 - from eclipse42087
michael keene, first ill say you are one of my favorite guitar players and your music and playing style has really influenced me alot..
what do you think of the idea of making a faceless guitar book for either akeldama or planetary duality?? transcribe all the songs, like necrophagist did one for epitaph. i would buy that book first day. im sure alot of people would. youre an amazing guitar player, and thanks for reading/answering.Answer 7Question 8 - from serenades666
As in not a live video. Your one of the bands without one. thought it would be cool to do a full length 30min video of the whole planetary duality CD. oh thought i should mention as well.. your one of the only bands whos 2nd CD didnt suck. So im sure the 3rd and so on wont be a f--k up. So yeah. Music Video? What time?Answer 8
We plan on making a music video in the next few months actually. Keep a look out!Question 9 - from Akeldama
What's up Mike. You have been a major influence for me with playing guitar. I've been a huge Faceless fan a while and have been lucky enough to see you guys several times. What impresses me most about you guys is how original and technical your guitar parts are. Which guitarist have influenced you the most in your playing style and writing?
p.s. When are you planning on coming back to Florida? :]Answer 9
The 3 guitarists who have probably influenced my style the most are Allan Holdsworth, Ron Jarzombek and my dad. My dad, simply because I played guitar with him all the time growing up.Question 10 - from darktranquillity1354
Yo Mike, I love your style man. Is there any secret to fluid playing, like maybe string type, or even neck type? Also, where does that jazz influence come from? Its gotta be some a dat green haha! Im also curious to know what kind of equipment you use to record...both the Faceless albums and Veil of Mayas sound f*****g great. Hope to see you out on tour sometime.Answer 10
I think the fluid sound is just something you really have to analyze and take slow. It starts with precision and builds from there. My dad is an excellent jazz guitarist and I think growing up around that, it was hard to not pick up a bit of that style. I don't even smoke pot man! It makes me all paranoid and stressed.
As far as recording, my studio is based around a Tascam DM-4800 board, with outboard pres including API and Universal Audio going into a G5 Mac tower running Digital Performer 6.0.Question 11 - from unclemole
#1 - I love the guitar tone on Akeldama and Planetary Duality, I was just curious as to how you mic'd it all... Type of head, cab, microphone, pre-amp and compression. (Were the guitars on Akeldama DI or Mic'd?)
#2 - Do you do any daily or pre-show stretches for your hands... I play a show and sometimes my hands hurt so bad! Even with lots of stretching before.
MY band - http://www.myspace.com/nolivingwitnessmusic
\\t _blankwww.myspace.com/nolivingwitnessmusicAnswer 11
1. I mic the cab with 3 mics. On both albums it was a Shure sm57, Sennheiser md421 and a Blue Baby Bottle. Going into an API lunchbox pre. No compression beyond the amp.
2. I just stretch my thumbs back and side to side and jump around a bit to get the blood flowing. That's really about it. If your hands are really hurting after a set, you might want to take a look at your technique and make sure you're not over-straining. I don't have what most people would traditionally call proper technique, but whatever works for you and gets the job done is what's important.Question 12 - from gffCrazyCharlie
Hey man I find that when I am writing songs I tend to fall into certain traps and stay inside a few boxes of notes. I listen to most all kinds of music but am most adept at death/black metal and all the bands I listen to know how to switch between time signatures
and go all over the place without changing tempos. I think the Faceless are especially good at that while also incoporating different styles into metal, do you have any tips on how I could start doing these things myself? Thanks for your time!
P.S. When is the next Faceless album, Planetary Duality is badass!Answer 12
Start listening to fusion! I think it's just something that comes with time and wanting to hear fresh ideas. As you grow as a musician, you just want to hear more complex and fresh musical concepts. These are going on in all genres so there's no reason to limit yourself.
Just listen to the best of every style!Question 13 - from Liquid devin
1.What ever happened to your Keyboard player Michael Sherer?
2. And would you recruit another keyboard player to join the faceless ever again? Because the Synth on Akeldama Was original and an amazing addition to the band. Answer 13
Michael got tired of being on the road and just wanted to have a normal life. I don't blame him. It's tough on the road. He's still a great friend. I think we'll have keyboards on all of our future albums, but it makes more sense for us to put the parts where it really calls for them and just sample them live, rather than going out of the way to find places for keyboards all over the place and having a keyboardist.Question 14 - from Quantum
I thought and thought about gear related questions and whatnot, but those were already all present; so I thought I'd ask you, favorite food and drink?
Also, how did the tour with BtBAM, In Flames, and 3IoB come to be? I'm without a doubt catching it, never missed a set with you guys in it.
Thanks for answering,
I love thai food. It's probably my favorite. I'm a vegetarian and most thai food is very vegetarian friendly. Specifically Pad Thai. I pretty much only drink water these days.Question 15 - from Andii
I saw an interview recently where you mentioned the possibility of a solo album. Are you still planning on this to materialize? If so: What styles of music will be on the album?
Will you be doing clean vocals on the album? Any details are appreciated. Thanks for your time.-AndiiAnswer 15
So far, I've written 2 songs for the project. It's kind of an experimental fusion/metal album. I plan to have clean vocals on some tracks and for some to be instrumental. I also plan to have some awesome musicians playing along side me on it, which I've been in talks with. That's about all I know right now!Question 16 - from Freddie
Heyz, just wanted to know what you look for in buying a guitar....your personal taste i guess..do you look for something really easy to play, or 22 frets 24 frets, do looks take part in helping you decide on a purchase? Stupid question but i'm just curious. And what is it that drives you to write the sort of music you write...That wierd mix between technical brutality and super dramatic solos xD *I love the guitar solo in Sons Of Belial by the way* [8D]
MERGEFORMATINET And do any other technical death metal bands inspire you at all....Spawn Of Possesion, Necrophagist, Decrepit Birth *my personal faves! *
Ok i got one last thing to tell you, i think you should look into this band i found on youtube named Formless....look up a song called Formless Astral and their demo song should come up....it's not that i'm self promoting my band cuz i'm NOT in that band lol, but i think they may be the next big thing in the genre even though they are only at an average age of about 17-18. I'm not asking you to tell me what you think, but just recommending it as one technical death metal fan to another...they too mix technicality with some pretty nice solos.Oh, anyone else who reads this should chek em' out too if you enjoy The
Faceless, Mithras, or Decrepit Birth!
Thanx for your time Mike, was great gettin' the chance to bs to ya!
I generally look for 2 main things in a guitar. How well it plays and how much sustain/tone it has. Obviously, I utilize 24 fret guitars and floyd rose bridges in my playing, so those are also things I need in a primary axe. The wm526 is all of that and more. I am very inspired by several other technical death metal bands including Spawn of Possession! Huge fan. I also really love Martyr, Cynic, Scarve and Extol.Question 17 - from Dysplasia
Hey Mike, this will most likely the only chance to actually speak to you i was hopping if you can explain how touring is for you. Like your experiences and stuff like that. I also would like to know when you guys are finally going to hit the Miami, Fl area since i have never had a chance to see you guys.and the closest you have been is Ft lauderdale a while back before i was into you. Love your stuff and cant wait to read response
Hey Mike, me again. I wanted to know what inspired you to write and play the style of music you play, and if you use any certain program to compose your riffs and solos.Answer 17
Touring can be awesome and it can also be a nightmare. I have a love/hate relationship with it really. I've made some amazing memories and seen some amazing places though. I'm not entirely sure when we'll hit Miami, but hopefully before the end of the year. As for your other question, I use this program called a guitar to write my music. Washburn brand specifically. Everybody should have it Question 18 - from sixpounderscythe
Hey man, I have followed your band since you guys first began uploading songs onto your myspace wayyy long ago. One thing I have noticed about your playing is that you have one of the few soloing styles that actually stands out and sounds original. Do you have a great amount of knowledge on music theory? Or do you just compose your solos based on what sounds cool to you? I know you are a big Holdsworth fan, and I hear some of his sound in your playing, but what are some of your most commonly used scales and what modes do you utilize?Answer 18
I studied theory and harmony growing up, so I'm pretty knowledgeable in theory and I'd say my soloing style is very dependant on this knowledge (or at times deliberately defying this knowledge). I think part of my sound comes from Harmonic minor, but at times I'm playing everything from substitution to fully chromatic. Question 19 - from MarcoEatsBrains
hi.! i'm a big fan of the faceless!, especially of Mike Keene I think that is an insane guitarrist. and my questions are..
what's your Writing Process?
tips for beginner guitarrists?
what's your studio/live Gear??Answer 19
1. I will have riffs or chords I work on and I try to bridge them together to make a lot of melodic and harmonic movement. That's mostly how I write.
2. Don't try to run before you walk. Learn to play simple things well before trying to do sweep arpeggios!
3. My studio and live set up both consist of my Washburn WM526 running into a Randall V2 and Line 6
Vetta through Randall XL100 4x12 cabsQuestion 20 - from Alejandro4891
What did your practice routine consist of when you were just starting out or before you had tours and could dedicate yourself 100% to just playing guitar? Thanks.
-Alejandro Aldana.Answer 20
Well I was very focused on harmony before becoming a full-time death metaller. That's when I started spending a lot of time on technique. I've never been one for practice routines or warm ups. I've always felt it's better to just let your mind run with harmonic ideas and create your own tricky techniques to work on. Having other guitarists to jam with was great for picking up new techniques or ideas as well.Question 21 - from CaseoftheFallen
i know you produced some of there work i was wondering which album you worked on and how has becoming a good producer helped your music as an artist? - case from atlanta
p.s. by the way you were sick with atheist thanx for the guitar pickAnswer 21
Great question! Well first off, I produced and engineered The common man's collapse for them. Producing and engineering has helped me as a musician in a huge way. I have found let's of common problems people have in their playing and have been able to isolate and fix them in my own playing. For instance, most peoples up strokes are not even to their down strokes. I learned that by looking at guitarists tracks when recording and have been able to use that to benefit my own playing.Question 22 ï¿½ from Alejandro4891
I've had the pleasure of watching The Faceless live twice now. Once with Meshuggah and Cynic and the second time at B.B King's with Atheist. My question is when you were younger and practiced how would you balance practicing and having a social life? As silly as that sounds for me it's not possible. I either practice 5-7 hours a day and do nothing or don't practice and go do something with friends. Of course I practice because I'm an aspiring musician, but it's still something that bothers me a lot. Thanks.
-Alejandro AldanaAnswer 22
When I was younger I too would practice 5-7 hours a day at times. As I've gotten older I realized that I actually formed bad habits in my playing by doing that. It's much better to practice for somewhere around 2-3 hours a day and make sure that you're getting quality practice in rather than practicing all day and losing sight of what you're trying to achieve. Good luck man!Question 23 ï¿½ from worminater
Hey Man I'm a huge fan. thank god a guitarist these days can have a completely original in your face style still. I love your tone man and i was wondering what your rigs kinda like? what amps do you use? what did you record planetary duality and akeldma with? and also what effects? i remember something about you using randalls? I have an Rh300g3 a warhead and a
V2. ever use em? how do you set up your sound and tone like whats your settings? and sorry i know im starting to ask alot but i figure this is sorta my one time shot. ahahhah but what cabs do you prefere? and last word in edgewise. man you have some talent i hope that someday the pointers i take from your playing develope into my own style. thanks for keeping it heavy broAnswer 23
My primary rig consists of the randall V2, the XL100 randall cabs, and a line 6 vetta head. I do mostly lead and clean tones with the line 6. As far as settings, I have a very mid-range dominant tone. I like a lot of low end and mids and to back the presence way off. I'm not a fan of the hissieness and graininess of too much presence. The great thing about the V2 is the graphic eq let's you get very specific with how you want your tone.Question 24 ï¿½ from the_high_number
What's your ideal guitar spec?? do washburn provide you exactly what you want??Answer 24
I think Washburn actually just built me the perfect guitar. Carbon fiber fretboard, mahogany body, quilted maple top, EMG 81 and 85 pick ups with a full midi pick up system built right on. It's amazing. I've always wanted to be able to have a higher tension string for my right hand and maintain very low action so that I can play fast and accurate with the left hand. The carbon fiber allows you to get the action so low that I can finally have that combination.Question 25 ï¿½ from seattledude1108
what are your biggest influences in your guitar playing and why? Who are your favorite guitar players?Answer 25
I actually find influence in all sorts of things. My personal favorite guitarist is Allan Holdsworth. My favorite guitarists are ones who focus on playing the right notes opposed to playing as many of the notes as possible (Not to say that a lot of notes aren't fun as well). I'm big on phrasing as well. I also really admire Ron Jarzombek for having such a distinct personality in is guitar playing and Guthrie Govan for his extreme precision and amazing technique.