Keller and McGowan – Interview – Thanks for Asking

Written by on April 25, 2024

Keller and McGowan – Interview – Thanks for Asking – by Liam Sweeny.

RRX: Our style comes from the extension of our influences. It’s like an evolution. We’re influenced, and it inspires us to influence. What can you say about your influences, and what you feel you’ve done with their influence as a musician or band? Have you extended their work?

K&M: I would say that both Peter and I come from a background of bands that had great harmonies, examples being the Beatles and CSN&Y. Generally, we have similar backgrounds as to genre, and I lean toward the introspection of Jackson Browne, the genre defying music of The Band, Tom Petty, Eagles as well as a sprinkling of classic country.

RRX: We all get a little support from those around us. And we also can be impressed by our fellow performers. Who do you admire in your community, and why?

K&M: Speaking for myself, I’m impressed by John and Graham Tichy. John is a legend, having been a part of Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, and he still plays out. Graham is one of the hardest working musicians in the Capital district with all of his projects, including the Tichy Boys, and his work developing young musicians with the Troy Music Academy. I’m also always impressed by my partner Peter who is the best bass player I have ever played with.  He has a bit of Paul McCartney in him and so is really melodic, tasteful and just solid.  Peter holds everything together and sings too.  I’m a lucky guy.

RRX: Stereotypes are a bitch. I mean, aside from the really bad ones, you have cultural stereotypes about everything, including music.  Would do you think is the stereotype for the music you play, and how far are you away from it?

K&M: Ok, so as a musician you’re either playing mostly originals or covers.  Either is valid in it’s own sense. Keller & McGowan play a spectrum of covers.  I admit it!  I wrote many years ago and the band I was in at the time played those songs out.  I was listening to some Jason Isbell recently and it prompted me to start dictating my own lyrics into my phone so maybe something will come of that.  But I have to say that I really love it when the audience lights up and appreciates hearing songs that they grew up with and love.  Music triggers all sort of positive human reactions and the medical community has been discovering the mechanisms recently.

RRX: “The best laid plans of mice and men…” I don’t really know the quote, but I know this one; sh*t happens. When we least expect it, calamity befalls us. Sometimes just comic inconvenience. Please tell us a story about some comic inconvenience that happened to you whilst performing?

K&M: It happened just recently.  I use a heavy duty mic/boom stand, but I guess everything starts to wear out and gets loose at some point.  So I was singing and the boom started to rotate, slowly taking my mic down with it.  I couldn’t stop playing so I kept singing as my head followed the mic as it continued to lose height.  I must have looked pretty silly but the tune got to the point where I could hit a G chord with just three open strings and quickly set the mic up high again.  It was probably the most unprofessional that I’ve ever looked.

RRX: With the exception of singing, everyone has an instrument, an inanimate object that has the distinction of being a lifelong friend. Smooth or temperamental, these objects have a character. So pick someone to answer, can you tell us something special about what you play, your technique, your instrument?

K&M: I always loved the look of a red Fender Stratocaster with a maple neck.  I remember seeing one on the cover of Guitar Player magazine way back when, and knew I had to have one.  One day, back in the mid 90’s, I saw one that was exactly what I had desired, in a music store on Long Island.  It was a brand new 1967 reissue model and they wanted basically half price because of a couple of imperfections.  I bought it and fixed it and loved how it played as well as the way it sounded.  When I moved to the Capital District I joined a band and the leader loved the sound so much that when I showed up at one practice with a Telecaster he said please leave the Tele home and play the Strat.  Since then I’ve bounced between different guitars, but recently started playing the Strat again and I remembered how special it is.  It’s like an old friend.  It’s so comfortable for me and has so many great voices.  My son Peter also loves it and has used it on some of his recording projects.

RRX: Is there a favorite time of year? What time of year does the band have the most shows? Is there a recurring thing in the year that’s particularly memorable?

K&M: The late Spring and the Summer are great times to play as there are always more opportunities.  Of course there are other things that we all love to do in the Summer and it’s hard to do everything that you have the opportunity to enjoy.  For the past eight or so months Peter and I have been playing with a 5-piece band called The Mr. E Band in addition to doing our own thing.  Silly name but great guys, and we have a good number of outdoor town park gigs.  They’re a lot of fun and Peter and I share the feeling that if it’s a music opportunity, let’s do it!




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