Mike Keene of The Faceless: The Joys of Touring

Now I think I’m trying to focus on creating the aesthetic and the vibe within the music...

Mike Keene of The Faceless is no doubt by now chilling with his feet up surrounded by his k9 pals back in time for the Los Angeles fall, and rightly so. The Faceless have endured a lengthy and gruelling tour cycle over the past few months; an American tour with Between The Buried & Me & The Contortionist (who were also on the shores of Australian recently). Mike mentions during our interview the bands were able to catch up as well as the realisation that they were all staying in the same hotel in Brisbane by complete chance. Metal As Fuck have been chatting to all three bands recently and the exhaustion was kicking in “The American tour was fun which made it easier, but we only had 8 days off before leaving for Japan which was super exhausting. So it’s safe to say that all the guys and myself are thoroughly exhausted”. 35 shows in 42 days just boggles the mind.

After the completion of the Nile tour, Mike informs MaF that after a short break there will be further touring in March with further announcements shortly to come. No longer a rookie at touring, we ask Mike of the necessities he can’t leave home without “I find myself pretty dependant on my phone, which is hard when you’re overseas, you can’t use it as much; getting onto shitty Wifi, it’s a bit tough. But over the years I’ve become less dependent on a lot of things, I mean the phone is the big thing, because you feel so isolated from the world. I can’t Skype and see my dogs you know – other than that I can go with the flow. I used to pack a biiiiig suitcase, with all this stuff and it just gets smaller and smaller every time; now I can do like a 30 day tour with like a small backpack”. [Laughs]

Now to the covers album from The Faceless, which has received a lot of praise over the past few months; when did you come up with the idea to take on a project such as this? “I was kind of always interested in doing it. A fun way to try some different things, dip my feet in something different and fun”.

Did you know what songs you always wanted to cover? “I based the idea off the songs I always loved”. It wasn’t an easy feat, you’ve mentioned, to make the songs sound ‘Faceless-esque’ (I just made that word up) “There were a lot of songs that had simple arrangements; songs that I love but turning them into something that was recognizable as a Faceless song was actually pretty difficult. Getting into the thick of some songs I was just like ok this isn’t going to work and we moved onto the next one. [Laughs] The whole process was super fun though, I really like the challenge and I’ve barely begun with it”. What gravitated you to these songs in particular? “I guess both the music and lyrics, a combination of that and nostalgia I suppose”.

The Faceless’ latest album, Autotheism; you’ve mentioned that you are now fulfilling the original idea of the band – what brought you to that realisation? “I think originally with the band I always felt it would be cool for it to be what it is now and there is always a certain amount of reservation when taking big risks because you don’t know how people are going to respond or whatever, but as I’ve gotten older, frankly I don’t give a shit anymore. I wanna do what I want, I don’t care what that means, I don’t care about the repercussions, so yeah, I’m just going to make music the way I want to make music and people will either like it or they won’t”.

How do you intend on further polishing your technique? Any further pools you wish to dip your toes in? “Yeah absolutely, I have a lot of ideas for another record – how to make it unique, it involves having a lot of influences shining through. A big part of the identity of The Faceless is taking things that have always inspired me and lacquering that ‘metal’ aesthetic to it”. Where in the music of The Faceless has been the most focus? Like what is the most crucial element? “In terms of instrumentation, traditionally the harmonic concepts, the note choices, and obviously we are a very guitar driven band (and a drum driven band too). Now I think I’m trying to focus on creating the aesthetic and the vibe, like the ambience with the music. Music can take you to an imaginative place and create a great vibe. Certain artists when you listen to their music, you can find a distinct place where it takes you too”.

The Faceless supported Nile on the At The Gates of Sethu tour that had recently swept the country like a flood..... I still have a mild bangover.....