Back in 2019 we had the pleasure of sitting face to face with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ legendary guitarist Mike Campbell for an intimate interview (Read that interview here). At the time Mike was in town playing with Fleetwood Mac but we also discussed the yet-to-be released debut album from his other band The Dirty Knobs, titled Wreckless Abandon. Turns out the album was a helluva lot of rock’n’roll fun and now in 2022, we are about to welcome album number two from The Dirty Knobs, External Combustion (out March 4). Co-Produced By George Drakoulias, with contributions From Margo Price, Ian Hunter And Benmont Tench, it’s no surprise that the new album is as equally exciting as its predecessor and beautiful in all it’s ragged glory.
Australian Musician editor Greg Phillips caught up with Mike Campbell again, this time via zoom to talk about the making of The Dirty Knobs new album External Combustion
External Combustion, the new album from Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs,is set for release on March 4 via BMG. Recorded in mid 2021, the record is Mike Campbell’s second as a band leader, following up Campbell & The Dirty Knobs’ 2020 critically acclaimed debut album, Wreckless Abandon.
External Combustion showcases Campbell & The Dirty Knobs’ evolution, pushing the band to a new level, jumping ahead in vision and drive, proving the first record was no one-shot deal. “The band became this spontaneous type of combustion—to borrow a word,” Campbell recalls. “The longer we played, the more intuitive it got.”
Co-produced by Campbell and George Drakoulias (The Black Crowes, The Jayhawks), the 11-track album was recorded at Campbell’s home studio, Hocus Pocus Recorders in Los Angeles. External Combustion also features Margo Price and Ian Hunter as well as piano from fellow Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers founding member Benmont Tench on “Lightning Boogie.” Although Campbell wrote most of the songs on the new album within the past year, two of the tracks had been written in the 90’s, only to be rediscovered in Campbell’s extensive vault of unreleased compositions.
The Dirty Knobs came together nearly two decades ago, after Campbell met guitarist Jason Sinay (Neil Diamond, Ivan Neville) at a session and liked the way their guitars sounded together. What began as a less structured project for Campbell in between The Heartbreakers’ touring became something else altogether when they added the rhythm section of bassist Lance Morrison (Don Henley) and drummer Matt Laug (Slash, Alanis Morissette).
What followed was several years of intimate, almost incognito, performances in the band’s home base of Los Angeles and surrounding Southern California cities. After all those years playing together, it became clear The Dirty Knobs should take what they were doing to the next level. Following the passing of Campbell’s longtime compatriot, friend and bandmate Tom Petty and his performances with Fleetwood Mac on their 2018-2019 World Tour, The Dirty Knobs released their album Wreckless Abandon in 2020 to widespread praise; Forbes declared, “The aptly titled Wreckless Abandon is a wholly rollicking, joyous affair, a record whose 13 songs recall some of Campbell’s finest recorded moments alongside Petty as co-writer,” while American Songwriter proclaimed, “[Mike Campbell] doesn’t diverge from the essential sound of The Heartbreakers as much as it celebrates and builds on the legacy he helped establish.”
MIKE CAMPBELL & THE DIRTY KNOBS
1. Wicked Mind
2. Brigitte Bardot
3. Cheap Talk
4. External Combustion
5. Dirty Job (featuring Ian Hunter)
6. State Of Mind (Featuring Margo Price)
7. Lightning Boogie
8. Rat City
9. In This Lifetime
10. It Is Written
11. Electric Gypsy
Pre-order External Combustion https://thedirtyknobs.lnk.to/ExternalCombustion