BMG Rights Management
Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs return with External Combustion
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers guitarist formed Dirty Knobs as a side project
Even after more than 50 years in the music business, where he's attained legendary status thanks to his work with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, guitarist Mike Campbell hasn't become jaded about releasing new work into the world.
His band, Mike Campbell & the Dirty Knobs, have released their second album, External Combustion.
"We're excited as hell! I love the record and can't wait to get it out there," Campbell told American Songwriter.
External Combustion follows up the band's debut, Wreckless Abandon, which came out in 2020 — but The Dirty Knobs go back much further than that: Campbell estimates he formed this group about 20 years ago as a side project he could do between Heartbreakers tours, "so we know each other really well, and there's an organic chemistry there that's very comfortable for me," he says.
The lineup consists of Campbell, guitarist Jason Sinay, bassist Lance Morrison, and drummer Matt Laug. For External Combustion, they also brought in notable guest musicians: Margo Price, Ian Hunter, and Campbell's former Heartbreakers bandmate, keyboardist Benmont Tench.
With the end of the Heartbreakers after Tom Petty's passing in 2017, Campbell realized that he still wanted to remain a member of a group, so he decided to make The Dirty Knobs a main focus.
"My mindset is to be part of the band-I never wanted to be a solo artist," he says. "I just feel comfortable with a gang around me. That's the way I grew up, and that's what I like to do now. It's the most fun when you have your friends with you, and you can make music together."
This joyful energy comes across in External Combustion's 11 songs — and even in the album title itself, which Campbell says is "a phrase that just came to me. I thought, "internal combustion," and then I thought, 'No, it's more like an external combustion type of band.'"
On this record, Campbell says, "about half of the songs are new songs. I went back through my whole analog tape vault and found a few songs from maybe even 20 years ago that I'd forgotten about that were pretty good, so I included them on the album. I've found pieces and sketches that I'd forgotten about completely: ‘Wow, that almost got away; I've got to finish that one.'"
While he's happy to resurrect older material, Campbell says he never has any problem writing new songs, either. "There are so many things to be inspired by," he says. "Most of my inspiration came from the ‘60s when I was learning guitar. There were so many great bands and guitarists back then. Those are the sources I've drawn from."
|1. Wicked Mind|
|2. Brigitte Bardot|
|3. Cheap Talk|
|4. External Combustion|
|5. Dirty Job - feat. Ian Hunter|
|6. State Of Mind - feat. Margo Price|
|1. Lightning Boogie|
|2. Rat City|
|3. In This Lifetime|
|4. It Is Written|
|5. Electric Gypsy|