Kenny Carkeet has a pretty interesting story for a rock star. This Recording Arts and Entertainment Business graduate was well on his way to building a successful law career when he joined forces with singer/songwriter Aaron Bruno to found the hit rock band AWOLNATION.
The group’s first record Megalithic Symphony released in 2011, and was supported with a long three year stretch of touring and promotion across the globe. During some much-deserved time off last year, Kenny was approached by veteran producer John Feldman to work on sessions with The Used, and would go on to spend his break contributing as engineer and programmer to their latest record, Imaginary Enemy, which releases today.
“Specifically I engineered all of the bass on the whole record, programmed five of the songs, and sang background vocals on two of them,” he says. “The Used – I’ve never met a nicer band, and then John is like the Timbaland of rock music. It was such a cool experience.”
The Used’s Bert McCracken
During the sessions Feldman and guitarist Quinn Allman started each new track by laying a complete guitar line down, after which Kenny would go in and help build the rest of the melody around that initial source. After adding vocals and other instruments it became a matter of slowly removing and replacing certain elements like a jigsaw puzzle until a song felt complete.
“It was the first time either of us had worked that way, and the band thinks it’s the best record they’ve ever made,” Kenny says. “We tried a lot of different things, and it’s really the first record they have electronic production on.”
“For the song ‘Kenna‘ they had this idea of doing a crazy minute and fifteen second intro. I did some programming and made this beat on it, and it stayed the way I helped create it on the final album. It’s definitely one of my favorites to hear back because it was so much fun to make from scratch. It’s something new for them and I think it’s cool for a band to continue to do that.”
The opportunity to experiment with different artists and recording methods has fueled a momentum that Kenny is taking back into his own work with AWOLNATION. As he explained, the members are reconvening this week for the first time in months to start recording and arranging their next album and tour.
“Rehearsals are just about to start for new songs, new shows, new production, new staging,” he says. “With the new record coming out in the fall we’ll start another touring cycle, and I can tell you that the new stuff is an absolute progression of the band. It’s a heavier, cleaner, more realized version. I’m really proud of what we’re all doing.”