The Faceless Guitarist Michael Keene's 2014 Summer Tour Survival Guide — Summer Slaughter

by Sammi Chichester
Posted Jul 7, 2014 at 11:01am

In this new feature from the August 2014 issue of Guitar World, the guitarists of Avenged Sevenfold, Morbid Angel, Trivium and other metal acts tell how they'll beat the heat and tame the crowds on the season's biggest tours.

TODAY: The Faceless Guitarist Michael Keene — SUMMER SLAUGHTER

Your sweatiest concert ever?

Two shows come to mind. The first one was in Paris, France. I have no idea why it was so hot in this venue, but it was a sold-out show and we were headlining, so we had a long set to play. It was just miserable. The other one was Emo’s outdoor stage in Austin, Texas. It just traps heat. It was so hot, I thought I was going to pass out, and at one point my vision starting blurring. It was tough.

Tips for playing in extreme heat

As long as I can stay hydrated and not pass out—which actually has been a legitimate concern to me a handful of times—I actually like playing in the heat, because all the sweating and heat relaxes my muscles.

One item you’ll carry with you at all times this summer?

My laptop is going to be crucial for a variety of reasons. We’re working on a new record, and I think we’re actually going to be recording the vocals on our bus.

Highlight of your band’s set list?

I think we have a very diverse set this year, and we’re going to play stuff from all our records. Our music is very guitar driven, so some of the more technical songs are what the crowd seems to like. I think we may even play a new song, so that may be the highlight.

Considerations when playing an outdoor show versus an indoor show?

For me, if we’re playing in the daytime, we just need to be prepared to be out in the sun. I have really sensitive eyes, so it’s hard for me to see out in the sun. I’ve had to wear sunglasses onstage before, which I think is kind of goony, but you know, you got to do what you got to do to get through the set.

Primary gear you’ll be playing this summer?

I’ve actually been playing though a setup of software on my computer. I have a variety of presets that I’ve made, and it’s all automated to run in time with the songs. So our setup is fairly complex, but it’s also pretty simple because there’s not much gear to lug around, which is nice on a festival tour like this where there’s limited time. Beyond that, I have a pretty simple pedal board for the things I don’t want to automate. As for guitars, I’ll be playing Jacksons.

Tips for winning over a tough crowd?

Just be yourself and play with passion. Give it all you’ve got, and try not to think too much about what the crowd is thinking. Ultimately, we make music for ourselves first, and then people kind of have to follow along after that. Play music for yourself and enjoy it, and I think you’ll have a better chance of people seeing your passion for what you’re doing and appreciating it.

Advice for a band just starting to play live?

Make sure you get set up fast and break down fast and play the set time that you’re supposed to play so you have good rapport with the business side of things. And make sure you put the practice in and you’re confident with your material when you step up on the stage. As soon as you get up on the stage in front of the crowd, everything is suddenly a little bit harder than it was in the practice space. There’s so much more stuff going through your mind, and the pressure is on.

Here's the video for "Deconsecrate":