This was originally posted at Mud's Farm. Thank you WilburyGirl for sharing this with us!
When I was in Ventura a couple of weeks ago, this article ran in their local paper......
Get down and Dirty (by Bill Locey)
Never heard of the Dirty Knobs? Well, guess again. This is a group of four veteran players who will be making their Majestic Ventura Theatre debut Saturday night. You know 'em by association, because the Knobs are led by Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and original Heartbreaker bass player Ron Blair. These are the guys who backed - and in Campbell's case still do - rock icon Tom Petty. But this is not an "...& the Heartbreakers" gig.
The Knobs are a side project for Campbell, who - along with his boss and the other Heartbreakers - will be inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in a few months - always the exclamation point on that ol' resume.
The Knobs is a fairly new band that won't be doing a lot of those same old songs. Rather than doing the Rock Star 101 thing, Campbell instead consented to a brief interview on a recent Saturday night:
Q. So how long have there been Dirty Knobs?
A. Less than a year. We started out as friends in the studio a little over a year ago just recording and stuff. We had so much fun, we figured we'd go out and play some.
Q. So is there an album yet?
A. No, but I'm hoping that if we do put one out it'll be after the next Heartbreakers tour, which I'm hoping will be this summer.
Q. Who's in the band?
A. Well, it's me, and Steve Ferrone on drums; there's Ron Blair, who was the original Heartbreakers bassist, and another guitar player, a guy named Jason Sinay who's a local LA guy.
Q. So this isn't really "... & the Heartbreakers"?
A. Oh no, not at all. There's one Heartbreaker, one former Heartbreaker, and one unofficial Heartbreaker, I guess. It's definitely not the Heartbreakers.
Q. Do you guys play Heartbreakers songs?
A. No, I don't really want to do that because that's not why the band was formed. We get requests for those songs from time to time but so far people seem to enjoy what we're doing without having to play any familiar songs.
Q. How many times have the Knobs played?
A. We've done about 15 gigs - San Diego, Mill Valley and Santa Barbara - all around LA. We don't want to play LA because it's too high profile. So we've just been playing out on the perimeters of LA and just having a ball.
Q. What do the Knobs sound like?
A. It's a lot of things. It a lot about the guitar - we have two guitarists - and there's a lot of guitar playing, but not just mindless noodling. We have songs that are worked out that allow the guitar to do things, maybe more than the Heartbreakers might do. And that's one of the reasons I love doing this band; we can explore guitar stuff we don't get to do in the Heartbreakers.
Q. Originals or covers?
A. We mostly do our own songs. We do a few old covers. Occasionally, we'll do an old Beatles song or a Stones song, maybe a John Lee Hooker song. We do a couple of Kinks songs. We do a song by J.J. Cale that we like alot called "Rock and Roll Records". I'd say about a quarter or less of a set is covers. Since I do play the guitar, there are strains of Heartbreakerish sound, but I try to filter that out as much as possible. We sound Zeppelinish at times; there's a lot of '60s influence and also kind of modern. We might have elements of the Beatles, Nirvana and Bob Dylan all in one song, for lack of a better description, but it still sounds like us.
Q. So how's the Petty biz and how much time is there for this project?
A. Well, I had a lot of time this summer, because we were on a break between albums. Tom was writing and I was writing, but now with the Heartbreakers busy again, I haven't had as much time for the Knobs, but I want to keep them going because it's such a good little group. Maybe after the next round of Heartbreakers business, after the next tour, there'll be more time for the Knobs.
Q. So, time permitting, is there a Master Plan?
A. The Dirty Knobs at this point exists solely for the joy of playing with no commercial rules or walls. Both Jason and I loved Jerry Garcia; he was one of our favorite players. I was always enamored by the way that he had his own little bands that he would go on tour just for the joy of playing. I sort of see the Knobs as something like that. There can be two years between Heartbreakers tours; that's a long time to sit in the studio and try to write a song. I've found that it's so rewarding to just go out and play with the Knobs in these small places because it brings back a lot of memories of when we started out and I just loved it.
Q. So what about the Hall of Fame?
A. We're going out in March for the ceremony. The Knobs have two Hall of Famers, so that's pretty cool, I guess. I'm really happy for Ron; he made it with us. I don't know what to say about that. I feel old but really proud.