Mike Killeen Bio
Originally from Athens, Georgia and now calling nearby Decatur home, Mike Killeen has released five full-length albums and an EP—and shared the stage with alt-country luminary Jay Farrar, Grammy Award winners The Blind Boys of Alabama, and southern rock legends the Marshall Tucker Band. He counts Bob Dylan, Nirvana, Vic Chesnutt, and Uncle Tupelo among his formative influences.
Killeen’s most recent effort, “Ghost,” was produced by Ken Coomer (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo) at his Cartoon Moon Studios in Nashville and released in 2019 on Saturn 5 Records to worldwide distribution. “Ghost” features Killeen’s strongest set of songs to-date, and his collaboration with Coomer builds on his Americana roots, with a collection of tracks that straddles the lines between genres, including folk rock, pop rock, indie rock, and alternative rock. Killeen penned and contributed lead vocals for all nine songs, and played electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica, and piano. Coomer said of Killeen: “Mike Killeen can take you to that place, the place of a lost love, that yearning we all have for someone, or he can paint the picture of human loss, that deep line that runs between life and death.”
On “Ghost,” expert accompaniment from Joe Garcia on lead guitar, Ted Pecchio on bass, and Coomer on drums—as well the textural presence of keyboards, mellotron, mandocello, loops, and well-placed harmonies by Kristen Englenz and Nathan Beaver—give the album its hard-to-label, but easy-to-embrace vibe. The lead single, “She Called Me Last Night,” kicks off the album and points to Killeen’s active return to writing, performing, and recording new music after a long gestation, with the closing lyric, “If you believe in this thing, and all that it means, it will follow you wherever you will go.” Other highlights include “Siren Call,” “You Ain’t Settling Anymore,” and “Decatur Cemetery (Section 14).”.
Killeen’s immediately previous work, “Poverty is Real,” was also released on Saturn 5 Records. Produced by Will Robertson, the record is a more muscular presentation of Killeen’s songwriting than found previously, with crunchy electric guitars and raucous crash cymbals appearing throughout. BeAtlanta.com called Poverty is Real, a collection of “beautiful arrangements and meaningful lyrics.” The title track was included in Salvatore Alaimo’s documentary, “What is Philanthropy,” alongside songs by Patti Smith and Ziggy Marley.
Killeen’s first album, “Guns Kill People,” was produced by Mark Van Allen and released in 2006. The record opens with the electric guitars of “Crippled Town,” before settling into a pedal-steel-laden version of “Searching for an Angel.” Together, the first two tracks capture the spirited arrangements found throughout. Appearing on the album are Van Allen (Indigo Girls) on pedal steel, Mike Steel (Randall Bramlett band) on bass, and Claire Campbell (Hope For Agoldensummer) on backing vocals.
The following year, Killeen released “Demos, Outtakes, Live, and Whatnot Volume I: 2002-2006,” a collection of songs recorded before the Guns Kill People album. The compilation includes “Verb in E,” which appeared on Vol. 2, No. 1 of “Verb,” an award-winning audioquarterly that features original fiction, poetry, and music.
In 2008, Killeen reconnected with Mark Van Allen to record and release “Little. And Low.,” an EP featuring five of Killeen’s more melancholy songs. “Baby Be True” was recorded live at Full Moon Studios in Watkinsville, Georgia in May, 2009. Produced by Jay Rodgers, the album captures Killeen’s songs in their rawest forms, supported only by acoustic guitar and harmonica.
Killeen is also the founder of Amplify My Community, a non-profit organization that has raised and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to community organizations offering support for the homeless and impoverished. Amplify’s funds are raised through the production of music festivals and concerts—and have featured acts such as Lucinda Williams, Jeff Tweedy, Mavis Staples, The Jayhawks, and Bruce Hornsby. Killeen has donated more than 30 performances to Amplify.
2019: Ghost (full-length)
2011: Poverty is Real (full-length)
2009: Baby Be True (full-length)
2008: Little. And Low. (EP)
2007: Demos, Outtakes, Live, and Whatnot Volume I: 2002-2006 (full-length)
2006: Guns Kill People (full-length)