Mike Campbell Addresses Whether 'State Of Mind' Is Really About Tom Petty

Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs returned this month with their second studio album, External Combustion, an immaculate celebration of garage rock and all of its gritty charms.

The former Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers guitarist Campbell is a child of the '60s and has always gravitated towards a more off-the-cuff approach to recording. He tells Q104.3 New York's Out of the Box with Jonathan Clarke that The Dirty Knobs aren't much for preproduction.

"Yeah, the band is fast. We've been together so long and we have telepathy and we learn the songs real quick. I wanted to keep them kinetic and fresh. Most of the solos are live, some of the vocals are live. We only played them two or three times each and just moved onto the next song. ... It's rock 'n' roll."

It certainly is a rock 'n' roll album, yet one of the record's highlights is Campbell's rootsy ballad "State of Mind" featuring Margo Price. The pair harmonize on the lines, "You left an empty space in my life / And now I can't find my place."

While the song wasn't written about Petty's death, Campbell says he understands why some people have interpreted it that way.

"I can see looking back at the lyrics now that it could be," Campbell said. "That song was written a long time ago. I dug it out of an analog file somewhere or a tape, and the lyrics rang true to me, maybe because of that. Subconsciously, I could have been feeling that. I can see why you would think that."

Campbell said even his collaborator was certain she knew the intention behind the song.

"In fact, Margo said that," he added. "She said, 'I know who this is about.' I never asked her what she thought, but it was probably the same thing."

Watch the full conversation via the player above!

Order External Combustion here.

The Dirty Knobs are on tour now. Go here for all the tour dates.

Watch Mike Campbell & the Dirty Knobs perform "Wicked Mind" here:

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