It’s not uncommon for a city to possess an active music scene, but few cities can boast the legendary status that Bristol enjoys. In 2019, one of Bristol’s most inventive bands is Knave. And, much like their record ransacking predecessors, the group’s sound suggests an extensive music collection, an intimidating reading list and a great ear for melody.
One of perks of the glamorous life of music reviewing is that you get we to hear interesting music ahead of most listeners. We got the chance to listen to Knave’s most recent single Plain People OST. It’s out June 5th. We really enjoyed it in all its eerie beauty and got the chance to ask the band some tough questions. They were good sports and indulged us on topics ranging from global warming, religion and some of alternative rock’s holy cows.
It was nice to get to hear your song. We were really impressed. Your songwriting sounds very earnest and heartfelt. Do you feel its a risk expressing this in our day and age?
I don’t think it’s necessarily a risk, there’s a weird division amongst young people, music fans in general, even. They either want music that’s going to make them think, or music that is going to do the opposite. We’re probably going to try and avoid the latter as long as we can.
What’s the main theme of Plain People O.S.T?
It’s mostly about the state of the world currently. That sounds sort of vague, though. There’s references to global warming, austerity, totalitarian government among other things. The whole last section is just an inner-monologue, almost. There’s some wordplay in there, ultimately i’m alluding to the fact that whether people are on the left or the right, if you’re in the working class, you’re being shafted, and unity is the important thing to strive for.
If Knave is rock n’ roll, would you say you’re playing the devil’s music?
As much as I love that old Bill Hicks bit about the devil having some “jammin’ tunes, man”, to accept the existence of the devil would involve accepting the existence of a god. So no, I don’t know what kind of music we’re playing, in that respect!
Enjoyed the production on it. What was the vision there? And, did you take care of production duties yourself?
Thanks! It’s nice to talk to someone in the press who has actually heard the song. Our friend Adam Chinner produced the record, we were involved a lot in the process, though. He is the guy that’s smart enough to actualise our ideas for how we think things should sound, I would say. We’re not really sure about what the vision was specifically. It isn’t the way I would have usually produced a more acoustic sounding track. I think that the acoustic guitar feels impersonal, in places. Maybe that helps convey the message of the song, though. This track didn’t take all that much work, we had a final version back with us after less than four days of leaving the studio. I don’t think we made that much in the way of changes. We were going to include some strings, but I don’t think they felt necessary.
There seems to be a nod in your music to 1990s indie and alternative. Is that a conscious influence?
Definitely! Bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Pavement, Sunny Day Real Estate, PJ Harvey and so on, that’s all stuff that we are obsessed with. Fully obsessed, too. I don’t think we’re ever going to escape that influence in our music, that’s what always ends up pushing us towards the heavier, darker sound in places, I think. I think because of the kind of producer that Adam is, and the modern gear that we’re using, when we play a “heavy” riff or something, people would sooner associate it with metal bands, or maybe even our old band For The Oracle, but we think it is more like that 90s alternative sound you mentioned, that’s what we’re doing. We don’t mind that the production standard is more modern sounding.
What are some of your musical influences that are more difficult to spot on first listen?
On our new album you can hear that we’ve sampled artists like Burial. I don’t think that the influence his music has had on us is immediately clear. People like Mike Skinner from The Streets too, the spoken-word thing that has become a staple for us has definitely been inspired by Mike Skinner. Ben Howard was the driving influence behind making this record, which definitely isn’t going to be clear to anyone listening except for us haha!
Any upcoming live plans?
We’re torn! For us we’re weighing up either touring in Winter, or making another album. We’ll figure it out and get back to ya
If this turns out to be a gigantic hit, what’s your dream venue for a tour closer?
I suppose if we’re being realistic, playing a packed show at somewhere like The Fleece in Bristol would be cool. But who cares for realistic? I’d like to play at the Pompeii Ruins, to the ghosts.