Bloody Knives: Cybernetic Noise Pop
Bloody Knives burst into my ears via the Saint Marie Records release I Will Cut Out Your Heart For This. The Austin, TX group craft a cathartic soundtrack to a dystopian future with blazing drums, rumbling bass, searing guitars and electronic noise, with Preston Maddox’ melodic vocals drifting through like a ghost in the machine. With White Light Black Moon the band delve deeper into the digital realm with Drum’n’Bass and dance beats, keeping the sound fresh and exciting.
I’ve been enjoying Bloody Knives since first learning about you on Saint Marie Records and I bought all I could find from you. I also like the STFU album you did with Dean Garcia.
Thank you. We really appreciate the support. Working with Dean was a long time coming and was worth the wait.
Did you set out to do something specific with the songs from White Light Black Moon? Was there a theme or band or style you wanted to explore?
There was, but it didn’t really work as intended. We wrote an entire record that we ended up scrapping because the new demos started sounding more like the record we were trying to make. In the process of remaking the record there was a lot of digging up old demos and sampling parts from them, combining one song with another song until we had a new song altogether. A large part of this is an homage to drum and bass music, particularly the DnB from the mid to late 90’s, all the Moving Shadows stuff and also the way that our friends mixed things live and at parties back in the day. Lots of small references to techniques of that era and style of music on the record.
Bloody Knives has always combined danger and catchiness, sometimes in the same song. Are these aspects part of your personality, the outporing of your hate and hope and frustration and love?
I think my personality drives and filters things to a degree but its really not a personal thing so much in that I feel like I’m a curator as much as a songwriter. Jake wrote a lot of the music on this record. I do shape the sounds and moods and that brings a consistency to things. I don’t think people can tell who does what in the band which I think is fun.
Escapism is the main driving force of the band and the music. I don’t think the sounds or lyrics really work on their own as far as putting across what the song is trying to say. I’m trying to say a feeling rather than write a story or tell someone how I feel. Feelings are temporary and life can be boring. I want to take the listener somewhere unknown but also familiar, anywhere but where we may be. Trying to hit the reset button in the mind that clears everything out.
Your sound speaks to me. What have been some of the more extreme reactions from fans upon hearing Bloody Knives, especially live. I’m guessing you’re very loud live.
Yeah we are, the volume and the music itself, people have different reactions to it. We have played for so many different kinds of crowds now, so many different reactions. More dancing lately, that’s always good.
Who is presently part of Bloody Knives and what do they bring to the overall sound with their personalities and musical skills?
Myself, Jake, Jack, and Ritch. Jake and I founded the band and kinda developed the concept, we both write and play/program various things. I sing and play bass and have taken on more of the role of producing and shaping rather than creating as much. Jake also plays drums and does the artwork. Jack plays guitar, it’s a really hard band to play guitar in but he always figures out a way to make cool things happen, and he’s younger than us and not jaded. Ritch is the electronics handler, he came into this record late but was all over I Will Cut Your Heart Out For This, the whirrs and blingblangblammerruurrr stuff, a lot of that was his. He dropped some of that in on Dig The Hole (on White Light). This new record has a lot of electronic elements that we’ve done live before and want to do live again. Matt Spear does most of the videos with live footage, and I’ve done the other ones with the more clipped together stuff. Matt just talks massive trash to all of us the entire time we film, its pretty refreshing actually.
New Machines is just one of the amazing songs on White Light. Can you give us a rundown of some of the instruments and machines used to create the initial parts and some of the production done to craft it into a whole?
New Machines is my personal favorite. This song was from two demos I smashed together, one of mine and one of Jake’s. There were electronic drums on the demo so I used those in some sections after we added in the live instruments. Jake sampled a chop saw for one part and did the other parts in Fruity Loops. A Roland Juno DI and Alesis Micron were used for the keys and a Roland MX-1 was used for a lot of the Fx. Final piece to all of it was Jack’s super icy guitar solo, which is two solos interwoven into one part, clean guitar through a CH-1 most likely, then through the MX-1.
You play bass. I’ve recently spoken with Dean Garcia and Jack Dangers, two other bassists that are better known for leading their bands, rather than simply playing the four-stringed instrument. What is it about the bass that got you into music? Was there a musician that inspired you to pick up the bass guitar? How has that evolved into all that is Bloody Knives?
Bass was my first instrument out of necessity, my friends were starting a band and needed a bass player, but it did always feel more natural to me. I mostly played guitar in bands for a long time but then I got really into Lightning Bolt and it made sense to switch back to bass when starting Bloody Knives so there was something to center all of the chaos. Steve Harris was a big influence for me on bass early on, so was Geddy Lee, Simon Gallup, John Paul Jones. I really love dance music and it is all bass centered. Bass can shape a song.
Are you going the independent route for this album? What are you doing to get the word out to as many people as possible? I imagine its a full-time job to make sure Bloody Knives is a profitable venture. Will you be in any movies, TV shows, games?
All signs are pointing to us doing it independently, or working through various labels to make different things happen. We are open to whatever makes sense at this point. The evolution of our band is just awkward. We don’t fit anywhere, which is fine with me, but it does lead to its own set of challenges. We may become a profitable venture in the next few years. We will see. The more you do the more it costs.
Are there any collaborations in the works for you?
Dean and I have been working on a new STFU album, coming together slowly, it totally blows the first one away. The style is evolving a lot and we are kinda working with that and letting things develop as they want to. I’ve been on SPC ECO records. I’ve done a remix or two, and Conflict might get to tour the US again, but STFU, Conflict and Bloody Knives are more than enough for me, in regard to both satisfaction and workload.
Will you be touring? Come to Los Angeles please!
Part Time Punks on April 15th at The Echo with Tearful Moon and We Are Parasols. Come out!!
We will be touring the West Coast and East Coast in the spring and hoping to hit the Midwest in the summer. Sharing dates with Tearful Moon, We Are Parasols on the West Coast and Ganser on the East Coast, really looking forward to all of these shows and getting to hear those bands for a few shows in a row. UK in the fall. DKFM Fest in Austin, Ulltra Fest in Hull, Out From the Shadows Fest in Portland, Sanctuary Fest in Milwaukee and a few others. Bring it on, let’s do this!
Finally, what are a few of your favorite songs?
Here are some recent ones for me:
Youth Code “Carried Mask”
Bloody Knives Are:
Preston Maddox: vocals/synths/bass
Jake McCown: drums/synths
Jack Ohara Harris: guitars
Ritchard Napierkowski: synths
(by Bret Miller)