Interview by Sarah Williams.
Knife Club are the most mysterious punk band of 2020 – teasing live shows and recordings without ever revealing who they really are. If you’ve missed the hype, we posted an article speculating about their identity (sorry folks: we were in on the joke the whole time).
Today you can finally learn the identity of the band! Our interview below sheds light on the whole affair. To celebrate, they’re launching pre-orders of their first full-length album We Are Knife Club – available from TNSrecords.
Watch this video right to the end, and read the interview below to find out exactly who Knife Club are and what they’re all about!
You can finally tell the world who you are! Introduce yourselves for us.
- Zoë Barrow (Casual Nausea/Mousebrass) – vocals
- Eliott Verity (Nosebleed) – guitar/vocals
- Dan Flanagan (Haest/Matilda’s Scoundrels) – guitar
- Dani Rascal (Faintest Idea) – bass/vocals
- Big Hands (Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man) – drums
- Andy Davies (Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man) – vocals
Was the secrecy of your identity a malicious plot or a fabulous joke?
- Eliott: Actually just a malicious plot. This is just the start. It’s starting as a band, however the end goal is Illuminati levels of power and influence.
- Andy: It was probably a joke that went too far? Bev (TNSrecords) and myself had often talked about interesting ways you could promote a new band. For me, Knife Club just seemed to be the ideal band to try something a bit different.
- Chris: I was kinda hoping we could take it further and become the DIY punk version of Slipknot.
How hard has it been to keep it a secret?
- Andy: Some people think it is the worst kept secret ever, whilst loads had no idea. I’ve not seen anyone guess the full lineup.
- Chris: I think some of us have found it easier than others. I personally would get people ask me if I had any plans now Revenge… was over and felt bad lying about it. Then there’s Dani…
- Dani: Despite being a loud mouthed twat I am actually good at keeping it shut when I need to. My own wife didn’t know about any of this until Bev’s wedding last year.
- Dan: Most of our practices ended up fitting around gigs, so it was fun coming up with reasons for being [at gigs in different cities].
- Andy: That made people suspicious, I think.
- Zoe: It was a point of constant panic and concern. If anyone knows me, I’m terrible at keeping any kind of secret or being cloak and dagger about anything… it’s my face, you see, everything comes shining on through. But it was fun to try! I really enjoyed rocking up to random gigs up north; I think everyone thought I was some kind of super fan. Never told a soul, unless I got drunk.
- Eliott: Anyone who was at Wotsit Called 2018 knew because that was the night it all came together, and me and Dan were not shy about it. After that, it’s been pretty easy, no-one’s really suspected me, so I’ve been getting away with it. Explaining my presence in Hastings was fun, but I just kept telling people I really enjoyed bonfire night.
What have you found most surprising about people’s reaction to the band?
- Andy: I’ve not really been surprised by any reactions. I knew it would divide opinion promoting a band in this way. Some people absolutely love it, whereas others really hate it, which is interesting in itself, I think.
- Eliott: I’ve found it all pretty funny. I think people falling out with the concept of a band before hearing anything or knowing who’s involved is wild. But it’s been nice finding all the speculation and negative reactions and sharing them with the group. A good team bonding activity. I had a mate at my house recently the day I had the album through, and they were genuinely fuming about it.
- Dan: I had a conversation about who Knife Club could be with someone and she said ‘I bet they’re all dicks’. That made me laugh.
- Zoe: I think that when you know who is involved, I’m hoping that people will understand that it comes with the best of intentions.
- Chris: I just hope they all realise we were just being silly and we’re not just dicks.
The name Knife Club was never intended to incite violence – where did it actually come from?
- Dan: The name was originally a bit of an in-joke between Eliott and myself, which resulted in us getting matching tattoos, before we had the silly idea to start a band.
- Eliott: Right, so Nosebleed were staying at Dan’s in Hastings whilst we were on tour once, and we were talking about tattoos. Somehow we got onto a design for a knife with the phrase “this is a knife” on it, and we promised each other we’d get it. Obviously I roped our resident tattoo artist [Zoe] into doing it, and got Dan’s name on it without telling him. So when he got his he had to get my name, and we called ourselves “Knife Club For Life Club”. At some point after that we’d been discussing starting a recording project together, and this evolved into doing a band.
- Zoe: Dan and Eliott ran up to me all giddy at a gig somewhere asking if I wanted to be in their – at that point non-existent – band called Knife Club.
- Dani: Eliott and Dan asked me if I wanted to join a band where I’d have to get a silly tattoo, so I of course agreed straight away. I was absolutely gutted to learn that none of us will be carrying our knives at gigs.
- Zoe: I think if we all started taking band names that literally, we would have a hard time listening to many of the bands that we all love.
Tell us about some of the work you’ve been doing behind the scenes: secret interviews, arranging gigs for a band no one’s heard, covert practice sessions, etc.
- Andy: Well we recorded the album. We managed to do that after just one full practise. The recording was only the second time we’d all been in a room together as a band.
- Chris: I remember getting tapes sent to me in the post when I signed up to mailing lists at gigs (I mean actual addresses, before the internet). I thought it would be a nice idea to do something similar, so we’ve posted out about 300 x 3 track sampler CDs just burnt onto CDRs. We wrote ‘don’t talk about knife club’ on the discs. I’m amazed no one has posted the tracks online.
- Zoe: I have very much enjoyed the covert nature with which everything has happened. For me the secret train journeys up North have mostly been spent listening to the practise recordings to help learn the songs, as we all live hundreds of miles apart. It’s been really nice in that sense cos you can literally hear the progression each time.
- Eliott: I have been dropping hints on Instagram whilst I’ve been throwing the art together, but no one picked up on it. We’ve obviously done some interviews, had some features, and booked some gigs with some trusted promoters. With the nature of the band being what it is, we’ve all been part of the scene for a while, so it’s been pretty easy to get people to take a punt on us without hearing anything. It’s been really rewarding as a project as is.
I feel the hidden nature of the band has poked fun at some of the scene politics of UK punk. Was that a deliberate effort?
- Zoe: I also don’t think it was a deliberate thing at all. I see the punk scene as somewhere that’s very wholesome, inclusive and supportive, but I guess, no matter what you do, there are always going to be those people that feel they have been overlooked.
- Chris: I don’t think it was deliberate, but once we started getting some stick it was quite easy to start thinking along the lines of right ‘how far can we take this’.
- Andy: I’m not sure it was deliberate, but it did seem to anger some people that we had gigs whilst still keeping it all a secret. I’m a huge advocate of working hard as a band and rewarding bands who do work hard, but I’d never expect people to reward my band just because of our work ethic. If someone didn’t want to book my band I’d assume it was because they weren’t into my music, rather than it being a personal thing. But, at the same time, I can’t criticise anyone for being passionate about their band and being disappointed when they miss out on a certain gig.
- Eliott: We didn’t set out with that as our intention, but as things were said and the whole weird hype about the band grew, we sort of worked it in as an in joke for ourselves. Like Andy said, we’ve all worked hard in our own bands, but I don’t think that’s the reason we’ve managed to pull off what we have. It’s just a bit of fun, int it.
You’ve been hard at work writing and recording under a veil of mystery. What music do you have in store for us?
- Andy: The album goes on pre-order today. It will be released on May 1st through TNSrecords and also by 5FeetUnder Records in Denmark.
Lyrically, the album does reference certain scene troupes and traditions. Are they any messages you’re aiming to convey?
- Andy: It covers topics such as DIY ethics and left wing politics, as these are things that are important to us, but there is also stuff that is a bit more personal, such as mental health and alcoholism. I think having two people writing lyrics has helped add a bit of variety.
- Zoe: Think we have been really ‘lucky’ with our timing of writing, as there is so much going on within the U.K at the moment. I don’t feel we are gonna run out of subject matter any time soon.
How did your distance from one another effect practising, writing and recording? What did you do to overcome it?
- Andy: The writing process was really interesting because of the distance. Myself, Eliott and Dan were writing riffs, and Zoë and I were writing lyrics, then we were trying to fit it all together. Putting someone else’s lyrics to someone else’s music was scary. Two people to piss off if I did it badly!
- Chris: It was really interesting to see what people in the band thought of songs when they first got to play them. Because of different people being at different practices, some of the songs that were written mainly by one person, were changed by others and then taught back to the person who wrote it.
- Eliott: For me, at least, the bits I’ve written have been really fun. It’s not my usual style, and I’ve really made an effort to write differently to how I write for Nosebleed, and having everyone else’s influence has been really interesting. Especially as all of us haven’t been present for some things, so it’s fun to see what’s happened whilst you weren’t there.
- Zoe: It’s been a while since I wrote any full songs. In Casual Nausea Simon and Ed write most of the lyrics. It’s always been a struggle because I can’t play any instruments. Most of the time I have just the words in my head with no idea how to get them out. It was really nice and exciting to send them out into the world and see what was made of them. I was never disappointed.
- Dani: This is the first time I’ve not written anything and I’m not gonna lie, I’ve loved it! Geographically we couldn’t have made this any worse for ourselves. We did a midweek practice in Manchester that was a six hour round trip for me which wasn’t ideal but it’s been fun.
Your reveal and album release has come at a time when the world is in shutdown, with many live shows cancelled. Why have you decided to go ahead and release at this time?
- Eliott: If you’re not gonna gig, you might as well do something, right? I mean, obviously we hadn’t accounted for the apocalypse but I think it would be silly of us to delay everything as a result. Plus, I don’t know how much more teasing people would put up with.
- Chris: It was a group decision to still go ahead with the release but I’m glad we did. It’s been 16 months since I’ve played a gig and fuck knows how long it will be now… but at least we get to put the music out there.
- Andy: What is happening at the moment is much bigger than music and we have no idea how long it will last. But, for me personally, music will be a great way to get through the isolation. Hopefully people will enjoy it, and it might pass 22 minutes of isolation boredom.
- Zoe: During this absolute shit storm its really really nice to have something positive going on.
What was the original plan for your live shows?
- Eliott: Originally, it was like one gig then we’re done. Then a little more were added, and a little more, and suddenly we’re going to Denmark. I think we’re going to keep it small, but who knows?
- Dan: We wanted to aim for some festivals and gigs that we were playing with our other bands. We ended up booking more than we thought, but who knows if they’ll all go ahead in this current situation.
How have you all fit in Knife Club alongside your other bands and projects?
- Chris: It’s been tough but I’ve managed.
- Dan: It’s fit quite well for me with Scoundrels being on hiatus and Haest’s gig and family limitations.
- Zoe: I am terrible with dates. There has been a lot of checking and double checking; I like to be busy but organisation is definitely not a strong point. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone both in this band and my other band for their infinite patience.
- Dani: Obviously this lock down has thrown a massive spanner in the works of everything but I’d just about managed to fit everything in. I just spend very little time at home.
- Eliott: Luckily, Nosebleed found themselves in a less active year with Ben getting married and such. It’s just been a case of filling in the gaps. The ultimate aim being never stop gigging ever.
Ultimately you’re all tied together by being part of the TNSrecords family. What do you each feel is the quintessential trait of a TNS band?
- Dani: Play lots of gigs and don’t be a twat.
- Eliott: The one thing that ties all TNS bands together is the little logo on the back of our records. I think TNS has such a range of output, musically there’s a lot of difference, but everyone on the label worlds hard and gives it 100%.
- Andy: They are all idiots…! But, they are also people who put the time in, both in terms of their bands and in terms of building up their local scenes. I think that’s important. It helps build real communities. Don’t tell the others, but I really like their bands too. From a TNS perspective, they write mint music, which I listen to a lot.
- Chris: Every TNS band is hard working, first and foremost. It means we can get away with being a bit lazy as a band and ride on the success of others.
Personally, I associate TNS with incredible live shows, a welcoming community, and a fun outlook on life. Knife Club is a classic example of trying something crazy for a laugh, and seeing how far it goes.
For each of you, what’s your favourite part of Knife Club?
- Dani: Not talking about Knife Club.
- Andy: I’d completely burnt myself out and had no energy to do a band since Revenge split, but I obviously missed it too. This has been really nice for me, as it’s allowed me to get involved again, but the logistics mean it is impossible for it to completely take over. It has been lovely spending a bit more time with lovely people who I didn’t see enough of.
- Chris: I can only echo Andy, to be honest. That, and as much as I love going to gigs, it’s not quite the same when you’re not playing yourself. Well apart from loading in and out. I’ve not missed that.
- Zoe: I have been so used to playing with Casual Nausea for so long, that I sort of wanted to prove to myself that I could step outside of my comfort zone, write some songs, travel on my own, go hang out and perform with a totally different group of people, all of whom I love dearly. It’s been beautiful and a struggle but I wouldn’t change it for anything and I genuinely feel really grateful and proud to be a part of it. Long may it continue in whatever form it takes.
- Dan: Hanging out and spending more time with everyone has been great, we would normally only see each other at our other bands’ gigs. The driving, not so much.
- Eliott: The merchandising opportunities.
Knife Club are releasing their debut album We Are Knife Club on vinyl and CD. It’ll be available on TNSrecords from May 1st. Get your pre-orders in now!