Meet: Garage Rockers Knuckle ahead of their debut album release

Huddersfield Garage rock three piece Knuckle are on the cusp of releasing their debut album, ‘Life is hard when you’re soft inside’ via Philophobia Records on May 17th. They’ve been building a solid core of support after playing hundreds of shows across the UK and Europe with the likes of Idles and Barrance Whitfield & The Savages and are a beacon of light in the emerging Yorkshire scene.

The band, Ben Wallbanks, Rob Crisp and Jonny Firth – a postman, a community musician and… Jonny Firth, go big on riffs and bigger on social commentary and biting, funny lyrics. So we decided to discover more. 

Tell us about Knuckle?

We formed as a two piece on Halloween 2013. Ben was dressed in a rice sack with a potato sack on his head, Jonny was dressed as himself. We’d known Rob for ages so when we needed some bottom end he was the obvious choice. We’ve self released 2 EP’s and now we’re releasing our debut album! Jonny plays Guitar and sings, Ben plays Drums and Rob plays Bass and sings backing vocals.

Who were your big influences? How do you describe your sound to people who’ve never heard you?

We’ve always loved early Black Keys, Dr John and Yer Blues by The Beatles. We don’t sound much like these bands though… It’s still got the blues tinge but with a Punkier sound.

You’ve got a new album coming out, tell us about that?

We bloody have! We’re sick of it already… Kidding, we’re really proud of it. It’s out on 17th May on Philophobia Music and it’s called ‘Life is Hard When You’re Soft Inside’. Jonny started writing it in 2017 while living next to a lake in France, we finished it in early 2018 and recorded it at Greenmount Studios in August 2018.

There are some really insightful stories and lyrics on the record, can you tell us something about the lyrical content of the record? Is there a theme running through it?

The opening track Spilt Milk is a reaction to Brexit which spurred Jonny on to move to France and the rest of the album developed from that. All of the songs touch on everyday struggles, and some deeper themes, like living with mental health issues. Not making light of it, but approaching these challenges whilst not taking ourselves too seriously.

Any in particular that are your favourites from a lyrical point of view?

Rewind the Feeling is a song about a friend growing up in the 80’s as a gay man, being persecuted because of his sexuality. It talks about wishing that I could rewind time and try to take the pain away from his younger self, reassuring him that in the future, everything will be okay.

And musically what were you aiming for? Is there a mood to the record

We’ve always loved the White Album, and how each song takes you down a different path and keeps you on your toes. We stayed true to the songs that were coming out of us, instead of trying to stick to a formula, and let the album take on it’s own persona. We hope by doing this we have produced an album that has it’s own personality.

And how do you write? Is it individually or more of a collective?

Jonny wrote most of it in France. When he got home we jammed and sorted the rest of the arrangements. Jonny and Rob then polished the lyrics. Some songs came out of jams quickly, others took bloody ages to get right.

It’s out on philophobia – how did that come about?

We’ve known Rob Dee for a long time, he’s put loads of our mates records out and he’s a total legend. We originally approached him to put out the first EP but he didn’t email back in time, so we’re really happy to be working with him on this release.

And youre from Huddersfield, is there much of a scene there? Any local bands we should be checking out?

We are from Huddersfield yes, although Ben is the only native. Jonny is a refugee from Wakefield and Rob set out on a quest to find musical enlightenment at Huddersfield University, but ended up joining Knuckle. Two bands that we love that are playing with us at our launch are Don Gonzo and £2, check them out, they’re great. The Huddersfield scene is small but very supportive and nurturing towards the arts.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

To start off with, Jonny need to fix his amp as he’s just blown his speaker, again. After that, we have a summer tour and festivals and we have just starting booking a European tour for October. We’ve been jamming loads too so maybe album number two will be written by the end of the year. We’re also looking forward to playing shows, meeting ace people and drinking shit loads of beer with them – a general good time! Thank you.x

Check out ‘Spilt Milk’, here

Pick up Knuckles debut album Life is hard when you’re soft inside from May 17th via Philophobia Records.


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