Musicscan: Give our readers a short briefing about Knuckledust, please. What are you guys doing right at the moment, what has happened since the release of Bluffs, Lies And Alibis?
Knuckledust: At the moment I think we are busier than we've ever been. Whilst most people were at home with their families at Christmas we were filming our latest video to the song 'Life Struggle' which was released in January on Youtube. We spent the months before that writing and recording our latest album 'Songs Of Sacrifice' to be released on GSR Music.
Musicscan: In general: Are there any principles you would never give up to with Knuckledust? What kind of? What can be said about your attitude towards being a touring hardcore-band, what fuels your anger?
Knuckledust: Knuckledust started as a Hardcore band and will always be that. Lots of bands in the UK will start as Hardcore and become extreme music, metalcore, streetpunk or whatever other name they can put on it to try to sell more records but Knuckledust is and always be a hardcore band.
Sometimes its hard for us to tour because we have kids and families now but in March 2016 we will be on the Rebellion Tour in Europe. Its the 1st tour we've done for a while and we love tour but unfortunately real life gets in the way sometimes. Knuckledust doesn't pay enough to be a full time band so we can only tour when we have holiday days from work. Most of our shows are done over weekends.
Anger in this band is fuelled by everyday life. People sometimes forget that Knuckledust, although angry are actually very positive in what we sing about. Its a sad, bleak story of life but with a message of hope in there somewhere too.
Musicscan: I pretty much like your statement “Too punk for hardcore...Too hardcore for punk” – but is Knuckledust having problems to find its listeners? I cannot believe that… If the answer is yes: how do you feel about your position in between, and why did you stick to this “crossover sound”?
Knuckledust: We've never really tried to find listeners. When we were kids we didnt think anyone would hear us outside of the rehearsal room in East London so we just did whatever we wanted. We listen to many different types of music as a band and our influences will come out somewhere if we want it. We write music that makes us happy and if people like that then that's great but if not then that's cool too. Everyone has an opinion.
Musicscan: Only very few bands have the same line-up for 20 years. What is your secret to achieve that? How has the chemistry within the band develop from 1996 to 2016?
Knuckledust: Wema, Nic and myself were at school together so have known each other for almost 30 years. When Pierre joined the band it was almost like we'd known him for that amount of time too and it just clicked. The band is based on friendship with no ego's so I guess that helps but of course, we argue, we fight and I like that because it means we care and we all want what's best for Knuckledust. We are four guys that accept criticism of each other if we've had a bad performance and believe me we're not frightened to say 'you sucked tonight' if that was the case of one of us but we're also ready to say 'good job man, you smashed it tonight'.
Musicscan: A lot of bands today claim to not be interested in the hardcore scene as such anymore. You still stick to that scene, right?! Regarding all those stupid trends and the fact, that hardcore has become some kind of a stylish scene for some parts, is it hard to still believe in the things you once did, or you grew up with?
Knuckledust: I think if we didn't believe in what we were doing then we would have to stop. We've been signed to GSR Music now for almost 15 years, a label that has signed lots of bands over the years. Pierre is involved with Ruction Records in the UK and will put out albums of unheard of bands. We will offer support to any young band if they asked for it. We can't really give advice on what to do as we're still trying to figure that out but we could certainly give advice on what not to do !
Musicscan: Speaking about the feeling of community: Do you feel that the sense of unity in hardcore is still as strong as it was two decades ago? What lessons have you learned from being involved with hardcore and punk for so long?
Knuckledust: I do think Hardcore is more segregated in its genre's now. Unity years ago was about punks and skins not fighting each other and I think we achieved that but unity today would be about something completely different. I can't speak for the rest f the world but in the UK you could go to a Hardcore show on a Tuesday night and then another show on Thursday night and there could be a completely different set of people. Also, people don't seem to stick around too long these days. Bands will come and last for 2-4 years and then not only break up but completely go missing from within the scene.
Musicscan: There has been a surge of more mainstream orientated bands and big success for some of them over the past few years. How would you classify the state of hardcore especially in the UK from your point of view? Where do you think is it going?
Knuckledust: We need big bands to attract people and that's how smaller bands are formed. The attitudes of signing to major labels has certainy changed from years ago within UKHC. Its almost become the sole aim of the bands where with our era it was about creating a scene that was anti commercial labels and more DIY. Knuckledust formed because we listened to Biohazard, Madball, SOIA etc and at the time they were the bigger bands. Metalcore seems to be the big thing in the UK on the mainstream and thats why there sems to be an influx of metalcore bands on the underground. Its all good.
Musicscan: What bores you about today’s hardcore-scene/-bands, is there something you would like to change?
Knuckledust: Knuckledust has always seemed to me to be an underdog band, always maintaining a high level of respect from their peers, though never quite attaining the commercial success that the band was due. Would you agree? Where do you see the reasons for it?
We never achieved commercial success because we never chased it. It wasn't our dream. We would like to play big shows to thousands of people but we do not want to sell our souls in order to do so. I think most bands are cool these days but there have been a few really good hardcore bands that changed their style only to become really shit metal bands in order to achieve commercial success. I would rather play to 200 people that loved what we do then to play to 50'000 people playing fake shit that we hate.
Musicscan: Can you perhaps tell us something about the intention and the spirit of the band when Knuckledust came to be. What has changed until today, what is the basis for what you are doing?
Knuckledust: Our aim was only ever to make music and see where it took us and that's still the same today. There is no grand plan to achieve commercial success. I guess the basis to what we do is to have fun and spread our message. Its sometimes hard with families and jobs etc but I guess we'll do it forever.
Musicscan: Hardcore and punk rock are often told to be somehow youth orientated genres. Would you agree to this, and how do you make sure to stay young with what you are doing?
Knuckledust: I would agree that Hardcore is a youth culture. At our shows we see 40 year old men and women acting like children!! I think that's why its important to help the younger bands and welcome younger people into our scene as we need them. Youth our the lifeblood and future of our scene. Without them, it dies!
I think it was the Cockney Rejects that said there's only 3 ways out of the East End - football, fighting & Rock n roll. I really do believe that music saved my life. If we weren't in this band then only God knows what would've happened to us. Where we lived lots of the people we grew up with have either been to jail or died or had about 8 kids and regretted it. I think of some of the places I've been to in the world where music has taken me and then I'll drive around my old neighbourhood and see the same guys sitting outside of a chicken shop. I often think they haven't moved from that spot since we were kids and I've travelled to many countries and had many different life experiences. Hardcore did that for me.
Musicscan: How important are compromises to Knuckledust? Should they play a major role at all when it comes to music? To me it seems that you're not willing to take compromises into consideration at all...
Knuckledust: We make many compromises within the band in order to get what's best for the band but if anyone outside of our band want's something from us that is not fitting with what we do then yes, we simply will not agree to it or do it.
We certainly will not compromise on the music we write. We have always done and will always do whatever we want, if its a real dirty, hard song or a more light hearted punk rock song then we're doing it because we wanted to not because someone has told us to.
Musicscan: If you compare the visions you have had of Songs of Sacrifice and compare it to your impressions listening to the album now – what´s the difference, is there any? What stands out in your mind about the chemistry of the recording of the album? How did this contribute to the overall sound and feel of the album?
Knuckledust: Wema wrote every song on that album musically and lyrically. We did a demo for it in 2014 and what we recorded on the album is prett much the same. He did a great job on that album and it really is our best album to date. Every band will usually say that about their latest album but I truly believe this. We took a lot of time and effort getting this one right. Igor Wouters did a great job recording and producing it and it sounds amazing. If I look back at the demo's and the writing sessions and compare it to the finished product then I would say we achieved over and above what we were looking for. I'm really proud of that album and I hope people like it.
Musicscan: Is there something like a main theme or a main idea that runs through all the songs on Songs of Sacrifice, something that perhaps connects the individual songs you‘ve created for the album?
Knuckledust: I think the theme is life experience, As we get older we have more stories to tell. We've had friends die, parents die and also had lots of positive experiences that come from those negative ones. The album pretty much sums that stuff up. Its about real life. People have their own struggles in life and this is ours. People can relate to that whatever they are going through. I think you could read alot of the lyrics on the new album and put those situations into a situation you've faced in your own life.
Musicscan: Last one: What moments in your history for you sum up the whole experience of Knuckledust so far?
Knuckledust: Oh man, where do I start? Chaos? 4 friends started a little band in 1996 and didn't ever think anyone would hear it. Since then we've released 6 albums, played with our heroes, toured Europe countless times, played the USA 3 times, have true friends and people we call brothers all over the world, played some of the major European openair festivals, crashed cars, vans, lost fortunes of money, had stuff stolen, drank the weight of the world in beer but more importantly laughed a lot.
I fully recommend starting a band if you're ever considering it. Throw some instruments in the back of a van and see where the journey can take you.......