An Interview With North Hollywood-Based Garage Rock Quintet THE KNITTS On Their Sophomore Album, “Simple Folk” and Much More!
Posted On 07 Apr 2016
Tag: Alabama Shakes, All Access, All Access Music Group, Artist Interview, Boise, Brandon Saige Sinclair-Volkens, Charlie Volkens, Coachella, Cold War Kids, Damon Albarn, Fitz and the Tantrums, garage rock, Get Up Get Out, Grammy, Gutterboy, HAIM, Idaho, Jaime "Jimmy" Luque, Jane's Addiction, Justin Volkens, Knitting Factory Records, Michael Leonhart, North Hollywood, Reseda, Simple Folk, Steely Dan, The Knitts, Treefort Fest, Victor Portillo
Garage rock quintet The Knitts have graduated to the big leagues. Since first launching in 2011, The Knitts have honed their skills on the stage and in the studio via endless shows throughout the indie circuit of greater Los Angeles and a handful of releases. Their sound was birthed and nurtured in North Hollywood, the Valley as the locals call it, but their style and aesthetic is uniquely L.A.
Their latest single, “Get Up Get Out” follows in the footsteps of Los Angeles rock royalty like Cold War Kids, Fitz and the Tantrums, Jane’s Addiction and Haim. Reflecting an artistic graduation for the group, “Get Up Get Out” sees a more mature Knitts, with an evolved songwriting skill set, a clearer sense of self, and an impressive cannon of life experience for a band so young. Take, for example, the track’s lyrics. When lead vocalist/keyboardist/primary songwriter Justin Volkens sings, “I started young thinking patience is virtue/Now it seems my cards have been dealt/You’re the type that took all my failures/And turned them into love songs,” it comes from a place built on heartache and pain.
The track itself is a bold take on garage rock and post-punk, with aggressive guitars and a punk rock, fuck-you attitude. Its charged, jumping chorus is melodic enough to inspire sing-along sessions yet angry enough to ignite bar fights and mosh pits, an energy perfectly brought to life via the track’s youth revolt of a music video. This juxtaposition of nice and naughty heard on “Get Up Get Out” is a perfection reflection of their live shows, which often sees singer Volkens splitting his time on the stage with a ukulele in hand and riding above his fans when crowd surfing.
Composed largely of the Volkens clan, the group features big brother Charlie on guitar, middle brother Justin on vocals, and baby half-bro Brandon Saige Sinclair-Volkens on drums, with lead guitarist Victor Portillo and bassist Jaime “Jimmy” Luque rounding out the band. The band self-released their 2013 debut EP, Gutterboy, a collection of songs recorded in a matter of days. It marked the beginning story of these budding artists ready to leave their mark. Currently, the band is preparing their next project, the Simple Folk EP, out spring 2016 on Knitting Factory Records and featuring lead single “Get Up Get Out,” which sees the group flexing the songwriting prowess they’ve been grooming for the past four years.
Learn more about The Knitts in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So, how’s 2016 been treating you and the band so far? What were some of the highlights of 2015 for you all?
2016 has been really kind so far! We released our first music video and an EP, along with having the chance to play Treefort Fest in Boise at the end of this month. 2015 was the big setup for this year actually. We filmed our video and recorded our record, so it was the year of getting everything together and on track for the years to come!
You just released your sophomore EP, “Simple Folk” via Knitting Factory Records. What was it like putting this collection together?
– It was fantastic! We had been playing these songs since we started in 2011, and finally having the chance to record them and hear them in a way we hadn’t.
How do you think your sound has changed since you first formed in 2011? How do you think the band dynamics have changed?
We are still learning from music! Our sound has stayed the same at its core, but we try and take a different approach with every song. With the willingness to change and also maintaining that adolescents has helped us become who we are.
As someone that currently lives in the North Hollywood area, I’m curious to know how you think being from there has influenced your sound and really the band as a whole?
North Hollywood has some great things to do! We are all from Reseda, so North Hollywood is an easy place for us, our friends and families to get to. It’s a city that has been growing younger and has welcomed us with open arms throughout the years. North Hollywood has seen our absolute worst and our absolute best so it holds a very nice spot in our hearts!
What was it like working with the producer, Michael Leonhart? Who is a little intimidating working with a Grammy – winning musician and the former Steely Dan trumpeter?
Michael is such an incredible person. From the moment he walked in the door he asserted himself as the sixth member of The Knitts! He trusted us and we trusted him! It made the process so fun and so easy. Any jitters we had about meeting him quickly vanished because of his endearing approach towards people.
Can you talk about the inspiration for your single, “Get Up, Get Out”? How did this song come together?
“Get Up! Get Out!” was a song that started as a jam. We would kick in the drums as everybody sort of got situated and comfortable! It wasn’t long until we made it into an actual song!
What bands have been inspiring you all since you started making music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Each member has such different answers to this question! I would say though, that I’ve noticed Alabama Shakes have been in each member’s car for a while now! Funny enough, Michael Leonhart sends us a text last year during Coachella, just to tell us he is watching them play from the stage, because he is up next! When working with someone else, I’d have to say Damon Albarn! He makes those around him so much better, and I would like to pick his brain and try and absorb some of that genius.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from you songs?
I hope our music is good enough for the people who don’t think they can do the same! The people who don’t think they have the right tools for success or feel like they don’t belong! I am open about how hard it is for me to write music, it doesn’t come easy. I am open about it because I want the people who might enjoy our music to know that though it’s not a natural gift, you can achieve what you want in life just by working hard and surrounding yourself with people who maximize your abilities, and at the same time minimizing your flaws. The help and guidance of others can propel you into the direction you’re looking for.
In terms of the music, the songs should mean many things. Some songs are written in obscurity so that the listener can interpret the words on their own! We have our meanings and reasons behind the songs, but that doesn’t mean it’s the “right” meaning. I hope our listeners find their own within our songs. Be it a single lyric or the music as a whole, I just hope it provokes thought.