An Interview With The Philadelphia-Based Alt-Rock Band, KNIGHTLIFE!
Posted On 13 Dec 2018
Meet the Phildelphia-based alt rock band Knightlife! On October 26th, they released their debut LP called “Forever Fight.”
Connect With Knightlife Here:
Learn more about Knightlife in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
No problem. My name is Bruce. I’m one of the songwriters for Knightlife. I’ll do my best on filling you in on who other people in the band are. This is our band line-up:
Bruce MacKnight – guitar, backups, songwriter
Aaron Van Allen – vocals, drums, songwriter
Rich Giduck – bass, backups, songwriter
Anthony Angelina – backups, live drums
Blaine Alderfer – backups, live guitar
The next thing I have to do today is prepare some demos for our future projects. Lately I’ve been demoing these new songs by only applying acoustic guitar and vocals. For one, it’s much quicker that way. But also, it allows you to be more imaginative when adding layers.
Since we are at the end of 2018, how has this year treated this band? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year? How close are you to reaching it?
This year has been phenomenal. It began with our appearance on Radio 104.5, Philadelphia’s Alternative rock station. After feeling the momentum gleaned from the radio show we took to task on finishing Forever Fight. The environment present during our recording process was unlike any other. We built up a style and rapport with all moving parts. The sometimes foreign air present in the studio setting was vanquished. I think you can really hear that on the record – that we are present every step of the way.
So, the goal of the year was to finish Forever Fight. It’s empowering to know we accomplished our goal. The goal for 2019 is to do it all again.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could agree on?
Well, Rich and I have been in this band for five years together. The band name is born from my last name. In the beginning I really just thought it sounded cool. But now, realizing how many allusions in our music are made to night-time activities and the exploration of life, the name “knightlife” comes into focus.
The additions of Aaron, our singer/engineer/songwriter, and Anthony, our live drummer, were so necessary to achieve our goals. Aaron took on a role that activity improved Knightlife’s style. Together we searched for tones, sounds, and feelings that embody our vision of Knightlife. Anthony’s contributions are valuable in that he afforded us the ability to gig as much as we wanted. It’s important for your band to be spirited; the energy felt during music-making greatly affects the process.
Really, the successful nature of the radio show helped solidify everyone’s intentions and interest in the band.
How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group?
Being from Philadelphia, and hanging most in West-Philadelphia, has introduced us to hard situations. The band sings about hardship, trial and error, and the difficulties of developmental stages. I think that is greatly attributed to our east-coast character. Our surrounding culture can be seen as uncaring. We want to seen as caring.
How has your various musical backgrounds helped shape the sound of this band?
I think we all embrace the canonical nature of rock music. The idea that a line can be drawn between The Beatles and Nirvana; or Eric Clapton and Oasis. The rock songwriter is pulling from a shared pool. With this in mind we are able to understand and encourage discussion about influences and backgrounds. This really demanded that we produce a cohesive album. We understand our influences as cohesive, and belonging to a larger tradition. Thus, we strove for the same status.
What did t feel like finally releasing your debut album, “Forever Fight”? How did you celebrate the release?
It was exciting to know the record would be out there – forever! I am excited to see how it grows over time. All of the feedback on the project has been positive, which inspiries to me to write more. We celebrated the release at The Grape Room, a club in Philadelphia. The sing along during insomnia was one for the ages. It’s up on our youtube page, I’ll be sure to post that at the bottom.
What did it feel like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process of making it in the studio?
Putting together the track listing was fun. Aaron introduced the idea early on that Slow Down and Insomnia are juxtaposed one another. Slow Down is full of must and pain. Whereas, Insomnia is reflective and, potentially, more at peace with the pain. Thus, one is the dark and one is the light. That reality is fun to experience over and over again when listening to the album.
I wouldn’t say the drum sounds are a surprise; but they certainly are better than I imagined. I think we really nailed the composition of drum parts. My favorite drums parts are on display in Philosophy. They really show how drums can be used as variations that build intensity.
Generally, how do you all go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately?
I’m in charge of the demo process. So, for my songs I will write them on acoustic. Then, take them into the demo process. I’ll add layers as I see fit. For songs Rich writes we will try to hash out all particulars during our demo session. These are fun; we really try to imagine the entire song as if it were being done in the studio. Then, I take the songs to Aaron. We will then talk meaning and intention. We will express thoughts about where parts needs to be expanded or drawn back. The tracking process begins with drums, then bass, guitar follows, finally ending with vocals.
While it’s difficult to pick, can you choose a few of your favorites on this collection? How did they come to be on this album and what was the inspiration for them?
I’m still in love with Night Time Sally and it’s theatrical nature. As the guitar player it’s fitting I choose the song with the most captivating guitar line. I really believe the chords during the chorus are some of the best on the album. Aaron’s belting vocal into the solo is so momentous. It’s really the culmination of the entire record. The last lyrics are “and we both know we’ll be back again” – which to me embodies the future of Knightlife.
I think a big favorite of listeners is Oceans, which is probably the most adventurous song. This song is comes from exploring new places and experiences. The imagination of ceasing to exist in your most familiar arena is tempting. Often we want to escape and change our present circumstance.
I think both of these songs are second-level Knightlife songs. Slow Down and Insomnia exist in a separate class, because of their familiarity amongst the band and our fans. Night Time Sally and Oceans may represent the future.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
Apologies for being non-commital, but I think both are needed in balance to be happy. I think only living in the studio would restrict the experiences necessary to make studio recording better. The same goes for performances. I think only performing potentially hurts your awareness as a player.
Do you find that all of social media and keeping up with your fans has gotten so overwhelming? Or do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?
It’s not really at the overwhelming level at all. I manage all the accounts. I think it’s important I continue to do so because I want this band to be different and unique. The best way to achieve that is to use your intuition and vision on a daily basis.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
Music is certainly an escape to find brotherhood and sisterhood among hate, greed, and pain. I think it’s important for us to recognize that a band, in it’s best form, helps people escape and be joyful. Even in the beginning it’s important to know this.
What musicians would you love to work with in the future? What artists have really been inspiring this group and your music since day 1?
Hands down, Justin Hawkins from The Darkness. His music has always moved me. I think his writing style inspired me to write the best vocal lines as I can. It’d be fun to hear from his perspective how he writes songs and melodies.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
As Knightlife navigates the hardships and complications in life so does our message. I think the only space we can operate in is one of authenticity. Because of this we want our message to be supportive through times of conflict. The message is realistic, giving space to both bad things and good things.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about this group?
Thank you for your time and support. Please share these links!