Hailing from Brighton, indie trio Knife Club set the scene for a big year with their debut EP release Black Bunnies.
Recorded at The Levellers’ Metway Studios and produced by Toby May (The Maccabees, Clearlake), Black Bunnies is fuelled by snarling post-punk riffs and moody, brooding lyrics – contrasting powerful, driving moments with reflective, shoegazing space.
I had a chat to Chris Hollands and Louis May from the band to learn a bit more about the story behind the EP…
You’ve just released your new EP Black Bunnies. Can you tell me a bit about how it was written and produced?
Chris: It was written collectively in a dingy rehearsal room under Brighton train station. Lots of the ideas would come from us trying things together, with a few of them coming from me writing short looping for our Instagram page, which we’d then elaborate on a finish together.
Louis: Once we had 2 or 3 songs we were happy with, we’d book a day at Metway Studio to get them down. We were still writing and tinkering and so wanted a studio which had a very comfortable relaxed vibe.
We worked with Toby May, who has worked with loads of bands like The Maccabees and Royal Blood. He was great in guiding us and giving us some feedback. Really helped us think about our approach and fine tune some things.
Overall, we did three sessions; drums, bass and main guitar recorded live. Then guitar overdubs and vocals were recorded separately.
What’s your favourite song on the EP and why?
Chris: Hmm, I love bits of different ones. The main guitar over the first track, Space Between Us, I find really cool, and the meaning behind Ride is most special to me. But I think as a complete track my favourite is the last one, Castles (sometimes called Sleepwalk). We’re a new band and we’re still feeling in the dark when writing new songs, searching for how we want to sound, and I think we all agree that’s getting towards what we want.
Louis: Think for me When My Eyes are Heavy. Just for it’s power and simplicity… it was probably the first song we finished as a band. But I like them all.
The songs have got such great drives and progressions – reminds me a little of bands like Slowdive and Ride. Who were your biggest influences when recording the EP?
Chris: I’ve taken a slow-dive into post-punks history for this band, looking through the early to mid 80s big guys. But I think that’s also veered off to other 80s influences such as The Jesus and Mary Chain. I’m not sure how much of that has come through, but it was definitely in there at the roots of some tracks.
Louis: For me it was a lot of stuff like Idles, Joy Division and Interpol. But as Chris said, we started incorporating other things. I started playing cleaner guitars and getting into more sonic layers. So things like My Bloody Valentine and Ride definitely came into it. But we also wanted to retain the heaviness. Death From Above 1979 was another band that we discussed. We also looked at a few local bands we admire like Ditz, Skinny Milk and Dark Horses.
Chris: More specifically, I think Joy Division has given way to New Order on the last track – a track which started out wanting to bring a bit of Wytches (modern Brighton band) into the chorus, but ended up with this floaty Bernard Sumner vocal over it, which I think makes it kinda unique.
And yes, Ride was a definite influence over the track, Ride – there’s a clue there somewhere…
If you could play any venue in the world, where would it be?
Chris: For me it would be thinking about a festivals stage – Coachella, Lollapalooza, Rock In Rio, SXSW, or the mighty Reading Festival main stage… at night…
Louis: I’d love to play in the states in anyway shape or form. But yes, festival stages would be great. I have to say though, I love small sweaty club gigs. I’d actually love to play the 100 Club. I know Dave has played there in the past but that’s a nice aim.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given as a band?
Chris: So far as a band, we’ve been fairly locked away – it’s not seen the light too much yet as we needed to get this EP written as a set list. So any advice we’ve had so far has been on the tracks specifically by our producer Toby May. Recording the EP tracks was the first time they had been shown to anyone, and he was great to work with us a bit to adjust areas that needed it, etc.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Can we see you live any time soon?
Chris: We’re working now on our next bunch of songs, using what’s been learnt from the first EP, and then yeah, booking shows. It’s booking shows time!
We have a London May show and a Brighton June show, and we’ve just started the yearly game every Brighton band plays, which is called ‘The Great Escape Slot Hunt’ – which we’re currently losing, but which always works eventually, so you can 100% find us playing somewhere that weekend. Even if that’s in the street outside the Mash Tun…
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