interview taken from the skipworth records site. questions asked by paul from abjure, questions answered by frank. interview conducted via email in february 2000
1 - What is your quest?
musically speaking, i guess i just want to satisfy myself
musically, artistically, whatever. i suppose that involves things like trying to involve all the musical influences i have in the music i make, trying to be as creative as possible, being honest musically and lyrically, all that kind of thing. oh yeah, to seek the holy grail too.
2 - Would you say Kneejerk is an emo band or an emu band?
definitely emu. we all have a huge amount of respect for rod
hull, and we are mourning his passing day by day. we actually considered called the band "the rod hull revival plan", but ben preferred the orville fat nappy look, so we had to find something else. seriously though, as for calling ourselves emo or not... i don't know. personally i'm less and less inclined to
put one tag or another on our music, not only because recently we've being doing more diverse stuff, but also because it creates expectations...
i don't want to be an "emo" band or a "hardcore" band, we're
just a band. i guess the only tag i'd be happy with is "punk" because that word sums up a lot of ideals that are important to me. and no, i don't want to get into the "what is punk anyway?" argument right now.
3 - Your first tour was with Abjure (summer '99) very early in your career. Looking back, are you glad you did it? Do you think it was a help or a hindrance to hit the road so early on? How important do you think playing shows is?
well, that tour was one of the most amazing times of my life. i
have been yearning to do a tour or something like that since i was 11 years old, so it was nice. i don't regret doing it that early on, i think it had a really cool DIY spirit to the whole thing. sure, we lost money, but who doesn't? as for whether it was a help or a hindrance, i don't know. i don't really care if it 'furthered our career' or anything, i just had a lot of fun and made some good friends (yourself included), so that makes it worthwhile in my eyes. plus, we also learned all the things not to do on tour, so that the second time round we did a lot better! also, i went to places i'd never been before - dundee, leeds, edinburgh, peterborough... i think playing shows is very important because it's a way of having fun, meeting new people, getting places, all that kind of thing. records are great, but it's just a different ball game to actually seeing a band you like live, or playing live. i don't know, it's just a lot of fun, something i feel i need to do.
4 - On your first record ("helpless i cry"), you talked about
divisions in hardcore and the importance of DIY culture. I wanted to know if those things are still important to you. If yes, I want to know what you think of UKHC right now?
hum. well, as for diy culture, i think that is still important
to me. I think that 'we' can do 'this' on our own, without having to profiteer, and it's generally more honest and fun if we do. DIY is an often misrepresented culture... it's not about being deliberately unpopular or anything, it's about not making profit, and about not being in this for money. so that is still
important to me. as for divisions within hardcore... we were all on a bit of a fresh unity trip when that first cd came out. the realities of our scene have come home a bit more now - as in, it's not going to take over the world one day or anything. i think i see hardcore more realistically now, as a set of ideas
that can be useful for helping people to develop on their own, into their own people, and often as a medium that produces some great art. as for divisions and so on, i think that the ideological part of hc is separate from any actual group
of people; i'm not part of a scene, i have a lot of friends in hc, that's all. and i'm less tolerant of idiots now... i think a show is a great opportunity for great art, exchange of ideas, seeing your friends, having fun and so on. if people are going to fuck that up with macho attitudes, violence, sexism and so
on, i'm not taking it. but that's not an attitude unique to hc shows... i don't tolerate that full stop. the ukhc 'scene' now? well, i reckon that the established, reported-on-in-terrorizer scene is bollocks. uncreative, unintelligent, sexist crap. i mean, however nice these people may be, they fucking suck. I have more respect for some than others... knuckledust do help a
lot of people get into the scene, they're not exclusive, which is nice. that said, pierre is a macho idiot, and is very arrogant these days as well. i think london is pretty fucked, but i have some hope. there is a crop of new bands coming up, like sunstarved day, carver, canvas, the autumn year, symbiosis,
maybe even kneejerk and abjure, hhh and so on. there is hope.
4.5 - There was talk a while back of you re-recording "helpless i cry"...what's happening with that now? (and no, Abjure will not be re-recording "turnpike lane").
well, we were going to for that first tour with you guys, but
now we don't play those songs any more (except for lie down and die) so there's no point really. that cd was fun while it lasted... i'm still proud of it.
5 - Why the change in direction?
hmm. i wouldn't say we ever really changed direction, we've just been growing up. we started kneejerk as it is when we were 16 years old, the first cd was the first 11 songs we wrote (we only scrapped one!) and it was a fair representation of where we were musically at the time. i think the music you create should be a full expression of your influences, your skill, and your emotions. our influences and our skill have expanded, and we have become more adept at expressing emotion, i guess. so yes, the new stuff has more craziness in it, but we're staying honest, playing the music that we feel like we always have. so no, not a change in direction, i think. we just have a bigger cd collection now!
6 - What are some of you fav UK bands? What about your fav live bands? Are there any bands you have a lot of respect for, but don't actually like?
favourite uk bands... i'm not restricting myself to emo or hc
here. But still, i'd say mend this tear, canvas, autumn year, engage, hhh, koreisch, abjure (in all honesty that's true), sunstarved day, symbiosis, hythe (oh my god they rock), carver, arab strap, portishead, cheesecake truck... um... i guess the problem with the second half of this question is that i don't know those kind of bands too well! i try to find something to appreciate in all music, but still... i respect the creativity of a lot of house music, a lot of indie stuff, things like that, but i never really get into them. otherwise, i respect a lot of more straight up punk bands or hardcore bands, like in the
clear, out for the count, perhaps even knuckledust, a lot of ska and oi bands around, but i never really feel what they do.
7 - What is your fav place to play and why? You often play on
bills where you are the only band who doesn't just play metal and shout. Does that bother you or do you think that more varied bills generally make a better show?
our favourite town to play is probably peterborough, just
because the scene there is so nice and positive and friendly, there's usually a good turnout, all that kind of thing. as for venues... i like the goldsmith's a lot, probably the crown too. we played a club in dundee with you guys called droothy neebors, that place was amazing, really nice, good p.a. and so on... as
for varied bills, i think a more varied bill is always better. you get more people along, and maybe you'll plant some seeds in other people's heads... like if metal kids only ever hear metal bands play, well that's fine, but a little boring, perhaps? so on with emo and everything. Things are getting better for us
now, because before when we were smaller than we are now, it was hard to find good bills to play - we were generally too heavy for emo bills and too light for hc bills, but i think some real crossover is starting to take place here now, so it's easier. i don't really give a shit, to be honest. i just like to play shows.
8 - What has Kneejerk got planned for Y2K?
well, we want to get on with recording a new full length. we
want something really spectacular. i think that it is important to set your sights high, so we're trying to make the best, most original cd we 3 individuals possibly can. i don't want to say too much right now, but hopefully we can make something unbelievable. i hope that doesn't sound too arrogant. that's our big project.... we had to turn down some offers of splits and so on because we're intent on doing this. we also want to do a lot more touring with some bands, like cameran from austria are coming over and so on. perhaps go to the usa or europe sometime. personally speaking, well, we all have exams in june, which
sucks, because we're going to have to wind down for a little while. i'm trying to get the next issue of my zine out, chris is working with sunstarved day as ever, ben is thinking of putting a collective creative zine together or something... we'll see.