I heard your most recent EP, Death, on AOL Spinner and was totally blown away by your wild amalgam of sound! I’m totally into your unique combo of hardcore pace of drum and cymbal bash, expansive astral synth projections, and Preston’s dreamy, buried vocals. What has the reception been like for your Death EP and why, oh, why is it available only in vinyl format?
Preston: Thank you. The reception to the EP so far has been positive. We will know more as the music makes its way out to people. The reception to the songs live has been very good.
We did vinyl w/digital only for a few reasons; mainly that we wanted people to get the physical packaging. I like vinyl and I don’t like mp3s. People told us they wanted it on vinyl, so we wanted to make something for them.
Kim: Vinyl is the #1 format choice for most people. It also looks cool.
What’s next for you album and/or EP-wise?
Preston: The “DEATH” EP 7” is the current release. We have two split releases after that, one with Screen Vinyl Image and another with Bug Chaser, both split tape releases.
Our next full length is coming together slowly. We are taking our time.
What intrigues me about your sound is that you throw down the quiet/loud, soft/hard, slow/fast dynamic all at once, instead of shifting gears in a traditional ‘verse, chorus, verse’ sense. How did you hit upon your sound?
Preston: We have all played in different kinds of bands and like a wide variety of music and try to incorporate it all in the songs. It’s not a conscious decision to avoid the traditional arrangements and dynamics; more of finding a good groove and working with it.
Jake: Preston just likes it slow and fast, all at once.
Your songs are so sonically textured and overwhelming in a good way that I haven’t noticed that you’re “guitarless”. Is it true that you don’t use guitars except for bass guitar?
Preston: Yes, that is true. On the first record and EP there was some guitar, but not on any of the songs since that. It’s common that people think keyboard parts are guitars. It’s all sound, it doesn’t matter so much where it comes from as long as the sources are varied.
Not to give away all your keyboard secrets, but could you drop some details about what kind of settings you use to get your starry, spaced-out to high-pitched, sustained sounds?
Preston: I give all the credit to my Alesis Quadraverb, EMU Proteus and my Roland SPC ECO.
Most of your songs fly by at break-neck speed. Does someone in the band have a thrash metal or punk background?
Preston: Jake and I both played in metal and punk bands. That’s where that comes from. Slayer, Pantera, DRI, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Motorhead, all those bands are influences.
Jake: And just anger in general.
Speaking of background, Preston and Jake, you were both founding members of a previous band called The Joy Bus. Are there any sonic links to Bloody Knives or was that band a totally different beast?
Preston: The last record Sleeping With Ghosts was a bridge between that band and this one, but still different. Joy Bus was a guitar band, no sampling, totally different band.
Jake: Totally different beast. We’re like that beast from that Sega game Altered Beast when he was a full on beast and not just a naked man running around.
You’re based in the musically fertile locale of Austin, Texas. Are you natives of or transplants to the area? How did your 2013 SXSW Spotlight come about? What was the SXSW experience like for you?
Preston: I moved here from Dallas in 2003. I’m a native now, I have no intention of moving away from here, Austin is home.
SXSW decided to give us a showcase. We applied like everybody else and sent them their $20 and they picked us. That was a good show.
SXSW was fun, we had a great time. The best show was the Panache Hangover Party at Beerland on Sunday. Good bands all day, great crowd. I spent most of my time over the week seeing my friends’ bands. Best unexpected show was Suicidal Tendencies at some Mexican restaurant on Red River. Watched from the street, they killed it.
Kim: I’m originally from Houston, TX. I moved to Austin in 2011 for school and its thriving music scene. I never dreamed that one day I would be a part of it.
SXSW was a very overwhelming experience for me. The only time I had been involved in a festival was volunteering for Free Press Summer Fest. I thought the shows that we played were great. I got to see an amazing dark electronic showcase at the Loft 718.
I’ve had a listen to most of your back catalog and I feel that the Death EP is an elevated form of your previous output. There is something more cohesive, focused, and intense about it than previous efforts. Would you agree and is that what you’re aiming for?
Preston: The EP was written in a week, well before the release of our previous full length Blood. The idea was to make a metal album the way we would write one, heavier riffs and stops, harsher noise, something quick and violent with more focus. On Blood we picked songs that showed different parts of our sound, and on this EP we wanted to focus on just the heavier elements and see where it took us. The time constraints of the 7” format also shaped the way the songs worked together.
I’m a little confused about your discography. Based on your BandCamp site, it looks like you’ve released 2 albums, 3 EPs, and a split 7” so far. Is that correct? Was Burn It All Down from 2010 your debut album and Blood your 2nd album?
Discography from beginning to most recent release:
Bloody Knives EP Burn It All Down LP Blood Knives/Me You Us Them-Split 7” Disappear EP Blood LP Death EP
Your band member line-up has changed over the years, with Jim Moon departing a year or two ago. Preston, I know that you are a founding member of this band. Has anyone else been on board from the beginning?
Preston: Jake and I have been in this band from the beginning. That’s how it started out, with us as a 2 piece.
Jake: You’re supposed to tell people I’m the new drummer.
Who was involved in the creation of the Death EP? Was it the current line-up or possibly involvement from previous band members too?
Preston: Death was written and recorded by me and Jake.
Jake: We have some songs that we’re working on that feature both Kim and Christo, so some future releases should have them on them.
In regards to your EP title and previous output, you really push the violent imagery and nihilistic song titles. Does this tie into your song lyrics at all? I can’t totally tell because the vocals are manipulated and half-buried in the mix…
Preston: The titles usually come from the lyrics. The lyrics are generally dark, morbid, and violent. I like horror movies, ghosts, aliens, mass murderers, people psychological problems, disease, things like that. The words are usually available on the album or on our Bandcamp site.
Most of the vocals have layers of effects on them, I like the placement it gives the vocals in the song.
Preston, I don’t mean to take away from your vocals, as I think your sometimes melancholic, drawn out vocal drift is a key counterpoint to the conflagration of the instruments. Are there any singers who you admire who also sing in this style?
Preston: Dave Gilmour, Hope Sandoval, David Gahan, Toni Halliday, Kevin Shields, Bilinda Butcher, all influences.
Jim Reid from JAMC is probably my biggest singing influence but nobody gets that. Only one person ever said I sound like Jim Reid, I think it’s pretty obvious.
I’ve always liked the vocal drops in electronic music. All of those random singers grouped together, and their programming is a big influence.
You’re a self-described “industrial shogaze group”. I’m a sucker for certain early 1990s shoegazer-tagged bands like Lush, Slowdive, and Secret Shine. Which bands from that genre are your faves? This might be kind of an odd question, but since the shoegazer genre is guitar-driven, what instruments are you using to get that wall-of-sound shoegazer effect?
Preston: Of the early shoegaze bands I’m partial to MBV, JAMC, Cocteau Twins, Curve, Siousxie and the Banshees, and Catherine Wheel.
We use random synthesizers to get the wall of sound in our music, but it’s not confined to that, any sound is good to use.
There are so many different ways to achieve the Wall of Sound. That term is used to describe a variety of bands with large sounds who use different methods to achieve it. In the Phil Spector’s music it is layers of sound-orchestras, large vocals, big drums and reverb. With MBV its singular instruments and soft vocals. Some bands are just loud and dense.
Kim: Favourite shoegaze groups? I love The KVB, and they are probably one of my favourite bands right now. I also love The Jesus and Mary Chain, Ride, Ringo Deathstarr, Airiel, Atlas Sound (particularly the record, Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel), Wall of Death, and, of course, My Bloody Valentine. Tears Run Rings are great, too. I got a few friends into that band.
From what I’ve read, you have a Blood Remix EP out with a SPC ECO remix of “Bleed Out” and a Crying Vessel remix of “Blood” that features Dean Garcia. What is you connection to Dean (who is one of my most fave electronic/beautiful noise/beats artists)?
Preston: I am a big Curve fan and my friend Perry Pelonero, who was in Morpheme with Dean, showed Bloody Knives to him. Dean and I have worked on and off on music together, a few songs that are still unreleased and a couple of guest spots on the SPC ECO records. It’s cool to do music with a guy whose music you were influenced by.
You cover a lot of stylistic ground – electronic, industrial, shoegazer, punk, and pop (in the melodic sense). What is your favorite artist and/or touchstone album from each of these genres? Mine would be for Depeche Mode/Violator for electronic/synths, Nine Inch Nails (with bits of Ministry and KMFDM) for industrial, Lush for shoegazer, Atari Teenage Riot for punk (attitude), and a-ha/Hunting High And Low for pop.
Preston: Aphex Twin for electronic/synths, NIN for industrial, MBV for shoegaze, At the Drive In for Punk, Tears for Fears for Pop
Kim: Electronic/synth: Chris & Cosey – Songs of Love and Lust. Chromatics – Kill For Love. Human League – Reproduction. Depeche Mode – Violator.
Industrial: Einsturzende Neubauten – Kalte Sterne. Throbbing Gristle – 20 Jazz Funk Greats. Skinny Puppy – Too Dark Park. Fad Gadget – Under the Flag.
Shoegaze: The Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy. Ride – Smile. Airiel – Winks & Kisses: Frosted. Ringo Deathstarr – Colour Trip.
Punk: Ramones – Leave Home. Patti Smith – Horses. X-Ray Spex – Germ Free Adolescents. Exploding Hearts – Guitar Romantic.
Pop: The Cure – Wish. Pet Shop Boys – Actually. ABBA – Super Trouper. TLC – Crazysexycool.
Sorry, my answer was really elaborate.
Jake: Daft Punk’s Discovery and Pink Floyd’s Animals for synths, Nine Inch Nails and Ministry for Industrial, MBV for shoegazer, unless Hum counts, Slayer for punk/attitude, and Michael Jackson’s Thriller for pop.
This is so totally off the music tip, but Kim, I’ve seen a photo of you where you rock a Hello Kitty hat with ear flaps (Yeah, there’s got to be a name for that, right?). I’m partial to Hello Kitty and Spongebob paraphernalia and I was wondering if you are too?
Kim: Yes! ‘Obsessed’ might be a good word for it. My Hello Kitty collection is growing steadily. I always used to visit Sanrio stores when I was younger. I wear a pair of Hello Kitty ears on stage. I am often sporting a pair of Hello Kitty-framed glasses (yes, they’re in my prescription). I wore that hat primarily on our Mid-Winter Tour, so it’s funny to me that I am wearing it in many of the live shots.
Spongebob does not get the kind of love from me that Hello Kitty does, though.
Not to leave the guys out of the fashion questioning, what does your favorite go-to t-shirt look like? Mine is a black tee with a white square on the front with Hello Kitty outlined in sky blue. Suffice it to say, I’ve been wearing it inside-out lately so as not to attract notice…
Preston: I wear a black t-shirt every day.
Kim: What if I don’t really have a “go-to t-shirt?” I would say this old, navy blue sweatshirt with a pink glittery cat on it. I love your choice, though!
Also, it’s true. I’ve never seen Preston wear a t-shirt that wasn’t black.
Jake: Mine was a shirt with Jordan Knight from New Kids On The Block, but someone’s dog tore it up at a party. Although after about twenty years I finally found that tuxedo shirt I always wanted. Dreams do come true.
Lastly, please list your official site(s) where we can find out more info about you. Thanks so much!
You can buy the new EP here: http://saintmarierecords.limitedrun.com/products/513526-bloody-knives-death