Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Knuckledust interview with Vocalist: Pierre and Dummer: Ray. August 21, 2010

Vista: Hey guys. The first question, or statement is...How the hell have you guys been able to keep the same line-up since the very beginning? In the Hardcore scene, that's actually pretty amazing! Give us the current {forever} line-up & who does what? Also, how old are you guys?

Ray: Its easy! Instead of growing apart and changing musically we just always hated each other and hated each others taste in music! But seriously, me Nic and Wema went to school together, getting into trouble daily and when we decided to get a vocalist Pierre just slotted in like we'd known him for years. We were 19 when we started as Knuckledust and we are 34 now. I think we stayed together for so long because there never was an agenda or plan. There still isn't which sometimes really pisses Theo at GSR Music off (our label).

Pierre: when I think about it now watching these guys interact in the early days when I first met them, that famous east end mouth x 3 was the source of much laughter so the atmosphere was always relaxed so made for great escape from the usual shittyness of life at 19. Our tastes in music was vast but at the time we were united by a strong interest in NYHC So when we got to workin' on our riddims things just fell into place And now in 2010 this band makes me feels like we've been stuck in 1996 every time we get together. The reason we still do this......I've met all their families and I know my brothers can sometimes act unruly but they've defiantly been raised to be humble, respectful, hard working and most of all realistic! We ain't trying to 'take over the world' were just a working class band stuck in 1996

Vista: Give us a brief history of the band, year started, etc.? I know you have a hell of a lot of releases as well, so what has been released & what's still available? 

Ray: We started out as a Hardcore band with influences ranging from U.S...Hardcore to british punk and metal. I always thought we were to metal for the punk kids over here and too punk for the metallers. We have different split Cd's and 7'' records from years ago but our main releases are our 3 albums on GSR Music (Universal Struggle, Unbreakable & Promises Comfort Fools) and one on Rucktion which is our 'Dustography', a compilation of everything we did before signing to GSR. All are stil available through & (nice bit of advertising there!)

Vista: "Knuckledust"...Where did this band name come from & which band member thought it up? Does it have a meaning to you or the band at all? Pierre thought it up and we liked it so went for it. Originally it was 
because since joining the band he had dust on his knuckles because he seemed to be fighting less and just singing more. Oh how times changed!

Vista: Lyrically, what are some topics/thoughts/ideas that you are covering?

Pierre: I'm not the sort of guy who ever read much book-wise so when it came to writing I tried to find my own style of lyric writing In my experience writing a story is different to writing lyrics due to the length of the riddims. And these boys do favor the short sharp punch style of writing. We never really felt we had to abide to the chorus verse chorus thing and sometimes the boys let me run wild but I write about real situations in my life sometimes with a dark view but always try aim for upliftment. If people can relate then I've done my job, by putting back what I took when I found hardcore.

Vista: As a vocalist, who are your influences? Are there any vocalists out there that inspired you to spend over half your life in a Hardcore band!?

Pierre: I'm strongly influenced by Jamaican reggae and dance-hall. Many of my favorite vocalists have been in the game for decades, even the newer breed always release so much material it's truly inspirational. K.D. have never been the sort of band to always be writing and do like to try different things which sometime have no place on a KD riddim so Ive always been in the habit of having more than one band. I guess now after so many years of being called a singer of a band I'd better make sure I can sing on anything.

Vista: What's going on over there in England these days? Are all you guys based in London or th surrounding area? What's up locally with the Hardcore scene? Is there a strong scene with kids supporting shows, etc.? Where are shows taking place...Clubs, basements, living rooms? Also, what bands are worth checking out from where you're at?

Ray: I moved out of London because its a shit hole but the other 3 still live there and pay 4 times what I pay rent. Haha! There are still shows going on all of the time but I think the scene is very divided these days and only comes together now and then for a festival where different styles of hardcore bands will play. There could be a hardcore show tomorrow in London and I would not have heard of any of the bands or there could be one of our shows the next day and the kids at the show previous would never have heard of our bands but both were billed as UK hardcore shows.

Vista: Pierre, I heard you run, or help run a record label? What's that all about & what bands have you
released? Are you still involved with this project?

Pierre: Rucktion records is a London based lable which specialises in supporting bands who grew up on the same influences and most importantly attitude as KD was built upon. Many of the London Hxc scene are involved in bands so we decided to give them an outlet for their music and with KD touring the Mainland so much back then word soon spread to the right people. Years of hard work later Rucktion bands can be found on most euro HxC fests and many have gone on to work with bigger labels. But hey, their ain't nuthing pretty about our bands. We have a monthly night in central London the first Saturday of every month at 12bar Denmark street. This has been running for years now and we still take pride in doing our annual Rucktion fest damage control which never fails to bring together all the classic Rucktion bands. Over the last few years we've linked with souljahs from Baltimore, PA, Belgium, Wales, Bronx and Paris which has defiantly solidified our 
presence in the underground all round the world.

Vista: Ray, as a drummer who are your influences? How old were you when you started playing drums & do you play any other instruments? Have you taken any formal lessons?

Ray: Me and Wema were part of a youth club in East London in 1993 and they decided they were going to spend the government grant money on music equipment and lessons. Bad move. After the equipment got stolen and the teachers attacked they stopped everything but there were a few of us that were really interested and so they moved 'music practise' from the East End to a place in the city and we formed a soul/ hip hop covers band called Hidden Reality which had me and Wema in it. So I had some formal lessons at the beginning but I wanted to be like Dave Lombardo, Igor Cavaera and Charlie Benante. No one is gonna teach you that shit so I had to try learn it myself. I'm still trying. I can rattle out a song on the bass but only at Ramones level.

Vista: To me, over the years the band has gotten a lot heavier and really have settled into a aggressive band. I think you guys mix styles like Hatebreed & Madball. Who are the over-all influences to the band?

Ray: You got it there mate. Hatebreed and Madball but with the attitude and carelessness of UK Oi and Punk. Its hard to pinpoint one band because we just keep it hardcore. We'd never call ourselves 'punk' or 'heavy music' just to fit into other scenes or try to get onto a magazine or festival. We're a Hardcore band. (Full stop).

Vista:  Pretend there are no computers, pick 5 words that would best describe Knuckledust to someone who hasn't heard you guys?

Ray: Shit, arrogant, drunk, stoned & black.

Pierre: Blaze, Guinness, soldados, familia, blessed.

Vista: Many people don't realize this but when my band {Inner Dam} was in Europe, we played a bunch of shows in England & was fortunate enough to have Pierre do all the friggin' driving for us. It was a great experience for us cause you were such a good {funny} guy to be around. I never asked you...How did you get roped into driving us? Did you lose a bet? Haha! Was it just a favor you did for our then record label {RPP}? Also, have you done driving for other bands over the years? 

Ray: From what I heard he'll never drive another band again after that effort with you lot!

Pierre: KD were on a weekend away on the mainland and played with u guys I think, Alain RPP who was managing your tour had something come up and couldn't do the UK leg so he asked me to help. Luckily I didn't have much on after that show so I  was happy to help out a mate. Defiantly had a great time on the road with Inner Dam. And I learned alot about van driving on that one Rpp was a wicked label back then, I had been trading with Alain for long time and he had always helped KD out big-time. So to help him out was no stress. I remember partying in Leeds, geeza birds and speeding from Leeds to Waterloo like a nutter, poor Alain must have got points on his license after that tour.

Vista: I'm wondering, who's the biggest pain in the ass in the recording studio? There's always that one guy who is the biggest perfectionist, who is it in Knuckledust?

Ray: Sorry about that..................... 

Pierre: I get vex when these cunts keep on trying to telling me what to do in the studio like mans a trained seal
I don't tell you how to play your drums or guitar. But in a way this compromise we reach is KD sound.

Vista: What was your first introduction to the Punk/Hardcore scene? What year was it & which bands first grabbed your attention? Also, what was the first Hardcore show that you ever attended?

Ray: Oh man! I got into Punk because Sepultura, Skid Row, Metallica were all covering punk songs and I wanted to hear the original versions. Me and Nic started going to crusty Punk shows in Hackney and New Cross and then the Fuck Reading Festival that happened every year. Biohazard was the first Hardcore band I saw where I actually lost my mind. The they all started coming..........Sick Of It All on tour with Strife, Crossover 2000 shows with Slapshot & Merauder, Dog Eat Dog, Downset on tour together a great time to be into hardcore and meet people but it was when Pierre joined the band that he introduced us to Stamping Ground and 'real' hardcore music from across the pond.

Pierre: For me I found nyhc first after metal got me interested in heavy guitar music and the KD boys being from the east end taught me about punk & oi.

Vista: Outside of band commitments...What are your interests & hobbies?

Ray: West Ham United FC, beer and playing drums in Argy Bargy. I still love hanging around with Skinheads & Punks.

Pierre: My wife and my baby girl 3 months old and already a handful so I'm taking the time to learn a new trade while being a good father. My band bun dem out is playing the odd show round town still and I'm looking to record with a couple of the guys from my old band beat down fury so I'm sure you'll see that on Rucktion when it's ready.

Vista: You guys have been around for a helluva long time. What are your thoughts on the current Hardcore scene compared to say, the mid 90's? What are some good points & what are some bad points {if any}? Is it straight up better nowadays?

Ray: I've actually thought about this quite alot and I have a theory...........initially I think its a pile of shit compared to what we had but at the same time I can see the kids into it now love it just as much. Everyone complains about the fashion now but back in the day we were the fashion kids with our baggy jeans, keychains and tracksuits when everyone else had mohicans, dreads and skinheads. My only criticism of HC these days is that too many bands are in it to sign for a major label than to support their fellow HC band. Too many bands I've seen are changing their music style or image to fit that of an interested label or magazine. Too many bands are aiming for too much too soon, not getting what they want and splitting up. Good bands too. But then, there are some real good bands round for the right reasons and working hard. Me, I'm in it for friends and beer.

Pierre: Back then there were fanzines all over the place with interviews so we could find out more about a bands attitude towards HxC, nowadays we don't have much and it's now we need them most cos to many rich kids think they can do Hxc and get mummy n daddy to pay for their equipment or tour or merch. Who's gonna relate to that but more rich kids.

Vista: Give me your top 10 essential Hardcore bands/albums of all-time?

Ray: Set It Off - Madball, Revenge On Society - Blood For Blood, any Krutch album, Cock SParrer, The Business, Stamping Ground, Warzone, Agnostic Front, One 4 One, Tripface, Slapshot, District 9, Indecision and of course Inner Dam.You lot smashed it at The Underworld!

Pierre: Ninebar ukhc best band: Krutch. Bulldoze. Warzone. Madball. Injury time. Biohazard/Urban Discipline era. Crown of thornz. 25 Ta life. Sick of it all. All these were the bands that set me on the right path. Then in turn led me to alot of the classic Hxc we all love today, But the labels that I respected for their output were: Back Ta basics. Striving for togetherness. Idjit. Triple Crown. RPP. None of the above. There's a load more that evade me right now but without them we would have found it tuff to get into the bands back then before the Internet.

Vista: If the band ended today, what would be your most memorable experience while in the band?

Ray: The moment when we all agreed to end it! Seriously, for me, getting to play with Warzone! And the real big shows like Hellfest in France. I love those big festival days out.

Pierre: Best thing has to be that I've been to and seen so many places on this earth thanks to this noise we make and found people who I truly count as brothers and sisters.

Vista: I know you guys have toured over many countries in Europe. Has the band ever been to Japan or America? If so, how was it? Also, while on to in Europe...Which country has the shittiest food?

Ray: We went America around 6 years ago? Played a little ditty in Manitoba's, NY and then at a juice bar in Bethlehem PA, then at a place in Baltimore and then back to Brooklyn NY. We've played almost  everywhere in Europe.We got just as many friends in Belgium, Holland, Germany and France as we do in London and never stop appreciating that for a second. Its hard to say where the shittiest food is without disrespecting that country but I will say someone organized a barbecue on tour of Europe in a well known country where people ride bikes, wear berets, stripey jumpers and onion necklaces. It tasted amazing but next day Pierre threw his fucking guts up live on stage, just like G.G. Allin himself, and we were laughing hysterically. The crowd thought he was drunk but he didn't even drink anything that day. On the way home I shit my pants because of stomach problems. Stay away from punk bar-b-q's kids!

Vista: What's the writing process like for the band? Do you guys have a set formula as far as music first-then lyrics or vice-versa? How does it work for you guys?

Ray: We usually (Me, Nic & Wema) write a song and record it to a cassette tape from the middle of the practice room and give it to Pierre to write lyrics to. He writes them, they never fit with the music so we change them and hey presto.........we got a song. When studio deadline is looming and we still dont have enough songs then whoever has lyrics gets a spare song to write to. Sometimes we write the lyrics after the music has been recorded in the studio (see song Promises Comfort Fools - written in Denmark day before laying them down). That my friend, is the genius behind this complex process! Haha!

Pierre: Hahah,  what can I say, we don't feel the pressure, sorry Theo.

Vista:Over the years, have you guys done any cover songs live? If so, which ones have ya done?

Ray: I can remember them all, here goes - Bottled Violence -  Minor Threat, Negative Approach - Whatever I do, Madball - New York City (changed lyrics to suit London), Subhumans - Everyday Life, Disctrict 9 - Live Life, we're currently doing Neglect - Horror Struck and then Bulldoze  - The Truth.

Vista: Looking back to the beginning of the band, what were some goals/achievements that you wanted to get to? Was it just to do a demo & play some local shows or was there always an idea to keep it going all 
these years?

Ray: As explained earlier there were no goals then and there are none now. Maybe just have some fun.

Pierre: I've never called myself a musician so it's always been about expressing ourselves the only way we knew how and back when we started we loved violent dancing and no one played the soundtrack to it in the  UK so we decided to do it ourselves.Obviously as kids we didn't think that it were playing it we can't be dancing to it. But hey it always felt like it was our duty London thing.

Vista: Thanks so much for your time. I appreciate it. Knuckledust, as a band & people were some of the best people I met while in Europe. It has been 10 years ago & what is so great about the Hardcore scene...We're STILL in touch with each other! I'm glad to see/hear you guys are still at it & doing so well. Is there anything else you's like to say? Also, what is the best way to get in touch with you Knuckledust?

Ray: Thanks for the interview. Its funny how we're doing a fanzine interview with Vista all these years after our singer nearly killed you in a road accident! Its best to get us on or for show booking contact

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