UTG INTERVIEW: Knuckle Puck At Skate And Surf

Knuckle Puck Feature

While Skate and Surf was the biggest outdoor punk event of the year in New Jersey, some of the crowds at the side stages might have convinced you otherwise. The rise of pop-punk’s popularity over the past few years has shown the average concert-goer that pop-punk shows are best seen in small spaces like basements, garages, VFW halls, and loft-style apartments. While Knuckle Puck’s crowd at the festival was by no means small, they were a prime example of this principle at the festival.

Knuckle Puck took the stage on Saturday afternoon to one of the biggest side-stage crowds of the weekend, but their set at PropertyOfZack’s after-party showed everyone what a pop-punk crowd really looks like. The band shined on the floor of the Asbury Park Main Street loft, giving everyone in attendance a taste of their live set.

We got the chance to speak with Knuckle Puck outside of the show and talked a bit about their recent accomplishments, their favorite records, moving national, and saying ‘no’ to crack.

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You guys have an EP out, The Weight That You Buried, and you just put it out on vinyl through Bad Timing Records. It sold out in a couple of minutes. Were you expecting that kind of response?

Kevin Maida: No, not at all. There was 500 in the first press, and I think I remember Zack saying it’s gonna take like a month. We were thinking “Fine, that’s what was expected,” It was just weird.

Joe Taylor: Yeah, we definitely weren’t expecting to move that volume of records.

Do you know exactly how many it was?

JT: It was like 850 total. It was pretty ridiculous.

So you sold that many records, do you notice how that translates into your live show? Do you look out into the crowd and kind of realize that you’re huge now, or are you waiting for one to catch up with the other?

JT: Well, I wouldn’t say we’re huge now. I definitely see an improvement in the amount of kids that come out and watch us play.

What size venues were you guys playing a year ago?

KM: 50-100 person rooms, which was fine because that’s what we were used to.

Joe: Often not 50-100 people in the rooms [laughs].

Nick Casasanto: They probably weren’t even considered venues either, like basements or bars or spaces we were playing.

JT: That’s why this show is going to be awesome, we haven’t played a house show or a floor show in a minute. Since the last time we played in Chesterton, I think. That was the last one.

You finished up a tour with Neck Deep and Light Years not too long ago, how’d that go? Any good stories?

JT: It went really well, we made some cool friends on that tour. We had been out as a band with Light Years before, and Neck Deep are awesome guys. The shows went well. We got offered crack in Berkeley [all laugh]. We walked in this public bathroom, and this guy was in there with this tupperware container, and he was like, “you guys trying to do some crack?” I said, “uhhh, nah dude,” and he puts it away and says “…I was just kidding.” Yeah dude, just joking, alright [laughs].

KM: He was sketchy. He was always around, and following up. We walked out of the bathroom, and we walked back in, and he followed us.

JT: Yeah, it was weird.

knuckle puck interview

I’ve been asking a few bands today about their favorite festival memories. I don’t know if you guys have played a festival this big before. What are your goals and milestones as a band when it comes to this kind of thing?

JT: It’d be great to get on Warped Tour. That’d be awesome.

KM: This fest was really cool, we’re also playing Bled Fest. I’ve never been to Bled, I’ve only heard of our friends from home going. It’ll be cool, the first time we’re all going there will be the first time we’re playing it. And Bled Fest is just really renowned.

Joe: We’re also excited to play in more countries.

Saosin played Translating the Name in full tonight and Riot Fest announced that 10 Years, 10 Albums thing where bands are playing their classic albums in full. If you could each see an album played in full, which would you choose?

JT: Oh shit [laughs]. I think I’d pick Dog Problems by The Format, or Taking Back Sunday doing Where You Want To Be.

NC: First thing that comes to mind is Clarity by Jimmy Eat World.

KM: Does the band need to still be together? I would do Blink’s Dude Ranch or Take Off Your Pants And Jacket.

Ryan Rumchaks: Tell All Your Friends by Taking Back Sunday.

You had a few chances to see Tell All Your Friends.

RR: Oh, dude, I’m confused [all laugh].

JT: It’s okay man, you just missed your chance.

RR: What?

JT: They did the ten year tour.

NC: If you cared you would have been there.

JT: Yeah, you obviously don’t care.

RR: That was acoustic, right?

JT: No, dude come on. Man Overboard, Bayside.

RR: Okay, well, back then I mean. When Adam was still back then. Before he sounded southern.

JT: Just move past it, move past it.

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You’ve done really well as an unsigned, DIY band. Do you have any plans to move on to a label?

JT: We’re just feeling it out and seeing how it goes.

KM: We’re pretty much used to having everything under our own roof, and taking care of everything ourselves, so it’s not like there’s a problem right now.

JT: We’re not in a rush or anything, but we’ve had some label interest, so we’ve definitely taken a look at that.

NC: We’re not gonna do anything before anything needs to be done, and right now nothing needs to be done.

Definitely. The reason I ask is because you see a lot of bands in pop-punk like Real Friends that do DIY and it’s worked out fabulously for them. That’s something that couldn’t have happened years ago.

NC: Exactly. It just doesn’t work the way it used to work. You don’t need a label from the time your band starts. We’ve already been a band for about 2 and a half or 3 years. We’ll get there eventually. If it’s gonna happen, it’ll happen.

Are you planning to write a full-length at some point?

JT: I mean, it’s a lot of songs [laughs]. Eventually. At this point, we’ve done a four-song release, a three-song release, and a two-song release, so we want to take our time and make sure we’re ready as a band to take on a full-length.

NC: People don’t realize what a huge feat a full-length is, and I’ve said this before, that our band is basically just starting. None of us were able to do this how we’re doing it now a couple of months ago. Kevin was in school, I was working full time, Ryan was also in school, and we didn’t have him for the full time. This is basically the start of everything.

I’m sure you’ve got all of your summer plans locked down at this point, but do you have anything cool lined up for the fall? Anything you want to tease?

JT: Yeah…yeah, we got some shit coming. Music, shows, we’ll be in a neighborhood near you.

KM: Once the Heart Attack tour is over, we’re gonna take some time off at the end of the summer to just kick it.

How did the Heart Attack tour come together?

KM: Our manager, Zack, is pretty good friends with the Man Overboard guys so he helped us out a lot on getting on that. Big thanks to him.

Do you have any reservations or concerns about moving from the basement-show scene to the national landscape?

JT: I don’t think I do personally. The only thing I think we need to be conscious of is not forgetting who we were a year ago, playing to two, to ten, or twenty kids. We can’t forget those shows. People aren’t going to remember, but we do.

NC: It’s hard to forget shows you play to nobody.

RR: That shit builds character.

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Interviewed by: John Bazley (Twitter)
Special thanks to Emily Tantuccio Photography.

John Bazley

John Bazley was raised in central New Jersey by the romantic aura of the Asbury Park beachfront, punk rock, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4. He is still trying to figure all of this stuff out.

In addition to UTG, John has contributed to Alternative Press and Full Frequency Media. Follow him on Twitter for pictures of his dog.
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