Armed with intricate guitar work, impeccable sense of groove, and a pervasive dark tone, Knaaves’ unique blend of metallic hardcore is punishing and memorable all at once. This is made evident on the Milwaukee-based band’s debut release, January; a two-song single that is equally atonal and melodic, crushing and catchy. If the solid songwriting and potent lyrics on this record are any indication of where the band will go, it would be safe to say that Knaaves will be soon be a name on the tip of every punk’s tongue.
In this recent interview, Svbterranean caught up with frontman Andy Parmann to discuss the evolution of the band, the new EP, and combating misogyny.
Could you please introduce yourself and your role in Knaaves?
I’m Andy Parmann and I’m the lead vocalist.
How did Knaaves come to be?
Jamie[Kerwin, guitar], Antonio[Ninham, drums] and I lived together a number of years ago. Jamie and I played in a band called Amora Savant and Antonio would practice drums in our attic, which was basically my bedroom. When we first started talking about playing music together, my goal was to play music with friends and the three of us made sense. We wrote with a number of other friends leading up to Amanda[Daniels, bass] and Malice[guitar] joining. We’re thrilled to have a solid lineup now.
How do you feel Knaaves has evolved since you first started writing and playing together to now?
Like I said, we wrote with a number of other friends and they’ve all contributed something to our sound. Jamie and Antonio have been a consistent backbone to everything we’ve written. Early on, Nick Gauthier from Harm’s Way was writing with us but he left to pursue Harm’s Way full time. After that, our friends Dominic Ciofani and Brian Radmond joined and contributed a bit to evolving our sound. Knaaves is like a melting pot of our friends and it’s awesome.
Compared to the other acts you have been involved in, how has writing and performing with Knaaves pushed you as a musician?
I’m looking at this band through a completely different lens. Last time I was in an active band, I was younger and had a different view of the world. Our sound has matured. Our lyrics have matured. The way we hold ourselves on stage has matured. We have more to say and we’re more poignant with the way we say it.
Do you feel that being apart of the Wisconsin scene has pushed you or had any influence on the band?
Yes, without a doubt. I grew up surrounded by incredibly talented bands in Milwaukee. Some of my first underground shows were seeing bands like 7 Angels 7 Plagues and Endthisday. Our music scene was on the rise and our community was thriving. Because of the popularity of our local bands like Misery Signals, Wings of Scarlet, Forever is Forgotten and Coma Eternal, a lot of major underground tours would come through the city. Jamie, Antonio and I lived at the “Didn’t That Hurt?” house, a place that housed and fed touring acts as they would come through Milwaukee. We housed countless bands like Undying, A Life Once Lost, BTBAM, The Acacia Strain, and The Red Chord just to name a few.
Our other roommate at the time, Mikey Adler created didntthathurt.com – a digital forum and event promotion website that predated Myspace. The community that grew in that time period shaped most of us musically and gave us the drive to start our own bands, like Amora Savant and Die Alone. We wouldn’t be the band we are today if the Milwaukee scene hadn’t been so talented and supportive.
What can you tell us about the writing and recording of your newest EP, January?
From a lyrical perspective, we’ve treated our songs like mini research papers. We looked into a number of sensationalized murders, unsolved mysteries and polarizing cases and wrote about them. For these recordings, ‘January’ is focused on the murder of Elizabeth Short while ‘Nine Lives Lost’ focuses on the murder of Kitty Genovese. Both of these murders were widely publicized and offer many layers of psychoanalysis.
The songs feature interesting interplays between unorthodox hardcore riffs and intricate melodic parts. How do you feel these aspects of the music complement each other?
I love the idea of finding beauty in destruction. There is something mesmerizing about watching a building get demolished or the excitement you feel while walking through an abandoned building covered in graffiti. It’s no different when you hear a buildup leading to a song’s climax, or coming out of a chaotic part into dueling melodies. Sweet and salty.
What is the origin behind the EP/title track’s title?
“January” focuses on the murder of Elizabeth Short. It was a sensationalized murder that happened in the 1940s just after the Surrealist art movement. Artists would clear their minds and create art. Some artists would create portraits of women with their bodies sectionalized or in pieces. One portrait from that time period portrayed a woman missing an arm, another with a puzzle piece removed from her torso, another with the jaw removed. Elizabeth’s body was found in a similar arrangement, as if someone viewed the murder as art.
How does the artwork tie into the EP’s title/themes?
The artwork for “January” came about serendipitously. I went to Iceland a couple years ago and couldn’t put my camera down. At one point, I was looking over the Goðafoss waterfall and noticed a woman wearing a red cloak. I grabbed my camera and took some photos, because, how could you not? The ominous photo depicts a woman in a red cloak standing precariously close to the edge of the cliff. It’s eerily symbolic to what the two songs are about.
From sadistic voyeurism to the infamous murder of Kitty Genovese, the lyrics on these two tracks deal with violence against women. This is something that is still being perpetuated and normalized in our society, no doubt. How do you feel we should combat these behaviors and mindsets?
We need to continue to have conversations and embrace campaigns like the Me Too Movement. I’m blown away about how much progress has been made on this topic in the last year, although we’ve really only scratched the surface. Our generation needs to keep this topic alive and speak out when they see or hear something inappropriate. There are countless Kitty Genovese stories that could have been prevented had someone not put their head down and turned the other way.
Unfortunately, sexual assault and violence towards women permeates into our heavy music scenes. What do you think it is that allows this behavior to exist in the metal world?
People take advantage of perceived power or status. If you hold yourself in high regard or others put you a pedestal, it can be easy to let that get to your head. You start to believe that you can do or say whatever you want because you’re regarded in a way that makes you feel untouchable. And it’s not just the metal scene; you’ll find this throughout the entertainment industry.
What do you want listeners to take away from the release?
We’re all numb to the horrible things that happen around us. We watch the news and think, “I’m glad that didn’t happen to me,” rather than thinking about the victim and how we can prevent it from happening in the future. If you are witness to any sort of domestic abuse or struggle, take action. Your involvement could help prevent an unnecessary headline.
Any final words or thoughts?
Maybe some plugs? We’re in the process of making a music video with our friend Brian Radmond of Radmond Media and we’re going to put “January” out on cassette. So stay tuned for that. In general, we’re all pumped about the new stuff we’re writing and we look forward to sharing it with everyone. Thanks for having me!
Read our review of January here.