(Photo by Emily Tantuccio)

With early origins deep rooted from the south suburbs of Chicago, the young and aspiring Midwestern quartet, Knuckle Puck, have been climbing up the ladder recently to make themselves known as a household name in the current pop punk scene today. Carrying the torch with an emotionally-driven and enthusiastic musical approach that will remind listeners of the glory days of bands like The Starting Line and The Movielife, Knuckle Puck’s fanbase quickly grew last year after the release of their highly-charged EP, The Weight That You Buried. After releasing a split with Neck Deep earlier in the year, along with finishing up their latest tour in support of Man Overboard and Transit, the band will be graced with the opportunity of a lifetime to share the stage with New Jersey post-hardcore icons Senses Fail on their upcoming 10-year anniversary tour for the album Let It Enfold You. Before they hit the road in the fall, I talked with guitarist Kevin Maida about his thoughts on the upcoming tour as well as the possibilities of a future release on the horizon.

Pretty soon, you’ll guys be on the road with Senses Fail in support of their 10-year anniversary tour for Let It Enfold You. What is it going to be like to share the stage with Senses Fail and have the opportunity to hear them play this nostalgic record every night for this month-long tour?

It’s going to be pretty surreal, honestly. Senses Fail was a pretty important band for some of us… I know especially for [drummer] John Siorek and [guitarist] Nick Casasanto. I don’t know, it’s going to be kind of weird because they’re Senses Fail, you know? And that album [Let It Enfold You] is great and I feel like it’s very iconic, especially within the genre of music to this day. It’s just going to be a really cool experience. I’ve only seen Senses Fail a couple of times before and it’s been great every time. Now it’s cool, we basically get to see them every night play such a sick album, so it’s going to be surreal.

In the past, you’ve mentioned “older” bands like Saves The Day and The Starting Line as major influences for the band. Where does Senses Fail fall into this category?

I think with bands like Saves The Day and The Starting Line and older pop punk bands like that, you could tell that they’ve directly influenced our music, but we don’t really sound like Senses Fail as much, obviously. But as a band, I feel like the way they go about their band and the way they’ve always gone about their band somewhat influences us. I feel like Senses Fail acts like they’re a hardcore band and to a certain extent, we try to have those same types of ethics and esthetics. But yeah, as far as sound-wise goes, when someone listens to Knuckle Puck, I don’t they say, “Oh yeah, Senses Fail.”

I also think that Senses Fail was a band that got you into other bands through like… when you first heard of Senses Fail and then you [heard] a band like The Starting Line or Saves The Day or The Movielife or something like that. Senses Fail was a very important band as far as getting people into just an alternative style of music in general and discovering other bands that you kind of always wanted to emulate or admire.

What was your relationship with Senses Fail? How were you guys approached to join them on their tour?

You know, I thought it was kind of… not random, but we didn’t really have a relationship with them. None of us really knew each other. It’s not like we were really friends before or anything like that. We got this tour offer one day and we were like, “Wow, this is very surprising,” so we weren’t going to say no, obviously. I think we were all really stoked on it because it was more so of a surprise if anything, which also made it kind of cooler. There really was no prior relationship besides that, so it was definitely cool.

Earlier in the year, you guys were on the road as a supporting act for Man Overboard and Transit. How do you think this upcoming tour with Senses Fail will be different in comparison to the Heart Attack tour?

I think it will be different, especially with a band like Senses Fail. I feel like it’s going to be a lot of older people, more so like in their late 20s coming out to these shows, because they might have thought, “Oh man, I was in high school when this album came out and I would love to see it played from front to back, so I want to go check it out.” Compared to the past couple of tours that we’ve done, which is basically like kids around our age, maybe a little bit younger who are just getting into the style of music. You know, they’ve checked out bands like us or Neck Deep and Real Friends or stuff like that.

The demographic is definitely going to be a little bit different. The other two bands—No Bragging Rights and To The Wind—are heavier bands, so it will be really cool to play to people who probably wouldn’t go out of their way to listen to our band anyway.

Obviously, going into this tour, we knew after hearing the full lineup of the tour, that we were kind of the odd band out, you know? We really don’t sound like the other bands, or… I guess for a lack of a better term, fit in with those types of bands, but I feel like that’s what it’s all about, though.

The past two full U.S. tours that we did with Man Overboard and also with Neck Deep, those were strictly pop punk tours, which was cool. Those tours were such a blast, but I am definitely looking forward to playing with some bands that we probably won’t have the opportunity to otherwise unless if we started our own tour like this. So, it will be a cool way to directly approach those types of people. I’m really looking forward to it, actually.

For this tour, are there any particular places that you guys will be looking forward to playing the most? Are there any areas that you will be venturing off to for the first time?

For the most part, everywhere that we are playing on the tour, we’ve played before, whether it was on the Man Overboard tour or the Neck Deep tour. I know we’re having some “off-day” shows. For example, we’re playing Iowa City—we’ve never been there. We’re playing Lincoln, Nebraska—never been there. We’re playing in New Mexico—we’ve never been there. So it’s like little shows here and there, but for the most part, we have played in almost all of the places.

I know me personally, some places that I am looking forward to going back to are the West Coast; those shows always kill it and they’re always great. I’m excited to get back up to the Pacific Northwest to places like Seattle and Portland; those shows are always cool, too. I like playing shows in Florida; those shows are always awesome because we have so many friends there that we get to see as well as the East Coast shows in general, too. We got some pretty good friends in New York and Boston and honestly, those coast shows—either coasts—just kill it. I don’t know what it is—maybe being on the edge of the water—but those shows are always the best.

Now for a while, you’ve spent a lot of time recording and just recently announced that you just finished your next studio release. Musically and personally, how does this new material compare to your previous earlier work?

You know, it’s not like really straying too far from what we’ve been doing, honestly. I think before, with our first two EPs, we were like, “Let’s write some pop punk songs,” or whatever. We’ve never really had a genre label in our band, but we wanted to write pop punk songs. When the Neck Deep split came out, it was kind of more like, “Let’s just write some really good songs,” and forget the restraints that do come with a genre, I guess which sometimes happens, you know?

That’s kind of the same approach that we had naturally with this next release, you know, just write the best songs that we possibly could. There’s no curveballs, but we did try to really expand on what we’ve been doing. I think it sounds good and I really hope that people like it. We did try pushing boundaries a lot, but really, we’re still the same band, it’s nothing crazy.

One defining quality that draws many people to Knuckle Puck is the emotional intensity that you guys incorporate into your music. What are some things that you guys draw inspiration from to capture this sound?

You know, I think when we started this band, it was more so like, “Yeah, we like these bands, you know, The Movielife and The Starting Line and Jimmy Eat World and what have you.” We were not necessarily trying to emulate it, but we also wanted to be a band that works into the genre of pop punk, but also has a bit of an edge to it.

In our specific area of Illinois, there were no bands really at all playing this style of music that we wanted to hear, so that was kind of our response. We wanted to hear a band from our hometown that sounded like “this,” but I think influence-wise, it grew from that. When we are writing or something, it’s not like, “Oh, listen to a lot of Starting Line or whatever before we start writing to get the ball rolling.” It just naturally leads through, as weird as that sounds. It’s almost like you don’t even try to sound like these past things you’ve really been into your whole life, it just kind of happens, weirdly enough.

After you tour with Senses Fail, what other plans do you guys have in the works, as far as any further details on your album release?

I think we are going to keep it relaxed right now. Nothing really big, we’re kind of just taking it easy. We have plans—I’m not saying we’re slowing down at all—but as far as putting out new music, it will happen soon. I’m not saying next week, but it will happen soon enough. I hope people will be pleased with that. I know people sometimes get impatient with new music—as do I with some of my favorite bands— but I think the wait will be well worth it.

 

Knuckle Puck will be playing The Marlin Room At Webster Hall in Manhattan on Sept. 17, the Music Hall Of Williamsburg in Brooklyn on Sept. 18, the Trocadero Theater in Philadelphia on Sept. 19 and the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville on Sept. 20. For more information, go to knucklepuckil.com.

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