.knuP: Interview With Brad Palkevich

Some people are willing to go through life and take things as they come. Others look at the world and see potential for turning things inside out. For this reason, I say to you that if there’s one underground band you don’t want to miss at this year’s Bamboozle, it’s the future’s superstars of NJ punk from Florida (they moved somewhere warm), .knuP.

The name alone is intriguing. Think about it. Everything that is current about punk turned backwards. The over-stylized pop sensibilities, the emo dirges, the veritable facelessness and lack of originality—the opposite of all of it. It would be a little presumptuous if the music wasn’t so good.

Without being a Sex Pistols throwback or a Black Flag rip-off, .knuP take what allowed punk to enter the mainstream in the first place (the kickass) and put a spin of modernity on it. Their lack of a website ensures an underground presence, as opposed to the legions of MySpace.com bands hocking Mp3s at the youth market like it’s going out of style, drowning in the vast depths of cyberspace.

Guitarist Brad Palkevich recently took some time to chat about what drives him and his band, the stories behind a couple of their songs (namely “Scene Report” and “Dr. Phillips”) and exactly how one goes about being an original band in a hugely crowded scene today.

You don’t call your band .knuP without some kind of philosophy behind it. What’s yours?

Take punk backwards!

Not a specific time, style, or scene. We’re trying to bring back the vibe that turned us on to music. Punks, Skins, and hardcore kids all singing along. Straight edge kids were reasonable and emo was a thing not the thing!

Punk needs to regain a sense of humor as well as a reminder of its own roots. Right now too many people are too concerned with being too cool. Lighten up, laugh, be the first to dance at a show, don’t take yourselves too seriously.

Remember that punk did start with fashion but it’s not what it’s all about. Punk is also supposed to have its own ideology, not be led around by the hand of the punk rock elite being told what to do, what to think, and who to support.

The music is kind of antipop-punk. What bands made you want to get started in music?

Equal parts early British punk scene and early American hardcore scene. The Clash, 7 Seconds, Generation X, Minor Threat: Those were exciting bands. They are the same type of bands that we are drawn to today too.

How did the band get together?

Charlie and Tito were in Spitvalves and they used to rehearse at my house.We just started jamming old riffs that I wrote years ago just for fun. When Spitvalves broke up .knuP took on a life of its own.

None of us would have it any other way, we’re all friends, we all work together, most of us are or have been roommates at one time or another. It’s how I think a band is supposed to operate, I know that it comes across when we play.

Why move to Florida?

Disney tricked me. It’s amazing how a free pass to an amusement park can cloud a boardwalk kid’s vision. The other guys had no choice, their folks moved them before they were old enough to protest.

What’s up with the lack of a website?

The web is turning the underground into pop music. Everyone knows what’s new the same day as everyone else. People listen to 30 seconds of a song then decide if they like a band. Online music promotions were supposed to make everything better for smaller bands and labels but I don’t know one band that it’s worked out for.

I mean really, look how lame it is already, beer and soda companies have free downloads on their sites, so much for taking the decision-making power in the music industry away from people that don’t know music.

Go outside, print a nasty ass punk flier instead of an e-mail, go buy a vinyl record and leave the MP3s alone. I’d hate to think for a second that some kid is sitting around clicking around on a website of ours when s/he should be running wild in the streets wreaking havoc.

Some kid thought he was doing us a favor by putting up a free site for us, and we’ve been asking him very, very, very nicely to take it down. Right now it’s not for us, even if it is free.

Give me the scene report.

Punk and hardcore is so acceptable these days that the scene isn’t as defined as it should be. Kids need to keep going out and supporting the big shows that come through, but the diehards need to support the smaller local shows.

It’s cool to see a big act in a great venue, but half the kids that are there don’t care about the scene, they’re just trying to hear the single. The kids who care need to go out to smaller shows and watch all the bands.

I’ve never seen anything so ridiculous as kids going to an underground show to hear new music, then stand outside smoking cigarettes while the bands are on. Come on people, when you hear ‘Check one, two’ it’s time to head for the stage.

Who is Dr. Phillips?

Dr. Phillips was an early Orlando developer. He mapped out and bought up a good amount of the city. There’s a high school named after him, in a wealthy part of town—typical mansions and gated communities. The high school has an arts program that lets kids from outside the area get bussed in.

A lot of parents think that sending their kid to this ‘better school’ in a ‘better neighborhood’ is gonna make everything better. The song on our EP is about this contrived part of town where everything is supposed to be great, and a broad I knew who went there. That’s about as close as we get to a love song.

How does an independent punk band survive in such a crowded market?

Make your show exciting, don’t just show up and play your new album and two old ones in the same club in the same city every time. Have something to say that hasn’t been said a million times. Care about making it awesome for the kids who show up, they deserve it.

There are at least 70 million bands playing Bamboozle. How do you guys plan on making an impact?

Jedi mind tricks, we plan on harnessing the power of the force. Sunday afternoon expect everyone to be wandering around mumbling ‘This isn’t the band I’m looking for,’ until they find their way to our set.

Anything in the works as far as labels?

We’re meeting with our lawyer and several labels while we’re up for Bamboozle.

I’d rather just have someone from a label come over to our merch table and hang out instead of all the formal crap.