For a band making their second visit to the UK just months after making their debut with just a handful of EPs in their catalogue is certainly impressive. However, for Chicago’s Knuckle Puck, it’s no surprise. The pop punk quintet have become one of the biggest emerging names within the genre over the past 18 months. They even made our list of 50 bands to watch in 2015.
Nevertheless after inking a deal with Rise Records late last year, Knuckle Puck are set for a busy summer. First up they have a 2 month stretch on the Vans Warped Tour whilst their debut full-length is expected to drop before the end of the summer. However before all that, they paid another visit to the UK for the recent Slam Dunk Festival where we spoke to vocalist Joe Taylor and guitarist Kevin Maida.
Joe and Kevin discussed their Slam Dunk debut, being part of Rise Records, their expectations for Warped Tour and what we can expect from their highly anticipated debut album.
AH: So you’ve just made your Slam Dunk debut. How was it?
Kevin: It was awesome.
Joe: There was way more people than (we) expected. I think there was a lot of people who didn’t know who we are, and I kind of yelled at them. I was like, “who’s heard of us?” and some people raised their hands. Then I said, “who hasn’t heard of us?” and some hands came up and I was like, “raise your hand! Raise your hand!”
Kevin: I think you’re in shock that more people haven’t heard of us.
Joe: Yeah, I thought they just weren’t responding.
Kevin: Which I was expecting. Overall it was way better than I anticipated.
AH: What did you know about the festival before you came?
Kevin: I just heard in the past it was like Warped Tour. It has the same kind of vibe. I heard it was the most fun you’ll ever have
AH: Yeah there is a lot of bands playing here who are also on Warped Tour. So I guess it’s like a pre-Warped Tour party?
Joe: I heard of Slam Dunk a couple of years ago when I started paying attention to tours that weren’t just in America. It’s really cool to be here and to be playing it.
AH: So I hear you recently finished recording your first album. How has it been to finally have it done?
Kevin: It was great.
Joe: Yeah it’s a big weight off our shoulders. We spent a lot of time on it. A lot of stressful time just talking about what we wanted to do and we finally got in the studio. We had a couple of loose ends we need to tie up a couple of weeks later, so it was kind of stressful. It felt like we were all over the place, but now going back and listening to the album, we’re so happy with it. We’re so glad we had that extra time.
AH: Who did you record it with?
Kevin: Seth Henderson at Always Be Genius Studios.
AH: Before you came over here you were touring with The Maine. How was that tour?
Kevin: So sick!
Joe: The Maine are some of the most nicest dudes we’ve ever met. As far as bands go, they were sick. We hung out with them a shit ton. They were very open to hanging out with anybody who was down to hang.
AH: Were they the biggest venues you’ve played in the States?
Kevin: Some of them yeah. I think so. A lot of them were House of Blues and stuff. They were pretty sizeable rooms.
AH: As I mentioned earlier, after Slam Dunk, you’ve got Warped Tour. Is it your first time on it?
AH: What are your expecations for it?
Joe: Well from what I know, I’m going to be dead by the end of the first week. But they say to keep drinking water and keep living and keep breathing, so I’m going to try and do that. They’ve just said it kicks your ass, that is mainly what I’ve heard. No matter what. Even if you think it’s not going to kick your ass, you’re going to feel it.
AH: Going back to the album. Have you been playing new songs from it yet?
Joe: No we haven’t.
AH: So what can people expect from the album?
Joe: Better Knuckle Puck. That’s the best way to describe it. It’s still energetic. It has more elements that we weren’t able to throw into our EPs before.
AH: It gives you that chance to explore.
Joe: Exactly. That is the whole point of the full-length. With an EP, you have four songs to showcase your band to people, so you don’t have much wiggle room but when you have an album, it is pretty roomy. You can throw more things in.
AH: Obviously the album is being released on Rise Records. How does it feel to be part of that label?
Joe: For me it’s really cool.
Kevin: Yeah it’s great. Even when they first apporached us last year, it felt really right to go with them. Despite some people had different expectations to what label we would go with, but it just felt right and it still does. I don’t think we could be happier that our first full-length is coming out on Rise.
AH: And when can we expect to hear it?
Joe: Yeah we really don’t know when it’s going to be out.
Kevin: It will come out this summer.
Joe: Yeah, that’s what we do know.
AH: Looking beyond Warped Tour, what else do you have planned?
Joe: Well we want to put the album out. We want as many people to hear that. We were talking of doing some touring after Warped. We really don’t know what yet specifically. There’ll probably be some more international (touring) in 2016. Hopefully.
Note: Since this interview took place, Knuckle Puck confirmed they will be supporting State Champs alongside Roam in the UK in the Autumn.
AH: Any final comments?
Joe: Thank you for checking out our band, supporting our band and thank you for the interview.
‘Copacetic’ by Knuckle Puck is released on 31st July on Rise Records.
15th QUB Students Union, Belfast
17th O2 Academy 2, Liverpool
18th Asylum, Birmingham
19th O2 Academy 2, Newcastle
21st Kings Tuts, Glasgow
22nd Stylus, Leeds
23rd Sound Control, Manchester
24th Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
25th O2 Academy Islington, London
26th 1865, Southampton
3rd Hippodrome, Kingston
Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)
View more of Already Heard’s coverage from Slam Dunk Festival 2015 here.