Rock duo Knave is Lewis Dunn and Sam Lawson. Formed in 2017, the Bristol-based pair are making a comeback with new single ‘Plain People O.S.T’. We caught up with Sam to find out more.
The working and lower classes always get manipulated and brainwashed by their governments, tricked into believing that their best interests are at heart, when they obviously just aren’t.
First up, tell us about yourselves - what led you teaming up as Knave?
Well Lewis joined Knave just before we broke up. Knave didn’t just form. We’ve been around a couple of years, we disbanded and re-grouped. We wanted to keep going because the audiences at our shows really meant a lot to us, and the way they reacted to the songs we’d written back then. We figured getting rid of the name, and the ideology would be a mistake. Guess we’ll find out!
Who do your take inspiration from?
It depends in which context you mean, I suppose. Musically, politically, socially, artistically etc. The artists that inspired us mostly to make our new record were Ben Howard and Radiohead. I don’t know if it ended up sounding anything like either of them, but still. Also Burial and The Streets. Lots of things happening in the world are a constant source of inspiration.
Certain events inspired certain lines, songs and so on. The Christchurch shootings in New Zealand had a big impact on a song called ‘Birds of Passage’, that’s on our new record. Things like that. We try to be conscious of things like that, and discuss them with each other.
Why the name ‘Knave’?
The actual reason as to why I picked the name some years ago is pretty stupid, but the word ‘knave’ just means an ‘undesirable man’. Maybe we should have been called Knaves, then!
How would you describe your musical style?
It used to be a lot easier to know the answer. I suppose we’re trying to avoid any subgenre label that’s too specific. We’ve been there and done that. I also hate saying that i’m “in a rock band”. We’re not too sure, all the best bands don’t think in terms of genre limitations, they just do whatever they feel is necessary to express or convey a feeling. We’re that. I hope.
If you could collaborate with any living artist or band, who would you choose?
It’d probably be good to do something with Jonny Greenwood instead of just ripping him off all of the time.
Tell us about your new single ‘Plain People O.S.T’, what’s it about? What are its themes?
It’s loosely based on A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck, and the lyrics went through about 10 or so different drafts before it made sense and fit the song. It’s not about Shaker Christianity either, which might be confusing. It’s just about the working class. That’s what we identify with.
The working and lower classes always get manipulated and brainwashed by their governments, tricked into believing that their best interests are at heart, when they obviously just aren’t. Like American working class people voting against Obamacare. Free healthcare. They voted against that! Because god forbid anything that remotely resembles socialism start weeding its way into your lovely, clean, societies. It’s fu!king appalling what these bastards do to us.
This country right now especially. The working class from all over vote for those Tory bastards over, and over again. The clue is in the name, they don’t want you going anywhere. Stay exactly where you are financially, so that those above you can continue to prosper.
The song’s also about the impact we’re having on this planet, and the seeming lack of interest from so many people, who have been conditioned to not take action. Given just enough civil “liberty” as to not rebel. How insidious, and clever, those bastards really are.
‘Plain People O.S.T’ is a few things, the things I’ve mentioned, it’s also a self-monologue and inner-argument between my empathy and my misanthropy. Katie’s voice represents femininity, mother earth, the young/liberal/left (which I suppose I am a part of), and ultimately that whole last chorus exists to outline the fact that the working class, left or right, are being completely abused and should really start working toward unity.
When did you write ‘Plain People O.S.T’, and where did you record it?
Lewis wrote the guitar parts a year or more ago, maybe longer. He had been playing around in “american football tuning” on the guitar, and that’s what came out. It was a pretty much completed track when he brought it to me. We recorded it, along with the rest of the album, at Freefall Recordings in Cornwall, with our friend Adam.
How does ‘Plain People O.S.T’ represent your style?
It’s just enough of what we used to do, that people seemed to like, and just enough of what we’re planning to do, which we’re not sure people are going to like. Hence why we’re releasing it first. It’s a bit of a safe-play, which isn’t our usual M.O, but duty calls.
What are your hopes for ‘Plain People O.S.T’?
I’d like to hear it be played on somewhere like Radio 6. That’d be swell. Most importantly though, I’d really like for it to resonate with people, and for them to not only find the meaning behind it but develop their own interpretation of the song. That’s all that matters. We don’t want any money, from anyone.
What other plans do you have for the year?
We were going to tour in the Winter, but we’re thinking now maybe we will just make another record.
Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourselves one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
I can’t think of a single example from my personal life that I can realistically get away with saying in what is going to be a published interview, unfortunately.
Professionally though, I would say; if someone in your local scene is referred to at any point as a “Gatekeeper”, avoid them like the black death. They are bad people and money comes before music. If anyone you ever meet refers to your music as a “product”, apply the same wide berth. Don’t feel like you have to kiss a bunch of industry ass all the time, and it isn’t because those higher-up industry people are “normal people like you and me”, it’s because they aren’t. They’re f!cking robots. They don’t speak for you.
Lastly, I guess I’d say hire a PR agent. This interview wouldn’t be happening without our PR agent Jade. For better or worse, you need someone who is going to have a bigger contact book than you do. Someone who will send out all the emails, pull all the right strings etc. and help you get some radio play and press coverage to reach wider audiences. It costs money, but all of your favourite bands, and everyone’s favourite band, has an agent. That said, playing gigs is still far more important, and nothing beats booking yourself a tour and playing with cool bands from all around the place.
For Knave news, tour dates and to hear their music first, head to the Knave Facebook page.