KNOCKED LOOSE

IF 2017 WAS THE YEAR HARD­CORE RUBBED SHOUL­DERS WITH THE MAIN­STREAM, 2018 WILL BE THE YEAR IT KICKS ITS ARSE.WE HEADED TO AUS­TRALIA’S UNIFY FES­TI­VAL TO HANG WITH THE SCENE’S NEXT BREAK­OUT STARS...

Kerrang! (UK) - - HOTTEST BANDS OF 2018 -

“Idon’t think I’ve ever said this in an in­ter­view be­fore,” be­gins Bryan Gar­ris, “but I have never writ­ten any of my lyrics down. I feel like if I write some­thing down, and then I go back and read it later, I’m like,‘wow, that is so corny.’ So I’ll get rough record­ings of our songs, and then I write in my head and just mem­o­rise it. It’s al­ways just been in my head.”

This is the most sur­pris­ing of rev­e­la­tions from a man whose lyri­cal po­etry – touch­ing on death, ad­dic­tion, re­li­gion and everything in be­tween – has made an earth-shat­ter­ing im­pact on heavy mu­sic in re­cent times.then again, Knocked Loose de­liver sounds straight from the soul, so why would Bryan cal­cu­late his thoughts ahead of time? It’s just an­other rea­son why the band to­day stand as one of the most unique young groups on the planet.and, cru­cially, it’s why their re­mark­able front­man is cur­rently sit­ting with Ker­rang! in a re­mote, south-eastern state of Aus­tralia as the quin­tet – com­pleted by gui­tarists Cole Crutch­field and Isaac Hale, bassist Kevin Ot­ten and drum­mer Kevin Kaine – lead our Hottest Bands Of 2018 cover fea­ture this week.

Only to­day, it’s ab­so­lutely piss­ing it down.that’s that metaphor out the win­dow, then.

This mi­nor de­tail doesn’t di­min­ish Bryan’s over­whelm­ing grat­i­tude dur­ing our 40 min­utes spent to­gether, though.“this is the best place I’ve ever been,” the front­man beams.“it’s par­adise here. When you start a band, you’re like,‘i want to tour the

States, and I want to go to Europe.’ But you never think you’ll go to Aus­tralia. It’s mind-blow­ing.”

The Ken­tucky five-piece have made this cov­eted trip across the globe for UNIFY Gath­er­ing – Down Un­der’s only rock and metal camp­ing fes­ti­val. Hav­ing reached their des­ti­na­tion via bumpy tracks sprawled with greener-thangreen trees and lone fish­er­men pick­ing crea­tures out of the nearby Tar­win River, you can eas­ily see why Bryan calls this place “par­adise”. Hell, even the roads that the band have ar­rived via – with stereo­typ­i­cal names like ‘Fish Creek’ and ‘Surf Drive’ – re­mind you that you’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an ex­otic bliss that few oth­ers get the chance to.

The re­sult­ing mi­graine-in­duc­ing hu­mid­ity of to­day’s tor­ren­tial down­pour doesn’t faze Bryan in the slight­est, ei­ther.the faint smell of damply trod­den-in grass is ap­par­ent, but there’s a real sense of some­thing hap­pen­ing in the air, too.af­ter all, Knocked Loose be­long here: a fes­ti­val with a friend­lier-than-yourneigh­bour­hood-spi­der-man com­mu­nity vibe, to­tal in­clu­siv­ity, and a var­ied line-up to suit even the most picky of at­ten­dees.

Tak­ing shel­ter in a large white tent at the back­stage com­pound of the sold-out fes­ti­val, the 24-year-old is qui­etly spo­ken, but in­cred­i­bly en­gaged for a man who has spent his morn­ing crammed into the back of a van. It’s a life­style that he’s very quickly had to adapt to.

“In 2015 we toured for 10 months,” Bryan states in a dry Amer­i­can drawl, from un­der­neath a Higher Power cap and a soaked-through rain­coat.“we would be on tour, and the flyer

for our next tour would be on the wall, and we’d be like,‘hey, if you like what you hear, we’ll be back in 10 days with a whole dif­fer­ent crop of bands and merch!’”

This ded­i­cated ap­proach, cou­pled with Knocked Loose’s stun­ning it­er­a­tion of metal-tinged hard­core (not that Bryan buys into genre pi­geon­holes, but more on that later…), has seen five small-town kids break out of their na­tive Louisville and onto a fes­ti­val stage some 9,000-odd miles from home. It’s why Ker­rang! have made the equally ex­haust­ing jour­ney, too. Be­cause who wouldn’t want to catch Knocked Loose at one of the world’s great­est festivals as their rev­o­lu­tion takes flight?

B ryan Gar­ris still re­mem­bers the sum­mer that changed his life. Raised by a mother who loves hip-hop and a father who “goes through phases where he’ll be su­per into coun­try, and then he’ll be su­per into old rock, or su­per into hip-hop”, it wasn’t un­til the Knocked Loose leader was in­tro­duced to heavy mu­sic by his aunt some 13 years ago that his sights were set on be­ing in a band.

“She showed me Rage Against The Ma­chine, Slip­knot, Korn, and even some punk bands, too, like The Dead Milk­men,” Bryan re­calls fondly, putting him­self back in the shoes of that wideeyed 11-year-old.“it clicked with me, and I was just hooked. I think I dove in at an age where I didn’t re­ally know what I liked, or what I wanted to like, and I found that I was just all about that.”

Tak­ing on the role of front­man, though – and even­tu­ally tour­ing ex­ten­sively along­side the likes of genre heavy­weights Coun­ter­parts and Ev­ery Time I Die – wasn’t even on Bryan’s radar. In fact, it was a joke with a mate that es­sen­tially turned into a very real ca­reer move.

“One day I was hang­ing out with a friend, and we were mak­ing fun of scream­ing vo­cals – well, not nec­es­sar­ily ‘mak­ing fun of’, but mock­ing it,” he ex­plains. “And I was do­ing it, and my friend was like,‘that’s pretty cool!’ so I was like,‘al­right, I’ll do this…’”

While find­ing his feet as an ag­gres­sive singer, Bryan was also dip­ping his toes in other wa­ters. He found “some­thing to do” in foot­ball, bas­ket­ball and base­ball at var­i­ous stages grow­ing up, but his other great pas­sion was – and still is – art.there wasn’t much else to chan­nel his en­ergy into in Louisville other than that.

“I was re­ally young, and watch­ing in­fomer­cials on Nick­elodeon about get­ting brief­cases that teach you how to do car­toons, and my mom would get me all of those,” he re­mem­bers.“i wanted to be a comic book artist.” Af­ter turn­ing up to all the ad­vanced stu­dio art classes that he could in high school, Bryan looked into at­tend­ing art col­lege af­ter­wards. Jug­gling that with mu­sic, though,

proved too tricky.“i al­ways

“YOUSEE A LOT OF HARD­CORE BANDS JUST BE A HARD­CORE BAND, AND THEY’LL HIT A CEIL­ING” BRYAN GAR­RIS

tell my girl­friend: ‘ i wish I still knew how to draw,’” he sighs. “but I’m very much be­hind the art of Knocked Loose – I have a very spe­cific di­rec­tion that I want us to go vis­ually. Everything I’ve ever liked to do, I get to exercise that through Knocked Loose: art, writ­ing, performing. I try to take ad­van­tage of that out­put.”

De­spite the ob­vi­ous build­ing suc­cess of each of Bryan’s cre­ative en­deav­ours, the front­man still re­tains an air of self-con­scious­ness. though the singer to­day can hap­pily share the UNIFY stage with metal gi­ants Park­way Drive and Ar­chi­tects, his re­served off­stage man­ner­isms mean that he doesn’t in­stantly strike you as the man lead­ing this next wave of hard­core he­roes. To put this in per­spec­tive, when Bryan first started out, he didn’t even write lyrics for any of his pre-knocked Loose bands, for fear of other peo­ple’s judge­ment.

“I was con­vinced that I couldn’t write lyrics,” he con­fesses. “it would suck, be­cause I would start a new band, and they’d be like, ‘here’s some songs that we wrote,’ and I would be like, ‘okay, cool, I need you to write me lyrics.’ It was just me in my own head.”

Knocked Loose’s at­ten­tion-grab­bing 2014 EP, Pop Cul­ture, found the front­man tak­ing a full-on, bel­liger­ent ap­proach to song­writ­ing. Hav­ing never pre­vi­ously been in bands that sang about “hate­ful things”, Bryan re­moved the fo­cus from his own lyri­cal in­se­cu­ri­ties by swing­ing at the things that pissed him off. “it’s funny if you break down ev­ery song on that record,” he chuck­les. “one is about how I hate re­li­gion; one is about how I hate my friends; one is about how I hate my­self; one is about how I hate drugs…”

The quin­tet’s rag­ing 2016 full-length de­but, Laugh Tracks, how­ever, had a much more con­sid­ered ap­proach. Not only did the sub­ject mat­ter shift a gear as Bryan ma­tured in those two years be­tween re­leases, but his dark tales of anx­i­ety

and de­pres­sion struck a chord with lis­ten­ers more than ever be­fore. He prefers not to ad­dress this in in­ter­views, though, and is ex­tremely wary about sound­ing “dra­matic” when it comes to talk­ing about men­tal health. while lyrics like, ‘so I’m stuck alone in the world / Un­com­fort­able in my skin,’ from the al­bum’s ti­tle-track, and, ‘my tomb­stone was made at birth / My cof­fin is on my back,’ on lead sin­gle Dead­ringer speak for them­selves, past ex­pe­ri­ence has taught Bryan that it’s sim­ply not worth delv­ing into these topics out of the stu­dio; last year, the then-23-year-old was told by an in­ter­viewer, ‘You’re pretty young to talk about dy­ing all the time.’

It’s no won­der he plays his cards so close to his chest.

At this point in the in­ter­view, the weather out­side takes no pris­on­ers. UNIFY’S mid­dle-of-nowhere sur­round­ings, with ex­po­sure to the nearby coastal cli­mates of Venus Bay, make for a thrillingly un­pre­dictable ex­pe­ri­ence.as you can imag­ine, aside from the once-a-year buzz of the fes­ti­val, noth­ing much else makes its way round these parts.

Bryan had a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence grow­ing up in his own home­town.

Crest­wood, on the out­skirts of Louisville, where the singer and his fam­ily still re­side, barely has a mu­sic scene. At­tend­ing hard­core shows in his high school years, he would have to rely on lifts from other fans to get him into dis­tant go­ings-on.

“My friend would drive all the way to my house and pick me up and take me to shows,” he smiles, his hushed voice barely au­di­ble over the pass­ing storm. “And if I didn’t have money he would pay for my way in.the first time I ever met Tyler Jor­dan – who used to sing for this band called An­other State, who are very im­por­tant to us – he was like, ‘to­mor­row I’m go­ing to see Ex­pire and Power Trip in Cincin­nati – do you want to come? I’ll take you.’ Be­cause I couldn’t drive at the time. He didn’t know me at all and took me to Cincin­nati.”

Is that more of a reflection on the peo­ple of Louisville, or hard­core as a whole?

“I think it’s a lit­tle bit of both, but I def­i­nitely have to give credit to where we’re from,” Bryan nods. “we’re so used to get­ting skipped, and so used to driv­ing if we have to.the clos­est ma­jor city to us is Chicago, and it’s four-and-a-half hours away…”

Louisville’s out-of-reach prox­im­ity doesn’t ex­actly present it­self as the per­fect breed­ing ground for hard­core’s Next Big Thing. Not that Knocked Loose ever thought about such ob­sta­cles. af­ter form­ing in 2013, the pos­si­bil­ity – or de­sire – of be­com­ing a full­time tour­ing band didn’t even cross their minds. Bryan’s stu­dious na­ture meant that he wanted to stay in col­lege “and try and feel like an adult”, while the rest of the band were just stoked on hav­ing the chance to play their in­stru­ments ev­ery once in a while at lo­cal gigs.

Yet Bryan’s re­luc­tance to travel was quickly al­tered af­ter his first real tour­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.the of­fer came through dur­ing the sum­mer (“So I could still be in school,” Bryan em­pha­sises), and, af­ter that ini­tial run of dates, Knocked Loose changed their minds about only performing in Ken­tucky.

How­ever, hav­ing gone from home­bod­ies to road dogs in an ex­cep­tion­ally short space of time, Bryan learned the hard way how tough a life on tour can be.

“It def­i­nitely changes the dy­nam­ics of re­la­tion­ships you have at home,” he frowns. “my younger broth­ers are grow­ing up with­out me there, and it’s re­ally hard miss­ing out on hol­i­days, birth­days and wed­dings. I’m at the age now where my friends are get­ting mar­ried, and it’s very hard to be like, ‘i can’t say no to this month-long tour for one wed­ding.’” Even the town it­self is mov­ing on with­out Bryan.the front­man pauses to take in the fact that the place where he was given his firstever “real le­gal job”, a SONIC drive-through fast-food chain, has now shut down. “stuff like that hap­pens all the time, and it’s weird for all of us,” he ex­hales, his usu­ally dart­ing eyes fo­cussing mo­men­tar­ily on the floor.

But even the most ca­sual of fans would un­der­stand that this is all for the greater good. with the skies clear­ing for Knocked Loose’s 4:20pm stage time, the five-piece pull UNIFY’S big­gest crowd of the day so far. Bryan takes full ad­van­tage of his sur­round­ings away from our in­ter­view tent, bound­ing his way from the left to the right of the stage and get­ting in the au­di­ence’s faces at the bar­rier. De­spite only hav­ing a set length of 40 min­utes, it’s more than enough time to cre­ate an im­pact that leaves older bands on the bill – like Knocked Loose’s cur­rent tour­mates in Fouryear Strong, and fel­low hard­core favourites Stick To Your Guns – singing their praises through­out the week­end.

What’s more, Bryan finds his far-from-home ex­pe­ri­ence even more en­joy­able since his long-term girl­friend joined them on the road to sell merch. “it’s def­i­nitely worked out for me,” he smiles, ges­tur­ing to the stall where she’s sit­u­ated. “but she’s not just here be­cause she’s my girl­friend – she does a very good job for us, to the point where the band ap­proached me and were like, ‘we like hav­ing her on tour, and we want her to do all of it.’”

“MY LYRICS HAVE AL­WAYS JUST BEEN IN MY HEAD...” BRYAN GAR­RIS

KL: (From left) Pac Sun (drums), Isaac Hale (gui­tar), Bryan Gar­ris (vo­cals), Kevin Ot­ten (bass) and Cole Crutch­field (gui­tar) “Come to Aus­tralia,” they said. “It’ll be re­ally sunny,” they said

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