Knoll’s “Interstice” Devastates With Pure Energy (Early Album Stream)
It's 7:30 AM and I've just finished my first cup of coffee for the day. I am invincible, a machine built entirely of speed and pure, raw energy. This feeling happens every day, and yet it isn't mundane; my addiction to what is essentially speed (caffeine) keeps me alive as I enter each dual work day (I'd be lying if I said I didn't work on Invisible Oranges stuff during my day job's downtime). The issue with becoming a radiant being of caffeinated energy every morning is: what the hell do I listen to? Generally speaking, I listen to black metal, but so much of my library is atmospheric and pensive; what I really need is something as outrageous as how I feel, something as profoundly awake and ready to destroy the world as I am. Enter Tennessee deathgrind band Knoll.
Knoll fits into a special category of music: over the top. Over the top music can be any style or of any persuasion, but what makes it go "OTT" is a) execution, which must be as intense and "extra" as possible, and b) songwriting, which much feature either as many notes as possible or convey an emotion to its furthest extremes. On Interstice, Knoll's debut full-length album, we find a convergence of Over The Top music's two halves.
First and foremost, Knoll is pissed. Utilizing chaotic discord, wild vocals, and nonstop battery to convey a disappointment with the world at an extreme level, Interstice grips the listener and screams into their face for almost 35 minutes, nonstop. Second, Knoll is incredibly proficient, playing as many notes using as many musical techniques as possible. Note that I never really called them a "technical" band, I think this would do them a disservice. In an interview which can be read below, Knoll declares their technicality a result rather than an initial goal, and it shows. This is clearly passionately written music and not a collection of shredders' exercises, which makes Interstice's various musical adventures all the more interesting. Bouncing from style to style and emotion to emotion, Knoll's debut, which can be streamed in full below, basks in its own powerful glow. It is 7:30 AM. I am awake.
When composing technical music, is it your goal to craft proficient music from the start, or rather is the proficiency a result of how you write music?
Definitely a result. Some pieces require intricate playing - tapping, notey runs, extreme beats, etc., and some require droning and fewer elements. It depends on what we find most powerful in the moment of creation. I do think that the desire to push ourselves mentally and physically creates a tendency towards technicality, though.
Your album is self-described as a commentary on the grotesque nature and actions of humankind. What led to this conceptual angle?
I feel like a lot of it is due to our environment and the overwhelming negativity of the current global climate. It is easy to foster an intense disdain for all forms of spirituality and religion when growing up in the southern US. Not that we’re a band that just writes about hating Christianity or whatever, but you can feel the symptoms of atrocity anywhere you go. I fall into the peril of grandiose thinking often, and the weight of greater insignificance and defeat is prevalent on this record.
Is there a link between the music and the concept found on Interstice, or did the concept come after composition?
The concept came far before the final composition - of a continuous voicing to overpower all else surrounding it. We are definite perfectionists and over preppers, so there wasn’t much room to budge conceptually or musically. There were, however, things that became more apparent to us during the recording process. We were fortunate enough to find ourselves in a connective headspace and struck a balance between sparking improvisation and managing time.
The album itself has a star-studded collaboration lineup, from recording with Andy Nelson to having Kurt Ballou mix the audio and Ethan McCarthy craft the artwork. What made you decide to work with these people specifically? Did you initially have these people in mind during the writing process?
We’ve been fans of Andy, Kurt, Ethan, and their respective bands since before we formed. We knew for sure that we wanted to work with Andy and Kurt as they have been key players for a ton of other bands that we admire. We solidified that before the writing of the album was complete, though we didn’t hit up Ethan (and later Frank Huang, who did our videos) until after the record was complete. We wanted to interpret the full atmosphere of the record before we settled on artwork in order to really capture something that we felt accurate to the sound. What we got from Ethan immediately struck me in awe - we had to pull over on the side of the road to stare at it when we got the first draft - I don’t know of anyone else that I’d be comfortable with handling these extreme thoughts and portraying them. It was a deeply rewarding and personal experience for all of us, I still can’t believe that we worked with them.
Creating and performing intense music is draining, especially when done in long strides. Do you find yourselves exhausted with your own music upon completion, or even during the process?
Physically and mentally. We hammered these songs into the ground to prepare them for the studio. For me, the process of writing vocals and lyrics is a migraine-inducing process of self doubt and general unhappiness. I have to be completely isolated because I just get in the worst moods. I know the guitarwork and drums are equally laborious. However, I don’t want to do it any other way. It is easy to throw in cookie cutter lyrics or riffs and call it, but I am ultimately after something that is taxing to recreate live. It has to be true to us and as intense, in whatever way, as possible. However, we won’t be taking any breaks or burning out. I think that not having an outlet is infinitely more debilitating than the struggle of making this kind of record.
Interstice releases February 26th. Purchase the album digitally or on vinyl here.