Geordie lads We Are Knuckle Dragger just released their second full-length album, ‘The Drone’, produced by Ross Robinson (best known for his work with the likes of KoRn, Slipknot and The Deftones among others). Having played launch shows in their home city and London this past weekend, the trio are currently in Ireland for a clutch of dates – including the PlanetMosh-sponsored Helloween Havok in Belfast this coming Friday (November 1).
I grabbed a chat with bassist Pete Currie to talk about the band, their background, working with some of the world’s top producers (their debut was handled by none other than Steve Albini) and the importance of staying in touch with their fans. As this will be the first time many of our readers will be hearing about the band, I started by asking him to tell us a little bit about the band’s background – who the three of them are and how they came to play together…
“Knuckle Dragger came into being back in 2008. I’d love to have an interesting story – like we found Aran trying to lick his own reflection in a rainy gutter one night – but I’d only be telling half truths! Myself and Aran (guitarist) hail from Ireland and go way back. Our paths crossed again in Newcastle upon Tyne: Aran had just finished with a project so was keen to get the ball rolling with something new. I signed up and, once we had something that was mildly presentable, we called on Shaun to complete the puzzle. After a few practices, we were good to go with our first EP, ‘Doors to Rooms’. We all come from different musical backgrounds but from here on in we knew we were going to get real mucky.”
What is the meaning of the band’s name?
“It’s a funny name isn’t it? I like it a lot. I think the imagery it conjures up really suits us. [It] makes me think of one of the gorilla door men from Roger Rabbit… just one big ugly bastard.”
For someone who has never heard you before, how would you summarize your sound?
“We’ll take you to the bottom of the pond and leave you there… best bring a snorkel.”
You’ve just finished recording your second album, produced by Ross Robinson: can you tell us a little bit about what to expect from it?
“Three idiots in a tiny room sweating our knackers off wondering what the hell we’re doing on the west coast of America and you’ve got to come up with some sort of worthwhile conclusion. This album is our attempt to answer. It’s still three mates relishing in the experience of creativity, but this one’s bigger, rawer, warts and all with intent.”
You worked with Steve Albini on your first album: was there a major difference in the working styles of the two producers?
“I knew that going to LA and recording with the guy who had done the likes of Korn and Slipknot was obviously going to be a different ordeal from when we recorded with Steve. First and foremost, we are a live band and Ross was there in the room with us every step of the way, engaging with us to get the best performance possible. Steve was a perfect choice for our first album and I’d love to work with him again, he’s there to capture you, WAM BAM, right there at that moment – no bells or frilly knickers: he’s got his job and you got yours.
“Ross harnessed us as a band and took us deeper into ourselves as a collective. That’s not to say we went spooning out in the ocean and fingering dolphins every night… but it created an energy between the three of us that really transcends into the recording.”
How important is the relationship between a band and the producer?
“There’s no point recording with someone who thinks you’re a wanker, is there? That’s bad for both parties concerned really.”
“Man there’s all sorts in there, from flame throwing mutants, millennium falcons and all types of murky shit. You’ll have to wade through it yourself to find out.”
According to your Facebook page, you “hold an underground ethos, networking direct with fans and bands via shows and social networks”: how important is that interaction with the fans and to keep sight of the fact that it is the fans who make it possible for the band to do what you do?
“It’s simple: we’ve always operated that way. It works for us and allows us to have a clear picture of what’s going on. We love getting feedback from shows. We started out making music for ourselves for the pure enjoyment of it and the fact that so many people have gathered round us over the past few years is a total bonus and we are proper grateful for it.”
In terms of your fan interaction, do you personally answer Facebook comments, Tweets, etc., or does someone from the management side now do that for you?
“All the social networking and the like are done by the band, mainly Aran, and although I think at some points he’d love to have his own squadron of personal assistants I know he really loves the interaction with our followers. Maybe someday though he’ll live the dream…”
In terms of your “underground ethos”, you’re opening the bill at this year’s Helloween Havoc: is it important to you where you are on a bill or is it just important to get up there and play?
“Within reason. When we play out of town gigs we normally request to go on main support as this way we are probably going to hit out to a healthy sized audience without everyone clearing off to get the last bus. Our sets aren’t that long anyway and to be honest I quite like getting on with it early so I can relax and soak up the other bands over a few pints.”
It’s quite an eclectic bill, covering death metal, thrash and space rock: do you enjoy playing diverse events such as this, with audiences who are into different types of music?
“Space rock? Sign me up Scotty. Aye we’d far rather be on with a variety of acts playing to new faces and tastes. It keeps things interesting for us. Our music is not for everyone and we appreciate that but if you are open enough and willing to let us in you’ll not be disappointed.”
Obviously there’ll be live dates to support the album release: can you tell us anything about touring plans at this stage?
“For the meantime we have just had our launch in Newcastle upon Tyne, followed by a separate launch in London. Then a few dates lined up in Ireland this week, including The Menagerie in Belfast, The Voodoo Lounge in Dublin and then your shindig.
“We can’t wait to play Ireland again as it’s the first time since our first EP that we’ve managed to get back over. Asides from that we’ll have more in the pipeline come December/new year. Come say hello.”
As Pete mentioned, WAKD play The Menagerie in Belfast tomorrow (Wednesday), the Voodoo Lounge in Dublin on Thursday and Hellowe’en Havoc (with NASA Assassin, Altus, Scimitar and ForChristSake) on Friday (November 1st).
‘The Drone’ has just been released on Sapien Records: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Drone-Are-Knuckle-Dragger/dp/B00EZM30WO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1381660683&sr=8-1&keywords=we+are+knuckle+dragger
Tomorrow, in the last of our interviews previewing Hellowe’en Havoc, we talk to headliners NASA Assassin. For more details on the event, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/213248798814720/