A Knocked Loose show isn’t the kind of event you enter into lightly. The Kentucky-based hardcore band have quickly become infamous in the scene for bringing out the rowdiest and most brutal crowds. After the release of their first EP Pop Culture and their recent full-length Laugh Tracks, everyone knows by now that if you go into a KL pit you should expect to get K.O.’d.
“I would definitely say that the live show is something that we take very seriously,” vocalist Bryan Garris says. Garris is rail thin and not the tallest of men, but from his small stature comes the kind of larger than life stage presence that can command an army – or at least an army of hardcore kids. “I pride myself on our live shows,” he continues. “I know that some people take this as kind of an insult, but I do think that we are the kind of band that is way better live, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I just think with the kind of music that we play it’s a lot easier to accept that kind of aggression when you’re hearing it live.”
“I do think that we are the kind of band that is way better live, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”
When asked about the extreme nature of the crowds that his band’s music incites, he admits, “Even from where I’m standing, sometimes I’m even like, ‘Oh shit, they’re killing each other. Hopefully they’re OK!’ I definitely have fun watching it, to an extent. Every now and then you’ve got some jerks that try to ruin it for everybody, but when everybody’s on the same page and everybody’s just losing their minds it definitely makes for a better show.”
This isn’t something that has just been noticed by the band themselves and their fans. Other skilled and well-known vocalists in the scene piled into a corner on stage during Knocked Loose’s set at the recent Souled Out Fest in Poughkeepsie, NY – a set that Garris claims is one of their best to date – to get a glimpse of the Kentucky act’s notorious performance. Old Wounds’s Kevin Iavaroni and Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo were among the many huddled up and peering over each other’s heads to see the action.
“That’s very nerve-racking at times,” he says humbly, “to have people I’ve listened to as long as I have watching my band side stage. I get very, very nervous, but they always seem to be impressed so apparently we’re doing something right.” Garris adds that receiving compliments from vocalist Keith Buckley of the legendary Every Time I Die was “honestly a dream come true.”
Not only are compliments of this breed unexpected for Knocked Loose’s members, but even getting their music out past the bounds of Kentucky was a huge surprise for them. “I never expected that demo to reach anybody outside of Kentucky,” Garris reflects of Pop Culture, “so I guess we weren’t taking [our career] as seriously as we should have. So I knew that when we were entering this new chapter of the band [with Laugh Tracks] I wanted to take things more seriously as far as the artistic direction. I wanted to introduce some deeper elements.”
“People look at Knocked Loose as just a heavy mosh band just telling you when to mosh, but for me personally there’s so much more lyrically than just beating the hell out of each other.”
Some of these deeper elements include the graphic novel-esque cover art of Laugh Tracks and its rather paradoxical title. “It was kind of the same approach as how we named our demo Pop Culture,” Garris says of the recent full-length. “Just something weird and something not run of the mill or generic. I feel like a lot of bands nowadays take the easy way out and they just find a word that sounds tough and then base their entire gimmick [off of that]. I didn’t wanna do that,” he explains.
“I had the idea of Laugh Tracks for a while. There’s a million different interpretations for it, but the one that I stick to that I think is the easiest to explain is they’ve done research…they’ve released movies on the east coast and the wast coast at the same time, but on the east coast there’s laugh tracks and on the west coast there’s no laugh tracks – to see what does better in terms of ratings. The ones with laugh tracks always do better. It’s like you have something subconsciously telling you when to laugh. People look at Knocked Loose as just a heavy mosh band just telling you when to mosh, but for me personally there’s so much more lyrically than just beating the hell out of each other.”
To some listeners the lyrical content may come second to the sheer physical brutality of the music, but Garris clings to the words on each track with extreme devotion. “I think one of the most important songs lyrically for me on the record would be “Last Words,” he says. “It’s me at my lowest and I think that would be the most vulnerable song, which is something that I admire in other artists; somebody that is willing to be vulnerable to the public.” Most people tend to mistake vulnerability for weakness, but the more keen, fine-tuned minds in the hardcore scene understand that being able to embrace your vulnerability is in fact a form of strength. “Whether they like what I say or not,” Garris adds, “hopefully they can see that I’m trying to be at least genuine about my approach to everything that I do.”
The band that never thought they would make it out of Kentucky are now on their first European tour with Expire, Counterparts, and Landscapes, which marks the band’s first time overseas with their music.
Garris wanted to make sure to say how grateful he and the rest of Knocked Loose are to everyone who has helped the band get to where they are today. Seeing as how this interview comes to you directly after Thanksgiving, we couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to end the article:
“One thing that I don’t think that we say enough is how grateful we are for all the opportunities that we have, for all the friends that we’ve made, everybody that likes and supports this band. I could say it every single day how thankful we are. Everybody in the band is just consistently blown away.” – Bryan Garris