Originally published in BLUNT Magazine #136 and online.
While the Mighty Ducks reference in their name is purely unintentional, pop-punkers Knuckle Puck have been steadily moving from the junior league into the majors. BLUNT spoke to guitarist Kevin Maida about their rapidly growing success over such a short amount of time.
The pop-punk genre carries a certain image; it’s the dorky younger brother of punk who spends his time either skateboarding in the shopping centre car park or yearning for that cute girl in his maths class who doesn’t even know his name. The proverbial new kids on the emotional block, Knuckle Puck are no strangers to this expectation.
“When people first hear of our band from someone else, and they say we’re a pop-punk band, that stigma does often arise,” explains Kevin Maida. “I think a lot of the time people expect us to act a certain way and be a certain way because of the way our band sounds.”
Formed in 2011 and hailing from Chicago – home of punk mainstays such as Fall Out Boy and Alkaline Trio – the quintet have quickly become one of the most hyped bands within their scene.
“It’s been truly phenomenal. When we were starting this band about three years ago, none of us had any permanent intention of doing what we do now. It’s crazy!”
What’s particularly crazy is that despite all the praise they’ve received so far they haven’t even released a full-length album, just a handful of EPs – the most recent of which was last year’s emotional While I Stay Secluded. But while they may lack a full release, the prospect of it isn’t out of the question now they’ve signed with Rise Records.
“It would be such a gratifying feeling putting out a full-length, but the time was never right,” Maida clarifies. “If we tried doing a full-length last year, I feel like it would have been half-arsed. We wouldn’t have been able to give it our all, which is primarily what we would want to do with a full-length.”
In the meantime, they’ve been busy supporting the likes of Man Overboard, Modern Baseball, and Senses Fail for the 10th anniversary tour of Let It Enfold You, while also preparing for their first ever UK tour. While there’s no doubt that they have left their mark on the audiences of these tours, the headlining bands have subtly influenced Knuckle Puck as well, acting like their very own Coach Gordon Bombay. “On another tour we’ll be like, ‘Oh, remember when Senses Fail did that or when Man Overboard did that’ because we should try to apply those ethics to our band to make it run smoother and just be a better band overall.”
Alongside their fierce touring schedule (they’ve toured the US a total of four times in 2014 alone), one of the biggest factors of their mounting success is how strongly they’ve embraced digital streaming services, such as Spotify and Bandcamp, as a means to get their music out to a much wider audience.
“The Internet is crazy, man. I think if you’re a band right now it’s one of the smartest tools you can utilise to help your band out.”
While some argue against the Spotify business model and the incredibly low royalty payments for artists who allow their music to be used by the service, Maida carries a more optimistic view.
“As long as people can hear our music, that’s the main point. I think it’s important to support artists in any genre of music, but there’s a lot of different ways you can support artists. I think a lot of the time streaming helps you by letting people hear your music for free. Getting our band’s music out there is the point of our band.”