Our local spotlight for the month of August 2013 focuses on The Long Knives. Started as a solo project, the band became a duo after a short time. The 90's indie throw back recently release their debut LP entitled Holy Ghost Points. WJ was kind enough to answer our normal spotlight questions about their beginnings, challenges of Pittsburgh and how they create their music. You can find their new LP here and here.
How did the band come together? Were you all friends that went to school? or?
I (WJ) started The Long Knives as my solo project in 2007 and paired up with sNk in March of 2009. We have had a bassist in and then out, and now it is just the two of us, although we may add another bassist down the road if we can find one who can fit the sound well.
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
It's hard. So many different influences and people pick that up in the music. It's hard, raw, honest music with feeling. People want to categorize as Indie or Post-Punk, we just call it Psychiatric Rock.
Are you all originally from the Pittsburgh area? Families here as well?
I am from Pittsburgh and I have family here. sNk is from Donegal and all his family are out that way.
Do you all create music full time or is this more of a part time venture?
We would love to be able to do it full time, and we put a lot into it. Maybe down the road, but for now, we have some other obligations which take up a bit of our time as well, but music is on my mind all the time, and it is like a second full time job at times with all the work you have to put into it being primarily a DIY group and such.
Do you have day jobs?
You could call em that!
How do you create your music? What is the song writing process?
A lot of the songs are ones that I have been doing for years. I have been playing nd writing for close to 30 years, I just never started doing anything with it until about 10 years ago or so. A lot of the songs are old ones that I have recorded a skeleton of on the acoustic, then reworked with sNk to fit the sound. For the new ones, almost everything is written on an Alvarez 12 string, as I do not play any 6 string instruments with the band, all 12 strings. I write so much lyrical stuff, it never has a problem being a content filler if I need one, although almost everything we do is very conceptual in its nature and belongs to a certain "group" of songs I piece together for different idea structures. We have a good combination of older and newer tunes.
What are your goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish? Are you trying to get signed to a label?
Yea, we would love to do this full-time if we could and just play music for a living, but that is the pipe dream of most acts, and we will make every effort to do what we do without selling our souls to the biz. I would love to get signed to a decent label as long as e can put out some tunes to get to the masses so they can take em in. It just takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication to the craft, and I think we have that to a certain extent. We are looking to ramp up the shows i the near future, get on with a few National and International festivals, and start putting together some small tours throughout the course of the year.
What advice would you give to local acts trying to make it?
To expand. Don;t just confine yourself to the Pittsburgh music scene, get it out there elsewhere as well. You have to make the choice to network and make the effort to meet people, this is what is is all about, and your friends you make playing music can have a lot to do with your own success. Also, go to shows, talk to other bands, stay for their sets, and get to know their songs. Support your fellow peeps in the city and across the world and do your own thing musically, don't let anyone tell you how to do it, be who you are. Your songs are your own gift to the world.
Have you all toured nationally? Or do you usually stay more regionally?
We haven't toured nationally here, but we have done some small tours in Germany/Holland the past couple of years and have played both a festival and a drunken bingo show over there as well. We have friends across the pond from my years being on MySpace and networking with a lot of different folks across the world, and we have had some terrific experiences over there. We are looking at putting a couple of National tours together in the near future, and getting back to Europe and expanding our schedule either late this year or some time next year, circumstances permitting. We are looking to push out more from the local scene and tail back to only a couple of shows a year in this area, it's time to make that move.
Being in the Pgh area, do you find it more difficult to try and succeed? What are some of the obstacles you face trying to create some success' in Pgh?
Yea, to be honest, it is brutal, and a lot of it has to do with the demographic. The problems you have in this area have a lot to do with the fact that bands are often playing to that 30+ crowd, and while they are graciously supportive and do care for your music, they are not the right market to be successful with it, and you need to hit the younger ages to be able to get that sound out there properly. We have played shows in Berlin and Hamburg to double and triple encores, and here, a lot of times people only come to see their friends play and then head on home, they don;t give the other acts much of a chance. I've been involved in this music scene in some capacity for over 25 years, and this has always been the case here, especially since a lot of the old venues like Graffiti and the Banana shut their doors. You really have to dig in here to be successful, as we have often experienced, you get that older crowd that says they are going to come and see your shows and then something comes up in their lives and they never show up. The scene has just become more and more fractured here over time as far as bands supporting one another as well, and who knows if that will ever get back to the right level, but I know we try, and I know we reach out to many acts in the city to network with us.
What are the positive benefits of being in the area?
Being able to remain close to family and friends, and plus the fact that it is a beautiful area, and is a place I have called home for a good portion of my life. We also have some great restaurants, great sports teams, and lots of various activities available to us in the region. Being able to go to Gooski's from time to time doesn't hurt either!
Is there a venue you have enjoyed playing more than others in the area?
We have a lot of venues in the area we enjoy, but we have found that the ones South of the city tend to be where we are best received here. The Inn Termission Lounge in Southside and Tony from the club have always been great to us and we love playing there, of course, Gooski's, Club Cafe and the Smiling Moose have all been very supportive of TLK over the years, and they are venues we truly do look forward to playing. We really love the sound at 31st St. Pub as well, the girl who does the sound down there is aces. We would love to check out some more venues in the area which we haven't played yet, but we will get there at some point. The ones we give the thumbs down to are the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern and the Rock Room, we won't be returning to either one of those locations ever again.
You can find more information on the band at the below links:
You can find more information on the band at the below links:
Reverbnation - http://www.reverbnation.com/thelongknives62