Interview with Preston Maddox of Bloody Knives
Bloody Knives - Photo Credit: Andrea Kinnear
Like a mythical unicorn, but with devil horns, Austin, Texas-based Bloody Knives is a one-of-a-kind band that produces a unique sound that is at once bludgeoning and exhilarating. Melding elements from the noise rock, industrial, (post-)punk, shoegaze, and electronic genres – and branching out even more into drum & bass territory on upcoming album White Light Black Moon, Bloody Knives unleashes a wild beast of an LP. Preston Maddox, the sonic visionary behind the music project, provides insight into Bloody Knives’ recording process, bleak lyrics, and exciting prospects for 2018.
Hello Preston! What is the current Bloody Knives line-up and what instruments do each of you play?
Preston Maddox- vocals/bass/synth, Jake McCown-drums/synth, and Jack O'Hara Harris-guitar.
Is it true that there are no guitars (besides bass) on all your records, except for 2016’s I Will Cut Your Heart Out For This?
Yes it is! Even when Jack joined us as a guitar player, there was a period of adjustment for us with learning how to fit guitar into the band, but we figured it out, or rather Kevin Shields figured a ton of it out, and we learned indirectly from him.
Where does your interest/obsession with violence and death (by way of your lyrics) originate from?
It is a vehicle for ideas to move through, a language of its own that is innately human and relatable to anyone. Anything involving violence and death is exhilarating, no matter how disturbing it is. Everyone can relate and understand or feel something from that if they want to. I'm more into saying things without actually saying them. I’m not a literal lyricist. I prefer imagery and something that pulls somone below the surface instead of the kind of lyrical equivalent of a person playing a private concert for someone. We are distant, especially on this record.
What are your thoughts on Nietzsche? Is he an influence on your lyrics/outlook at all?
I found Nietzsche kinda boring in a "been there, thought that" kind of way. Maybe if I was younger and found him I would have loved it, but by the time I read him I had already developed similar ideas about life on my own and I wasn’t compelled to dive into further analysis of them.
What is your recording process like? Are you 100% at the controls?
I'm always at the center of the recording process and method, but I've learned to delegate things for a better end result. Most of that is a result of finding people capable of doing the things that need to be done who are willing and capable of fitting into the aesthetic of the band. In the process of creating the record I lose perspective and it has been good to hand off the mixing and mastering to somebody who can still have fresh ears for the project.
What happened for the recording and producing of I Will Cut Your Heart Out For This? The sound is much sharper and clearer on that album compared to your previous output!
I became a much better engineer, I upgraded my studio, I used high quality keyboards for the first time ever, and I handed the record over to Adam Stilson to mix and master. Adam did a top job with all of it. All of the instruments occupied their own place in the mix which is really difficult to do with a record as dense as that one is.
You have a unique, hybrid-genre sound. I don’t think there’s any precedence for this! How does it feel to be originator of a “new” genre?
Lonely, haha, soo gothhh. It makes it difficult to book shows sometimes.
What’s the deal with AEVE CVE? Was that a one-off project with the song “Glassrain” on the Alternative (F)Acts compilation (that benefits civil and human rights and women’s healthcare) or is there more music in the pipeline?
Not sure yet. I might do some more electro in that vein when I feel the need again. It's a fun sound to play with, but I get most of my kicks in this area doing the S T F U project, and having Dean Garcia (Curve, SPC ECO, more) on everything else is much more fun than going at it on my own.
Can you give an update on the next Bloody Knives album? From what I understand, you scrapped the original version of the album! What changes have you made to it?
Yes, we had an entire record done, titled White Light Black Moon, and we ended up scrapping all of it and writing another record. This is the kind of thing record labels were heavily scorned for in the past, but we did it to ourselves. The record was good, but it wasn’t right. The demos we were working on were better than the record we had, so we went with it and just wrote an entirely new set of songs, and the end result was what we wanted in the beginning. We finish up the mixing and mastering in December, and the plan is to release it in the spring prior to our tour. We leaned in heavy with the late ‘90s DnB influence, our industrial side is on full display, we step into heavy guitar riff territory a couple times, there is more ambience, and its less abrasive.
Has the current turbulent and divisive political and social atmosphere in the US influenced your lyrics on the new album?
Not directly or in a specific way, but yes, absolutely. To me, politics are always turbulent, but right now is especially uneasy all over the world, especially here. I think everyone with a conscience is feeling this wave of hopelessness, anxiety, instability, and just pure rage. The record has themes of lingering dread, the constant pursuit of pleasure and happiness and the resulting loneliness, and the loss and separation of self. I think these are all things we are seeing people deal with. At the same time a lot of this band is about escapism. It always has been, and I think people need escapism more than ever. Our reality is just overwhelming on so many levels and we need a break from it, a chance to remove ourselves from this reality and experience something outside of it.
Did any specific films, or a film genre, influence the making of White Light Black Moon?
I really loved the new Twin Peaks, ESPECIALLY the last episode, the dream-like timeline and surreal feeling, and the slow reduction to isolation and nothingness, until it’s just the two of them in the car driving on a dirt road. The Hellraiser film series was a thing for me this year, mainly 2 and 3, even though 1 is the one of the most unique horror films of all time. The surreal elements of 2, and especially 3, are notable.
What else are you up to in the coming months?
Finishing up a new STFU record; couple songs away from it. We have a whole lot of touring coming up; Bloody Knives in the US and the UK: West Coast in April, Midwest in late May, UK in the fall, East Coast is even becoming a possibility, and bringing along an unexpected reunion band on tour with us (hopefully). Conflict might get to tour again in the US, and STFU might play live if the right situation comes around. Right now I'm trying to chill before all of this starts up again, but hoping it all happens. Bring it, - Let’s do this!!