Interview with Jack Knight
Hailing from the small, northern California town of Chico, Jack Knight has harnessed influences ranging from Led Zeppelin to Neutral Milk Hotel and infused them with fuzzy guitars and witty lyrics on his debut LP, Some for Jack, Some for Jesus. There’s an air of familiarity the first time you listen through the album like when you meet someone for the first time but it feels like you’ve been friends forever. I got to chat with Knight about some of his influences as well as what writing and recording the album was like.
Why don’t we start with a quick introduction.
My name is Jack Knight and I’m an indie-rock artist living in Seattle, WA. I am from Chico, a small northern-California town with an enthusiastic and supportive music scene. In high school I started playing in bands and in college I traveled up and down the west coast to play shows. I moved to Seattle in 2015, started recording my own stuff and have since begun making records for other artists.
It’s clear that your sound has some classic rock influences, what are some of the artists that inspired you to write music?
Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, and Prince to name a few. I love studying prolific artists’ careers. I’m excited at their disregard for what was popular at the time and incessantly pushing their art forward. Now listening to their records, it’s interesting to hear how their sound developed over their career and to read stories or even see videos of their recording process (thanks YouTube). All these artists were masters of reiterating past music in a new way, honoring their predecessors, while also making something brand new. I hope to accomplish that with my own music.
You just released your first record, how long have you been working on the songs for the album? Were they tracks that you had already written or were they mostly written for Some for Jack, Some for Jesus?
This album is half songs I finished before 2016 and half songs I wrote specifically for the album. I write a lot of songs each year and when I parted ways with my band in 2016, I had a wealth of material to include on the new album. I ended up choosing about 6 older songs, and then I wrote six more songs for the album over the course of 2017.
What was the recording process like for the album?
While I finished writing the album in 2017, I made a lot of demos. I demoed each song 2-3 times each, in order to try different processes and feel out what I liked best. I had help early on from my friend and drummer, Scotty Jenkins, jamming the songs together making some early demos. I eventually met Liam Near (bass) and Jordan Clark (drums), the guys who play on the album and who I’ll be bringing on tour. We mobile recorded the drums in a large space, a big elementary school cafeteria. Everything else was tracked at my home or at MRX Studio in Seattle. I engineered and mixed the album myself with some help from an engineer Alex Taschereau, who was a great help.
You also released a music video for “You, Me, and the Man in the $3000 suit.” What was it like making the video?
It was very fun to take out my grandpa’s mustang. I was visiting my grandmother in Chico and got the idea of driving a ’67 convertible and how cool that might look as a video. Besides making music, I have always felt video was a fun and creative outlet for me. My good friend and mentor Scott Itamura was in town, so I kidnapped him on a Sunday morning to help me out with the filming. We did the whole thing with a GoPro. He also grabbed some footage with his drone for some finishing shots. I think it turned out well for a homemade music video!
Is there a reason you chose that particular song to do a video for?
Tempo. I believe “You, Me, and the Man in the $3,000 Suit” is the fastest song on the album. The mustang idea came on its own, so I had to pick one of my songs from the album that matched the visual idea I had in my head. A fast song for a fast car!
Do you have a favorite track on the album or one that you feel represents Some for Jack, Some for Jesus the most?
“Will You Stay? (Alright).” This is the song I feel marks where my music will go next. It’s a very simple song and it relies on a very basic chord progression. I think the best music is actually really simple in it’s composition. The song features heavy fuzz guitars and distorted vocals. The song is inspired by rock/lo-fi bands like Bass Drum of Death and Ty Segall. I took a shot at producing something more modern than the rest of the album, and I like like that turned out.
What’s next for you? Will you be doing some touring?
Yes. I am going on tour this coming June. I’ll be playing the songs off the album as a power-trio, myself on guitar, Liam Near on bass, and Jordan Clark on drums. It’s been a process of distilling the album down to this simpler arrangement. I think it accentuates the rock influences from the album and will make for an exciting live rock show. We play The Sunset, Seattle, WA on June 6th; Alberta St. Pub, Portland, OR on June 7th; and The Maltese, Chico, CA on June 8th.
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