Interviews

KNIFE THE GLITTER – NJ instrumental prog engineers discuss their first & final record

Eli Litwin!
Instrumental progressive math metallers KNIFE THE GLITTER is one of those bands who doesn’t seem to age in sound, so it’s not a big deal their debut record was eight years in the making. Slated for a December 22nd release via Ben Weinman’s Party Smasher Inc. and quality vinyl label Husaria Records (interviewed for IDIOTEQ in early 2016), the record serves a quick-paced and captivating, adventurous listen that craftily build tension right up to the final note. Two of the total 9 tracks, “Idiot City” and “Highly Electric Squirrel” have been already revealed and you can check them out below, along with our full, insightful interview with the band’s drummer Eli Litwin, revealing a bunch of details on the project and the highly anticipated “Knife the Glitter” LP.

KNIFE THE GLITTER features THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN guitarist Kevin Antreassian, bassist Ryan Newchok, and drummer Eli Litwin of INTENSUS, JOHN FRUMNORMAL LOVE, INZINZAC, and GUN MUFFS. “Knife The Glitter” LP is out December 22nd via Husaria Records and Party Smasher Inc., a label run by THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN guitarist Ben Weinman.

Written from 2007 to 2009, then recorded, and mixed in fits and starts between 2009 and 2016, the 9-track, all instrumental album captures the band in pursuit of the ultimate final document: a grand summation of the band’s accomplishments during their final phase as a touring unit (with a side of added depth and refinement).

Hey Eli! Thanks so much for joining us! How are you? How’s NJ?

Hello! I’m good. I actually live in Philadelphia and have been here since 2001, when I started college. But I grew up in NJ, that’s where the band formed and practiced, and where Kevin and Ryan still live. I’ve grown to appreciate it more having spent so much time away now.

Oh, the prolific heart of DIY arts that helped shape the U.S. independent music scene as it is today, right? How do you view it from the inside, in comparison to other great local scenes you’ve experienced, and how has it changed from the perspective of time?

Despite positive or negative mainstream musical trends, there has always been incredible, forward thinking, independent music happening at the same time. Most cities, states, and countries that I have played in with my various bands seem to have always had a thriving scene, and I haven’t noticed much difference from place to place or year to year. In general, there is and always has been enthusiasm and a communal attitude pretty much everywhere I have been.

How important do you think location is generally as a creative inspiration?

I think location certainly can be an important creative inspiration. Either the nature of the surrounding environment or the local music scene. With that said, however, I’m not sure if that aspect has ever really had much of an influence on the music I have made.

When did you get involved in the metal scene and what was your first introduction to independent heavy music community?

When I was 12 I discovered Cannibal Corpse – The Bleeding, and Fear Factory – Soul of a New Machine from a mail order cd catalogue. That sent me down the path of all things heavy. My first real concert was Ozzfest ‘98, when I was 15, and through high school I started going to more and more metal shows, as well as playing in bands. I guess that was my first introduction to the independent heavy music community, but I don’t think I really felt like I was a part of it.
What eventually became KNIFE THE GLITTER started in December of 2002. Within a year we began playing a lot in the area and that’s when I first felt that I was actually part of a music community.

It’s been 14 years since your first steps under this banner and we’re finally on the verge on checking your very first, and surprisingly final debut record, extending the previous octet of tracks that have left their footprint and impression on many listeners. Apart from the obvious Kevin’s obligations to THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, why did it take you so long to put it together? What brought you guys back together to close the gap, wrap it up and finally release the record?

We have been gradually chipping away at this record since I recorded the drums in late 2009. Kevin’s recording studio business was picking up a lot and I was playing in a handful of other bands in Philadelphia, so our lives were getting a lot busier. As you can imagine, after sitting in the studio for 8-10 hours a day working on other people’s music, spending another few hours to work on your own music, as opposed to, say, seeing day light, doesn’t seem all that appealing. So I think it took at least a year, maybe two, to record the basic guitar tracks (hard to remember the timeline accurately at this point) because we would only make any progress when our schedules aligned and I could make the hour 45 minute drive to sit in the engineer/producer chair and work on it with him. Once that was done, bass took probably another year. Then we started adding stuff on top of the basic tracks to enhance and improve the songs where we thought things were lacking. Mixing took even longer, going through a few rounds with both Kevin and Scot (another member of the Backroom Studios team) whenever they had free time in their packed schedules. So we’ve been trying to wrap it up for about 6 years now! It really just took this long because of the circumstances.

KNIFE THE GLITTER live by Robert Scheuerman

When was the first time you guys heard the whole thing, mixed and ready to be unleashed for the masses? What were your reactions?

The mix was 100% completed at the end of December 2016. But it was, like, 98-99% done for probably 2 years before that. So, there was definitely a feeling of, “Thank god this is finally finished, and it sounds great.” But it was not really a huge moment, because it had been pretty much sounding like that for so long already. It was more a feeling of relief that we could finally move on to the final stage of arranging its release.

Why did you decide to make it a farewell?

As I explained, our lives were just getting busier and the time needed to keep the band going was not available. Once we started recording the album, our focus was only on that. So whenever we were able to get together we just worked on that and didn’t practice, write, or try to book shows. Since the recording ended up taking so long we just kind of became inactive. There was no conversation where we decided to stop being a band. It simply became a commitment we couldn’t make anymore. If we lived closer we might still be playing. I wish we were because I feel like we were just getting started musically. But it’s definitely not going to happen now because I have a family and a full time job. I can barely find time to get together with a band in my own city.

Alright, so technically speaking, let’s learn a bit more about this release. Tell us more about your teaming up with Husaria Records and rather obvious connection with Party Smasher Inc. How did the joint collab come about?

Tom from Husaria has been a fan of the band for a long time and he lives in the same town in NJ where the band was based and where Kevin has his studio. I’m pretty sure he approached Kevin expressing interest in working with us. Then at some point along the way, Ben from DEP offered to put it on the Party Smasher imprint. So at first it was going to be Husaria, then maybe Party Smasher instead, and then it eventually made most sense to be a co-release.

What are your thoughts on vinyl and how important for you is leaving a mark with quality physical offerings?

I love vinyl. I am a collector myself, and I love how it has exploded in popularity. I grew up collecting CDs, and then started with vinyl in my 20’s, amassing a pretty large collection of both. So having a physical copy of the albums I liked, with all the artwork, was always pretty important to me. For some of my smaller projects I have been fine with the music just being on Bandcamp simply because I knew I wouldn’t be selling much. But with the amount of time and energy put into this KNIFE THE GLITTER album it would have been pretty disappointing not to have a nice looking physical package. The music and our efforts deserve it.

What records from your personal vinyl collection are you most attached to?

I could get a little carried away here. In no particular order:
Dirty Projectors + Bjork – Mount Wittenberg Orca
Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes and Helplessness Blues
Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life
Genesis – Selling England By The Pound and Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Gentle Giant – Octopus and The Power and the Glory
Yes – Close to the Edge
Frank Zappa – We’re Only In It For The Money and Roxy & Elsewhere
D’Angelo – Black Messiah
David Bowie – Station To Station and Let’s Dance
Brian Eno – Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy
Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath, Masters of Reality, and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Pink Floyd – Animals
The Beatles – Revolver and Abbey Road
George Harrison – All Things Must Pass
Paul McCartney – Ram
Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage, Headhunters, Thrust, Secrets, Sunlight, Mr. Hands, and Lite Me Up (Can you tell I’m a huge Herbie fan?)
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Deja Vu
The Band – The Band
Bob Dylan – Blood On the Tracks and Desire
Joni Mitchell – Court and Spark and The Hissing of Summer Lawns
Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss
Gorguts – Colored Sands
Coroner – No More Color
Normal Love – Survival Tricks and Peel 7″ (This is a former band of mine)
John Frum – A Stirring in the Noos (My current band)

I could keep going, but I’m gonna stop there because I’m probably already boring everyone reading this.

Haha, not at all, thanks for that!
Back to KNIFE THE GLITTER, are there any touring plans in support of the record?

Unfortunately not. The release of this album is pretty much closing the book for the band. It’s just not logistically possible to keep the band going anymore.

Is there something you wish you’d done more or differently with this project?

I wish we were able to make more music before that became too difficult to happen. But the way our songwriting process worked it just took a long time to write music so it is what it is.

Alright Eli, so finally, we’re big fans of travelling and exploring new places here on IDIOTEQ. A lot of our interviews focus on different aspects of local music scenes, as well as non-music regional environments. Do you enjoy touring, visiting in new cities, and travelling in general? Would you recommend some cool spots to visit in your area or further places you’ve been to recently?

I do enjoy touring and traveling. One of the most memorable parts of any touring or traveling I ever did was driving down the Pacific Coastal Highway, through Big Sur, in California. As far as local spots, being out in nature is very important to my family, so we love going to Wissahickon Valley Park and other parts of the Fairmount Park system in Philadelphia.

Ok, so lastly, apart from KNIFE THE GLITTER, what can we expect next from the creative mind of Eli Litwin?

My band John Frum put out an album on Relapse Records this past May and we are eager to start writing it’s follow up, which may actually begin early 2018. It will be a gradual process, but not as gradual as the Knife the Glitter album! Over the summer I recorded an EP of metal versions of kids songs, inspired by my first year of parenthood. I will probably make Vol 2 next summer. And I have conceptualized and started the recording of the next Intensus album. Intensus is a free improv extreme metal solo studio project. My first album under that name came out on Metal Blade Records in 2011. I had some false starts and partially completed songs for a follow-up shortly after it came out, but I’m more sure of myself now. Now I just have to find the time to complete it… Finally, I also recorded a metal Beatles cover over the summer and am almost finished with another. That will be on my SoundCloud as soon as it’s finished.

Great, thanks for your time Eli! Feel free to leave your final thoughts and take care! Cheers from Poland!

Thank you for your interest and great questions. It is a huge relief to finally have the Knife the Glitter album coming out and I am excited for people to hear it. Cheers!

KNIFE THE GLITTER online: Facebook / Bandcamp / MySpace / PureVolume

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