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WE ARE KNUCKLE DRAGGER: The progressivity of the math

8 mins read

WE ARE KNUCKLE DRAGGER, a Newcastle-based progressive metal / mathcore band, are gearing up to release their second full length album “The Drone” on October 31st. Produced by Ross Robinson, mastered by Alan Douches, the new outing proceeds the 2012 debut LP “Tit For Tat” recorded with Steve Albini and  should be definitely on your radar! They toured with  MESHUGGAH, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN will bring more noisy, mathy metal music on the road this Fall.

Check out their new song “This Better Be Life Threatening Norman” and scroll down to reveal a lot more. The quality of their mathcore and progressive sound is hard to deny. Bon Appetit!



Hey hey guys, what’s up? How are you? Thanks so much for taking some time with IDIOTEQ. How’s the beginning of the last tierce of the year treating you? :)

Hey IDIOTEQ. It’s our pleasure to be talking to you. We’re doing really good, thanks. We’ve had a very eventful summer, with a bunch of excellent shows and outstanding festivals. As we move into Autumn we’re currently finalizing plans for the release of our 2nd album, titled The Drone, which is due out October 21st, followed hopefully by a shit load of gigs. We are EXTREMELY excited!

I happened to have a chance to hear the whole thing and I must say I love your fusion of so many different styles, all spiced up with this original groovy gravy of yours :) What nooks of mathcore and progressive metal music are you exploring this time?

Two of my favourite bands in that genre would be MESHUGGAH and THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, both of whom we’ve been lucky enough to tour with. MESHUGGAH have been pushing the boundaries since 1987!!! The dudes are pioneers in their field and command a huge amount of respect in terms of influence on today’s progressive metal bands. American group THE CHARIOT have been pumping through my speakers a lot recently too. Truly amazing stuff! Sad to only really be discovering them after they just split up. That happens all too often in this game.

Considering your local scene, are there a lot of bands experimenting with the math-sounds and metallic breakbeats? :)

Math stuff, for sure! Newcastle Upon Tyne has had, in my opinion, some of the best underground math rock bands in the UK over the last decade. The breakbeat/electronic style combined with metal doesn’t seem to have filtered into our local scene as much as further South in England. But it does seem to be spreading like wild fire, and very “trendy” in todays world. It’s not my bag at all, but I certainly don’t take a stand against it. I believe everyone should be able to create and express themselves in whatever way sets their hearts on fire. So if dance music programing combined with metal rocks your world…..well, who am I to say different?

True that, bro. Oh, by the way, please check out these fellas. They come from Warsaw, Poland, have just recorded this album with Ross Robinson and it’s something I believe you’ll fall into. Check it out! :)

This fucking RULES! I’m officially a fan! Disjointed, fucked up, and unpredictable. Love it! I can hear Ross’ influence coming through too. Since working with him and then going back to listen to records he’s produced you can hear his personality and drive oozing through the speakers. This album here is no different. Thanks for the connection!


How did YOU end up on his production list? Tell me the story and shoot us some introduction to your newest baby, coming out this October!

We did what we always do, what any band can and should do, we went out on a limb and got in touch. Same with Steve Albini, who did our first album. Ross told us he chases fire, and when he heard us he knew there was something very real and worth his while in producing our record. We brim with appreciation that he even just listened to us! There are so many stories about our time living and recording with him that I don’t feel I can favor one or two and put them down into words. If you, or anyone else for that matter, ever come see us play we’ll happily tell tales over a few beers :) Our newest baby, The Drone, is our finest work to date. We’ve all said it’s the best thing we’ve ever created, in this band or any other, and we can’t wait to share it with the world.


What is he good at? In your eyes, how did your visit in California help solidify his legend?

Inspiration and drive is Ross Robinson’s forte. He pushes you right to your limit, and then demands more! I’ve never felt more supported and validated in my life as when Ross was screaming in my face “GO DEEPER!”. So I/we did…


How is Venice Beach? Was it your first time there? Besides recording, what else have you been doing there?

Was our first time to the West American coast, and Venice Beach is beautiful. Ross cut the recording on one of the first nights so we could all go enjoy our first Californian sunset, complete with dolphins in the water. It was out of this world. I didn’t think I’d take to LA the way I did, but it really was wonderful. There was zero time for any tourist bullshit on this trip though. It was made clear from the start we were there for a purpose, not a holiday. The results are on this new record, and we have zero regrets.


Getting back to “The Drone”and comparing it to “Tit For Tat”, what’s new? I mean the distribution, your personal approach, the final musical effect, etc.

It’s all new bro! We are extremely proud of our first album Tit For Tat, and will stand behind it forever, but this ain’t that. This is new. We’ve evolved, progressed, and matured. If your latest creations aren’t the most exciting in your own eyes, then you’re not doing it right, and need to reassess.

Ross vs Steve. Who’s better?

Well, Ross probably has the height and the reach, but Steve has that twitchy crazy thing going on. Could go either way! ;)

One shudders to think who will produce your third album, right? ;) Do you have any plans on that?

We’re always thinking forward, but there is nothing set in stone regarding album 3 just yet. We would love to work with Ross again, and hope he’d be game for another Dragger record in the future. We always cut recordings in minimal time. Tit For Tat was 3 and 1/2 days, The Drone was 6. Fuck, maybe next time we’ll treat ourselves to a fortnight! haha

;) Is there any point in time where you should produce your music all by yourselves?

I have a little recording background and I’m pure DIY punk rock at heart, so the idea of taking care of the whole recording process is appealing.  That being said though, from experience I’ve discovered I like letting that side of things go, in favour of immersing myself in the creative process. To capture the “fire” you have to really get involved, to the point that to distract yourself with any extra obligations would be deconstructive to what you’re making. That’s my current opinion for the time being.


Alright guys. Let’s talk about what it is all about – touring! :) Considering your older shows, you have completed a tour with DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN and landed support dates with MESHUGGAH. How did you manage to end up on such bills? How do you remember those shows?

Remember those shows?! How could we forget! The MESHUGGAH tour last April, every night sold out. We played to bigger crowds than we’d ever encountered before. There was 2,500 people in London Forum on the last night. Wild! Lots of fun and amazing memories. We’d built up a reputation for crazy live show’s, which attracted DILLINGER’s booking agent, who got us on that summer tour 2011. He also represents MESHUGGAH, and they personally agreed to take us on their UK Koloss tour, which coincided with our own debut album release. Both tour diaries are on YouTube, for anyone who’s interested.

Did they have a chance to taste your work and shoot you guys a critical review? :)

All of MESHUGGAH came to buy our t-shirts on the last night of the tour, so we arranged a free swap for some of theirs. haha Jens and Dick watched us side of stage a lot. With DILLINGER we hung mostly with the rhythm section, Billy and Liam. Lovely people. On both tours we dished out a few copies of the first album to bands and crew. Now we just need to find a way to get them the second album!


Cool.. and how was touring this summer? What places have you visited?

Highlight would be Reading and Leeds Festival. I used to make the trip over from Ireland every year as a teenager, so to actually play was an honor. We’ve had a couple of hometown shows too that have knocked my socks off this summer. We have an awesome local fan base, for which we’re very grateful.

What do you enjoy about festivals in comparison to your club gigs?

The mix of old fans combined with brand new fans thrills me. People who know what you’re about and go wild, and others who don’t/didn’t, and go wild all the same. With people traveling from all over you get a healthy mix of accents and personalities, which I love. Plus, you get to see LOADS of live music. Walking from stage to stage, rocking out, drinking warm beer, meeting friendly strangers….heaven!

You stated that you’re “playing good gigs in New Castle with great bands is always going to be very important to you.” How would you describe your local metal/rock/punk scene? How vital is it?

It’s as vital as breathing. Newcastle is full of bands and musicians exercising noisy creative outlet, and rightly so. The scene is certainly alive, but it can feel a little fragmented at times. Don’t be afraid to support strangers, don’t only go to shows cuz your mate’s playing, and if at any point you’re worried about how cool you look then you’re in it for the wrong reasons, and should fuck off.

Any names we should check out?

Our practice room partners NATELY’S WHORE’S KID SISTER are well worth checking out. As is another  local folk friend, RICHARD DAWSON. Would like to also make mention of Sunderland band RIVALS, who join us at both our Newcastle and London album launches, Oct 25th and 26th respectively. Those night’s will be a treat for all involved!


Alright, so what’s you touring schedule for the coming months? Any chance to see you cross to mainland Europe?

Well, we have the aforementioned album launches in Newcastle and London, and then we’re over to Ireland for a few shows. People don’t realize that although we’re based in Newcastle, England, the bassist Pete and I are Irish. Been over a couple of times in the last few years and the gigs have always been awesome, so can’t wait! Mainland Europe is a dream we are dying to make happen, as we’ve not actually been yet. We’ve had some wonderful people get in touch regarding helping us with shows out there. If anyone reading this is potentially one of those people, then please get in touch.

What’s something you learned from your touring history?

Shaun’s feet stink, Pete Currie snores, and I’m just a dick.

Considering your line-up, were you ever tempted to hire another guitarist to boost your sound and energy at live shows?

Not for this band. WAKD is a 3 piece, with each member holding his position. The fact it’s just us three is part of our trademark sound, and it’s something we won’t be changing. Trust me, we already got more energy than we can handle!

Ok, guys.. what else? Anything else you’d like to expound on?

Just the fucking album dude! I’m so excited for it to be “out there”, as are Pete and Shaun. We got some great gigs coming up, and hopefully a very busy 2014.

Oh, one more thing.. do I have to add “WE ARE” to our name? What’s the official name of the band? ;)

KNUCKLE DRAGGER will do fine. And We Are them :)

Thank you so much for your time! Good luck with this new era. Cheers! :)

WE ARE KNUCKLE DRAGGER official website
[email protected]


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