Published Aug 19, 2019Knocked Loose were recording "In the Walls," a track from their new album, A Different Shade of Blue, when the band connected with… something. The band still aren't sure what exactly happened, but vocalist Bryan Garris describes it in an interview over the phone with Exclaim! as "undeniable."
Greatly needing time away from their extensive touring schedule, Knocked Loose were loaned space at New Jersey's Graphic Nature Audio from producer Will Putney for writing sessions. Left alone in the studio, their minds quickly started to turn on them.
"You think you hear noises and see stuff out of the corner of your eye," Garris says, reflecting on the evening. "We kept trying to laugh it off despite us getting pretty freaked out."
When the clock struck midnight, Knocked Loose decided to lean in; they turned off all the lights in the room, lit candles and began work on the aptly titled track. When it was complete, the band eagerly recorded a live demo. When they went back to listen to the cut for the first time, Garris stretched back into his chair and concluded "Well, there's the song."
"Immediately," he says now, "all the power in the room went out, but just the room we were in," Garris says. "It couldn't have been a power outage. More would've given out. We still don't really know what or how it happened, but we were very, very scared."
Situations like these are formative to why A Different Shade of Blue sounds so crushing in its hybrid of metalcore flavours ("No chill parts," Garris explains). "By the Grave" and "Denied by Fate" combine Deadguy's chaos with Devourment's slam, and "Trapped in the Grasp of a Memory," the third single from the LP, "turns the knob to ten, and goes past it by the end."
"It looks like we went insane as we could," guitarist Isaac Hale says. "There's millions of mosh parts. It's a reflection of how stupidly heavy a song can sound."
But these are songs that almost never came to be, as the group were faced with nerve-racking writer's block in the process.
"My writers block stems from me getting in my own head," says Garris. "I consider myself a big part of the writing process, but by the time I had to write lyrics I kept comparing everything to the last release, and was so stuck about it being a sophomore record. Once I removed myself from that thinking, I reapproached it and needed to write a record for me. Things started happening naturally after that. Writing is very therapeutic. I got a lot of things off of my chest."
The mindset change, add Hale, was palpable.
"Coming home and not putting ourselves in the right environment," he explains, "we were coming up with things we weren't really happy with. We weren't going to let ourselves put something out if it didn't blow us away. [A Different Shade of Blue] is new, exciting and different but also keeping the idea of what Knocked Loose has always been intact."
Second single "…And Still I Wander South" details the band's journey with creative struggle ("I need lightning to strike in the same place twice") using geographical metaphors to showcase the cycle of jaded emotions Garris felt throughout the writing process. First single "Mistakes Like Fractures" touches on "holding onto things you've done wrong, no matter how big or small; asking for help and not receiving it."
The album's weighty lyrical content goes hand-in-hand with its multi-faceted title. Garris came up with A Different Shade of Blue long before Knocked Loose had written any material for the album; blue is unanimously their official colour, from the cover of their debut full-length Laugh Tracks to backdrops and light show.
"It's this unspoken agreement," Garris says. "Blue is also a metaphor for being sad. Lyrically, this album is a look into emotions I deal with on a regular basis. The same way I wrote Laugh Tracks, and the way I'll always write lyrics — very self-reflectively."
Asked from where this newfound sense of vulnerability stems, Garris admits he has been "going through a country phase."
"I would never turn away the idea of being inspired just because it's not what Knocked Loose is known for," Garris says. "The older I get, the less consistent and obvious my inspiration is."
A Different Shade of Blue's cohesive vision and sense of independence is far from the meme-y, sometimes-juvenile moments that held listeners back on Laugh Tracks.
"Now more than ever, Knocked Loose is in a place where when we conduct our band, we're doing it for us," Hale says. "What would we want to hear? What is a combination of all of our influences that sounds super fucking insane, that would make us go crazy? We all have our own vibe on this record, and it's something we'd listen to on our own time. We never had a specific intent to separate ourselves from a meme, but we went into this record wanting to improve, blow people away with these songs, and blow ourselves away with them. I hope other people feel the same way."
A Different Shade of Blue is out on August 23 via Pure Noise Records.