Knuckle Puck & Citizen
Hunny, Oso Oso
536 West 100 South
Salt Lake City, UT, 84101
Doors 6:00 PM / Show 7:00 PM
This event is all ages
Watch & Listen
In early 2017, Knuckle Puck entered the studio to record the follow-up to Copacetic—their 2015 breakthrough that debuted in the Top 10 of five different Billboard charts, earned a nomination for Album of the Year at the 2016 Alternative Press Music Awards and launched them from the Chicago suburbs to a place among the most beloved acts of the modern pop-punk genre.
But midway through the process, the band (vocalist Joe Taylor, guitarists Nick Casasanto and Kevin Maida, bassist Ryan Rumchaks and drummer John Siorek) realized they were on the wrong path. They weren’t only making the wrong album for Knuckle Puck—they were making the wrong album for themselves. They knew they had no choice but to start from scratch.
“Having such a struggle and being so disconnected in the recording process felt wrong,” Casasanto explains. “It felt so wrong, and we were all afraid to talk about it. There was some denial when we realized what was unfolding.”
Discouraged but undefeated, the band changed producers, eventually landing back with Copacetic producer Seth Henderson, and began rebuilding the songs they’d written from the ground up. Knuckle Puck’s first attempt would have produced a fine album, but their second created the right one.
The result is Shapeshifter, due October 13 on Rise Records. Despite its title, the album isn’t a reinvention for the band; rather, it’s the sound of Knuckle Puck taking their best qualities and honing them to make them even sharper. The songwriting became tighter and more deliberate, the lyrics more introspective and urgent—without losing an ounce of the sweat-soaked authenticity and passion that made Copacetic so captivating. Above all, it’s an album that proves the band are unflinchingly unwilling to compromise when it comes to their art. That’s a sentiment reinforced throughout Shapeshifter’s main lyrical theme—the importance of identity—which was only magnified during their first studio session.
“When you reach early adulthood and start to see your life take shape, it’s also important to shape your identity and break yourself free from anything that might be holding you down,” Casasanto says. “That was a glaring parallel between what was going on with the record and what we were writing about at the time. Although it was tumultuous, I truly think we wouldn’t have written the same record without going through what we did.”
Throughout their struggle, Knuckle Puck grew stronger and more confident in themselves, something the band ultimately want listeners to take from Shapeshifter.
“I hope the album instills a little bit of hope in people,” Casasanto says. “You look at politics and how fast the world is now, everything the internet is bringing to the world. It’s difficult to form an identity when there’s so much in your face. I hope people realize they should consume the things that really speak to them. Through that, I feel like it’s the most satisfying way to be who you want to be.” XX
Despite its title, the second album from Knuckle Puck isn’t a reinvention; rather, Shapeshifter is the sound of the Chicago-based pop-punk band taking their best qualities and honing them to make them even sharper. The songwriting became tighter and more deliberate, the lyrics more introspective and urgent—without losing an ounce of the sweat-soaked authenticity and passion that made their debut album, Copacetic, so captivating.
Above all, it’s an album that proves the band are unflinchingly unwilling to compromise when it comes to their art. That’s evident on first single “Gone,” perhaps the most fully realized Knuckle Puck song to date. It’s equal parts muscular and melodic, textured with keyboards, buzzsaw guitars and a buoyant chorus that will integrate seamlessly into the band’s raved-about live show.
“When you reach early adulthood and start to see your life take shape, it’s also important to shape your identity and break yourself free from anything that might be holding you down,” guitarist Nick Casasanto explains. “I hope the album instills a little bit of hope in people. I hope people realize they should consume the things that really speak to them. Through that, I feel like it’s the most satisfying way to be who you want to be.” XX
Citizen’s As You Please reports from ground zero of an epidemic. Two years removed from their previous Run For Cover LP, Everybody Is Going To Heaven, Citizen’s perspective is far less sublime. As You Please is a confrontational record, incapable of turning a blind eye toward the inescapable strife. And so, songwriter Mat Kerekes pursues the source of discontent that is ravaging his friends, his family, and his Rust Belt city of Toledo, Ohio with the band’s most dynamic record to date.
On As You Please the epidemic is bigger than addiction and overdoses. There is no longer a Dream to be pursued for the friends and family surrounding Citizen. The band explores that absence and the misguided ways in which it gets filled. On opener “Jet” the kids move slow and there’s a stranger living in the narrator’s home. Both are Kerekes’ discreet way of expressing the wreckage of widespread opiate addiction. “In The Middle Of It All” might be Citizen at their most hopeful, but it also reads as agonizing expression of the ruin in the Heartland.
As You Please also showcases the growing versatility of a band seven years deep and still restless. Citizen has fully outgrown the pop punk, but also refuses to brood in post-hardcore dirges. Written over the course of a year, the record is devoid of the brutish and sinister elements found on Everybody Is Going To Heaven. Here, Citizen go beyond the grunge to shoegaze contrasts and strive for something benevolent.
There’s a spiritual core to the record that manifests in subtle ways like the ethereal vocals echoing in the breakdown of “Control,” the droning organs on “You Are A Star” or the almost operatic refrain on “In The Middle Of It All.” The finespun ways in which Citizen has written this record mark a cataclysmic breakthrough for the band. There is damage and disarray in the band member’s daily lives, but within this record all the pieces have been restored in an ornate arrangement befitting a stained glass mosaic.
In the end, As You Please tries to give strength to those in need. There are illitic factors that control, but Citizen has written a guiding light of an album out of the debris. It concludes with “You Are A Star” and “Flowerchild;” one an unstable request of confidence set to soaring progressions, the other a blistering finale that subverts expectation. As You Please might read as meek, but it represents Citizen in its most confident and expansive state.
American rock group formed in 2014.