Music is not always easy to describe with words. Many people wholeheartedly believe in the idea of letting music speak for itself and eschewing genre labels, myself included—but I’m a music journalist with a job to do.
All that said, there is an easy “gimme” when it comes to one genre label: If you hear a song with fast, heavy, detuned guitars; punk-adjacent blast beats; chugging bass; and guttural, scream-filled vocals, you’ve got the name that perfectly describes the sound—hardcore.
One of the breakout stars of the genre has been Knocked Loose, a band that infuses hardcore with metal. Check out the track “Counting Worms” for some damn heavy riffs and screaming. Catch Knocked Loose tear down the house at Coachella on Sunday, April 16 and 23.
“We’re super-stoked to be a part of the lineup,” said Bryan Garris, frontman of Knocked Loose, during a recent phone interview. “It’s not something that I feel like we ever really considered a possibility. We definitely didn’t start this kind of band with Coachella in our sights, but it’s cool that they go out of their way every year to include a handful of heavy bands. It seems like this year, there’s at least one punk or hardcore band a day, which is really cool to see. I’m super, super grateful to be a part of it, and just excited to be there and experience everything that it has to offer. It’ll be my first time ever being there, so it’s just going to be a really fun time, I think.”
Over the past few years, the bands on the Coachella undercard have gotten heavier and heavier. Last year, Code Orange and Turnstile brought some insane hardcore sets, and this year, Knocked Loose is in good company alongside bands like Scowl and Soul Glo.
“I feel like every year, new doors get opened for hardcore bands—and hardcore in general—to be taken to the next level,” Garris said. “I’m a very firm believer in ‘a rising tide raises all ships,’ and it allows everybody to benefit from it. … We were also fortunate enough to play Bonnaroo this year, where the lineup’s diverse. I think that’s really cool from a fan’s perspective, because me and the people that I know, we don’t just listen to heavy music. I don’t know anyone who just listens to one specific kind of music. Everybody kind of likes everything, so when you have a festival that is as diverse as Coachella, there’s something for everybody. … We’ve definitely played festivals where it’s just metal bands from noon to 10 p.m. every single day, and it’s definitely cool, and there’s definitely a place for that, but I personally enjoy a festival that has a more diverse lineup.”
Garris shared his thoughts on why, and how, hardcore is reaching a new level in 2023.
“Now, more than ever, the barriers of what you would consider a hardcore band are just expanding and expanding,” he said. “You have a lot of younger bands bringing in a lot of different influences, which keeps things interesting, but then you also have this weird mainstream trend going on where, like, Machine Gun Kelly thinks that he’s a punk, and Doja Cat’s tweeting about wanting to do a hardcore band. It really has to do with people finding it on that surface level, and then wanting to dig deeper, and then you get to find bands like Turnstile, which then just opens up a door to so many other things.”
Knocked Loose is excited about the challenge of performing at Coachella.
“I feel like, obviously, we’re the heaviest band at Coachella, and I kind of love being the black sheep,” said Garris. “I love being able to be the scary band. We’ve never really tried to avoid doing things outside of our wheelhouse, and I think that gives us an opportunity to grow to bigger audiences. We’ve done rap tours, and we’ve done poppy tours, so doing something like this, it’s just a new way to get us to play to people who would have never heard of us otherwise. I think that someone who’s not even into this kind of music can appreciate the excitement and adrenaline that comes with it.”
Knocked Loose has been riding on the success of EP A Tear in the Fabric of Life, which dropped in 2021. The six-track epic—released with an animated short film that accompanies the EP’s music—explores themes of extreme grief. Garris said he wondered how the audience would receive it.
“It’s been really interesting to see the perception that it has gotten, because originally, when we set out to do it, it was just an artistic COVID project that we really wanted to focus on for ourselves,” Garris said. “We also knew going into it that there was a possibility that it wouldn’t really translate to our fan base—but, in fact, it did extremely well. I think people really, really liked it, and immediately got what we were going for. It’s been interesting over the past year to two years to see how people can relate to it. That’s always extremely rewarding. I write for myself, first and foremost, but seeing how people can take that and just do whatever they want with it, whether it be emotional or not, is extremely rewarding.”
The audience’s attention span was another subject on Garris’ mind.
“We had that feeling in the back of our head that this might not translate the same, going into detail as we did with all the art that accompanied it with the animated short film,” he said. “People’s attention spans are just so short, and I didn’t think that anybody would really be drawn to a 20-minute dark animated film—but they were, and they took it extremely well. It got a lot of looks from a lot of places that have never really paid attention to the band, so it was way better than we thought it could have gone. I think that assured us moving forward that we can do whatever we want.”
In 10 years of creating, Knocked Loose has only released two albums, along with various singles, EPs and splits. How does their formula work in the era of shrinking attention spans?
“I do very much like an album versus an EP as a personal listener,” Garris said. “Just from a creative aspect, I love diving into everything that comes with a full-length record. … I think Knocked Loose will be a band that definitely returns to that kind of format. But like I mentioned, attention spans are so short that we don’t know if we want to make people wait as long as an album would take. We definitely like to take our time, and that’s definitely proven to be a little extreme in the past.”
Garris is set on staying on top of the changing music-appreciation scene.
“We want to keep people’s attention, so all that I can really say at this time is, if we’re not on tour, we’re definitely working,” he said. “We’re always doing Knocked Loose, so if we’re not on tour or doing shows, then we’re working on something else.”
i love knocked loose , It is cool that theyre going to coachella but i thought it was silly at first
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