Wednesday 31 July 2013

***DOG KNIGHTS PRODUCTIONS exclusive interview and ORCHID Tribute review***

This post's artist/album is from the June 2013 Mix. This is track #1. Voyage In Coma covered Orchid's "An Epilogue Of A Car Crash" on the 'Orchid Tribute' cd/12"LP.

The first part of this post will focus on the ORCHID tribute, 'Epilogue Of A Car Crash...A Tribute To Orchid', mainly because this was a fantastic idea - despite the naysayers. So, let's discuss this issue first, shall we? Compilations are, primarily, a medium through which listeners are introduced to new bands. Should I repeat that? Nah. So, 24 bands on a compilation record is pretty decent. If a listener stumbles across a new band that they enjoy on a compilation, the comp has fulfilled its purpose. I assume that because this compilation is related to Orchid, listeners may tend to feel that this should be a stellar album. It's a compilation, not an album. The covers are meant as a way for the bands to pay homage to a group that substantially influenced their music. For these 2 reasons, some of the negative arguments (and I've heard a few) about the release of this compilation have been made by negative judgemental assholes - for the most part. If you generally dislike the music, that is a valid argument. If you found one band that you would like to pursue because of hearing this, DOG KNIGHTS accomplished their mission. This compilation was great (for I do love Orchid) because I was introduced to the following great bands:
For Want Of
Voyage In Coma
Lord Snow

Not to mention bands on the comp that I already loved, doing covers by a band that I adore:

Coma Regalia
Carrion Spring
Republic of Dreams
Adobe Homes
Todos Caeran
Sed Non Satiata

Now that I have my rant out of the way, let's quickly talk about the record. The songs range from what I consider good to what I consider not so good. I NEVER listen to a comp and expect to like even 25% of the tracks - because I expect variety, and with that will come styles of music that I just don't enjoy. On this release, I would say I enjoy about 80% of the record. For a compilation, that is relatively unheard of! Bands like Carrion Spring and Sed Non Satiata belt out versions far superior to the originals. Republic of Dreams and Adobe Homes offer up Orchid covers that stay true to the originals but have the individual band's distinctive style. Then you have Foxes, who completely changed their version of "...And The Cat Turned To Smoke" so it sounds almost indecipherable from the original. And for god's sake, naysayers, we already have a perfect version of the song - so a different take on it is a good thing! Plus, I really like the Foxes version. Then you have other versions that some people will like, but rubbed me the wrong way, such as the Silencio, Ahora, Silencio! cover which I cannot stand (especially considering "A Visit From Dr. Goodsex" is one of my favourite Orchid songs) and the Piano Bastards cover required a visit from Dr. Earache.

If you want to find a slew of new bands, check out this comp. If you love Orchid and could use a new spin on old songs to include in your listening repertoire, check out this comp. If you want to support a new kick-ass label run by an awesome guy, check out this comp.

STREAM the entire compilation on the DOG KNIGHTS youtube page! Start below with the title track by Voyage In Coma. It's amazing.

Contacting DOG KNIGHTS about this interview was one of the primary reasons that I started this blog. When decent and proper screamo began fading into relative obscurity by the late 2000s, I was ecstatic to see that a new record label had, in my mind, continued where Level Plane left off when Greg Drugy closed its doors shortly after his band, Hot Cross, parted ways.

Let's take a quick look through at my top 5 DOG KNIGHTS releases thus far, which were all released in the last 6 months!!!

1 - Epilogue Of A Car Crash. A Tribute to ORCHID
2 - CAPACITIES - There is No Neutral 10" and check out their interview here!
3 - TEL FYR / TODOS CAERAN - split 12"
4 - GLLIAN CARTER - Sinking Ships 10"
5 - OLD SOUL - Tidal Lock 12"

If you like DOG KNIGHTS Productions or want to know more about Darren, the brains behind the operation of the label, check out his exclusive interview below!

A big thanks to Darren for agreeing to do this. I started this blog in a vain attempt to promote Animal Faces and DOG KNIGHTS, so thank you for pulling through and helping me realize my goal! You are in inspiration, and one big-ass Converge fan.

Grab DOG KNIGHTS stuff in North America in the Zegema Beach Records store
Orchid Tribute cd
Orchid Tribute LP


Can you reveal anything interesting about yourself and/or DOG KNIGHTS that the readers are not  aware of?
I wouldn’t say it’s interesting, but I definitely don’t "just like Screamo/Hardcore/Punk" etc. I'm a huge fan of post-rock, shoegaze, and black metal stuff. I have the biggest Converge collection in the world, I have a ridiculous videogame collection and I watch way too much (good) TV.

What was the catalyst for the foundation of DOG KNIGHTS Productions?
I’ve been buying/collecting records for over 10 years. After discovering Deadformat, I started spending all of my money on records. After a while I started selling/trading. I really enjoyed packing up records, offering a good service and making friends online with like-minded people. About a year later, I wanted to start my own label. I didn’t just jump into it, but worked out what I liked about other labels and what I think other people expect from a label. I try to make every release special and do something different. Y'know; be creative and stand out from everyone else!

Can you explain where the name DOG KNIGHTS comes from? (my guess is that it’s what you call your dog(s), as you may or may not enjoy dressing it(them) up as a knight(s) – too many brackets)))))
Haha, I wish. Although, I’ve googled Dog Knights a few times and found ‘dogs dressed as knights’ and have been tempted to dress my dog Charlie up like that, too.

I got the name ‘Dog Knights’ from a couple of things. I originally thought it would be good to start putting on shows in Brighton to raise money for releases. Pretty much the next day, I realised this was a stupid idea. But I had the name ‘Dog Knights’ as it’s a (kinda lame) play on words for ‘Nights’.

I was also playing Okami for the second time and got to the part with the ‘legendary dog warriors’ and it worked for me. If you haven't played this, give it a go. It's one of my favourite video games. Such a beautiful game.

And obviously dogs are just awesome things. 

What has been the most difficult part of running a label?
I guess that it took a while for the label to get noticed by people. It was pretty hard to deal with when I was putting so much time/effort/money into releases that I thought were great, but having them go unnoticed. After a year, it got a lot easier though and stuff started to sell pretty well. Now I get a lot of support from people all over the world, and I appreciate it so much.

Now, its just hard to stay on top of everything! I still do everything myself, but Maddie takes care of all the Photoshop stuff for the website, record packages and general layouts. Also my friend Rodrigo is pretty much a member of the Dog Knights Familia, since he’s done so much artwork for me and DK bands over the past few years.
Space is also an issue. My warehouse (bedroom) is literally full of boxes. So many that I cant move around in it sometimes!

What has been the most rewarding part of running a label thus far? (I’m sure working with the bands is one answer, so can you provide a second one?)
Working with bands that I love/respect is definitely one of them, but I personally find it so rewarding when someone cherishes a Dog Knights release. There are currently around 10 Dog Knights Collectors (that I know of) who own every single release. Some even collect every variant. Its amazing when people get behind what you’re doing. That, and making so many new friends all around the world is pretty crazy.

Which band has inspired you the most that you have worked with?
Its pretty difficult to just name one, but I think it would have to be Grappler. They’re starting to get some attention, but they deserve so much more. I guess they’re a hardcore band, but there’s so much more to them than that tag. Pure emotion and drive. They’re going to be huge one day. They’re also some of the best people I know.

Same goes for We Came Out Like Tigers.

How do you decide on which bands you will release records for? Do you generally contact them, or do they send you demos?
There are a few different ways. For a lot of them, I’ve discovered them on FB/Bandcamp/etc. and sent them an email, but a few have contacted me. I've met some bands at shows, made friends with them, and then go on to work out a release together. I try to listen to every demo I receive and get back to everyone, but the email game is pretty hard to stay on top of these days. If any of these bands read this - sorry for not replying!

I’ve heard from people that running an independent label doesn’t always pay the bills - on its own, at least. So, if you don’t mind me asking, is this your full time job? If not, what is?
You heard right. I put all of my time into the label at the moment, but it isn't a full-time job. I started when I was at Uni about 3 years ago. Since then, I've moved back home as my very relaxed part-time jobs will never cover rent (part-time carer, part-time driver).

Who were your primary influences (bands or other labels) when you started DOG KNIGHTS?
Labels: Deathwish Inc. When I started collecting, I bought so many releases from them. They have influenced me greatly as a label. The only thing I hate about the label is that they almost never make it clear which side is A or B. And what speed it is. It's literally the worst thing in the world when you play a 7” at 33rpm on side B by mistake.

Bands: Converge, Orchid, PG 99. All because they have released so many good records; most of which have great packaging.

What was the motivation behind the idea of the Orchid tribute? What isolated hurdles did have moving forward with the creation of the Orchid tribute, as opposed to a standard release?
The band properly got me into collecting/buying records, which helped me discover loads of other great bands, which led to starting the label. So if it wasn’t for Orchid, Dog Knights wouldn’t exist.
I had to work out who I wanted on the release (DK bands and anyone else), email all of them and get a definite answer; all in secret. I announced the release a few months later and people went crazy (yeeeeah) for it. Then I had to come up with artwork that I liked, that all the bands liked, and that die-hard fans wouldn’t hate.

I gave deadlines for the bands. These deadlines got pushed back by about 6 months, as all the bands had to record and get the tracks mastered. Example: One band said yes, stopped replying for months, said yes again, changed their band name, then months later told me that parts of the song were recorded. That was the last email I got from them. Also, Full of Hell was the first band to say yes, but the last band to send their track. I love their cover though, so I can forgive them.
Basically, I had to chase up 24 bands for 1 year and deal with about 7 bands not knowing if they wanted to take part or not. Still worth it.

You mentioned to me that some people were against or just plain unhappy with the idea of an Orchid tribute compilation. Can you shed any light on that? How did you respond?
There were definitely a few naysayers. Some just thought that Orchid was too ‘sacred’ to cover…

Some thought I shouldn’t have asked screamo bands to cover Orchid, but how would that work? I would have had to literally email hundreds of random bands hoping that they liked Orchid. I'm pretty sure that email would have confused a lot of people.
Some said that they didn’t know any bands apart from Full of Hell and Sed Non Satiata, but if you are into ‘current screamo’ then you should really know all of them, or at least a few!

A couple of people were just dicks.  Comments like ‘they ruined that song’ and nothing else. That was about the Foxes cover, which is probably my favourite on the record. They completely changed it; some people wanted crazy covers, some people wanted clone-covers; proof that you can’t please everyone. I’m definitely happy with all of my choices though (including the artwork). It took about a year to put together, but its been worth it. It’s a shame that Raein ‘forgot’ to record their cover though, and that Comadre pulled out at the end.

What are your favourite Orchid songs?
"…And The Cat Turned To Smoke"
"Destination: Blood!"
"None More Black"
What is your favourite Orchid song that wasn't covered on the comp?
"Les Desorde Ces’t Moi"

I asked you about a 2nd tribute album before the Orchid tribute was released, and you mentioned PG 99 in passing as a possibility for another band worthy of a covers album, is that something that you're still toying with? What other bands would you like to see tribute albums from? (whether it be you releasing them, or someone else)

I don’t have any plans to do a second tribute record, but it could happen I guess. Releasing original music from new and exciting bands should definitely be priority #1. However, if any bands reading this thinks a PG 99 tribute would be a cool idea, get in touch…

Do you have any tips for people trying to start a label?
It's not essential, but I put all of my free time into the label. It's not my ‘full time job’, but if I have a couple of free hours, I will use it to find a way to improve the label in some way. So if you live a pretty hectic life with a full time job, have plans to start a family, in your final year of university, it might not be a great time to start. Making time to talk to your customers, making friends with bands you work with and posting out orders as soon as humanly possible is essential for me. If you are considering helping out with a release, listen to the full record a lot. A LOT. If you start to get bored of it after a few listens, you probably shouldn’t go for it.

How did you get into 'screamo'?
Converge. I got a free cd with MetalHammer magazine years and years ago. It had "The Broken Vow" on it. I became obsessed with the song and found their website, where they put up a track from every album/side project for download. I copied them onto a cd and listened to that on repeat for ages. A few weeks later I went looking for their records, so I went around Brighton trying to find some. There, I took a chance on an Orchid cd. Through them I discovered PG 99 and Majority Rule. This is another reason why Converge and Orchid mean so much to me.

Discuss your thoughts and opinions regarding the ‘screamo’ genre.
There are a lot of bands doing some interesting things right now.  A lot of them aren't pushing boundaries but can still be pretty fun to listen to. It would be nice to see some more experimenting though, and not just copy the classic bands…

What is your:
favourite release of all time? (all time + Dog Knights)

All time: Converge – Jane Doe

DK: This is such a hard question, but I think it has to be We Came Out Like Tigers – Agelessness and Lack, because that’s the release I've listened to the most.

choice for best cover art/packaging? (all time + Dog Knights)

All time: The Mars Volta – Frances The Mute 4xLP set in a plastic red cover, with glow in the dark vinyl

DK: The We Came Out Like Tigers wooden boxset from last year. Those took a long time to sort out, but everyone who owns one loves it…or at least I hope they do.
Regarding live shows:
best show you've ever been to?

Converge @ The Kingston Peel a few years ago was crazy, since it's such a tiny venue.

I also saw Mogwai about 6 years ago and that was something special. I really need to see them again.

The best band I saw recently was Killie from Japan. I never thought I would get the chance to see them. Possibly the best active screamo band right now.

band you would like to go back in a time machine to see?

It's gotta be Orchid. Or PG 99.
Your recommendations for:

The Prestige, Sympathy for mr vengeance, and any film by Park-Chan-Wook


I don’t read as much as I would like to, but I’ve read every book by Brett Easton Ellis a few times. Avoid ‘The Informers’ though…

anything else you would like to recommend?

Play the following videogames:
Okami, Dishonored, The Last Of Us, Silent Hill 2, all the Zeldas, Shadow of the Colossus
Is there anything else that you would like to say?

It means a lot to be able to work with someone who is helping shape this community in a positive and downright kickass way.

Its been a pleasure, thank you so much for the interest!

TOP 10 (aka 12)

Converge – Jane Doe
Envy – All The Footprints You’ve Ever Left And The Fear Expecting Ahead (or A Dead Sinking Story)
Poison the Well – Opposite of December
Orchid – Gatefold
Fall of Efrafa – Elil
The Mars Volta – Frances the Mute
Majority Rule – Interviews with David Frost
PG 99 – Document #8
Dillinger Escape Plan – Calculating Infinity
Boris – At Last Feedbacker
Buried Inside - Chronoclast
Hopesfall – Satellite years


Jane Doe
You Fail Me
When Forever Comes Crashing
Poacher Diaries
No Heroes
Petitioning the Empty Sky
All We Love We Leave Behind
Axe To Fall
Halo In A Haystack

Additional links:



DOG KNIGHTS bandcamp

DOG KNIGHTS facebook




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