Metal finds itself as an influence far more than it's given credit, from the obvious across various music genres to the unexpected fashion trend in pop culture. In this week's 'Heavy Essentials' playlist, drummer John Siorek of pop-punk stars Knuckle Puck crafts a 10 track powerhouse from Slipknot to Nails, and even a dedication to Riley Gale that highlight the metal tracks that influence him in his playing style. Siorek breaks down each choice below.
Ahead of their new album '20/20' releasing Friday and record release livestreamed from their hometown venue Lincoln Hall in Chicago, Siorek also sat down with Knotfest to chat metal influence of his playing style, the similarities in metal and pop-punk fandoms and what to expect from their upcoming livestream.
Listen to the full playlist on your streaming platform of choice here - https://knotfest.lnk.to/KnucklePuckJohn
"Soul Sacrifice" - Power Trip
First time I saw Power Trip was at United Blood Fest back in 2012. They definitely had the most memorable set. Every time I saw them after that, it topped the time before. Truly such a special, monumental band from this generation. RIP Riley.
"Stupify" - Disturbed
Straight up, this song goes. Every part of this song is hard, and the chorus is massive. Disturbed are also Chicagoland legends, so I gotta pay respect where it’s due.
"People = Shit" - Slipknot
This is a fantastic track to listen to when “it’s just one of those days...” if you will. I’ve also always admired this song for the structure, how you don’t get the chorus until halfway through the song, and you barely realize that’s the case. Not to mention, what an opener (essentially) to an album!
"Errorzone" - Vein
One of my favorite newer heavy bands. It’s hard to pick a favorite song off Errorzone, so I will just go with the title track. What’s cool about this track is that the back half of the song gets super melodic like the band Hopesfall or something, and I think that’s sweet. Just all in all creative songwriting.
"Deficit" - Russian Circles
While this isn’t the heaviest track on the playlist, it’s still very much metal-adjacent. Their drummer is one of my favorites. So many parts throughout their discography that are relatively simple, but so tasteful, thoughtful, and effective. The cymbal accent work towards the end of this song is so sick.
"Jesus Saves" - Slayer
This song has everything I love about Slayer packed into one. Insane heavy parts, insane fast parts, and insane solos. Truly a band that has their own energy and is completely unmatched.
"Alaska" - Between The Buried And Me
I first heard this song on an old Victory Records compilation CD. It was my first time hearing anything that sounded like it. Like progressive structure (or lack there of rather), and blast beats, and tempo changes, all of it. I remember it blowing my child mind and giving me a new perspective on music.
"Unsilent Death" - Nails
Nails plays mean ass music. It’s just fast and abrasive and I love that. This song is much more mid tempo than their other stuff, but the whole end section is psycho.
"Perseverance" - Hatebreed
Perfect track for when you need to kick yourself in your own ass. While Hatebreed has many tracks that are perfect for that, this is the standout one. I just love empowering messages. Pump this track and go for a run or do push ups or SOMETHING, and then cracking on making your life what you want it to be, because you can.
"Apocalypse Now" - Cro-Mags
Song relevant to the times. I also like how this track has like three different movements, third one being the craziest, ESPECIALLY the tempo change into it, and then when it picks back up. So cool.
Knotfest: The playlist you’ve put together showcases your passion of the metal culture, how does that influence come across in your style of play within a band that leans more pop-punk?
Siorek: I think the two main ways are I feel like I play a lot of stomp beats, just super heavy with a single kick on one and a single snare on three. I’ve also put a few small blast segments into a few of our songs. Another thing too that I guess can be attributed to metal / hardcore, is depending on the song, sometimes I like dragging the tempo here or there to put more emphasis on a part. Like really slamming into a chorus that is halftime or something.
Both metal and pop-punk had major mainstream success in late 90’s/early 2000s. The mainstream has more or less focused on other genres since then, but both have this incredibly dedicated fanbase that keeps it going - what would you say is the consistent between those two genres?
I feel like both genres generally cater to the those who don’t fit in with what people would consider traditionally normal. And in that, that’s where the community comes from. Another thing that is parallel with the two genres is the energy at shows. While at times it could be two different energies, it’s still there, and whether you’re at Knuckle Puck show or a Code Orange show, you’ll know you’re not at a Dave Matthews show.
The band started back in 2010 when you were around 17 years old. So much in the music industry - both in general consumption and specifically in the genre - has changed. What’s it been like essentially growing up as an artist within that rapid change? What’s been the main change or progress that made you rethink how you approach things?
I guess what’s weird about it is I barely realize a rapid change is happening because we’re living in it. It’s hard to pinpoint a main change in our approach to things since I feel like it’s been a collection of minor changes over time. You know, like this social media site is more important to keep updated than that one now, so on and so forth. I feel like we try not to get too caught up in the changes though and just stay true to what we think is right or important or cool, not what will keep us relevant in the ever changing landscape of the “music industry”.
Bandmate, guitarist Nick Casasanto, said “There's so much to be angry about right now, and rather than contribute to it, we wanted to give people a reason to feel good.” Was this upcoming album, ‘20/20’, written prior to the Covid-19 outbreak? If so, how has the outbreak changed the approach on this?
Yes, it was written throughout 2019 and then recorded in November and December of that year, so just before the world came down. I don’t think the outbreak has really changed the feeling of wanting to give people something that feels good. If anything, it has amplified it. Life is quite abnormal in so many ways for so many people right now, so giving them something they can smile and bop their head too is rewarding. I feel like it’s almost our duty to try to remind our community that life is good and beautiful and vast and really isn’t this weird simulation experience that it seems like it has been as of late.
You have an upcoming live stream this Friday at 8pm CT in your hometown venue, Lincoln Hall in Chicago. Besides being the first time fans can see the tracks in their live form - what other experiences can fans expect?
I feel like we put together a good mix of tracks from our prior two LPs, as well as the new one. At practice we’ve been making a point to make sure the set is cohesive and flows nice, because I feel like usually we just get up there and play. We want the set to feel like a “set” for once. Also, we’re all just super psyched about the opportunity to play again, and I feel like that will come through in the performance.