- By Matt Rushton

Seattle 5-piece crushers AVOID pull no punches on their sophomore album Cult Mentality, coming Nov 4. The hype is well and truly alive in anticipation of the record, and KNOTFEST is honored to premiere the music video for the last single to be released before the LP drops, 'Can't Take This Away'.

The video is a great visual representation of all the excitement and vibrancy shown across Cult Mentality's 10 tracks, with the band continuing their 'The Avoid Show' franchise and showing their cool and swagger whilst partying at a bowling alley and cruising down desert highways. It's the fifth visual to be taken from the record, and continues their now-perfected sense of doing whatever they like and having all the fun in the world.

The song is an expertly crafted meld of pop-punk and metalcore, with a gargantuan chorus and massive groove in the riffs throughout, whilst also taking huge influence from pop and funk, and ending with a completely unexpected, but beautifully joyous sax solo. Whilst this song showcases a number of genres most bands would be scared to even try to gel together, it's still only a taste of the vast array of styles and inventive ideas shown across the album. It's no wonder that AVOID are making waves throughout different scenes, already getting love from NASCAR and SiriusXM, and Cult Mentality is guaranteed to get way more people talking and keep that hype train rolling; if there's any justice, it'll be the catalyst to them becoming one of the biggest names in the genre. We sat down with frontman Benny Scholl to talk the record, their intense touring schedule, and just how big he wants to take the band.


Cult Mentality is choc-full of fun and surprises, including a sneaky Red Hot Chili Peppers nod in this song. Can you tell us where those ideas came from and how hard they were to write into the songs, if at all?

Well first of all, thank you! We’ve always loved being goofy and light with whatever it is we do. It’s funny cause it really is something that just happens. I wouldn’t say we’re actively trying to add little nods or goofs all the time into songs, but during the writing process it just happens so naturally and when it does happens it’s always like a "Oh shit! We HAVE to use that" moment.

You have a penchant for creating very bright, very eye-catching music videos, and 'Can't Take This Away' is no different. Have you been purposely trying to subvert the stereotypes of a genre that often takes itself far too seriously in aesthetics, and how has that been received? Also, where did the concept of 'The Avoid Show' come from?

Absolutely! It’s a little bit of both you know? We have some music videos like our prior single 'Whatever' which is just super over the top poking fun at stereotypes and antics from the scene and collective sub-genres that we all know and love. Then we have stuff like the first single from this record process, 'COWABUNGA', and that music video is more straightforward, just us hanging out having a good time. I’d like to think of this as somewhere in the middle where it’s very purely just us goofing and having a great time with each other, while also going over the top with that 90s, fun colors, bowling alley vibe. We also love to add little easter eggs and at the end of the day, just want to make something that makes you happy and feel good to watch. The AVOID Show concept came when we shot the video for 'Flashbang!' from The Burner EP. We did that video with our buddy Nick Chance and The AVOID Show just sort of happened haha. Then we were able to take that concept and when we started doing videos with Matt Cole we were able to expand on it and, even if it’s broad, make each music video like a new episode of The AVOID Show.

Across many of the songs on the album, you manage to seamlessly blend multiple genres, taking in metal, hardcore, hip-hop, pop punk, and often some modern pop production elements. Was it a conscious decision to write this way or just a natural reflection of your influences?

I would say that we’re all incredibly open minded when it comes to music, and if you ask anyone in AVOID their favorite bands and what influences them, I think they all would have a different answer. Naturally when we write I think all of our different influences come out, AND then we realized we really like trying to make all of these genres work together so I guess we are consciously trying to?? But it’s because it’s what comes natural to us.

The songwriting on Cult Mentality seems to have matured from 2020's Burner EP,
and sounds like you've really nailed what the AVOID sound is. What have you
learnt over the last couple of years that's allowed this to happen?

Failing. A LOT. We wrote so many songs for Cult Mentality that didn’t even get close to making the cut.
We wrote The Burner in the summer of 2019 so just from then to finishing the writing of this new record in 2021, I think we can all agree the world is quite a bit different haha. We were just figuring it out. We literally wrote 30+ songs/ideas for this, and the final product is a culmination of all of the good parts of those coming together with bringing in our friends Hiram Hernandez and KJ Strock to the writing process. I’m so proud of what we were able to make.

You've been on tour for a while now and still have plenty of dates to go. You've been playing with several different bands from different areas of the scene - how has your eclectic and eccentric sounds been going down with those audiences? Have you had any real standout moments on a show, or comments from fans who weren't aware of you before?

It’s really been going great! It’s fun being the size band we are at the moment because we have an amazing pocket of hardcore supporters that always show up and show out, but also getting to open for bigger bands in the scene, sometimes you’re playing to quite a few people that have never heard of you and it’s always cool to see if you can get them into it, and I think the energy we bring to the table usually does! The biggest 'stand out' moment I can remember was when we got to play on the main stage at Louder Than Life 2021. We had never played to a sea of people before, and by the end of the set everyone was jumping, and moshing, and I was crowd surfing the whole thing. Truly an incredible moment.

What's in the future for AVOID? Right now you're really pushing the boundaries and breaking any sort of conventions in our scene. Are you wanting to break out of it or show other bands that it's okay to bring in other influences, and you can still make great music?

Absolutely! That’s the goal. I want to take AVOID as big and as far as we can take it, and do it with no rules. I love getting to do what we do, and we’re not slowing down anytime soon. Do whatever the fuck you want. Find some friends, figure out how to play a few chords and a beat, and just rock. You really can do whatever you want. Just have fun and kick ass.

Cult Mentality is out tomorrow, Nov 4, via Thriller Records.


AVOID are on tour now with The Plot in You, Silent Planet and Cane Hill, get tickets HERE

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