There are plenty of great guitar bands in the Huddersfield area at this moment in time, but none are as thrillingly atmospheric or as intoxicatingly dark as Bad Knaves, writes Matthew Watkin.
Their debut EP Times New Human was a true statement of intent that demonstrated their incredible ambition ... and it captures their mood over possibly losing Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and it being replaced by a far smaller hospital.
Mixing together their love of sombre British post-punk, gritty 80s alternative rock and brain-melting psychedelia over five songs, it was an uncompromising snapshot of a band that are clearly destined for greater things.
“We were really happy with it,” says frontman Sam Carter. “We got a bit more free reign in the studio because we were more enthusiastic and had loads of interesting ideas. And it turns out if you put more effort in, the better the end product is!”
It’s a nigh-on impossible task to pick a definitive highlight from the EP. Each track has its own unique flavour, from the driving grooves of Swan Fluid to the fuzzy psych-pop of lead single Get Up on High, but a melancholic undercurrent constantly runs throughout. Carter’s reverb-soaked vocals tower over the mix like a raincloud while Adam Gill’s haunting guitars recall the gothic wizardry of Bauhaus’ Daniel Ash.
The darkness that consumes their music is something that Carter and Gill believe reflects an atmosphere that’s been growing in Huddersfield, especially in regards to the crisis surrounding the impending demolition of the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary building.
“We felt there was a social commentary side to the music and the EP cover that kind of mirrored what’s going on around here at the moment,” says Gill.
“We live in a place where they’ll knock down a hospital and build a ski slope and we’re very aware of that,” adds Carter. “It seems like the kind of thing that would come out of Huddersfield. Not that we’re into politics or anything, but there’s a definite atmosphere over the past couple of years that we unintentionally sort of captured.”
Times New Human was also a manifestation of Carter and Gill’s passion for their craft which shines through during the conversation as they discuss their shared love of Joy Division, analog production and their fond memories of Camel Club’s alternative nights with both of them genuinely enthused about the next phase of their career.
“We’ve got the show at Record Store Day, we’ve got two more EPs lined up, plus we really want to release as many old-school singles as possible,” Gill tells me. “But the main thing is just to get more gigs and get out and about. It’s great going into the studio, but there’s nothing more fun than playing shows in front of a load of people that want to hear your music. Nothing beats that feeling.”
If their current output is anything to go by their new music is bound to take them to even further heights. There is plenty of tired scepticism surrounding the future of rock music right now, but Bad Knaves are proving that there’s plenty of life in an artform that is constantly evolving.