Knotted are a pop/folk band formed in Great Yarmouth during 2009 by singer/songwriter Steve Farrell. Over the past twelve years, the band has released eight studio albums of self-penned songs and performed at a range of different venues across the UK. They currently have two dates in the region this spring and I got to have a chat with Steve.
HC: Let’s start with who does what in the band.
SF: Steve Farell (lead vocals), Will Allinson (guitar/vocals), Lennon Price-Morris (guitar), Robbie Birtwell (cajon) and Richard Bennett (keyboard).
HC: There have been a lot of changes to the band over the last thirteen years, how do you think that has influenced the band’s sound?
SF: It is true that there have been a fair few changes since we started back in 2009, although in recent years it has been quite steady and consistent. I always fear the question about line-up changes because I dread to think it reflects badly on me and people might think there have been loads of band bust ups resulting in change. That would be quite a story actually and a lot more exciting than the reality, which is simply people’s circumstances change which means they can no longer commit. For example, Simon Kippen was there from the start up until 2017 but alongside music, he was a pro wrestler and ended up making the big time through his hard work and moved to the States a few years ago and is now signed to All Elite Wrestling (AEW) where he wrestles as Kip Sabian. So, its circumstances like that which have resulted in line-up changes. The changes that have happened over the years have not really influenced the band’s sound much because the vocals are still the same and the range of song styles remain the same due to me writing them. I have been lucky in writing with a number of people who ‘get’ the Knotted sound and therefore that has not been impacted. The only major sound change was last year we finally brought in a keyboard player and that has opened up a few more nice little options in terms of sound. I guess many years ago we did also have a stint as just two of us for a while so that was stripped back acoustic sound, the songs in the rawest form possible, whereas now the sound is a lot more full. I do still occasionally enjoy doing a stripped back acoustic show though! We are in a good position and I love the current line up, Will has been with us for six years now and is one of the most trusted guitarists I have ever come across, Robbie is great at banging his box, Richard has offered so much with the keyboards and we are lucky to have him, and Lennon is the baby of the band, he’s about to turn 16 and joined us last year to get some experience and stuff, we love having him and that lad is going to go far in music!
HC: You’ve been at its core since the start. What’s the secret of your longevity?
SF: Good question. Knotted was my first ever band I was involved in and it has some history there with quite a back catalogue of songs, so it would be hard to let that go. I guess with that in mind, the secret of longevity is determination to make sure it always carries on. I do feel older now though, when I think back to our early days, pretty much all the bands who supported us, or who we supported no longer exist!
HC: Where did the name come from and were there any others shortlisted?
SF: It was a total accident. In 2009 when I jammed with a guy called John Nottage, we wrote a bunch of songs which would go on to form the first Knotted album. When I was labelling the songs I had no idea what to put because we had not really at that point thought about stuff like a band name, so I just took some of Nottage’s surname and wrote ‘Knotted’ and thought ‘oh I like that’. We did later chat about it and I said that the name ‘Morning Glory’ would be a good band name. John gave me a weird look and said ‘you do realise that term has another meaning don’t you?’, he was right and on second thoughts we would have also sounded like some Oasis tribute band. So Knotted just stuck, total accident.
HC: How would you describe the band’s musical style?
SF: I always struggle with this as I think we are one of those bands where it’s hard to just put one style on, so I think some of our stuff would come under pop where as some would come under folk.
HC: You released your eighth studio album last year, how does that make you feel?
SF: In truth, the release of ‘The Weekender’ made me quite proud as it was one of our best sounding albums yet. Whilst working on a NHS charity single with a number of other Norfolk based musicians during the first lockdown, I came across a guy called Christopher Barwix who mixed the charity song. In addition to being an excellent musician himself, he is a producer and agreed to mix our next album. He had ideas I would never have thought of and did such a great job with The Weekender and brought a lot to the songs. He has also mixed our new album and again it’s made for some stuff I would never have thought of.
HC: What is your main inspiration to keep writing?
SF: Life. There is always a story to tell isn’t there? Songs become a bit like a photo album and represent different parts of your life, what you were doing and feeling at a certain point of time, what was happening in the world, how you felt. I want to keep that going and to have each period of my life represented in the form of a song, and a big inspiration to keep doing that is always that buzz of playing a new song to someone for the first time and getting the reaction. Mind you, that’s two-fold, if people hate the new songs we play then I guess we just have to run for the exit.
HC: How would you describe your fans?
SF: The people who come to our shows and the ones who listen to our music are lovely, they are always filled with such kind and encouraging words. It makes it so worthwhile and as a writer, it’s just the best feeling when someone mentions one of our songs and says how they can relate to it.
HC: Which song do you most like to perform, and why?
SF: There are a few actually but off the top of my head I would say the constant closing number ‘Good Night Out’. It’s become the Knotted anthem song as its the song that started the whole journey off back in 2009 and is a fun sing along song. Always close with that and hearing everyone singing the chorus back is just an amazing feeling.
HC: When you are not making music, what hobbies do you enjoy?
SF: Well I am always busy and on the go because alongside music, I am the writer and maker of a YouTube drama/soap opera called ‘Our Town’. The show has been going five years and is listed on IMdB but it is a lot of work as I write the scripts, film, direct, edit and do the casting. Away from music, I am also a big football fan, love history, and enjoy watching films and some TV shows and soaps!
HC: What are some of the high and low points of your career so far?
SF: High points are difficult to define because I usually love every show and enjoy the whole writing and recording process. What I will say, and sorry if it’s not a direct answer, but it took me a few years to understand something about what we do as a band. In that moment I sat watching Glenn Tilbrook live at my first ever gig I attended in 2001, my dream was to be on stage performing my songs to an audience. Due to people’s expectations in this day and age and how somehow success is defined by popularity and fame, it took me a long time to realise I am living my dream every time I perform. It is not about how many followers you have on social media or about having fame, it’s about enjoying what you are doing. Success is what you want it to be, not what someone deems as success. Success is not about fame, it’s about setting a goal and achieving it, for me that was to simply perform. So yeah, it’s a high being able to do what I do, and in 2013 I was also lucky enough to perform on stage with Glenn Tilbrook at the Norwich Arts Centre, we did a duet of ‘Up the Junction’, that was a special night for me personally! As for a low, our second ever gig back in early 2010 was at a place in Bedford, on the day of the gig, John went AWOL and we found he had quit the band which left just me and Kip. Problem was, Kip only knew lead guitar parts as John was rhythm guitar player. I don’t like to cancel and we were already on route so Kip had to learn as many songs as he could on the spot. To make matters worse, we arrived at this place and it was full of hard bikers, there was us playing our catchy pop songs and a cover of ‘Breakfast at Tiffanys’. The venue were expecting a two hour slot and we played about twnty-five minutes and they said ‘is that it?’. We did not know what to say and pretended that there was a second set coming up where we planned on letting everyone get drunk then just repeating the first set again. We took the money and left quickly. We were young and immature with little experience, that was pretty low. Looking back though, it amuses me more than makes me feel like it was a low point. Bad or what?
HC: When is your next gig orrelease? What can we promote or highlight?
SF: We will be playing at the Garage Theatre in Norwich on the 12th March and at St Georges Theatre in great Yarmouth on April 2nd. A CD version of our new album ‘Left In the Dark’ will be available at these shows before it hits streaming platforms in the coming months.
HC: What are your plans for this year?
SF: We will be promoting our new album ‘Left In the Dark’ at some shows locally and some shows up north where we do also enjoy playing.
HC: What’s your most treasured possession?
SF: If my beautiful dog Bandit is regarded as a possession then that’s the answer, if not, maybe my cd collection.
HC: Name your five favourite top bands.
SF: Ocean Colour Scene, The Beautiful South, Squeeze, Manic Street Preachers, The Beach Boys.
HC: What’s the least cool thing you’ve done recently?
SF: Pretty much my day to day routine is pretty uncool, when people describe me, I very much doubt the word ‘Cool’ is ever used. Friday nights with a takeaway, on the sofa watching soap operas is not very cool is it?
HC: What’s your favourite word?
HC: What’s your go-to karaoke song?
SF: None of them. Karaoke I believe is something that the Devil invented.
HC: What cartoon character do you most identify with?
SF: Road Runner – when not on that sofa, I am always busy doing something. I don’t quite move as fast as him though.
HC: What album has got you through some hard times?
SF: There are a few – Meow by the Beautiful South and face value by Phil Collins spring to mind.
HC: Name your favourite uplifting songs that always cheers you up.
SF: ‘Day We Caught the Train’ by Ocean Colour Scene, takes me back to 1996, one of the greatest summers ever and a summer that I have judged every other summer to. It is just so uplifting!
HC: What was your worst subject at school?
SF: Maths. Maths by far, I hated it so much and still do not get why we had to learn algebra.
HC: What is the stupidest thing you ever did on a dare?
SF: Ah now that would be telling wouldn’t it?