Denver-based garage/punk/surf quartet, School Knights, is set to debut their new video for “Powerslut” this Friday at the Hi-Dive alongside Force Publique, Mombi and Peder Black. Our friend Brianna Hernandez of Early Bird // Night Owl chatted with Michael Stein of School Knights about the band’s beef with Passion Pit, their upcoming show on June 5th at Glob, and if being in a band gets him girls.
BH: You are debuting your new video for “Powerslut” on Friday. What is a “powerslut” and what can we expect from the video?
MS: A Powerslut is a term for someone who fucks without remorse. I am not sure if Powersluts really exist, but in this context it is really about sexual identity, or a lack thereof, and if who you are can be determined by whom you’ve been with.
The video was a lot of fun. You can expect to see some really cute girls having a slumber party.
BH: Why the name “School Knights?” What other names did you consider? Two members of School Knights are named Zach and Morris – did you ever think about playing off of that?
MS: Is Zack Morris a musician or something? Ok, I Googled it. Was that a Saved by the Bell reference? If so, the show stopped airing when I was three years-old. School Knights was the name of it from the start. We have considered changing it since, but a band name seems like such an unimportant part of making music, so we haven’t really put much thought into it.
BH: You describe yourself as: alternative, punk, garage, lo-fi, noise, noise-pop, rock, rock-pop and surf rock. Is there a genre of rock you would never play?
MS: Rock doesn’t even really exist as a genre anymore unless you’re in a cover band, so really anything with guitars counts right? I don’t want to say no to anything right now, because if I start making funk-rock fusion in a few years or God forbid get into jam bands or something, then I’ll have to eat crow. I am not saying I plan on doing either of those things, but you never know…
BH: You’ve played plenty of house shows in the past. Now that you are headlining places like Hi-Dive and playing venues like Larimer Lounge, do you miss the intimacy and craziness of house shows?
MS: We try and still play house shows when we can. I am on the fence about which I prefer, I mean it’s nice having monitors and being able to hear what the other people in the band are doing, but house shows are what we all started with, and you don’t have to worry about load in times and all that. I wouldn’t want to do without either of them.
BH: What is the surprise on June 5th that you’ve mentioned on your Facebook page? Can you give Concerted Effort an exclusive?
MS: I think I am allowed to. Fuck it! On June 5th we are playing a show at Glob in Denver (next to Rhinoceropolis). The other local bands are going to be Dirty Few and Night of Joy. It’s not much of a surprise, the show is announced, but we aren’t on there, it just says “TBA.” The only surprising part is that we worked together with Dirty Few to bring Japanther out here. They will be headlining. We are fucking excited to get to play with them.
BH: You had battled it out on Facebook with Passion Pit’s side project, Team Spirit. What was that about?
MS: Oh shit, I hope this is going to snowball into a big deal. Basically, Passion Pit has this new party-rock side project, which is just as bad as it sounds, called Team Spirit. I stumbled upon their mindless anthem, which starts with the poetic lyricism of “You take me to the beach, but I don’t want to go” and later digresses into a chorus of “dancing in the moonlight” which I think is a Van Morrison line, as well. The song is called “Fuck The Beach,” which is the name of a song we put out last year, which was only slightly less stupid, and was about the insane amount of bands that embrace a chill, beachy aesthetic even though they are hundreds of miles from the nearest coast.
I posted our song on their Facebook, and said “Seriously dudes?” which was a joke, and one that I assumed they wouldn’t even read, because they are a commercial interpretation of what a band is supposed to be. Then they started posting YouTube videos of any song ever written that has the same title of one of our songs, and wrote “Our version is better” under our song.
This was weird because they seemed to overlook that two songs called “Fuck the Beach” in the last year is more of a coincidence than Eric Clapton having a song called “Bender,” but whatever. I know they didn’t take it from us, it just seemed like a funny coincidence. I was shocked and excited and I called our guitarist Morris and said, “I think some dude from Passion Pit is trolling us…”
After this things escalated in a lame Internet way, and they called us “jealous children” and I called them “vacuous old men.” It was really immature, but I think at the end of the day we win, because none of us are in Passion Pit.
BH: What are some of the reoccurring topics you address in your lyrics? What would you never sing about?
MS: We are all over the place. It’s weird because a lot of our newer songs were about friendship and being alone, which is weird because all of us have written at least a few lyrics and we don’t write them together. My songs are usually about being in between caring so much about everything and total apathy. Sometimes they’re just about girls, and sometimes they start out abstract and then end up being disgustingly obvious. I try and write lyrics in different moods, but I usually hate them the second I write them down, hence all of the reverb.
I would never sing about “dancing in the moonlight.”
BH: Who did you grow up listening to? What bands and artists are you listening to now?
MS: We all like a lot of the same shit but have slightly different backgrounds. Zack likes a lot of post-rock stuff I’ve never listened to, Morris grew up listening to a lot of metal, Ben is probably the only one of us who listens to ragtime, and I would say I spent high school listening to local bands in Southern California like Mika Miko and The Epsilons. I also listened to a lot of Velvet Underground.
When we hang out we listen to Danny Brown, Sean Nicholas Savage and the new Ty Segall song (Wave Goodbye).
BH: Who are some of your favorite Denver-based bands?
MS: There are so many. Pacific Pride, Night of Joy, Sauna, Dirty Few, and a bunch more.
BH: In case fans want to stalk you/become groupies, where do you hang out in Denver? Where are your favorite places to hang out, see live music, etc?
MS: I work at the Meadowlark, which is on Larimer Street, so they can stalk me there on most weekend nights, but I am generally tired and not trying to hang out with anyone when I’m there.
The rest of the dudes live in Boulder right now, but should be moving to Denver soon! We like going to shows at the Hi-Dive and Larimer Lounge, and we try and check out shit at the DIY venues that are around Denver, like Mouth House and Rhinoceropolis.
BH: Are you really in a rock band just to ”get chixxx” like your Twitter profile says? Is it working?
MS: Everything that has ever been accomplished was motivated by sex. If I didn’t have that motivation, I wouldn’t leave my room and I would be 500 pounds.
That being said, it’s definitely not working.
Listen to School Knights' new single "Present Tense" and check out the band on Friday, May 11 at the Hi-Dive. Doors open at 8:00PM and the music starts at 9:00. The show is 18+ and tickets are $10. Tickets and more information are available online here. Check out the Early Bird // Night Owl page for more happenings around Denver!