Knuckle Puck's Joe Taylor Shares the Story Behind the Making of Shapeshifter
Pop punk band Knuckle Puck is clearly not superstitious, seeing as the five-piece dropped their sophomore album Shapeshifter this Friday the 13th.
A follow up to their acclaimed debut Copacetic, the group's new record still features the fast-paced, heavy-hitting instrumentals and vocals fans know and love, while also showing how much they've grown as musicians over the past few years.
Each song has its own distinct rhythm and tone, yet they all work together in highlighting the record's overall theme of change—something the band grew to embrace when creating Shapeshifter.
While the album flows together so seamlessly, that wasn't exactly how the process went when the guys first went into the studio to record the album.
We chatted with the band's lead singer, Joe Taylor, to discover how Shapeshifter became the album it is now, his favorite songs off the new record, what fans can expect from the band's upcoming shows and more. Scroll below to see what he had to say!
Sweety High: How did Shapeshifter become the album it is now?
Joe Taylor: We started writing and working on the album probably at the beginning of the last Warped Tour we did, which was 2016. That's when we knew it was time to start working on a new album. We wrote a couple ideas, one of them ended up being "Calendar Days." We had a couple other ideas for "Want Me Around" and "Twist." We just started working on songs that summer.
The first time we were like, "Wow, we're writing an album," is when we went to Alan [Day] from Four Year Strong. That was an awesome time, because we all really love Four Year Strong. It was cool to work on music and see what he thought about the ideas we had. It was a cool, new experience.
After that, we went on tour with The Wonder Years, but still continued to work on the album. That's all we did. We were super involved. We continued to build on top of the pieces we had. After being in the studio for a month, we went on tour for two months then came back home to finish the album with our guy Seth Henderson.
SH: Was it difficult going on a tour while recording the album?
JT: It was difficult in the fact that we didn't have a great experience during the first session of recording the album. The way that we're used to recording is we're all in a room collaborating and working on the songs together. It's a judgment-free zone. When we were first recording, we were split up, which wasn't great for our band. But we were stoked on what we had, so we didn't get rid of any songs. What you hear is what we recorded the first time we went to the studio, but we had that time to sit on it, so there are things that we cut out of songs. It was difficult in the sense that we had to get back to love the album when we were so frustrated with everything about it. At the same time, it was a breather for this whirlwind of songs and ideas.
SH: Why did you guys decide to title the album Shapeshifter?
JT: Nick [Casasanto] brought up the Shapeshifter idea. It's present throughout the whole album, but it's the idea that you have the ability to morph and change yourself as a person to be what you want to be. A lot of people don't realize that. Not many people understand that there's some sort of greater purpose, like the idea you can pick who you are and find your true self.
SH: Why was "Gone" the first single you released?
JT: Even before the vocals were there, we knew it was the one that had to be released first and it just kind of stuck. We didn't cement ourselves in with that idea, but we all knew we were going to release it as a single first.
SH: Was that the first song you completed for the album, too?
JT: Not at all! It's kind of funny, because we completed them all around the same time. We would start all these songs and we'd have these 50% done songs that we were kind of just building them all up at the same time. If we got stuck, we'd just move on to the next one.
SH: Did that make it easier to finish the album?
JT: I think so. As long as you're always creative, it's harder to hit that writer's block. At the same time, it can be overwhelming. You'll have like eight songs that need vocals or instrumentals, and it feels like they're swallowing you.
SH: Do you have a favorite song off the new record?
JT: One song that I wish was a single before the album was released is "Wait." It's one of my favorites. I think "Twist" is a great song to represent our band. "Want Me Around" is also solid. I love that one, too.
SH: Is there a lyric from Shapeshifter that you think best defines where Knuckle Puck is as a band?
JT: "You're a shapeshifter. You're never going to change the world." We're kind of finding our place in the world right now. It's kind of a pessimistic view on the world, but I think if you listen to our music, you know there are two sides to every story. We realize we're not changing the world, but we can still affect it in a good way.
SH: What can fans expect from your upcoming shows?
JT: We're going to play some songs we've never played before. There's only one song on Copacetic that we've never played, so we're going to play it on this upcoming tour. We were practicing it and wondered why we hadn't played it sooner, so we added it to the setlist.
SH: What's your favorite part about touring?
JT: Honestly, I like hanging out with my friends. All the members in our band are my best friends. We definitely get annoyed with each other, but we don't really fight. We really do like each other.
Even when we were working on the first session of Shapeshifter, it was tense and everyone was kind of weirded out, but we trusted the process. We weren't mad at each other, but it was a weird time for us as a band. It was the first time I felt as though we were so disconnected from each other. If we weren't all really great friends, I don't think we'd be able to create the album that we made.
If you haven't given the record a spin, head over HERE to check out our fave track from the album.