Interview: Skyler, Damian & Justice of Sacramento teen punk band “Knockout” [“Runaway” album release Dec 21st!]

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“Knockout” is Skyler DiMora-Franklin (guitar, vocals), Damian Whittaker (drums, vocals), and Justice Azcarate (bass, vocals). Photos courtesy of “Knockout.”

I’m super excited to post this interview and share “New Generation”– a song off of Knockout’s upcoming album release, “Runaway.” !!! OUT DEC 21st !!!
Per the band, “the album has 15 tracks and is a banger.” 🤘

Check out their just released music video for “New Generation” and read on!

Video created by Michael Szeman.

Lead singer, Skyler, and I had a lovely FaceTime chat the other week; in true almost-fourty-year-old-form, I screwed up and didn’t catch the audio – doh!

I’m super bummed because Skyler had some great stories and insight into what life is like for teens today. I embedded the interview video at the bottom of this post in case there are any lip readers out there. Feel free to transcribe and send to me. 😜

Thankfully, Damian and Justice took time to respond to my questions via text – thanks guys – all of you!

“Knockout” are teen band winners of the SAMMIES Sacramento Music Award 2018. [L-R: Justice, Damian, Skyler] Photo courtesy of “Knockout.”]

Describe your music using three words and two emojis:

Knockout emoji1Knockout emoji 2

(I didn’t listen to punk as a teen so I don’t know much about the genre but if these guys were kicking it back in the day, I totally would have rocked out to their stuff! I hear elements of “The Beach Boys,” “The Pixies,” “Green Day,” and “Dashboard Confessional” in their music. I’m struck by their super tight performance and their harmonic layered vocals – solid.)

How does music fit into your lives? How does music –listening to and/or creating– relate to your sense of self? How does music relate to your mind wellness?

Music IS my life. Practically everything I do is somehow related to music. I’m always practicing, writing, and listening to music.

It helps put me at ease. It’s not easy for me to open up to a lot of people, and music helps me express the feelings and emotions I have built up in a healthy way. I think I’d go crazy if I didn’t have music as an outlet.

It’s all about expressing yourself. One of the best feelings in the world for me is someone telling me a song I wrote helped them in some way. That makes me happier than almost anything else. (Damian)

Music is a great get away from all the problems the world has to offer. Although it’s not the only outlet for me, it is one of the most common outlets I use to clear my head of serious family issues and/or common day to day issues. Music seems to be most effective when you are most sad. (Justice)

What do you think are the most difficult things teens are dealing with in your generation?

I feel like every generation of teenagers deal with this, but I feel like our opinions and feelings are brushed off and not taken seriously because we’re young. (Damian)

The most difficult thing teens deal with is the pressure of social media and all the negative things that circle within our generation these days. (Justice)

What do you think adults misunderstand most about teenagers?

Many adults group all teenagers together. If one kid or one group of kids get caught doing hardcore drugs, suddenly every kid in your school is a drug addict. Stuff like that.

And again, our opinions and feelings are swept under the rug because we’re young, but I think someone’s opinions and feelings matter equally, regardless of what age they are. (Damian)

Parents mostly don’t understand it’s a new era. Parents need to attempt to adapt to the “new generation” of technology that they never had when they were young adults. (Justice)

New song: “New Generation”

What’s the background of your song, “New Generation”? What inspired it? Who are you referring to as the “new generation”?

The “new generation” we’re referring to is our own. Obviously not everyone is a moron, but some people that I encounter just make me ashamed to be associated with, as far as being grouped with them in the same generation. (Damian)

What are some of the “shitty trends” you refer to in the lyrics?

I’m just not a fan of trends to begin with just because I don’t like hopping on bandwagons, and most trends are that exactly. (Damian)

If you were to write a follow-up song about what you think needs to happen to counter the new generation’s “stupidity,” what would some of your lyrics be?

I would just focus on how people should open their eyes. Often times people act without thinking, and if they took more time to think rationally, they’d be a lot smarter. I’m guilty of it too. Everyone in the band is. Everyone in the world is.

We’re human, we make mistakes and do stupid things, but if we can emphasize the importance of thinking rationally, we wouldn’t have to write as many songs about the stupidity of our generation. (Damian)

“New Generation” Lyrics

I can’t seem to see past your point of view.

All these shitty trends are like gum stuck to my shoe.

People are just getting worse.
Stupidity must be a curse.
Things are just getting worse.

I want a way from this new generation.

Seeing my reflection through a broken mirror in a bathroom stall.
Another fire alarm is set off in the sophomore hall.

This room is getting hotter and hotter like pins against my skin.
Now I’m asking myself, “How much more of this can I stand?”

In another century this will fall.
And no one there will remember us at all.

Things are just getting worse.
I want a way from this new generation.

I want away! I want away!

I want away from this new generation!

Follow “Knockout” on Instagram or Facebook @Knockout1Official

Check out their music on Spotify, Soundcloud.

Can you read lips?!

Interview: Seattle emo edm musician, wilsonlikethevolleyball (Part 2)

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[Photos taken at the Gypsy Temple “Pick a Number” video and single release show at Seatle all-ages venue, The Vera Project. Pictured L-R: Cameron Lavi-Jones and Wilson Rahn, AKA wilsonlikethevolleyball]
…continued from Part 1 where wilsonlikethevolleyball shares his history with music, thoughts about how music connects with mind wellness, and he delves into the meaning of my favorite song, “Tell Me I’ll Be Fine.” Read Part 1 and listen to the song! Or read Part 2 first. That’s cool, too.

What would you tell teens who currently struggle with mental health issues, or who struggle with negative feelings, like feeling invisible, unloved, not good enough etc.? 

Well, the first and most frustrating piece of advice I think I can give is that loving yourself is more important than anything else. Something I currently struggle with is that I never want to be alone because I don’t like hanging out with myself. This is destructive and it will tear you apart.

Try to find something you have in common with your negative self, and for me its 100% music. Both happy Wil and sad Wil can get down to some djent metal, so I listen to djent metal — helps me love myself just a bit more each time.

Also, just know that what you put out into the world will circle back to you; it can be really hard to hear when you feel awful and you don’t know how to be happy in the moment, but people will definitely be more excited when you are excited.

If you can find that one thing that pulls you even just a bit out of whatever hole you are currently climbing out of, do it. Feeling better weirdly and frustratingly begins with simply feeling better. Whatever stimulus you need to kick-start that, find it.

TMRW aims to dispel the ageist perspective of teens as being “lazy,” “dramatic,” “overly-sensitive” etc. Do you have any words to counter this pervasive perspective? 

Oh yeah, 100%. We wouldn’t be “lazy,” “dramatic,” or “overly-sensitive” if we weren’t taught by everything around us that we weren’t worthy of love, praise, or acceptance if we didn’t completely overwork ourselves.

Modern capitalism and consumerism force our parents to overwork themselves makes our teachers tired, tells us that we have to start thinking about college as 15-year-olds, and all the while telling us we’re lucky to live in America. Growth doesn’t occur in a pressure chamber.

What do you think teens have to offer the community?

Teens of 2018 are doing their best to learn how to live from each other because the models we were given are broken and depressing. Its hard but, hopefully, we can be a model for future generations that strength is not in the knowing, it’s in the finding.

Describe your music and/or musical identity with 3 words and 2 emojis.

pink rose emojiblue butterfly emoji

This is my second favorite wilsonlikethevolleyball song. You should listen to it.

Check out more music by wilsonlikethevolleyball: 

Tell Me I’ll Be Fine :: Lyrics

Sleep takes me slowly from my toxic energy
Cleanses me
Fall through the frequencies till muscle lethargy
I’m ready

I felt so balanced and so clear
These past two weeks I didn’t fear
My demons thirsty
It’s so easy to explore your soul
When you don’t care about the answers
And so, begins the cancer

And I’m improving all the time
Could someone please inform my mind
Cause all it points out are my failures

And when I’m begging to unwind
And empty bottles seem too kind
I have to ask of you one favor
Tell me I’ll be fine

Desperately clinging to my last epiphany
Feel it escape me
Descending swiftly through my caustic symphony
My burning building

I felt so balanced and so clear

Don’t let me slip back into fear

My demons thirsty
It’s so easy to ignore your soul
When you are riddled with distractions
And so, begins inaction

And I’m improving all the time
Could someone please inform my mind
Cause all it points out are my failures

And when I’m begging to unwind
And empty bottles seem too kind
I have to ask of you one favor
Tell me I’ll be fine
Tell me I’ll be fine
Tell me I’ll be fine

Do you want to be featured on TMRW?

Interview: Seattle emo edm musician, wilsonlikethevolleyball (Part 1)

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[Photos courtesy of @wilsonlikethevolleyball_]

My introduction to Seattle musician, wilsonlikethevolleyball (Wilson Rahn), was a few weeks ago at a live performance, Gypsy Temple‘s “Pick a Number” single and video release show at Seattle’s all-ages venue, The Vera Project.

I’ve been a fan of Gypsy Temple for a year, so I’ve known Wilson as a guitarist and vocalist in Gypsy Temple; when I saw him take the stage as an opener, I was stoked.

I was entranced by his music, his voice, his stage presence and the way you can see each beat pulsate throughout his body. His set made it one of my top shows this year. I had to reach out and ask for an interview.

First! Play his song, “Tell Me I’ll Be Fine,” my favorite wilsonlikethevolleyball song, –I’ve listened to it a LOT– and read on.

Tell me a bit about your history with music and creating music.
When did your interest in music (listening and creating) begin? 

I don’t actually remember beginning to like music. It feels like its always been something that captured me. I remember when my family started to notice that I could sing tho! I used to come out of movies as a five- or six-year-old singing the main theme to the movie.

What was your first favorite song or album?

My first favorite song was probably “Good Riddance (Time of your Life)” by Green Day.

What was the impetus to start writing music? 

I started writing music almost as soon as I got a guitar. My sister was five years older than me so I was always listening to what she was, and at the time, I was really inspired, actually, by Avril Lavigne. We had this DVD called the “My World Tour” and I just remember watching her and her band rocking out and skateboarding, and I just wanted to emulate that.

Were you in a teen band?

I have been in a number of bands, the first of which was called Tropical Penguins basically through elementary school. Then, in middle school, I was in two bands called Blame the Average and, subsequently, Black Gingham which continued on through high school.

For the most part, these three bands were what really shaped my early songwriting, especially in the rock world. When I got out of the bands is when I began experimenting with solo acoustic work and electronic music, as they could be done with no other members.

How does your craft of music creation relate to your sense of well-being; particularly your mind wellness? What does making music give you? 

Music, for me, is the weirdest brand of poisonous cure. I don’t think music has ever calmed me down without first wringing me out, but I suppose that’s why I like it so much.

When I am in a bad state, if I watch TV or something, I am probably just gonna push down whatever I was feeling. But when I listen to music, I face it head on and deal with it in that moment and come out the other side with less on my chest.

As for making music, it’s kind of a similar process – just drawing out the poison in me and using music as a tool to shape it into something useful instead of destructive. I feel that lyric writing, especially, can really help externalize inner turmoil.

Photos and video taken at The Vera Project; GIF created by Liv Rougier.

It seems your song, “Tell Me I’ll be Fine,” addresses addiction and
negative automatic thinking – a symptom of mind wellness issues. Please share a bit about the song.

What’s the inspiration? When did you write it? 

Yeah, so “Tell Me I’ll Be Fine”, I wrote it in October/November-ish era of 2016 right when I had just started university. The first couple weeks of school, I was the most zen I had ever been in my entire life. I wasn’t happy or sad or anything, just super accepting of anything and everything that came my way.

When I wrote “Tell Me I’ll Be Fine”, I was starting to come down off of that and I really was just sad that I was gonna start acting like a human again instead of like a contemporary monk.

As for inspiration, I literally was just having an average-bad night and I decided to walk home and start writing, and the next day I reproduced the whole track and that’s the final that I published!

Who are you talking to in the song — who are you asking to tell you that you’ll be fine? 

I am definitely talking to myself. I had a conversation with an excellent lyricist friend, Paul, and he told me that his biggest criticism of my lyrics at the time was my overuse of the ambiguous “you.”

“Tell Me I’ll Be Fine” marked the beginning of an important step in my lyricism where I began to consider words as a paintbrush for a scene and a story instead of just a conversation.

Tell me about your experience as a teenager. Did you experience any mind wellness issues as a teen (e.g. depression, anxiety) — first- or second-hand? If so, how did you deal with them? How do you feel mind wellness issues impacted you as a teen? How does it impact you now?

Honestly, I was an excessively privileged teenager. I really had no issues with mental health until last November when I first began to experience what it meant to be suicidal. I utilized the University of Washington’s Counseling Center and began to work through some of my depression and anxiety.

Since then, I have been working to find a system that works for me. I am lucky to have an incredible support system and I am continually working on myself to hopefully one day master my mind.

What were the main issues you experienced or observed as a teen? (e.g. bullying via social media, lack of support at home.) What do you think are the causes of these issues? 

Honestly, I was a relatively disengaged teenager. I found a friend group that I really enjoyed really quickly and then did Running Start to escape what I felt at the time were the trivialities of high school.

Something that continues to bother me to this day though is the hive-minded culture of growing up. I feel like it’s so easy to be the collective bully. While I am certain I never directly contributed to the hurt of another student, something that really bothers me about high school is how easy it is to make people feel alone simply by avoiding eye contact or not saying “Hi”.

Any thoughts or ideas on how to address these issues?

As for how to address them, I honestly think it just starts with recognizing that, while you may be the main character in your story, you’re just a cinematic object in another person’s.

Try to be a positive supporting character in other people’s stories as much as possible because something as simple as remembering someone’s name and saying “whats up” when you pass them in the hall, that can go miles.


[I call this diptych, “Wilson’s Hair” – Photos taken at Gypsy Temple’s “Pick a Number” single and video release party, 2018]

The rest of the interview will be in a separate post!

These are the questions for part deux:

What would you tell teens who currently struggle with mental health issues, or who struggle with negative  feelings, like feeling invisible, unloved, not good enough etc.? 

TMRW aims to dispel the ageist perspective of teens as being “lazy,” “dramatic,” “overly-sensitive” etc. Do you have any words to counter this pervasive perspective? 

What do you think teens have to offer the community?

Describe your music and/or musical identity with 3 words and 2 emojis.

Stay tuned for wilsonlikethevolley’s responses and lyrics for “Tell Me I’ll Be Fine.”  !!

Check out more music by wilsonlikethevolleyball: 
Follow his Instagram: @wilsonlikethevolleyball_

Do you want to be featured on TMRW? LMK!