‘We do this for the message and the music. Not to make money, not to get famous.’ You can’t get more punk than that, and it’s encouraging to discover that bands with this kind of attitude still exist. Know Your Enemy are one of them; a hardcore band hailing from California, a state which has arguably one of the strongest scenes in that genre, and a well established reputation for expelling quality content. But this fresh faced, young and eager band are already well aware of the limitations of staying within your own state, and how tough it can be to break out.
“Know Your Enemy has the roots, influences and elements that we grew up listening to, but with a unique spin to it”
‘Being how large California is and how often tour packages come through our area,’ the band explain, ‘it is so easy to just get stuck in one place. Plus, we’re all adults that have jobs and school to take care of so it can be tough to make that leap to becoming a nationally touring band.’
Despite that, they’d never underestimate the importance of supporting the local music scene. ‘In my experience, I’ve seen bands skip the ‘local stage’ by help of the internet, connections, or just privilege. They never had to open a local show or go support their friends, but I find that these people/bands lack humility and have a lack of respect for the hustle.’ And, having played in previous bands leading up to this current line up, they’re all well seasoned to the ‘hustle’, hardship and let downs of running an up and coming band. ‘Most of us have done the local band stage before, where we’ve just goofed off, wrote music and hung out with friends. We’ve all learned from past mistakes and try to use those to learn about what we do with Know Your Enemy.’
The band itself has been together for only two years but they’ve achieved a lot during that time, including sharing the stage with the Warriors, Strife, Sworn Enemy, Death Before Dishonor and Sworn Vengeance to name a few, and making a bunch of dreams come true for the band members. ‘We love playing venues we grew up going to, wishing we could play some day. It’s almost like a bucket list. Venues like The Workshop in Ceres, CA, and places like Gilman St in Berkley that started bands such as AFI, Rancid and Green Day. It’s just insane to us.’
“we’ve grown to focus on personal demons, struggles of mental health, and social issues”
And although a lot of hardcore bands come across as predominantly angry, Know Your Enemy seem to be doing something different, in that their songs are positive and put across an important message. ‘Our music is definitely a huge outlet for us. When we are personally honest it allows us to vent and as a bonus people can relate and know they are not alone.’ They’re also aware of the potential limitations of the genre and don’t want to box themselves off or feel they have to stick to one particular ‘style’ this early in the game. Their view on it is, ‘we’re a hardcore band. Everything else is secondary. But not everyone likes generic hardcore, or hardcore at all. To be different you have to have different elements in the music. We don’t want to be boring and sound like everyone else. Know Your Enemy has the roots, influences and elements that we grew up listening to, but with a unique spin to it.’
It’s that ‘unique spin’ that will hopefully keep them afloat in a tough industry, with their mix of inspirations shining through to create something new and exciting. The name itself might be familiar for fans of Rage Against The Machine, one of the main influences of the band, although they aren’t necessarily as political as RATM. ‘We’re huge fans. Though we started writing politically influenced songs in the beginning, we’ve grown to focus on personal demons, struggles of mental health, and social issues.’
Know Your Enemy have a lot of exciting things coming up in the next year, and they’re definitely going to be ones to look out for. ‘Right now our plan is to continue writing and we’ve also got some music videos in the pipeline. Hopefully during the spring we’ll be able to get up to the Northwest with our boys in Burn Infinite and possibly $et Trip. We’re looking to continue to grow, and expand our portfolio; people enjoy the music, that’s the most important thing, as well as staying true to ourselves and creating music that we enjoy.’ Amen to that. Keep up the good work, boys.
FFO: Desolated and Malevolence
WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON