The Holy Knives released their colorful EP this spring and since have been working on bottling up the essence of the desert for their upcoming debut LP.
The brothers that make up The Holy Knives, Kody and Kyle Valentine, locked themselves up in a west Texas studio this summer between tours. There, in the Sonic Ranch, they worked with Latin Grammy-nominated producer Manuel Calderon to bring into the world Year of the Black Dog coming Nov. 2.
“What we created on this album is a time capsule of a sound we’ve been chasing all our lives, and we believe this is our truest artistic statement to date,” Kyle says. “However, we also think this record can be thought of as a guidepost for what’s to come in our future.”
Their first single off the album “I Guess It’s Enough,” premiering below, is an emotional song. They’ve paired it with a Twin Peaks and Tarantino-inspired music video that catapults you into the peculiar, yet romantic world the song creates. It features echoing guitars and vocals that play along to a melody harboring so much tragedy it can’t help but burst your heart into two.
“’I Guess It’s Enough’ is a desert song at its heart,” Kody tells BTRtoday. “We thought it was an angry or sad song [at first], but we believe now that this is really a love song—a love song praising the non-rational nature of love and submitting to its power.”
The duo admit that they’re huge Twin Peaks fans. The second Límite Norte Productions mentioned a David Lynch inspiration Kyle and Kody immediately hired them to produce the music video for “I Guess It’s Enough.” The video also has flashes of Tarantino inspirations with his notable feet shots, color schemes and text style. “The desert plus Tarantino equals our ideal writing conditions,” Kyle says.
In November The Holy Knives will tour Texas before heading out through the Eastern half of the U.S. in December—including 12/4 at Pianos and 12/5 in Brooklyn (venue TBD). In the meantime, get lost in the bizarre world of The Holy Knives below by reading the entire interview with the brothers and watching the music video for their newest single “I Guess It’s Enough.”
The Holy Knives, ” I Guess It’s Enough”
BTRtoday (BTR): It seems like being in Texas and your environment was important for your inspirations. How did your geography affect your sound?
Kody Valentine: Geography, and more broadly our place at the intersection of space and time, has a definite effect on the soundscapes we naturally gravitate toward. There is something about a place that affects us on a level that we don’t see or feel, but is undoubtedly present, which comes through in our songwriting.
A lot of the most strenuous molding of these songs happened in the deserts of west Texas near the border at a studio called Sonic Ranch. The atmosphere there was a visual mirror that definitely helped give shape to this record. We wanted to capture something of that environment, bottle it up, and refine it into a sound. “I Guess It’s Enough” is a desert song at its heart.
BTR: Tell me about this debut album you guys have been working so hard on. Was there a certain vibe you guys were going for?
Kyle Valentine: A lot of the songwriting and sounds came naturally to us—we tend to lean toward minor chords with a western soul. On the other hand, our producer, Comanche Sound, brought so many elements and ideas we wouldn’t have thought of on our own, so he played a large part in expanding the possibilities of our record. What we created on this album is a time capsule of a sound we’ve been chasing all our lives and we believe this is our truest artistic statement to date. However, we also think this record can be thought of as a guidepost for what’s to come in our future.
BTR: How do you guys usually write your music?
Kyle & Kody: We believe that 90 percent of everything [we write] is shit—because of that, we wrote around 100 song ideas for this 10-song album. As the adage goes, it’s 99 percent perspiration, one percent inspiration. When we’re in the thick of writing, we are in our rehearsal space every day, so our muse knows where to find us.
In an interview, David Lynch said that any time you have an idea you need to record it some way because otherwise it will be lost forever. Sometimes songs start with something as small as humming a melody into a voice memo or writing a random lyric down while grocery shopping, but most of the time they come from working on ideas non-stop. We believe in creating as many ideas as possible without questioning or doubting ourselves and sorting through the good and the bad later. Each song has a unique and definite spirit, and we are always looking for the ones that rattle our rib-cages.
BTR: This first single “I Guess It’s Enough” seems very emotional. What were the inspirations behind it?
Kody: In the early stages of our writing process our songs are like dreams. They are a flood of whatever hides in the deepest, darkest, most unexplored parts of our minds and hearts. We don’t question what happens until we already have an intuitive connection to the song. In other words, we lay the foundation for the song in a very free-flowing way until we realize that the spirit of the song is powerful and needs to be understood and explored.
The same process held true for “I Guess It’s Enough.” We loved the initial idea, which revolved around the chorus that you hear on the song, but we didn’t know what it meant until very late in the writing process. We thought it was an angry or sad song, but we believe now that this is really a love song—a love song praising the non-rational nature of love and submitting to its power.
BTR: I love the music video’s style, it’s very Kill Bill meets Twin Peaks. Tell me a little about it. Do you think it does a good job representing the song?
Kyle: We’ve been huge fans of Twin Peaks for a while and we religiously devoured the third season as it came out. After we sent the song to Límite Norte, they reached out about a concept that they had and began with the question, “Do you like Twin Peaks?” We knew immediately that whatever they were brewing up we would be behind, so we gave them full artistic license. We also appreciate the Kill Bill reference, because we actually watched a lot of Tarantino during the writing phase with The Comanche. The desert plus Tarantino equals our ideal writing conditions.
BTR: What kind of music are you guys currently really grooving to?
Kyle: It’s very hard to choose one, so we would have to equally give credit to Portishead and Leonard Cohen. We had been fans of Portishead’s Dummy for a long time, but during the writing of Year of the Black Dog we began to deeply explore their self-titled album. The deceptive simplicity and steady, shadowed mood they create was kind of an undercurrent, a subconscious, for what we were exploring in our music.
Kody: Leonard Cohen is one of the greatest songwriters to ever live. We’ve loved his music for a long time, but we connected on a deeper level to his music during this writing process. Songs like, “I’m Your Man,” “A Thousand Kisses Deep” and “Famous Blue Raincoat” were towers of songs in the melancholy, desert atmosphere we were going for. We think our whole lives as songwriters will be spent chasing the beauty and power of his music.
BTR: Other than the debut album, what else should we keep an eye out for in the future of The Holy Knives?
Kyle: The album comes out on Nov. 2, so before then we’ll be releasing at least two more music videos. Once the album is out, we’re going to be touring Texas and the northeast in November and December, then the west coast and the rest of the US in early 2019. And we’ve started writing the second album, so look out for that in the not-so-distant future.