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Knight & Gallow's Nick Chambers: "We just ignored the guidelines and got to work like normal, we had an album to record…"

Interview with Nick Chambers from Knight & Gallow
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 13 April 2022, 2:02 PM

The inspiration coming out of the Fantasy world doesn't have to have a direct contact with reality, nor should it serve as mainly as a means to escape one's harsh surroundings. It can remain what it meant to be in the first place, another means of people to find a comfort zone, a place where they can be themselves, without being questioned. Nick Chambers, vocalist and guitarist, of the newcomer band, Knight & Gallow, expressed his mighty interest into the worlds beyond, far into imagination, and made it a basis for his band, and its debut album, “For Honor And Bloodshed”. Steinmetal had to dive into Chambers' world in order to understand the pattern of making an epic Heavy Metal album nowadays.

Hi Nick, it is good to have you for this conversation with Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing mate?

I’ve been Doing good, a little bit stressed trying to keep up with our online orders but I’m grateful for all the attention we’ve been getting!

Your band Knight & Gallow has been on the rise in the last couple of years, you surely made a name for yourselves in the area. Up until the debut album, which was recently released, how do you summarize these past three years since your inception? How do you find your current position within your local Metal scene?

Well, the last three years haven’t been all sunshine and roses, particularly recording the album, it was quite a bit of stressful period for all of us. Not to mention waiting for the album to drop has been agony, and now that it’s here, all I can say is I’m ready for the next one. As far as our local scene goes, I’m not too sure how we’re viewed, I’ve never made an effort to go out of my way to be a part of the Sacramento scene because there aren’t that many bands similar to us, other than a few power metal bands, not to mention the scene here in Sacramento is all power violence and punk, I guess I never expected us to do well locally.

Talking about your local Metal scene, even with the revival of traditional Heavy Metal, or stated as NWOTHM, do you find yourselves with enough opportunities to show your force on stage in the club scene? Is the Metal public keen for your Metal flavor?

The opportunities are definitely there, we’ve opened for Ross the Boss, Haunt and Saber name a few, but I feel like our shows we’ve been best received at are the shows where we’ve been the odd band. We’re okay with playing with thrash and death metal bands but it’s always fun to see the crowd react to you differently.

Your early demos were able to capture the eyes, and ears, of the old school Metal label from Greece, No Remorse Records. No doubt that you signed with a label that is a temple for traditional Heavy Metal. How do you perceive this signing with No Remorse, which is also a European label?

I’m very thankful for that email I received from No Remorse, I love many of the bands this label has put out so I had no problem joining forces with them.

Entitled “For Honor And Bloodshed”, your debut album celebrates with an ode to Fantasy related aspects, along with hints of legends and a shred of history. I found the Vikings and Lord Of The Rings within the songs, what other inspirations came through your mind while writing the lyrics for the record?

Obviously the first two tracks Middle Earth and Men of the West tell the tale of the Lord of the Rings, The third track Godless is based on the Netflix series The Last Kingdom, which tells a story of Saxon born Dane raised warrior who’s after revenge. Soul of Cinder is about Dark Souls III.

Lord of the Sword is about Michael Moorcock’s The Eternal Champion, definitely a good read, highly recommended. Gods Will is about the Fourth Holy Crusade, the spoken word part is actually an old crusaders prayer I chopped up to fit in the song. Stormbringers Call is another Moorcock tale we’re all very familiar with. Blood of Wolves is a Viking song, but also my tribute to Manowar, my favorite band, it was kind of my crack at trying to write my own Manowar Song. Black Swordsman is about the Kentaro Miura Manga, Berserk, which is an all-time classic

In general, what does “For Honor And Bloodshed”, as a title, which sits pretty well with the musical form of the album, symbolize to you personally? What does it reflect?

I think I prioritize the story of the music we make to help get the listener a little more immersed in the lyrics and in turn the music, but lyrics of the album are all about warriors who would rather choose Death then dishonour, so I think the title fits the album as a whole especially in the minds of its characters, I personally am kind of like that myself, Proud and Stubborn.

In regards to Fantasy themes, usually there is a parallel sense with the real world, reality, whether in its darkest of forms or towards its positivity. What is within these stories that may imply aspects of our social order that you see different, or that it somewhat troubles you?

I think the most obvious parallels between reality and these fantasy stories is that war is objectively bad, I kind of sing about this in lord of the sword. As far as having some greater social commentary within my lyrics, I would say it doesn’t exist. Most of the words I write for K&G are more personal, not necessarily personal in the way that Unto Others (I’m still going to call them Idle Hands) writes their music, but it’s personal because I want the listener to feel connected to the character of the story, prime examples on this record would be Stormbringers Call or Black Swordsman.

One of the things that listeners capture from songs, and yes it happens even when the music is cracking and takes most of the attention, is their essence, their supposed moral code and understanding. In your opinion, what are these messages conveyed to the listener?

I don’t know if there’s a specific moral code within the songs but the whole idea of the record is to sort of make the listener feel like they’re strong and powerful like the characters in the music.

Knight & Gallow, in light of “For Honor And Bloodshed”, is a true picture of 80s Heavy Metal, with the storytelling abilities that revolve around the epic proportions of the genre. Nevertheless, there are surprises along the way, which personally I appreciated right from the get go, taking the rougher edges up until sinking teeth in Thrash Metal, an addition that provided the right kind of chops. How do you perceive the musical evolution of the band with the arrival of “For Honor And Bloodshed”?

Our guitarist Ryan Younger was pretty influenced by thrash metal so there’s a fair bit of that in his songs on the record, as far as our evolution going forward, I’d like to get more technical, The first album, for me anyways, is a little rough around the edges writing wise. I’ve learned a lot since then as a vocalist, guitarist and a songwriter, there’s definitely better directions I want to go, I’d love to add more doom influences, I snuck a few riffs in Men of the west that are a bit doomy. I’m not opposed to becoming a bit more melodic and technical with our guitar playing, In fact our new guitarist Ryan Ohlson is writing music more in this direction, I’m really stoked for you all to hear what we’ve got cooking because it is a definite level up.

Other than going in rough and tough, at the right moments, in your view, what are the game changing attributes that make “For Honor And Bloodshed” to become a special kind of album, within the spectrum of traditional Heavy Metal?

I don’t think we intended it to be anything game changing at all, in fact I don’t think it is whatsoever. I think we all just wanted to make a record that all of us personally could go back and listen to time and again.

What I liked about the larger part of the songs is that there is diversity crossing nearly everywhere. Sure, there are hooking elements, but the arrangements of the songs appeared to have been given extra thought, taking into account every detail. What can you share about your approach towards writing a song? What lessons of the past were implemented while writing?

Personally, my approach to writing the songs is pretty unprofessional, I hear a riff in my head while I’m showering or it’s 3 am and I can’t sleep, I end up grabbing a guitar and trying to play it, from there I just try to build off of it.

The completion of the album was reached during the heat of the Covid-19 pandemic I presume; how did you find this experience? Were you able to write the songs as a single unit, or rather each to his own? What about the recording sessions, where they're sort of sterile, with one band member at a time?

Honestly the recording process was great at first and then became emotionally draining towards the end. We just ignored the guidelines and got to work like normal, we had an album to record, and I don’t think any of us were that worried about the virus, more just annoyed by it.

Even without being around for too long, every experience, and “For Honor And Bloodshed” was quite the one, is a kind of learning curve that should be cherished. In your opinion, what did the making of “For Honor And Bloodshed” teach you about yourself, whether as a vocalist / guitarist, and as a songwriter?

I learned that I need more practice and that there’s always room to improve. A lot of the main criticisms of the album have been its simplicity, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but as a songwriter my goal is to improve that.

I believe that the song that nearly devoured the entire record in a single bit is “Blood Of The Wolves”, its speedy form, brutal lyrics and the sense of a sing-along hook for every performance, did it for me, and had me sitting there listening with a fistful of motivation. It is good to be a Metalhead. How do you find this song? What can you tell about the creation of this stellar baby?

Other then it being my sort of ode to Manowar, I just wanted something simple and fun to play, but something where my vocals could shine, the chorus on this song might just be the best solely based on the layering of the vocals. When Jeff Black added his background vocals to the mix it just made it even better. This is also one of my favorites off the album.

The final track, another great epos on its own, “Black Swordsman”, is certainly not what I expected from the last track of an epic driven Metal album. That Slayrish attitude took hold, slowly embroiled with the traditional signatures, heavy as hell, a fist to the fest, brutality unchained but with a twist. How do you find the impact of this particular song on the album?

The Album was originally supposed to end with Soul of Cinder but No Remorse wanted it to be higher up the track listing. I still think Soul of Cinder is the better ending song, and I still think the original track listing is far superior, as for Black Swordsman, I love this song, it’s fun to jam simple and easy to play musically, and I love the lyrics and the story it’s based on, the acoustic part also brings it home for me as a song.

Since the live scene is returning to action, where do you find yourselves in the plans to support the album? Is there a goal to reach Europe sometime soon?

We’re just going to play as many shows as possible till we start finishing up the next one. Europe has always been a goal for me and this band, I’d love to play Keep it True or Up the Hammers. I hope a few American festivals will have us in mind as well.

Nick, many thanks for the time for this interview, thank you for enlightening my Metal hunger for newcomer bands. All the best, cheers

Thanks for having me! Look forward to talking again!


 



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