Exclusive Interview: Splitknuckle talk writing and recording “Breathing Through The Wound”!

Essex Metallic Hardcore crew Splitknuckle have long been fuelled by themes of Anger, Violence, Inner struggles, Hatred and Betrayal and with the help of therapy sessions at Fuzzbrain Studio with Ben Spence have finally been able to vent their frustration cathartically. The result of those sessions is a sophomore album “Breathing Through The Wound“ which finds them reaching heavier new heights in their quest for sonic abrasions that incite mosh pit violence. They took some time out of their hectic schedules to discuss the record with us and the conversation went something like this…

How did your previous experiences writing and recording help to smooth the path of the new record?

Christy O’Connor [Guitar]: “For Innocence Bleeds we spent around a year tracking the release ourselves in our practice space, chipping away at it little by little. We gave ourselves enough time to embellish the album (at one point we had joey screaming into a guitar pick up). We learned after this that as a unit we needed to give ourselves time in the studio to shape each song.”

Larry Statts [Bass]: “Writing process hasn’t changed much from the classic Splitknuckle days, so you’ll get alot of that familiar flavour in the new album. We recorded with Ben Spence at Fuzzbrain Studios in London once before for a covers compilation via The Coming Strife records. And we have to say, the vibe/expertise/methods that Ben used gel really well with us as a band and really enhanced our ability to put some more creative flair during recording – we had to go back there to record Breathing Through The Wound”

Christy O’Connor [Guitar]: “On a nerdier note, we knew Ben had the right hardware in the studio to give us the rich but powerful production we liked from 90’s metal releases. The Calrec analogue desk was previously used to record audio at ITV.”

How does the writing process of a new track start? Melody, riff or rhythm first? How does it evolve from there before you consider it the finished article?

Liam McCarthy [Guitar]: “I wouldn’t say there is an exact writing process, every track is unique to itself. Some may seem more structured and some a barrage of different riffs, some tracks are written individually and some as a band. But mostly we start with a riff and an idea of rhythm and then follow up with whatever comes naturally, and then after we might go back and tweak some sections until we’re happy. Joey will then go and write some lyrics and add his own homemade hot sauce to the recipe, job done.”

Matt Bullis {Drums]: “Given we practice as a band once a week pretty consistently for about 1.5/2 hours usually Liam/Christy/Larry will come with a couple riffs or sometimes a mapped out song with drums behind and we get a structure down and just throw some ideas at it like new or older unused riffs or just play around with different drum patterns etc, sometimes they’ll just come with a riff or two and the songs just puts itself together through jamming around it or messing about, then Joe lays some absolute fire on it”

Christy O’Connor [Guitar]: “We also spend a couple of days pre-producing the songs ourselves, tracking live at the practice space. It helps us to get more of an objective view of the songs before we enter the studio. The parts are almost always changed after this to fine tune the intensity.”

What was it like working with producer Ben Spence at Fuzzbrain Studios?

Christy O’Connor [Guitar]: “Most of us have known Ben since 2016 and recorded with him during the last 3 locations of Fuzzbrain studios. The main way Ben brings a lot to the music is his willingness and ability to help realise the sonics in your head. We’ve brought many different bands from many different genres to him before and he always over delivers in achieving the right feel.”

Liam McCarthy [Guitar]: “Ben is an absolute legend and a good friend of ours, so it felt right to go with him. He has a wide range of gear, and his own unique way of doing things and I feel like he really contributed towards us getting the raw sound that we wanted. Shout out Ben Jones as well for the mix and master, he smashed it and took it up to the next level”

If you had the opportunity to work with a guest in the studio next time around, who would you like to work with and why?

Larry Statts [Bass]: “Most of the time, we like to include members of bands that have either influenced us or other way round, so for me personally it would be an honour to have Scott Move lay down some vocals for a track in the future”

For us gear nerds out there, can you tell us what you’re using gear wise (pedals, strings, drums etc) to get your sound?

Larry Statts [Bass]: “One of the big bonuses of recording at Fuzzbrain Studios was the access to loads of old, classic pedals and amps that modern bands typically might not use anymore. E.g old Rat/Russian Big Muff pedals on bass through an Ampeg combo.”

Christy O’Connor [Guitar]: “Guitar wise we used a Vintage marshall JCM 800 for one rhythm tone and a Mesa boogie preamp slaved through a Laney power section for the other. Using the VFE Focus and Earthquaker ‘Plumes’ pedals to take things over the edge when needed. Leads were tracked different every time but the Game Changer Audio ‘Plasma Coil’ made a feature for the blown out sections”

Matt Bullis – [Drums]: “Zildjian A custom hats 14”, Zildjian K Custom hybrid crash 17”/19”, Zildjian 21” mega bell ride, Sabian AA 19” Holy China, Zildjian K custom hybrid 9” splash, Joey jordison signature snare, trick dominator pedals”

What difference would it make to you if you could land an endorsement from a gear manufacturer?

Larry Statts [Bass]: “Being a metalhead at heart, I am a big fan of the look and sound of BC Rich. I used a 90s Japanese Mockingbird bass to record BTTW for all bass parts. They’ve recently had an overhaul of the company and creating some insane new instruments. I’d love to be a part of that, and rep the brand more than I do already.”

Matt Bullis – [Drums]: Would be nice to experiment with a wider variety of cymbals and fx cymbals, but they are bare expensive so that would be ideal, free sticks would be a touch also”

Breathing Through The Wound” by Splitknuckle was released on 12th January 2024 via Daze and Northern Unrest and is available over at bandcamp.

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