You Missed Your Chance to Do Knife Hits With Knife Hits
It takes a brave individual to man the merch table before or after a show, peddling their creative life's work for taco money. In today's Merch Madness, we barter and moan with Jake Smith of shrieking screamo throwbacks Knife Hits.
What band shirt will you never throw away, no matter how gross it gets?
I have a Conflict shirt that was shitty, so I cut out the printed part and sewed it onto a tank top that I wear a whole lot. I don't think I could ever part with that one. My best friend growing up and former bandmate had the same shirt, and it basically turned into cheesecloth because he wore it virtually every day, so I sort of feel like I am quietly continuing the legacy of the "Conflict mobile." Also, my Framtid shirt, because I bought it after seeing them play one of the best sets I've ever seen by any band.
Has a stranger ever stopped you on the street to ask about your band shirt?
Another anecdote about about my Conflict shirt: My girlfriend and I were walking around an amazing flea market in Pittsburgh and one of the vendors — a man who appeared to be in his late 50s and had a thick Southern accent — just looked at me and said, "My favorite Crass band is Rudimentary Peni. I used to trip out to Cacophony back in the day; love the Conflict shirt, man." I bought a toothbrush from him for a dollar.
What’s the dumbest question you’ve ever been asked at the merch table?
While holding up a 7": "Is this the LP?"
What’s the most money you’ve ever spent at a merch table?
I usually don't go too crazy, but I've definitely dropped 50 or more bucks at the table for a few bands ... namely Yautja (I think I own four of their shirts now), Genocide Pact, Loma Prieta and Neurosis. This may get dangerous soon, though. I gave away all of my vinyl many years ago during a time where I needed to minimize the possessions in my life, but I just recently bought a record player again and I'm already having to practice restraint at merch tables so I don't make myself broke!
Do pastels belong on a band shirt?
Maybe not? But who am I to say? [Laughs] I'm boring with that stuff. Being a fat guy who is into punk and related diseases, I almost exclusively wear black, and that's usually reflected in my opinions on what shirts my bands print. But I have definitely seen some wild and colorful shirt designs that I love; I would just never personally wear anything like that. I'm scared to branch out, I guess.
Have you ever bought a record at a merch table and immediately broke it?
Years ago, I bought the Loaded for Bear / Hombrinus Dudes split at This Is for You Fest in Daytona, FL. I asked my buddy to put it in his car for me. It was warped by the end of the afternoon. I definitely bought it again that night. [Laughs]
What band shirt makes you jealous that you didn’t come up with the idea first?
Oh man! So, I used to be in a grindcore band called Republicorpse years ago, and we were pretty goofy with a lot of weed-related things in our songs and merch. We had this idea to make a shirt that mocks the Kill 'Em All album cover, but with a spilled bong that said "Crill 'Em All," which was slang for dank weed where we're from. We never ended up making the shirt. But a few years later when my band Khann played with the Atlas Moth, they had a very similar shirt that says "Smoke It All." I, of course, had to buy it, and still wear it regularly.
Do you approve of ironic band shirts?
I suppose I'm not sure exactly what you mean here, but I will say, please stop making Black Flag, Minor Threat, Misfits, Descendents and Ramones spoof shirts. It's tired as fuck.
What’s the most obnoxious item you’ve ever bought (or sold) at a merch table?
Bought: I bought a Framtid hand fan when I saw them in Texas a few years ago. I thought it was a hilarious thing to sell to merch nerds in 100 degree weather. They even changed their normal slogan on it to "By any means warM is unnecessary."
Sold: On a No Qualms / Knife Hits tour a while back, we had a bunch of weed with us, and had a good amount left at a show in West Texas. We knew the next day that we would encounter a border patrol checkpoint, so we had to get rid of the illegal stuff. We had a single-burner electric hot plate with us, and we sold actual knife hits at the merch table for $1 apiece. (Luckily for the situation, it was a house show, so we could get away with it.)
Describe your favorite band poster.
Man Is the Bastard, "The Lost M.I.T.B. Sessions" has a poster in it with a diagram of the different meat cuts of a human carcass — or "Long Pig," as it is described in the album. Also, all the posters that came in Crass records were amazing; they always had such rad art.
Knife Hits' debut album, Eris, will drop September 16 as a joint release between Hydrogen Man and Give Praise (vinyl) and Dead Tank (digital).