-- Knives To A Gunfight get shredded --

Stijn Daneels
FUCK HATE, WE'RE ALL EQUAL! At the GMM pré party (June 3, 2016) a band that was featured on the Graspop Metal Meeting line up was present to warm ourselves up for the festival. And that band was the well-established Antwerp based metalcore band Knives To A Gunfight.

Although the band had to perform with a single guitarist (as Björn was absent due to illness) they still gave it their all in front of a jam-packed audience at the Kinky Star music bar and they still decided to talk with your good old Shredder!

And some of the tasty subjects on the KTAG menu include the band's second appearance at GMM, native American culture, their big love for Van Halen, their even bigger love for their bassist Matthijs and more! 

BMS: Tell me, where did you get that particular band name from? Do you have some habit of bringing knives and other cutting equipment to gunfights?
Mick: Me and the other KTAG folks had already played in other bands before, but for this new project, we wanted to have a catchy, original sounding name. Björn came up with about two A4 sheets and the name Knives To A Gunfight was mentioned on that list. The name is inspired by the 1987 crime drama film the Untouchables starring Robert De Niro and Sean Connery. An awesome movie I can recommend to anybody!

Dimitri: The name also allowed us to abbreviate it to KTAG (pronounced kaytech) which sounds cool as well.

KTAG from left to right: Matthijs Nuyts (bass, backing vocals), Björn Berckvens (guitar), Mick Van Wassenhove (vocals), Dimitri Maseele (drums) and Sam Van Geetsom (guitar).
BMS: Tell me something about your latest release, Nomad.
Sam: The previous album, Inception, had more 90s hardcore influences compared to Nomad. For Nomad, I was the man in the creative seat and made the songs more metal oriented inspired by bands like Whitechapel and Suicide Silence. And also Van Halen!
BMS: Van Halen? Like in Eddie Van Halen? Now that's interesting!
Sam: Yeah! Van Halen is my personal rock god! He inspired me to play guitar.
BMS: Now you're working on a second full length release. What can we expect? More Van Halen influences? Not that I have an issue with that. ;)
Sam: We want to retain some of the elements from our previous songs but we also plan to make the songs even more hard-hitting than before. We're aiming to provide something for everyone and the material will be influenced by deathcore, beatdown and more traditional metal.
BMS: And what about KTAG's other future prospects?
Sam: We just keep doing on what we're doing. We all enjoy being part of KTAG and letting people go fucking nuts during our shows. Mick: That's right. Our only serious ambition is to introduce our sound to as many people as possible so that they can either enjoy a newly discovered band or move on with their lives and look for something else. But we remain true to ourselves, no matter how many more "fans" or bigger venues we may get should we tone down. We know that the people who like KTAG genuinely enjoy listening to our music and that's what matters!

Dimitri: We take every chance we get to play, no matter when, where or in front of how many people. We're very thankful for every opportunity we've already received to perform. As long as we're having a fun time, we remain happy with how KTAG is today.
BMS: Mick, I see your body and face is covered with cool looking tattoos. Tell me something about them.
Mick: A couple of tattoos have a special meaning to me, but there are also plenty of others that I've just had inked on my body because I liked the way they look. I'm a tattoo artist by profession.

Sam: Next week Mick is going to put tattoo a skull on my arm with an Indian war bonnet on its head. The tattoo is a reference to the track Monster at Heart from the Nomad EP. It's one of my favorite KTAG songs.
BMS: I might get a tattoo one day as well, but I've got to be sure I won't get tired of the image as time moves on. Anyway, on to another question...
BMS: During tonight's show you offered a free t-shirt to everyone who crowd surfed all the way from the stage to the bar's entrance door. Do you often issue such fun challenges during your performances?
Mick: If the crowd shows enough enthusiasm then we offer them a little challenge.
Matthijs: But if we notice that the audience just want to relax and enjoy the music then we let them be. It all depends on how active or passive the people present are behaving.

Sam: Although we can enjoy a show in front of a big audience as we already did at GMM, we prefer to be in venues like this one. In places like these you can look your audience straight in the eye and better interact with them. Furthermore, no security railings or guards to speak of, so both we and the crowd can do everything we fucking want.
BMS: As an attendant, I love to get up close and personal with the band. I recall a gig with American death metal band Vital Remains who played in Deinze last summer and we moshed, crowd surfed and torn the fucking place apart! Even the band's vocalist and the bartender joined in on the action!
BMS: Now, this year will be your second appearance at Graspop Metal Meeting. Tell me something about your first trip there.
Mick: We had a great time. We played in front of about seven or eight thousand people. We were a bit nervous in the beginning as we'd never played in such a big venue before but once we entered the stage, all stress instantly fell away. And now, we want to outperform ourselves with our second appearance.
BMS: What other stuff do you do aside from jamming with KTAG?
Sam: I build my own guitars. In addition, I'm very fond of the native American culture. That's why I craft objects like dreamcatchers, tents and peace pipes but also weapons such as tomahawks and scalp knives.

Dimitri: My job as a factory worker gives me plenty of flexibility when it comes to asking for vacation. It allows me a lot of free time to play with KTAG.

Mick: Then we've also got Matthijs who works as a store clerk at the Sting clothing store in Antwerp. Björn works for the Antwerp community as a fire safety inspector. He's also very concerned with nature and ecology. Hence we call him Bio-Björn.
BMS: Speaking about Björn, why was he absent today?
Sam: He is currently recovering from a serious lung infection. We advised him to stay at home so that he's ready for our GMM gig and let us do tonight's show as a four-piece band. We hate to cancel shows and therefore we do everything in our power to make sure that any absences will be compensated. If Dimitri can't make it, we play the drum tracks through a drum computer, if either me or Björn is absent then we play with a single guitarist. And when either Mick or Matthijs aren't present, we do the vocal and bass work ourselves.
BMS: I like that way of doing things. You never let your audience down and you play no matter what inconveniences may occur.
Sam: Our main philosophy is: Fuck hate, we're all equal!
BMS: I completely agree with such a view of life, but please explain it a bit more specifically.
Mick: It's simple, really. We may look different, speak a different language or have a different view of politics, economy, music or anything else you can think of but we do want that people get equally treated from the very beginning. Every person has the right to live his or her life freely without having to constantly justify his views or actions.

Sam: And certainly nobody has the right to put people into different social classes! Let alone kill someone because that person has a different opinion. Something the people responsible for all those recent terrorist attacks around the globe have forgotten!
BMS: Overall, I'm thankful to be part of the heavy metal scene (and that also includes metalcore). I've already encountered many new people since I began exploring all that great music and I'm surrounded by such generous and friendly folks.
BMS: What are your individual favorite KTAG songs?
Mick: The songs from Nomad in particular are my top picks. Songs like Enslaved, Carnival Land and Monster at Heart. Although I can still enjoy playing stuff from the Inception album.

Sam: We create a killer set featuring only our best songs. The majority of our current set list is from the Nomad EP. But as Mick said, we still retain some material from our previous releases. A big favorite of mine is Forever as One.

Dimitri: I enjoy the newer songs the most because they are more challenging for me to drum and they just sound more enjoyable overall. Sam here did a great job writing the Nomad EP.
Sam: We enjoy playing everything.
BMS: Yeah, especially Van Halen, huh?
Sam: Fuck yeah! I also play in a coverband called STEAM wherein we cover songs from hard rock artists such as Tina Turner, AC/DC, Leni Kravitz, Judas Priest and of course Van Halen.
BMS: Is there anything else you want to share with me and the fans?
Mick: I want to add that we're very thankful to have Matthijs as part of a team. He joined KTAG about six months ago and he has given our band lots of fresh creative impulses. His backing vocals perfectly fit mine.
BMS: I see. How did Matthijs join the band?
Mick: We had a couple of issues within the band and as a result, our former bassist, Richie, left KTAG. We still have much respect for Richie and for his contribution to our band, but we couldn't continue working with him. We already knew Matthijs from his work with other bands and we felt he would be a right choice as KTAG's new bassist. We offered him to audition and after a tryout we knew for a fact that he had to join our ranks!

Dimitri: As Mick already said, we're grateful that Matthijs has become our bassist. He's helpful, competent and he brings out the best out of himself and everyone of us! WE LOVE MATTHIJS!
(I noticed Matthijs talking to some guys a couple of meters from me)
BMS: Hey, Matthijs! They're talking about you. Come here and join the fun!
Matthijs: All right, coming right up!
Mick: Matthijs, tell Stijn here about your experiences with KTAG.

Matthijs: I was honored that they offered me the bass spot and I'm having the time of my life ever since. My personal goal with KTAG is to go out and play wherever I can. I take my work seriously and hope to introduce the band's sound to as many people as possible. Just for the fun of it.
BMS: You're right, Mick. Matthijs is a perfect fit for the band. He shares KTAG's general ambitions and he gives it his all on stage, just like the rest of you. And since Matthijs will be sharing the stage with you on GMM, he'll already have quite an audience to play for.
Matthijs: When I'm in the mood to play (laughs)! Who am I kidding, of course I'm in the fucking mood!
BMS: And I'm always in the mood to talk to newly discovered bands! Is there anything else you wish to say?
Sam: We thank our success to Edward Lodewijk Van Halen!
Matthijs: KTAG loves you!
BMS: The Shredder loves you too!

Knives To A Gunfight - Carnival Land