The Knifings
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The Knifings


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Other Toronto bands featured were power/Pop All the Brightness and true indie rockers The Knifings. The Knifings impressed me with their originality, but All the Brightness were contrived and boring... - The Medium online

The Knifings
The Dakota Tavern, June 7th

They did muster lots of energy and got their style -- alt-country meets indie rock meets progressive punk -- across with a punch.

Asses were moving and some heads were nodding. The whole show was a mishmash of whistling and screaming that overwhelmed the venue.

The band has obviously organized themselves well with John Gillies heading up the vocals and guitar and David Lee on guitar and vocals, Nik Spilka on lead guitar and Dave Penny on drums and Blake Kucy on Bass.

The Knifings are a good alternative to straight rock or punk, and are worth seeing for their loud and distorted brand of original rockabilly.

- Scene and Heard

The Knifings
Superb Limb Of Such Magnificence

Picture, if you will, a smoky, dive bar, drunk patrons talking loudly and drinking beer out of brown bottles, spitting on the floor and laughing it up. Chances are you'd find a band like The Knifings playing on the all-too-small and crowded stage. With a sound straight from Detroit in the 60s, The Knifings, hailing from Toronto, carry on the tradition of The Stooges and MC5 by playing unpretentious, crusty garage rock. The band keeps their songs short and loud with the minimum of riffs needed. Singer John Gillies' voice is almost a dead ringer for the MC5's Fred “Sonic” Smith and the guitar sound is a perfect balance between blues grit and punk skronk. The band is also pretty versatile and pull out some rootsier pieces, like the rockabilly tinged “Strawberry Swirl”. Their best work is the balls-out type of garage though, which most of the album is based on. “Five-Hole” is a real rocker and “Snake Charmer” wouldn't sound too out of place on a Dirtbombs album. You'll be nodding your head and playing air guitar through the hole album, but I bet this band is best seen live. Excellent effort overall.

By Steve Marlow
Feb 2, 2009
- !Earshot Magazine

TORONTO — The Toronto band the Knifings are pretty much a complete unknown in the music world and yet somehow -- no one really knows how -- one of their songs recently appeared on one of the biggest shows on TV, "Entourage."

Having their music aired on the show puts them in the same company as the likes of the Cure, Radiohead, Snoop Dogg and U2, and yet the band has no record label, no music videos and no previous mainstream exposure to speak of.

"We're just trying to fathom how we fit into that picture," says drummer Dave Penny. "It's crazy."

Their story is a longshot, but increasingly musicians are seeking out -- and being sought out for -- licensing deals to get their music heard in different ways.

With radio listeners tuning out and music videos becoming increasingly irrelevant, musicians are selling their songs for use on TV shows, movies, video games and commercials.

The Knifings have a MySpace page and a few other websites where their music is posted online, but they still don't know exactly how Hollywood found them.

They got a dubious email from someone claiming to be associated with HBO's "Entourage," who wanted to pay the band "thousands" of dollars to use a small snippet of their song "Vicodin" for an episode.

"Initially we weren't even sure if it was a prank, because it seemed pretty out there for sure. With the minimal exposure we've had, to have something that big land was definitely kind of surprising," Penny said.

"Aside from the fact there are millions of other bands out there, we're not even signed to a label yet, so that's the even crazier thing."

Having the song on the show hasn't resulted in an explosion in the band's popularity, but they did get more exposure than ever before and made "a lot more money than we've ever seen for anything we've done," Penny said.

Another recent example of Canadian music being licensed for prime-time TV was when the hit show "The Office" used Tom Cochrane's "Life Is a Highway."

Cochrane said he had no idea that his wife had licensed the song for "The Office" -- and had never seen the show -- until he started getting flooded with emails and phone calls from people after the episode aired.

"It was funny, I'm getting all these emails from people saying, `They were singing your song on "The Office,"' but I thought they meant `in the office,' because that song is one of those songs people sing," he recalled.

"It was a good thing to do. All of a sudden I now realize it's a big show, and a funny show apparently."

Even appearing on a lower-profile show can pay significant dividends, said Stephen Ramsay of the Montreal band Young Galaxy, which had a song on "Army Wives" on the U.S. Lifetime network last year.

The band has had videos added to regular rotation on MuchMusic and MuchMoreMusic but found the bounce they got out of being on "Army Wives" far surpassed the value of having their songs heard the old-fashioned way.

"A show in America can get cancelled for having two million people watch it a week, and yet to a musician who makes the kind of music we make, who has only 10,000 friends on MySpace, the idea of a song being played before millions at one time is just astonishing," Ramsay said.

"There were certainly a few hundred more people coming by the website to check us out, people discussing us online and sending emails saying, `I'd never heard of you, now I've just bought your record' ... so you definitely see it instantly."

The payday for licensing the song also came a lot quicker than the small cheques they received for having their songs played on radio or their videos aired.

"It's a substantial amount of money and it can be made a lot quicker than airplay royalties," Ramsay said.

"Given that people don't really sell as many records -- not even remotely as many as they used to -- more and more people are putting the emphasis on relationships with these kinds of companies."

But some bands still have an aversion to the idea of having their songs associated with a TV show or movie -- for example, the Weakerthans, who licensed their song "Aside" for the hit movie "The Wedding Crashers."

"That was the one we tested the waters with, and it went OK, but I have some mixed feelings about it," said singer John Samson.

"It's certainly a massive grey sea there of ethics. I certainly don't blame people who have done it because the money is enticing -- and as you know musicians are increasingly finding it difficult to find ways to make money -- so on that hand I think it's one of those things that's available to struggling musicians."

The most difficult licensing deal for some musicians to accept is selling a song for a commercial, but even that's becoming less taboo.

Feist famously lent "1234" to Apple for an iPod commercial, and Arcade Fire's "My Body Is a Cage" is the background music in an ad for the new Brad Pitt movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

Broken Social Scene has also licensed a song for a Cadbury commercial, and Crystal Castles have a song in a Toshiba ad.

"Feist would've never had a hit without the iPod commercial," said Terry McBride of Nettwerk Music Group, who counsels his artists to consider licensing.

When Sum 41 had their song "With Me" appear in an episode of "Gossip Girls," it translated into 180,000 digital sales of the single, McBride said, adding that a music video would not have had the same payoff.

"Music videos haven't had power now for a few years, and I question whether they're even worth the cost nowadays."

Ramsay said he has no ethical qualms about music appearing in commercials.

"For me growing up, had a band like the Smiths or some obscure band that I loved from England been on a commercial for like laundry detergent, I wouldn't have been mad, I would've been thrilled," Ramsay said.

"I would've been so excited to hear the music I love sort of being put out into the world somehow.

"And it's sort of a validation of your taste."
- Canadian Press (CP)

"The Knifings were nothing like i had imagined, they have a style unlike anything else i've heard.
From alt-country to indie/hard rock...these guys know how to make a place move." - Faint and Hearted Records

Monday, August 18, 2008
The Knifings: Super Limb of Such Magnificence Review
Overall Rating: 7.7/10

Sound: Let's have fun and throw a few random bands in a hypothetical blender! Maybe... The Ramones, any alternative rock band you hear on the radio (Three Days Grace, The Killers, etc), a country band that doesn't suck, and... Alcohollica (Montreal-based Metallica tribute band – don't ask)! That's this album. It ends up sounding like something pretty cool, surprisingly enough (I've never seen Alcohollica but I can't expect them to be any good). This kind of band can only come from Toronto. // 7

Lyrics and Singing: Lyrics are good overall. Combined with the vocal melodies, they make every song sound catchy, edgy, and cute. Definitely cute. The singer sounds a lot like Joey Ramone, in a good way. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside (not kidding). The music and lyrics complement each other perfectly. // 8

Overall Impression: I really like it. The songs that stand out most are "Vicodin", "Casuals", and "Queen Bitch". There's not too much variety between each song. I'm not saying they all sound the same – they don't, but the band could probably experiment a little more, and the songwriting could be better. I have to point out that every song is good, not just a few. I recommend this album for fun times and pink lemonade, however you want to interpret that.... // 8 - sisterindiemusicblog

Spotlight: The Knifings
Posted 8/8/2008 11:12:00 AM
The Knifings are a Toronto band with one EP and one full length album under their belt.

They can best be described as an indie garage band with leanings towards other genres.

Vocalist John Gillies injects a lot of attitude into his performance, the rhythm section of Blake Kucy and Dave Penny is creative, Nick Spilka’s melodic lead guitar lines are striking, and David Lee’s riffs are catchy. The Knifings also work really well as a unit, each member’s parts complementing one another, and transitions within songs are handled smoothly.

On Superb Limb of Such Magnificence (the full length), the band cranks out their own brand of solid rock while occasionally venturing into other territory, such as on the rockabilly “Strawberry Swirl.”

“Vicodin” is the album opener, and you can download it right now at
- 102.1 The Edge - Morrison's Rock Blog


"Superb Limb of Such Magnificence"

"The Knifings"



Over the past 6 years, the Toronto band The Knifings' have been perfecting their unique and powerful mix of garage punk and indie rock.

In 2007, The Knifings were a featured artist on a CD compilation for VICE magazine along side bands Peter Bjorn and John and The Black Lips.

They have appeared in several festivals including Indie Week Toronto 2006 as well as NXNE 2007 and NXNE 2008. They have also been invited to perform at NXNE 2009 as well as the 2009 Pitter Patter music festival.

The national campus radio play that their 2008 release “Superb Limb Of Such Magnificence” has received has expanded the bands audience. This led to their song "Vicodin" appearing in a season five episode of the popular HBO show Entourage.