Artist Spotlight: Penknife

Breaking and Entering hosted the monthly “An Evening With…” concert series at the Pabst Brewery & Taproom Thursday night, welcoming the bands Penknife and Dramatic Lovers to the stage. Although it was bitterly cold, folks turned out and warmly received the show.

Penknife consists of vocalist/guitarist Rob Knapp, vocalist/bassist Austin Counts, and drummer John Swan. Their territory of sound encompasses emo, pop punk, and moody alternative rock. The band originally was Blanco Nino, until last year they discovered that was already a band.

“We got a Facebook message from a band in California that apparently had the same name,” Counts said. “We were actually getting a lot of their co-host invites for shows and photographers kept emailing us.”

“We got (Blanco Nino) from the G.I. Joe PSA…so it was just a dumb joke we were saying at practice one day,” Knapp added.

“They offered us two-hundred and fifty bucks,” Swan chimed in. “I wouldn’t say they were harassing us but they definitely wanted us to change it. We were writing new material and had a new lineup, so we might as well have. There’s only two songs from the old lineup that we still play.”

The trio released their sophomore EP “Sorry a Lot Has Happened, I Don’t Think I Can Help You.” in November.

“There’s another band we were trying to book shows with and they kept leaving us on read,” Swan explained. “They wouldn’t respond…kind of big-leaguing us. Finally I was like “yo, what’s happening with this show?” and that was their response. I was so fuming about it that I was like “let’s just call the album that.” They had been asking us to come out to their state, and when we were trying to, it just wasn’t working out. It was named that out of pettiness for sure.”

They describe the recording process.

“Compared to our first EP it actually went way more smoothly,” Counts said. “We were pretty much in and out this time.”

“Josh from Ruthless and Toothless in Racine recorded it,” Swan elaborated. “I’ve known him for years. After I went to the Live Tetherball Tonight record release show, I bought their EP and knew that Josh recorded it, and he had been talking to me in bands for the last five-six years. Finally with these guys I wanted to go to him, and it was the warmest and most accommodating experience – I guess he’s like that with all the bands he works with. He was kind of like an unspoken fourth member in the whole process, and when you’re recording, you look for a producer that’s gonna put some input in but immediately back off if you’re not into it. He was absolutely that and we loved working with him. We’ll plug that dude forever.”

Penknife is working on a new EP. They do not currently have any more shows booked.

“The goal is a new EP in a few months and then I want to do an album in fall this year,” Knapp said. “I don’t know if it’ll end up happening, but we do have two to three new songs in the works.”

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