What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
Tom: Music, and especially the process of creating it, is something of a compulsion for me. I’ve been writing songs and collaborating with anyone who’s willing for almost 20 years, the vast majority of it is probably unlistenable, but it’s gotten to that stage where I can’t remember life without a couple of different musical projects bubbling away.
I came back to London after a few years in Melbourne and had to leave my last band NOUGHTS behind, so I was keen to start making music again. I’m involved in a couple of other London based projects but these were all put on hold when the country went into lockdown and, as that compulsion to write music kicked in again, I found myself searching for projects that allowed me to be creative and keep a safe distance during a pandemic. I guess that’s when PKNN was born, I finally put some guitars down on a track Ben and I had started a few months before when I was visiting him up north and the song really came to life. We both thought we should probably do something with it and here we are, it’s really become my primary music output at the moment and I’m excited to see where it goes.
The name PKNN means absolutely nothing by the way, if anyone cares.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
Ben: ‘Ritalin’ was originally written throughout an afternoon and evening of drinks and food with our partners and my two year old daughter running around. Tom and Rosie had popped up north for the weekend. Being music nerds and big children, Tom and I, eager to play with the new synths I’d purchased, grabbed some of my daughters percussion instruments and a few pots and pans, sat, drank and dabbled….the next morning a little worse for wear we listened back and was happily surprised with what we’d created. Haha, usually we’d wake up with broken chairs and a disappointing noise hissing back at us.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
Ben: I suppose we have a mutual understanding of music Tom and I, from previous projects we’d worked on together over the years. We shared our adultolescents together, greasing our way through the 00s era of alternative indie, emo, pop punk and nu-metal. Finding a collected interested in bands and artists such as Bright Eyes and Elliott Smith.
As we matured so did our taste. Though I think I speak for us both that we haven’t really moved away from the alternative punk scene. Whether that be musically and or life. It seems the older we get the more we dig deeper into the history of alternative music and grimace at the state of things around us.
So in short our music comes from a biographical and observational approach of two mid 30s millennial punk kids.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
Tom: I think our sound is a bit of a cocktail of the music that we listen to, but it is absolutely not a conscious decision. I generally wake up with a song idea in my head and I think we just want to make music that we enjoy listening to and if anyone else enjoys listening to it as well, that’s an added bonus.
I have, however, spent many years playing music that is way less accessible than what we’re doing with PKNN, noise rock, art punk etc. Maybe the agnst of my youth is waining, maybe Ben would have told me to fuck off if I started playing endless feedback or maybe im just turning into my dad, who knows, but the sound we’ve stumbled on is certainly a combination of our two minds.
I feel like collectively we work together well and bring in different influences however I don’t feel like this is a project that’s confined by it’s genre. We plan to explore different styles and work with a rotating cast of other people as time goes on and have some exciting collaborations lined up. Ben can certainly confirm this, but I can be quite picky about how things sound at times but I’m hoping that this, combined with the eclecticism of the people we collaborate with, is something that goes on to define our sound. That’s if we don’t kill each other first.
Ben: he’s a nightmare. But yeah I completely agree.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
Ben: Albums Ah, this is tough as it completely changes depending on mood and vibe at the time, plus I find new inspiration from new music and sounds the more I engross myself … but right now it would have to be –
Elliott Smith – Figure8,
LCD Soundsystem – self titled,
Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
Haha easy, Back to the Future, theTrilogy.
I’ll be honest, I’m not huge into reading books for pleasure, usually just to educate myself on one subject or another. I wasn’t a strong reader when I was younger so that’s always weighed heavy on me, which has led to not really being able to enjoy the wonders of literature now.
I do read books on mediation, mindfulness and running if that counts?
I’ll pass you on to the Captain.
Tom: This is where I reveal all my inspiration isn’t it haha.
Ben: Here we go….
Niel Young – on the beach
Preoccupations – Cassette
Crack Cloud – Crack Cloud
All blinding albums and they speak for themselves.
Totally not a movie guy so I’ll just say Stand By Me
My partner Rosie (who contributed to half of the female vocals on Ritalin) works in publishing and thrusts an endless stream of excellent books my way, some of which I actually read. Here are a few that left a lasting impression on me but I don’t want to rattle on too much about them, just read them.
Miranda July – The First Bad Man
Haruki Murukami – The Windup Bird Chronicle
John Fante – Ask the dust
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
Ben: Studio. It’s where you find yourself. Where you get to spill out all the noise in your head, ya know. For me the creation of music has been my therapy. I mean I love performing live and that’s great to let go of stress and get those ‘head dolphins’ bouncing about…depending on how the gig is going. But to sit down and write out your experiences, thoughts, feelings and experiment with sounds and new ideas is something that is really special for me.
Tom: Performing is a little bit of a bitter-sweet experience for me, for some reason I often find myself in situations where I’m emulating a pesona which is quite far from my actual personality. I do enjoy the experience, and those priceless moments on stage where the music is really clicking and you suddenly realise where you are, but ultimately I find it a touch draining.
Recording and writing on the other hand I find extremely exciting, that feeling after you’ve created something, when you hear the idea in your head come together, is the reason why I get up in the morning.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
Tom: Haha well, without getting too self deprecating, let’s just say that I’d just played a single release show in Melbourne, was a little buzzed on overpriced pints and adrenaline when I found myself egotistically rattling on to a group of guys in the smoking area. They were all very polite and listened to me talk utter bullshit for a good 10 minutes before one of them mentioned touring. I asked about it, and it turns out I’d just ranting at the whole of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Safe to say I left pretty soon after.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
Tom: Well we currently only have one track out so it’s a pretty easy choice, but we’ve got a few things that we’re working away on and hopefully each release will reveal a different side of us.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
Ben: Yeah, absolutely. We’re really excited about this project, and working with one another again, alongside others. Keeping with the true spirit of PKNN and all things post-punk/ synthwave. We are currently in the process of finishing off a few more tracks which include other musicians we know. Due to the current situation we can not put a date on record, however, we hope to release a more comprehensive piece before the year is out. Then let’s start playing some shows I guess.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
Ben: “Hey kid, fancy going to Hollywood?”
What’s your favourite type of pasta?
Tom: Pappardelle, obviously.
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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