The Knocks Talk New Album, Live Show, and Remixing Odesza: Interview
New York Narcotic is out now on Neon Gold/Big Beat Records
If you didn’t play The Knocks at your last party, odds are the party was super lame. Not sorry. For over a decade, the nu-disco/electronic duo, consisting of Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner and James “JPatt” Patterson, have become increasingly known and celebrated for concocting extraordinary singles, dropping unskippable remixes, and always delivering enthralling, high-energy performances. It’s a recipe for success, along with singles like “Classic” featuring POWERS, “Kiss The Sky” with Wyclef Jean, and their debut album, 55, that have sent The Knocks around the world and beyond. Now, the duo is back with their latest offering, New York Narcotic, and it’s one you won’t want to miss.
Released in September, New York Narcotic is the duo’s must-hear second album and some of their best work yet. The album was first introduced last March with the single “Ride or Die” featuring indie-pop legends Foster the People and immediately welcomed unprecedented success for the NYC-based duo. Aside from notching over 28 million Spotify streams, the single landed at #1 on iTunes Dance and spent over twenty-two weeks on Billboard’s Dance chart. New York Narcotic also features collaborations with Method Man, Big Boi, Sofi Tukker, Sir Sly, and Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells.
We recently caught up with The Knocks ahead of their tour opening show in Vancouver to discuss their exciting new live show, remixing Odesza, and most importantly, their latest album, New York Narcotic. Read on.
Q: I saw you made it to Vancouver and are playing your first show of the tour in a few hours. How does it feel to be back in support of a great new album?
B-Roc: Yeah, we’re in Vancouver, opening everything and loading into the venue right now. We’re just kicking it off tonight and it feels good. It’s really been like two years almost, which is crazy. It’s exciting, though, we’re kind of trying to get our tour legs back — remembering how to sleep on a tour bus and do all of that s***.
Q: The new album is called New York Narcotics and is, in my opinion, an outright ode to living your best life in a city that you love. What was your favorite part of creating this album?
B-Roc: Yeah, 100% it is.
JPatt: Probably the actual writing process, and being able to work with our friends as well. We were able to work with a bunch of people that we had worked with in the past and some new people. We wrote a lot of it in Los Angeles, traveled to London, wrote there, and finished it in New York. So, we got to see a lot of different places and meet with different people throughout the process which really nice and helped.
Q: Now that you’re about to play it live for the first time, is there anything you’re looking forward to the most?
B-Roc: It’s our first time having a band, which is a new thing. Our show has always been just the two of us but now we have three other players and it’s like a whole new experience. The new live shows feel like everything our career has built up to — we’ve never been able to A) afford a band or B) have the infrastructure to make it work, and I think as we’ve grown and our music has changed it just felt like the right progression. I feel like we really did it in a good way, and we’re excited for everyone to see the new chapter.
Q: That sounds amazing, and the new album is start-to-finish great. The sound is more refined and cohesive like you mentioned. With the album’s lead single, “Ride or Die” featuring Foster the People, was there a moment in particular that made you realize the burgeoning success of the track?
B-Roc: Yeah, it’s one of those things I think where we had it in the back of our heads, when we made the song, that it had the potential to be pretty big. I feel like Knocks fans and Foster the People fans are somewhat from a similar world, and we just thought they’d really like it. The single kind of checks off all of The Knocks boxes and checks off all of the Foster the People boxes — but you never really know. There have been multiple songs that we’ve put out that we thought were going to be big, big and it just doesn’t happen that way, but I think with this one it was immediately different. With “Ride or Die,” we started getting over half a million plays a day or something, which was crazy, and it snowballed from there.
It went straight on the radio and that was our first time on the radio. I think hearing it on the radio was a big moment for us. We’ve been featured on a song that was on the radio, but we’ve never had our own record on the radio and I think that was the biggest thing for us. It was also surreal having our friends tell us they were hearing it all the time and performing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert alongside Mark. It was our first time on late night TV.
Q: It’s funny because a few months before the single came out, I saw you guys and Foster the People at All Things Go Fall Classic 2017. Did you all get a chance to connect during the festival to discuss collaborating?
B-Roc: No, we actually didn’t even get to see them. Unfortunately, had to leave almost immediately after our set, so we didn’t even get to see them perform the night they played. We shared a few mutual friends with Mark but we had never really hung out with him before creating the track. He was a fan of ours and it felt like a natural progression from there once the song and idea to collaborate came up.
Q: I also saw Sofi Tukker at the same festival the year before when they were really just getting started, and I know you’re great friends with them, added some Knocks magic to their track “Best Friend,” and they’re now featured on your latest single, “Brazilian Soul.” What was the creative process like and working with them in the studio?
JPatt: “Brazilian Soul” is a special one and it happened pretty easily, luckily. We just happened to be in the studio when they decided to stop by to say “what’s up?” We had just started working on the skeleton of the track when they came in and we just decided to build it together from there. It was just a great instance of being able to work with our friends as I mentioned earlier, and it came out really nice. They’re super great people and Sophie is a great singer and writer, and Tucker’s a great producer, so to be able to make that with them was really fun and memorable. We’re happy it turned out the way it did.
Q: Speaking of D.C., you’re down here at 9:30 Club on February 17. What do you love about this area’s music scene? I know you guys played an extended set during your last performance at Flash.
B-Roc: We just love D.C. and have always had a blast playing there. It’s always been one of our biggest fanbases, we’ve sold-out 9:30 Club so many times and it’s one of our favorite venues in the country and our fans I think really know the love we have for the city. DJ-ing there is always fun and I think the rooftop set was pride weekend so everyone was going extra hard, so it’s just always a fun time.
Q: Aside from touring, is there anything you’re looking forward to the most?
B-Roc: Definitely looking forward to seeing our fans on tour, and we also have a new remix coming out tomorrow. It’s a remix of the Odesza single, “Fall” featuring Sasha Sloan, which is going to be a good one!