Muzz Discusses “Knuckleduster” as First Recorded, Last Finished Process

Muzz, the new indie rock supergroup consisting of Paul Banks (Interpol), Josh Kaufman (Bonny Light Horseman), and Matt Barrick (Jonathan Fire*Eater, The Walkmen), will release their latest single and video for the track “Knuckleduster” on May 28. It’s the fourth single off of Muzz’s self-titled full-length debut album, which is set for release via Matador Records on June 5.

Exclusively discussing “Knuckleduster” for American Songwriter, Josh Kaufman says that the track “was the first track we recorded and the last one to get finished. We re-cut it several different ways only to end up with the first take. This song feels like a flashback of old love, in the middle of a speedy new life adventure. Also, the drumming is exquisite.”

That drumming comes courtesy of Matt Barrick, who starts the song off with a subtly tribal rhythm, then kicks into an intensive beat that’s somehow frenetic yet refined. There’s a reason why he is the main focus for much of the “Knuckleduster” video: his work propels the song with an unusual dynamism.

The song is made even more distinctive thanks to Paul Banks – his lyrics, with their unusual turns of phrase, are as intriguing as always here. His laid-back baritone is always immediately identifiable, though he uses it to gentler effect here than he does when singing with Interpol.

As for Kaufman, he contributes the intensive guitars and reverberating piano featured on “Knuckleduster” and across all twelve tracks on Muzz. Beyond his previous work with folk group Bonny Light Horseman, he’s also well known for being a producer for the likes The National, Bob Weir, The Hold Steady, The War on Drugs, and many more.

Barrick explains the band’s dynamics: “Josh is an incredible musician all around and super creative and fun to work with – he’s always thinking of ways to make a song better. It’s a good combo because Josh is more trained as a musician in music theory and Paul comes from a different perspective where he’s playing things that just sound good. Lyrically and melody-wise, you never know how he’s gonna approach a song. It’s always unusual and cool and unexpected.”

Together, the trio makes a sound that is unlike any of their other projects, however. There’s a certain warmth and nostalgia to their sound, as the band’s very name suggests: “Josh uses the word ‘muzz’ to describe a texture of sound he likes in certain older recordings, so it’s his attempt to put a term to a subtle analog quality. It became very married to our sound,” Banks says.

Barrick sums up why Muzz works: “Everyone is open to everyone else’s ideas. I think three is a great number of people for a band. We all had a big hand in everything.”

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