It’s always a struggle for a fledgling band to find sure footing, much less overcome multiple member changes and a year-long hiatus. But Atlanta’s Knaves Grave seems to have defeated the odds, even managing to snag a slew of covetable spots opening for seasoned bands. Without having released a thing save for a few digital EPs, Knaves Grave played their first show after the break with R.Ring, Kelley Deal of the Breeders’ latest project, at 529 this past February.
“Playing with Kelley Deal was insane,” recalls lead vocalist and guitarist Sunni Johnson. “I was obsessed with The Breeders when I was a teenager.”
They’ve had another lineup change since that show, but even the lack of a permanent drummer isn’t going to stop them from moving forward, Johnson and bassist/vocalist Rachel Pagillo assure.
“I think now we are completely on the same page and we’re really excited about the new songs. We all equally like the songs—it’s not just one of us doing something for the other,” explains Pagillo.
“Exactly,” Johnson chimes in. “It’s much more like a real band now—a true collaboration.”
Up next for the band, which also includes guitarist George Asimakos, is another stellar opening spot—this time with San Francisco’s Grass Widow at the EARL. And in July, they’ll open for revered Danish punk act Iceage at 529.
“Personally I am really excited about the Ice Age show. I think that they’re extremely talented and I can’t believe that we even got [on there],” says Pagillo.
Despite their bumpy history and how untrustworthy this new confidence may seem, Knaves Grave has deserved every gig they’ve gotten. A blend of ‘90s riot grrrl grit and melodic protopunk, their songs are thick with catchy hooks and memorable riffs. And they put on a damn good show, too—the kind where the fun vibe onstage rivals that of the crowd’s.
Maybe the gig with Deal served as an affirmation of sorts. Pagillo says Deal was “really supportive,” and Johnson noted that “from her feedback you could tell she was actually paying attention.”
It’s possible. Or maybe Johnson, Pagillo and Asimakos are finally growing immune to the hazards of being a startup act. Let’s hope that’s the case, because there’s entirely too much talent in the band for it to bottom out without offering a single physical release.