GENRE IS DEAD! Interview With Knox Colby And Will Wagstaff Of Enforced
Richmond, Virginia’s Enforced have been a band on the rise since their formed in 2016. Their brutal thrash/crossover sound along with Knox Colby’s manic vocals grabbed listeners by the throat and punched them in the face. Their 2017 debut, At the Walls, proved to be a hit with critics and fans and quickly made them the next metal band to watch. But that was only the beginning. Now signed to Century Media Records, the band returns with their new album, Kill Grid. And if you thought their previous album was intense, you’re not ready for what’s to come. Will Wagstaff and Knox Colby sit down with GENRE IS DEAD! to talk about the new album, working with Arthur Rizk, and how Knoxtradamus accidentally predicted 2020.
GENRE IS DEAD! At the Walls garnered high praise from fans and critics alike. Now, you guys are signed with Century Media Records and your upcoming release, Kill Grid, is a highly anticipated album for 2021. When it was time to work on the second album, did all that attention and hype add any pressure while working on the new album?
Knox Colby: Praise is praise and that’s awesome. It made us feel a little more confident, but in terms of what our expectation was, we knew what we were gonna do. I don’t think it played a factor at all. We were gonna record the album regardless.
Will Wagstaff: Yeah, I don’t think it influenced us a whole heck of a lot because At the Walls was our first vinyl release, but it’s just the two demo tapes we did and two new songs we had written. [The songs] were solidified at that point and we did that as a vinyl release. So, this is the first record that’s all-new material and has the same lineup on all the songs.
I think it definitely boosted our confidence level and it was kind of nice to have. We were really really excited to be able to release the record in the middle of 2020 and then hit the road immediately. That was part of the plan, but it didn’t work out that way. We’re excited to get people new music because those who have been listening [for a while] were like At the Walls is awesome but it’s two demo tapes smashed together with two new songs. I think it will be refreshing for people to get a cohesive record with nine songs all together.
KC: I agree.
GID: How was it recording Kill Grid compared to At the Walls especially since this marked recording with Alex Bishop and Ethan Gensurowsky for the first time?
WW: Yeah, that’s true. I played bass on most At the Walls recordings, so it was nice to not stress out about my fingers trying to reach these notes on a way bigger guitar scale. Also, it’s just a bigger scale to do a record in a studio rather than doing demos and having them remixed. It’s much easier to cut four tracks and focus on those than it is to focus on an entire record. So, that was definitely different. What do you think, Knox? I guess we broke up your vocals over many more days.
KC: It was a more conscious effort to get everything perfect. Like you said, with At the Walls, it was all at [our engineer] Bob Quirk’s F-12 Studio. We didn’t really change where we were recording. The only difference was going to [engineer] Ricky Olson’s The Ward [studio] for drums. Bob and Ricky are the guys who are in the studio capturing all the sounds for us. We’ve always worked with Bob; Ricky came on for Kill Grid. And doing the 2017 Retaliation [EP] kind of felt natural and normal too. I think the only difference with this one would be we just focused a little bit more.
WW: Yeah, it was something new to us.
GID: Was there anything you guys learned or experienced while remixing At the Walls that you took with you when recording Kill Grid?
WW: Working with a record label for the first time and working with promotion, doing interviews and having everything scheduled out, even being at the vinyl pressing plant and picking colors – I’d never done any of that before, so that was all brand new to me. When we started doing it for Kill Grid, it wasn’t as foreign. I felt a lot more comfortable going about it. Century Media has been very accommodating. They haven’t been all that pushy with anything, so it’s been a great learning experience overall.
GID: For the new album, you went back in the studio with Arthur Rizk, who also worked on your previous album. What made you want to go back in the studio with him?
WW: Arthur has always been on our radar. I worked with him when I was in Red Death. We knew him through bands he was doing like War Hungry and Cold War. [Strife’s] Andrew [Kline], who does War Records, was like “it would be awesome if Arthur would remix and remaster At the Walls.” And we were like “yeah, sounds awesome!” So, Andrew initially hooked up the relationship there. Arthur’s ability to take stuff, mix it down, and master it has been uncanny. He’s amazing at it. He has the ear for old school death metal and thrash stuff. We really appreciate him working with us.
GID: The second single “Malignance” recently came out and in a statement, you mention how it’s about being on the wrong side of history and following this path of hatred. It’s interesting because you said the song was inspired by World War 2 prisoners being forced to smell the corpses of their fallen comrades.
KC: Yeah, that’s the inspiration behind it. It’s pretty gruesome. It’s kind of hard to talk about. It doesn’t have the psychological impact you’d think it would. It has a strange ulterior self-reflection towards your technique rather than something like looking at burning bodies. The intention of it is completely different. It’s really demoralizing and kind of self-fatalistic. It’s really strange. It’s also insanely brutal and gruesome.
GID: It’s absolutely horrifying. But what I thought was interesting is how the lyrics could reflect the events of 2020, even though the songs were written before then.
KC: A lot of the lyrics ended up mirroring what happened.
WW: We call him Knoxtradamus!
KC: Yeah, Knoxtradamus predicted it all by accident. That’s part of why the record feels heavier and more impactful because it’s now utterly relatable when that wasn’t the intention when the lyrics were written. It’s very profound, at least for me.
WW: I would say your lyrics have always been kind of relevant and socially conscious. I think a lot of the stuff that happened in 2020 is a boil over of stuff that has been going on for much longer. We’re joking about Knox being the Nostradamus of music, but I think this stuff has been going on for a long time and it came to a head in 2020.
GID: Absolutely and that seemed to be a running theme with music last year. For instance, Biffy Clyro’s A Celebration Of Endings has a lot of themes and lyrics that could be about the pandemic, but the songs aren’t about that at all. And it shows that the issues they talk about have been going on for a long time. When you think about it that way, it’s messed up.
WW: In some ways, I think that’s true. I wouldn’t say none of our music wasn’t inspired by the pandemic because there’s a lot of things that happened in 2020 that are reflected on the album.