Skating carelessy on rickety pavement slabs littered with Fosters cans and old cigarette ends, mankind has created a skatepark like none other. Turning up the volume on your headphones until you reach your own little world, it's game time. The speed of your board increases in time with your favourite electric guitar riff and you chip loose pebbles at passing strangers. Gliding alongside the wind, it's like you came into the world cruising. BANG! Who was stupid enough to put a bin there? Pain. Through gritted teeth you stand up to assess the damage. Shredded rips in your brand new skinny jeans and bloody knees peering through.
unflinchingly flirts with your girlfriend, and your best mate's girlfriend with a nonchalant attitude. Always searching for fun and adrenaline, they're reminscent of the universal feeling of youth; running around, knees in a constant state of grazed and muddy palms. A grungy, rock band they fill the boots of true punk performers, spilling beers and breaking guitar strings. Their energy and warm humour is captured by Sophie Mayanne
in a mellow shoot with lead singer Bradley Griffiths and bass player Sam Conway.
Their compelling energy is transcribed on stage whenever they play. Performing in sweaty, intimate venues with wide eyed youngsters screaming their lyrics back to them; this is the vibe they live for. Well, it's either that or the pub. We'd tell you that each performance is solely from the heart, but that would be a lie. It truly comes from the grubby remainder of their scraped knees and torn jeans.
(Testing, testing, 1, 2, 1, 2…)
Tell me a bit about who Bloody Knees are.
Bradley: Bloody Knees is me, Conway, Tom and Scotchy. We’re four best mates from a village outside of Cambridge, and we’ve grown up playing music together since we were like 13 years old. We’ve not been Bloody Knees since we were 13 though, we were ‘The Awesome Foursome’ and our original band was ‘Five Minutes Of Fame.’ It was just me and Sam then; we used to make stickers. We were part of the whole Indie phase on Myspace when we were teenagers; we’re 25 now. I guess Bloody Knees properly started when I went to uni, we all kind of stopped our previous band, because we went to different places for uni. Then I quit uni, but continued to live in Portsmouth where I started writing songs, because I didn’t have a lot else to do. I didn’t really have a plan, but then the boys were like; 'when everyone's home for Easter, let's have a go at recording some songs.' Then it happened.
Could you describe each member of the band?
Conway: There’s Tom, the drummer, he’s the older brother of the guitarist. He’s a tiny bit older, kind of like the dad of the band, but he likes that role as he is the organised one. He keeps everything in check, and makes sure we get everywhere in time. He still parties harder than all of us; he’s a fun dad.
Bradley: Scotchy is the class clown. He goes by many different names like: Dan, Scotchy, Scotch Egg, Scootch, Daddy, Scotty, Cheggy… he’s had a few. He’s the shy one, but is also really, really funny. It's his shy awkwardness that makes him funny.
Conway: Then there’s me, also a bit of a class clown.
Bradley: You’re the arrogant one, init?
Conway: I’m terrible on first impressions; it takes a little while to get to know me. I joke about a lot, but people don’t always get the humour. Bradley is everything a front man should be; good looking, charisma and he has tattoos. He’s a great lad.
Bradley: This sounds like a really weird TV advert...
Conway: We’re quite interesting guys you know, a lot more interesting than our music. That’s a joke by the way, haha. The fans love Bradley. He’s the only one they want to speak to and I’m officially his photographer.
Bradley: I love talking to people after playing a show, that’s what makes it worth it. When we toured with Wolf Alice, a lot of the kids there were so excited, because it was their first gig. They'll be at the front asking for a picture and I’ll always try and speak to everyone. Sometimes they want a picture and sometimes they just want a hug.
What was the first gig you went to?
Conway: Less Than Jake. Brad’s dad took us.
Bradley: My dad was a bit of a hero, he would always take us. We lived out of town too so he would often drive us quite far to go watch all these bands, so that was pretty cool. We always had seated tickets too, because we were young and too short to be standing. We would try and jump around, do a little skank like a little two-step, but a little more easy going.
What has been the most significant moment of the band so far?
Bradley: There are a few that stand out. Some of the venues we played on tour with Wolf Alice were huge, around 3,000 people and that felt like a big thing.
Conway: We might not ever play another tour like that, it was amazing, we were playing Academies for months. If you stop and think about it, it’s so bizarre.
Bradley: We’ve also done a few small headline shows, as well as the little crazy ones. It feels amazing when you know people are there to see you and they’re singing along. I’d probably say for me, Reading was a big moment. We were only on the introducing stage, but it went really well and it felt cool - like we were part of something.
Conway: We did feel a bit out of place to be fair, but yeah it was cool. We always used to go to Reading and Leeds when we were young, so playing those festivals is wicked, plus you get to go for the weekend and party. The whole experience is a like a miss-match of different things, they all carry fond memories.
Why the name Bloody Knees?
Bradley: I was recording some songs and I couldn’t think of any names, and I had a big tear in my jeans from skating and had bloody knees. I also thought it was quite reflective of being young, skating and not really giving a fuck. The bit of skin that was hanging off was so grim as well.
What does it feel like for you to perform live?
Bradley: I love it, it’s my favourite thing. It’s the most exciting thing I do. I love the buzz of it all when you kind of feel nervous before, but you’re also buzzing with anticipation and excitement.
Conway: I don’t find it that nerve wrecking anymore, I guess if we had a really important show I’d get nervous. The reason I’ve always wanted to be in a band since I was young, is because I’ve always dreamt about being a rockstar and playing on stage. To actually live that fantasy is really cool. It’s also weird, because it has been a fantasy for so long.
Bradley: I love being on stage, I just lose it. It takes all of my energy; it’s amazing. After every show I have to sit down and not speak to anyone for five minutes, because I feel sick - but it’s like a good sick feeling. You know after you’ve done a big workout and you feel sick? It’s kind of that feeling, but with excitement and adrenaline. I love it!
What are your biggest passions?
Bradley: Music, obviously. I love riding my motorbike and watching racing. Before that, skating was a big part of my life, but I don’t have as much time for that now. So yeah I guess music, racing and the pub.
Conway: I like socialising, going out and shopping. You know like clothes shopping and homeware shopping. That’s sick.
What inspires your sound?
Bradley: All sorts. I listen to a lot of music that doesn’t go into the sound of Bloody Knees. We love to make music that is fun to play.
Conway: We all listen to different music, so it's like a sound that everyone is happy to agree on.
Bradley: Obviously there are comparisons that can be drawn from other stuff. People say the Nirvana thing, which is fine, because they’re a wicked band.
Conway: I wouldn’t really say we're a grunge band, I’d say we’re a rock band.
Do the lyrics you write have personal meanings?
Bradley: When it started, not as much. The first one I ever wrote and put online as Bloody Knees was called “Who’s Hungry?” I was listening to The Misfits for two weeks straight and I was just trying to write a song. Then the second song I wrote was about my girlfriend at the time, who was really creeped out at the fact that I had written 'Who’s Hungry', because it was all about falling in love and then wanting to tear them apart and eat them. You know, like really gross stuff, but that was the whole idea. She found it really weird. Then the second song I wrote was about that and more personal stuff, so I guess some are personal and some aren’t. The more we’ve progressed and put time in, the more personal the lyrics have become. There’s light and dark. We do like to have fun still and have a few tongue-in-cheek songs.
What's your dream venue to play?
Conway: I really wanna play Brixton Academy.
Bradley: I would as well, but on the way to Wembley. I have this dream of smashing Wembley - it has that history.
How are you gonna describe yourself in three words?
Bradley: Positive, energetic and stubborn.
Conway: Fun, grumpy and sarcastic.
How would your audience describe you in three words?
Bradley: Wacky, energetic and goofy.
Conway: Fun, tight and talented… depending on how many beers we’ve had before the gig.
Three items you couldn't live without?
Bradley: Bed, my fire blade and shoes.
Conway: We’re not that fussy really. Yeah, I probably wouldn’t leave the house if I didn’t have shoes.
Bradley: Footwear, a bed and a kettle maybe.
Conway: No, come on don’t be silly now, you could live without a kettle. That’s ridiculous. You could live without tea.
Bradley: No, not just tea, pot noodles too.
Conway: I’m trying to think of something I could not live without… oxygen? Nah really, girls, alcohol and drugs. I want a big quote on that.
Interview by Sophie Mayanne.
Intro by Ede Dugdale.