Knuckle Pups is a rock band with roots in the DIY and indie underground scene in Denver. Its music has a bit of that solid pop song craft, accessibility and a touch of the experimental infused with punk spirit. Singer and guitarist Oliver Holloway was born in and grew up in Denver and attended Jefferson County Open School as well as coming up in the Universalist Unitarian Church which gave him a foundation in pursuing his creative and intellectual interests in a supportive environment. Out if high school he became involved in the local DIY scene of house shows and spaces like Monkey Mania and Blast-O-Mat. His then band The Fainting Fansies were charged with the kind of amateur exuberance one would hope from a folk-punk band but also strong songwriting. Holloway followed that band with Henry Sugar which had a similar degree of exuberant performance but more informed by emo. Mega Gem came along shortly after that with its blend of punk and orchestral arrangements in a pop format and unlike most musical bands out of Denver at the time and now. Along the way Holloway toured the country and connected with DIY and activist communities broadly including the members of folk punk legends Defiance, Ohio and Ian Vanek of Japanther and Howardian. Hollowway still subscribes to the communitarian spirit of DIY music and culture as a core component of his approach to being in bands. Knuckle Pups is releasing its debut full-length TV Ready which combines the disparate influences of the members of the band with a unified vision of making music that is brimming with emotional authenticity, sensitively observed lyrics and strong vocal harmonies. Its eclectic aesthetic fortifies the effectiveness of the music and reflects the aforementioned punk and DIY ethos by drawing upon the collective strengths of the members of the band and embraces any perceived flaws and rough edges as part a unique creative work.
Listen to our broad ranging interview with Holloway on Bandcamp linked below. Knuckle Pups will perform at Mercury Café in celebration of the release of the album with home made CDs and t-shirts on Friday, July 15, 2022 with Jeff Cormack of South of France and Earth to Luna. To further explore the world of Knuckle Pups music and to find out about shows and to connect with the band follow the group’s LinkTree.
Ian Vanek is perhaps best known for his time in the band Japanther. From 2001 to 2014 Japanther brought together the interest of Vanek and bandmate Matt Reilly in hip-hop, punk, art, graffiti and a spirit of experimenting with a mode of creative expression that would be difficult to pigeonhole. Depending on who you might have asked at any point people might have lumped Japanther in with punk, garage rock, indie rock or art rock. The group befriended a broad spectrum of like-minded artists in the realm of music and fine art and pursued whatever opportunities presented themselves in that rich milieu of Brooklyn in the 2000s and early 2010s and the American and international art and music underground. In the spring of 2021 Vanek released his memoir Puppy Dog Ice Cream about his time in Japanther. His candid and thoughtful account of his life during those years is a vibrant and encompassing narrative that truly captures the spirit of that time and those various places that certainly intersected similar scenes throughout the country and the wider world before various political, social and economic forces made the cultural infrastructure that made aspects of DIY touring and the art galleries and venues increasingly unsustainable certainly by the end of the decade.
These days Vanek’s perhaps main musical project is Howardian and he’s playing a show at 1010 Workshop in Denver, Colorado on Monday, October 18, 2001 at 10:30 p.m. with Knuckle Pups which includes Oliver Holloway formerly of the great folk punk band The Fainting Fansies. Vanek also publishes his long running zine 99mm, the current issue of which includes an interview with hip-hop legend Boots Riley of The Coup whose film Sorry To Bother You garnered rave critical reviews upon its release in 2018 and with whom Vanek has toured and collaborated. We recently got to talk with Vanek extensively about his time in music going back to his youth in Olympia, Washington in the 90s when he was involved in underground music and culture from a very young age. In the extended discussion we talked about aspects of how underground music has changed and how that evolution was inevitable as well as the perils of nostalgia and a looking forward to a future of inspirational music and art that one has not yet encountered. For more information on Vanek, his various projects and goings on, please visit ianvanek.com where you can also find links to his social media accounts related to his varied creative projects. For now, you can listen to the interview on Bandcamp for episode 5 of the Queen City Sounds Podcast below.