Is Riverside the New Liverpool?

Posted November 13, 2008 in Music

It seems that more and more Riverside bands are making names for themselves—from the Voodoo Glow Skulls to the Guilty Parties to the BellRays, the city near the Santa Ana River is becoming a bit of a launching pad. The latest? The Knoits. Beer-soaked punk—how fitting.
I got word of the Knoits after they distinguished themselves in the Battle of the Bands at the Chronic Cantina in Upland several months ago. They came in third place that night. Not bad, considering the previous night’s alcohol was still coming out of their pores. 
“We didn’t even know we were going to be playing until the night before,” says Sal Oyarzabal, 27, vocalist and the only guitar in the band. “My brother had double pink eye and we were both hung over. We had nothing to lose so we just said, ‘F*ck it.’”
His brother, Marvin Oyarzabal, 21, is the Knoits drummer. While drinking a few beers in their parents garage (very punk rock), we got to talking one night, surrounded by amps, guitars and other equipment decorated with a flag emblazoned with the band’s logo. Their father quietly brought us cans of Bud Light—which Sal tells me is their band’s greatest influence—and they took a stab at explaining their history, their identity, their idols.
And it goes something like this: By the time the Knoits were formed Sal was a war-scarred veteran of the local punk scene. At 18 he was playing lead guitar at the Showcase Theater for his first band, Headchange. Kid knew his way around a long neck, and he incorporated much of the flotsam and jetsam still ringing in his ears from his youth.
“I grew up listening to everything—Slayer, Minor Threat, Sepultura, Bad Religion, D.R.I., The Vandals . . . ”
While his younger bro was growing up, Sal performed in four other groups until the winter of 2005 when he and Marvin got together for an impromptu jam session in their garage. Sal had grown weary of the constant rehearsal absences of his latest band, and as luck would have it, he realized he had a killer sound right there under his own roof. Serendipity—the Oyarzabal’s were in business.
“Our dad has supported us all the way—he loves music,” Sal says. “You should see his Beatles collection.” Sal plugged his guitar into an amplifier so he and his brother could jam. As they finished setting up, dad added, “My parents wouldn’t let me listen to any music. I had to hide my Beatles records and sneak away to listen to them.” He hands me another beer. “So I support my sons. I buy them whatever they need.
Spoiled, maybe, but damn if they can’t make some noise. When Sal and Marvin picked up their tools they gave me a face full of their sound at point blank range with a cover of NOFX’s “Linoleum.” Next thing I know? Severe tinnitus. 
“It doesn’t sound exactly the same since we don’t have a bass,” Sal says later, “but I try to play twice as fast to make up for it.”
The kind of punk the Knoits puts out has furious yet unorthodox beats, clean riffs and dystopic lyrics. It’s just the kind of aggressive energy that you’d expect from a solid four of five players; but it’s the brotherly duo creating that titanic wall. Sal and Marvin have horsepower, yes, and they also have borrowed recording equipment.
The Knoits first album, Drunk Murder, is slated to come this month, and it has some fanfare attached to it—Eddie C. of the Voodoo Glow Skulls lent a hand and some gear. 
“It was such a trip. When we got to use some of the Voodoos equipment to record our music, it was just incredible.”
While the Knoits practiced, their father showed me his Beatles collection—a collection that takes up half his bedroom. Books, CD’s, DVD’s, lighters and plastic models of those zany psychedelic, psychotropic cartoon creatures that ran around it the Yellow Submarine animation. Coffee mugs, photos, even an Abby Road blanket that covers the bed like a proud banner. When the Knoits’ old man said he liked the Beatles, the man wasn’t kidding around. 
And, as many repressed music fans will, their father loved Beatles’ music so much in his youth that it burgeoned into love of all music. And now his punk rock sons have benefited from that spirit.
Another Bud Light, please. 

The Knoits at the Pharaoh’s Den, 3579 University, Riverside, Friday, September 24, 9 PM. $5.00 at door: All Ages.



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