Describing Cairo Knife Fight’s Nick Gaffaney as a “drummer” is like calling Sir Paul McCartney a bass player or Dave Grohl a singer – it doesn’t give you the whole picture.
Gaffaney is a multi-instrumentalist, programmer and visionary who has steered the two-piece (the duo completed by American guitar virtuoso and songwriter George Pajon) into position to release the new album “Seven” despite the obstacles placed in their way.
“We were pushed by financial imperatives, we really didn’t have any money and we also, because of the nature of our set up, didn’t have a space to do pre-production. With this band it’s really important to capture what happens at the time … with the live looping element you want those little happy accidents that you can’t recreate”.
With no opportunity to demo tracks for the record and time against them Cairo Knife Fight did the only thing they could, they wrote the album in studio.
“We thought well let’s try this as an experiment, we didn’t know if it was going to eventuate into any recordings we could use we just thought let’s take these little cornels of ideas and see what we can achieve with it. We basically tracked all the music in 8 days and then I spent a few days at home throwing the vocals down and that was it, the whole thing was done incredibly quickly”.
The speed with which the duo worked ties in with a different approach to the music industry that Gaffaney conceived and believes will mean Cairo Knife Fight can co-exist symbiotically with a system that is constantly demanding young, new and fresh.
“We had this idea that we could drop two or three records a year and it would become like a new paradigm for us that we could live in, a new methodology that we could just be constantly making music just delivering stuff after stuff after stuff and that would mean people could come on that trip with us. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way due to circumstances but we’re hoping to revisit that soon because it feels like a good way for us to work. Be constantly writing, constantly recording and step out of the (traditional) industry in a lot of ways … It’s a very strange time to be an unknown musician trying to break in to anything, I mean what are you trying to break into now? A Spotify playlist? It’s not like you’re trying to get a record deal like the old days and then there’s a plan.”
Cairo Knife Fight is an innovative beast but also a beast with a unique artistic view point as Nick illustrates when it came to the unusual looking track listing with songs named things like A-Three, A-Six and A-Eight.
“It’s actually an incredibly simple set up, I probably would have been wise to come up with some sort of sacred geometry discussion but I don’t have one and now you’ve got it in my head I’m totally going to have to come up with a lie to tell American press, some bizarre sacred geometry story or something to do with the Manson family, they’re big on that over here at the moment so maybe I can use that ha-ha. Basically, I’ve never named songs based on the chorus line or any of the lines in it, like Rezlord or Battle Damage or The Opiate of the Living they’re not words out of the songs they’re names given to that piece of music and I didn’t really want to deal with any of that this time. I liked the way it was just a simple kind of, A that’s the song and the numbers written beside them are the order they were recorded in. So, the 1st one we recorded, A-1 was a shit song so we didn’t use it so the whole thing starts at A-2 and there’s no A-5 cause 5 was a shit song too so that’s the reason they’re named like that. And when I looked at it written down it’s quite beautiful so we’re going to put it on merch.”
The Cairo Knife Fight creative process doesn’t stop there though, everything you see from the videos to the artwork all come out of the extended Knife Fight family.
“We have our team, these artworks, the cover art and stuff with the flaming man, that’s a real human being underneath that, we created the idea of the man with the face thingy ages ago and we just liked it so we carried on with it and we let Barny over at Indium come up with what he thinks is a good idea and we work backwards and forwards on it and that’s been the secret to it, it’s the same with the videos. We keep the same team, it’s always Karl … and it’s always Hannah Tasker-Poland, … Andrea Hows, … Donny Duncan, so we have that team and we come up with an idea and because we’ve done these things before we know where we want to go with things, we want to do things that are real … we do these real things that are, not so much shocking because I don’t think the world doesn’t get shocked by that sort of shit anymore, they’re meant to be beautiful and confronting in equal measure and when you’ve got the team we’ve got finding the idea is the hardest part, delivering it is easy because these people they’re brilliant, we haven’t had any crises in any of our videos or artwork ever, those guys just hit it out of the park every time.
Beautiful and confronting in equal measure … I don’t think I could’ve described Cairo Knife Fight’s “Seven” any better myself. There are dashes of Bowie, NIN and Queens of the Stone Age throughout but this record is full of energy and power and is unquestionably a look into the future of modern rock.