Interview- On Bettys, Lifesavers, Cuss Words, and Hard Times... Part 1

 For those who have been into progressive Christian music for any amount of time, few names register as quickly and with such instant imagery as his. Knott has been at this game since the very beginning with his first band The Lifesavors. Through the 80's and the 90's Knott, whether as a solo artist, LSU, Livesavors (various spellings,) or the infamous secular effort The Aunt Bettys, Knott has pushed, and pushed hard. The Bettys, although never released in the Christian market, caused huge controversy and debate. The stories about fellow residents in a seedy LA apartment first showed up on Knott's Rocket And A Bomb. Then with The Bettys he delved further into the darkest corners of that building, and maybe his own life. The stories were as twisted as the characters they were about. And Knott as the storyteller, failed to convincingly remove himself from the first person and many assumed the stories were about his own life. Coupled with some expletive language, and rumors of wildly out of control concerts in Hollywood nightclubs, Knott hit a new level of notoriety. The debate is far from over. True Tunes contributor Todd Brown caught up with Knott recently to discuss the past, present and future of Knott and his various artistic endeavors. We'll leave this one in Q and A format if that's OK with you...
BY Todd Brown





I've heard that the Metro One project you're doing is being billed as a sort of Worship record?

MK: Right... Well... it's about the life of David but it's done in a surf music motif. So, I don't know if that would be considered a worship album.

I thought it was kind of odd to follow something like The Aunt Bettys with something like that with no kinda "thing" in between.

MK: (Laughter)

It seemed like a pretty major jump.

MK: Well, I did an LSU record.

Yeah, I knew there was Dogfish Jones but I think sequentially, as far as releases, the Metro One thing's gonna be the next thing out. Because Flying Tart is...

MK: Yeah, I don't know. Is that ever supposed to come out?'s listed by Platinum.

MK: And Platinum -- I don't even know if they're still going or not.

Well, Flying Tart has already closed their doors and there's a lot of question as to whether or not their parent company Platinum is gonna get stuff out. I know yours is in the can, there are two Circle Of Dust projects in the can and a couple other things they have that are probably never gonna make it out. (note: Circle Of Dust Disengaged was released in March ‘98 and at that time Platinum promised a June release for Dogfish Jones. -ed.)

So, I hope it gets out. I'd like to hear it. Do you have a specific area you're willing to talk about?

MK: Whatever, I'm open to anything.

When I reviewed the Aunt Bettys for an on-line zine, I literally got hate mail for it...

MK: Really?

...from people in the Christian market for not...I don't know...I thought I put pretty strong warnings in that this was not intended for the Christian market and that you'd be offended if you listened to it that way but it apparently wasn't enough.

MK: What were the hate mails? What'd they say? Or what was their problem with that?

They didn't even really get specific about the problems, they just reamed on me for not ragging on the whole album. I warned people that there was vulgar language on it and that some of the content of the actual songs -- like, what the songs are about -- was pretty graphic and could be pretty shocking to people.

MK: uh huh...

But then I went on to talk about the music and say, it's a good record, I like it. One guy just flipped on me for that -- for not ripping you up as a person and for not ripping the album down completely and totally.

MK: huh...

And, I've heard that more than once. That album freaked a lot of people out in the Christian market.

MK: Why do you think that was?

Well, it's certainly not something any Christian label would put out. Just saying "sh*t" on it is enough to put some people out.

MK: Yeah, well if you think about it, that's the only thing they really could say that would be within the context of them making some type of moral judgment on it -- is that I said the word "sh*t." It was never printed in the lyrics and a lot of people thought it was the word "shake" but, you know, I won't deny that I did say that in one song. It's tagged on at the end of the song and you can't even really tell what it's saying. But, the point is that nothing else on that record -- not even the artwork -- should have been anything that should have caused someone to give you hate mail.

Songs like Lush, Feel, Suicide Sex Doll, Speeder Mode, Star Baby, etc.; were those all based on actual situations?

MK: Yeah.

In some ways, because of things like that, would you say that the Aunt Bettys record was written in the same way that Rocket and a Bomb was?

MK: Correct.

There's a lot of contact between the two of them?

MK: Yeah. And there's some songs that are shared, like Kitty Courtesy and Rocket and a Bomb, although I did change Rocket and a Bomb a bit.

That's the other thing I've got to follow up on, the language in "Rocket and a Bomb." When we were talking about how I got hate mail for reviewing it you said that 'was the only thing they could say within the context of them making a moral judgment.' Were you expecting that backlash in the first place? Did you think people were going to react that way to the language?

MK: Well, I never meant for it to be sold in a Christian bookstore. I didn't do it to upset people. I did it as an expression of how I felt, with that feeling in the song.

Why don't you say a little bit about what motivated it in the first place, why you thought it was necessary.

MK: Just being broke and not having any money and wondering what I'm supposed to do. You know, just ... it's a matter of getting so upset and pissed off that ... you know people may say that word all the time or every now and then when they're upset, but I guess the point is that when I said it it was recorded on a record so people can hear it over and over and over again. But I would not deny that everyone, at some time, cusses. I don't think that that claims someone's faith or not. I don't think that has anything to do with whether they believe in God or they don't believe in God, it's just an expression. I don't go around cussing day to day, it just fit correctly in that song. And we did it in such a way that if younger people listened to it they wouldn't know that I'm actually saying that word. Many people thought that I was saying 'shake'. It wasn't that I was trying to hide what that word was, we didn't print the lyrics either, but it was just ... that was the word I was saying, I'm not denying that, but at the same time we did it in such a way that you can't completely tell what it is.

Were you very close to bankruptcy at the time when this was all happening?

MK: Oh yeah. Very, very close. I mean I had hundreds of thousands of dollars that I had to come up with somehow. But I mean, saying the word 'sh*t' didn't get me hundreds of thousands of dollars, so I don't want someone to say that. I understand what you're saying. In a sense it was [sighs] Y'know the "Rocket and a Bomb" was on the ... the Rocket and a Bomb record, of course, that came out through Word, and it seemed that ... that was when I started going through all the trouble with getting paid from the distributor. Now the next level was, with the full rock band behind it, turning it into this much more personalized event about my life. I don't know if I can remember the lyrics, even. I don't play the song any more. It basically was about my relationships at the time. Let's see, what are the lyrics now ... 'All I ever wanted was a good job, some bus fare, a rocket and a bomb.' One of the verses is, 'It's not your fault, I made you ill from this open sore that spills pus in your name. I tried to fix on what I feel, beg another meal and shame your pride again. It keeps pushin', it keeps pushin', it keeps pushin' you away.' And that's kind of the whole know the financial stress and me practically being a beggar, which I fall into time and time again being an artist, it sometimes can tangle a relationship. Not only with your spouse, but with your family, with a friend, with God, even. It can get your mind so worried about making that money and doing whatever you can to make that money that you don't focus on the relationship any more. So, with ending with the cuss words, it was almost the final, complete expression of how screwed up I was, or am at times, and that was it, you know.

It was something you didn't think could be expressed properly any other way?

MK: Uh ... I gotta tell you it felt good to cuss. I mean, I don't recommend it to people but if they ever did it they may feel bad about it, but at the same time ... you just explode. It's better than getting in a fist fight with someone. You know, if we were in Europe, no one would care that I said that word because Europe is much more advanced on what Christianity really is. But in the States, there's all these laws and rules poured out through the far, far right that just ... I think it actually deters people from finding out what true Christianity is. And I'm not saying you have to be able to cuss to know what true Christianity is but at the same time, we're denying that we're real people and that we have real feelings and once we start doing that then we start living fake lives and that's what happens to all these major preachers, and then they blow it. They end up exploding behind the scenes and it comes out and embarrasses everybody, and it's happened time and time and time again. And it's because we're required, in the United States, to live fake lives and become fake people, plastic people, and that's what I've been trying to promote - the change of that - since I wrote Shaded Pain. "First we find the answer, then we take the blame. Shaded pain. We find out who we are, and then we lose our names." So we find out who we are as people, but then all of a sudden we have to be fake, and we live in this constant Shaded Pain area where we can't really express how we feel, and then receive healing from expressing how we feel and then finding out who we are in God.

So the venting is part of the healing process.

Yeah, I think the Christ behind the bar worried some people and the other one that I got was, I believe it's "Feel," where it's not stated outright but the guy's basically saying that he'll cut his manhood off ‘cause he's in love with a lesbian.

MK: Here's...let's talk about the painting. Whatever was painted on there, I told the guy what I wanted painted. The part about Jesus behind -- actually it's not about Jesus standing behind the bar but what that represents...and I made sure that He was painted in a very mosaic way that was very respecting of Christ. It didn't make Christ look like he was a loser or something....

I thought it actually looked a very, very much like the Christ on This Is The Healing.

MK: Right, exactly. This is the mosaic type of Christ, y'know. So, I made sure that he did it like that but the point is that the whole idea behind the painting is that it represents God's free will. If we wanted to have a drink, if we wanted to mess up our

lives, if we wanted to do whatever -- He allows us to do that and He still is there to hear us when we want to talk to Him. And He still is there to love us. He says, "I'll never leave you nor forsake you," and so, that's what that painting represents. It's a little arty and it's a little shocking but, at the same time, it's not against Christ and it's not non-Biblical. So, my question is: When He was in the bars with the drunkards or what have you -- when He was criticized by the Pharisees -- would He not hand a guy his drink








                                                                   | Home |