NEWS

Eric Knight - Street Magazine 
Knight Cap: By. Rene Alvarez


If persistence has a poster child, it's local singer / songwriter Eric Knight. E-mails, faxes, streamer planes -- if you're on this guy's database (or anywhere under the Miami sky, for that matter), you know what he's doing.

Getting his start in the mid-'80s as the frontman for popular local hair-metal outfit Vandal, Knight has been working on a solo career for the past five years. Next week (the week of Oct. 21) he releases his second full-length album, Fractured Fairy Tales. It was recorded at Elysian Recording Studios in Boca Raton with engineer and coproducer Keith Rose (Aerosmith, R.E.M.) at the helm. The result is a grungy, Bon Jovi-esque album, smartly produced and with influences ranging from U2 to Extreme.

Underbelly interrogates Knight about his music, KISS, media blitzing and mental disorders.

Underbelly: Describe the difference between Vandal and the new Eric Knight music.

Knight: No more Vandal! (Laughs) I wouldn't compare it to Vandal. First off, the band [which included Derek Cintron and Tony Medina, now of DC3] broke up over seven years ago. I even sing differently from those days. It's different in the sense of songwriting styles and the approaches to the songwriting and production.

Underbelly: You've been working with engineer Keith Rose for a long time. What makes him so important to your sound?

Knight: Keith is just an incredible human being for starters. He's funny. He hates all recorded music, except Rush, and still makes you feel comfortable with what you're doing. He really kicked my ass on this record as far as getting the best vocal performances possible, cutting out the excess B.S. He has just an incredible sense of where it is you want to go sonically, and has really believed in me. I guess that's what makes him so special. I know Keith will say to me ''your gay,'' but I do love him. He's a great friend.

Underbelly: Why did you call the album Fractured Fairy Tales?

Knight: Because I think on the surface, most of us do live in a fairy-tale world. We have these preconceived notions of how things are suppose to be. The white picket fence, things of this nature, when really that is not the reality of our situation and that's where my whole ''everything is not what it seems'' view comes from.

I'm at the point in my life where I'm questioning everything about myself and everyone around me, especially after 9/11. I feel religion is at the root of all this evil around us. I know I sound bleak, but I'm as hopeful as everyone else that things change for the better. That's why I decided on music as a career, because I think it's more universal and brings more people together in a positive way than anything else. More than any religion could.

Underbelly: There's a lot of ''me against the powers that be'' on the new album. You even named your publishing company One vs. the World. Is this a rational take on your situation, or is it paranoia?

Knight: No Howard Hughes here. It just illustrates and references the things that I have gone through to get to this point in my life musically. I feel like it's been ''one vs. the world.'' I've busted my ass to get here. I am a long way from where I want to be as a songwriter, although I feel this album is moving in the right direction. Without change there is no progress, they say. I'm constantly trying to change and challenge myself.

Underbelly: You got to open up for KISS on their farewell tour. Is Gene Simmons' tongue really that long, or is it a clever prosthesis? Were you a member of the KISS Army? Did you hang with the legends?

Knight: The KISS show was awesome, a dream come true. That's what got me into music and singing in the first place. Although I'd met KISS several other times at other events, I did not get to meet them at that show. But Gene's tongue is no prosthesis -- I can tell you it's the real deal. I was a member of the KISS Army, and I still have all my stuff. I am one of those freaks with a lot of KISS memorabilia in storage at a top-secret location.

As far as interacting with KISS, I really only got to see them from afar at the show. I met them at several other functions and that night it was just the whole heavy security thing. It was fun, though me and R.J. [Ronquillo, Knight's guitarist] just stood there at the front singing every song. I felt like a wee lad again.

Underbelly: You have extravagant promotional techniques, going as far as hiring a plane to fly over Zeta Fest with a banner advertising for your first solo album, Near Life Experience. What's up with that? Does it really work?

Knight: I think it does work. It's all in the way you present yourself. I have always tried doing things differently than the norm, but that's just me. I want to present the most total, professional package that I can. But in the music industry you must try and be above the pack in every way you can to stand out. If not, what's the sense in doing it? Of course, the bottom line is you have to have great songs to accompany this. I would like to make this a long career. Some people think it's silly -- hell, I do sometimes -- but if it's going to keep me and the band in people's minds I'll do it. I owe it all to the original whores, KISS.

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Eric Knight performs Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Coral Sky Amphitheatre (601-7 Sansbury Way, West Palm Beach, 561-795-8883) when he opens for Aerosmith and Kid Rock. Tickets are $35 and up, the show starts at 5 p.m., and it's all-ages. No date yet for an official release show. For more info, surf to www.EricKnightOnline.com.