Know the Score play no-frills in your face hardcore. If you've been disappointed in the recent output of faux-hardcore bands, then this is the band you've been looking for. Scene Point Blank spoke with bassist Nicholas Smith about the band's beginnings, lyrical inspirations, upcoming projects, and lots more.
Scene Point Blank: Sometimes it is best to start at the beginning. So how did the formation of Know the Score come about? How has the band evolved since it was first formed? Has the band?s sound changed at all? Is the original intent and reasoning behind forming still intact?
Nicholas Smith: Know the Score started as a reaction towards the southern Florida hardcore scene slowly dying off in early 2000. Our intent was to play cut-n-dry, fast, angry hardcore; which was all but dead in area at that time. Know the Score was formed out of negative aggression and we continue to be fueled by it. As we have grown older, we have focused our anger towards other topics and issues, trivial or not.
Scene Point Blank: A lot of bands are labeling themselves as ?pissed off? these days. Do you feel that would be an accurate description of your music and lyrics? If not, how would you describe Know the Score?
Nicholas Smith: Yes, we are a ?pissed off? band in comparison to a lot of this crap. I think it is terrible that a hardcore band would have to describe themselves as ?pissed off? just to separate them self from their peers. Hardcore should be pissed off in general and that?s the problem at hand. So many bands get up there and go through the motions without honestly being livid, irate, or generally frustrated.
Scene Point Blank: Know the Score has two new releases in the works. The first is a re-release of the ?All Guts, No Glory? EP, which features additional covers. Can you tell us what songs those are? How did you go about choosing them?
Nicholas Smith: The additional five tracks are four new songs and one cover. The cover is from a Cleveland band that I love, I?ll leave it at that. The four new songs are tracks that didn?t make it on either of the records. We had also recorded a Machinehead cover but it didn?t come out how we had hoped.
Scene Point Blank: The second release is a one-sided 12? vinyl containing both Know the Score records. How important is it to the band to have your music available on vinyl?
Nicholas Smith: I think it is important for us to have vinyl; it goes with the territory almost. We earned this release in some ways.
Scene Point Blank: Know the Score released its first full-length on Eulogy Recordings. Prior to that you released an EP on Goodbye Blue Skies Records. Did making the jump from a small label to Eulogy create any added pressures or expectations?
Nicholas Smith: No pressure at all. For all the shit Eulogy gets, they have never really pressured or expected us to do anything we weren?t already doing. Aside from stupid Know the Score ringtones and the ?For fans of?? stickers, I can?t complain about the label. They pay for our recording and help us out when we need it. They even employed some of the members at one point.
Scene Point Blank: The liner notes of both your releases state that the music and lyrics are collectively written by Know the Score. How do you guys come up with the lyrics for the Know the Score songs? Do you feel that by working by committee you have a more cohesive bond as a band?
Nicholas Smith: The way things work is Pete and I make a list of things that piss us off. From that, we all write ideas based around those subjects. Pete will bring in a skeleton of lyrics and Ill change it around until it works with the music.
Scene Point Blank: Prior to Know the Score you played guitar in another band, On Our Own. What was it like making the transition to bassist? Do you miss playing guitar at all?
Nicholas Smith: I still play guitar from time to time when it calls for it. I rather play bass because I am sloppy at guitar.
Scene Point Blank: Know the Score?s lyrics are straight up and to the point, where as a lot of bands seem to tiptoe around subjects. What are you thoughts on band?s being cautious what they say? Are there any subjects that you won?t touch or consider taboo?
Nicholas Smith: I am not a poet or a creative lyricist. I am a typical hardcore kid; I keep it straight to the point. I write songs for my own personal release. People who are cautious about offending obviously are not too angry about whatever subject matter it maybe, you know?
Scene Point Blank: What?s the story behind the songs ?$2000 Guarantee? and ?Hell or High Water?? They seem to be written about specific bands. Care to elaborate?
Nicholas Smith: $2,000 Guarantee is directed to the large sum of bands that think they are more important then they really are. It was sparked by Underdog wanting $2,000 to play south Florida. ?Hell or High Water? was in regards to the band Make or Break, the lyrics pretty much sum that one up. We don?t have hard feelings from them; we have since befriended their new band Tigerstyle; who are pretty fucking good.
Scene Point Blank: Know the Score has yet to write a song that is over two minutes in length. Hell, some of the songs don?t even reach the ten second mark. Is there a logical explanation for this or does Know the Score just enjoy writing short, fast tunes?
Nicholas Smith: We are a hardcore band.
Scene Point Blank: Know the Score seems to play shows rather sporadically due to job commitments. How important is it to you guys to play shows on the road? Are there are places yet that you haven?t played that you would like to? What bands would you like to tour with, given the possibility?
Nicholas Smith: I am willing to play anywhere for a wild bunch of angry kids who want a reason to smash something up. I would mainly like to tour with any of the bands on the Double or Nothing Records line up. It would be cool to tour with S.O.D./M.O.D. or more currently Municipal Waste.
Scene Point Blank: You?re originally from Cleveland, OH. Have you noticed any significant differences or similarities between the hardcore scene that you grew up in and the one you are currently apart of - South Florida?
Nicholas Smith: Cleveland and South Florida have nothing in common yet they both share there heydays. When I first started coming around in South Florida, the Club Q days. Things were violent, ugly, and the scene was somewhat stable amongst all the craziness. Now with bands moving on or breaking up like Where Fear and Weapons Meet, Until the End, Destro, Shai Hulud, Trust No One, Brethren, and others; I think South Florida has had a hard time bouncing back like Cleveland did. Although I was just in Cleveland for Summer of Hate, and the scene seemed very much alive.
Scene Point Blank: Outside of Know the Score, you?re a pretty busy man. You co-own a record label, Double or Nothing Records, with Know the Score?s vocalist. How do you juggle both projects and still have time to yourself?
Nicholas Smith: It is not easy by any means. We are not nineteen-year-old nerds running a bedroom label on our parent?s dime. Balancing work, Army, band, relationships, and then throwing down a couple hundred dollars in a band that you think plays quality hardcore is not easy to explain to the average person. I think that is the key for bands/kids to understand about hardcore labels in general, WE ARE NOT DOING THIS FOR THE MONEY. It is hard enough to breakeven because it is such a gamble, let alone make a profit. We have done a lot as well as learned a lot in our short existence as a label.
Scene Point Blank: Double or Nothing is a two-man operation, but what inspired you to want to start your own record label?
Nicholas Smith: 90% of the stuff passed off as hardcore is total crap due to the Internet. Our main focus with the label is to put out quality hardcore releases from bands we like and bands we are friends with. I am not interested in the next No Warnings, or American Nightmares, or whatever hyped piece of shit. I want to put out bands that Pete and I listen to personally.
Scene Point Blank: So far Double or Nothing has released eight CD?s and three vinyl releases. What is the most fulfilling part of running your own label? What is the most stressful/frustrating aspect of running a label?
Nicholas Smith: Most fulfilling: See people react the same way I do when I first hear the release, see the artwork, see the shirt design, etc. Generally putting out something I am proud of. Frustrating aspect: Dealing/negotiating with bands that are not grounded. i.e. rock star attitudes, want everything paid for, have no realistic goals.
Scene Point Blank: In this day in age, the Internet is a huge tool available to labels of all sizes. How has the Internet helped you with the day-to-day operations of Double or Nothing?
Nicholas Smith: E-Teaming, pre-orders, news, and advertising.
Scene Point Blank: What is on tap as far as upcoming releases for Double or Nothing? Are there any artists that you would like to work with in the future?
Nicholas Smith: We have a new website coming up, with that we are announcing our new distribution deal with RED(Sony).
Kids Like Us/The Mongoloids 7?: Six different colors. Six different colors. Monster theme to it; its pretty rad.
Meantime 7?: Best band out of Florida right now. If you dig Indecision, Despair, and mid-90?s hardcore; you?ll dig it.
Colin of Arabia/Product of Waste 7?: Two New England hardcore bands playing legit fast hardcore, cut-n-dry.
Unreal City full-length CD: Guys from PA playing Cleveland hardcore done right. Their music speaks for itself.
And we are announcing about three other signings and releases in the upcoming weeks.
Scene Point Blank: Favorite Clevo hardcore band? Why?
Nicholas Smith: One Life Crew?I know there will be shit to follow with this but oh well. Aside from some stupid lyrics, dumb gimmicks, and idiotic antics, One Life Crew wrote some of the meanest hardcore I have ever heard. They stuck with a simple solid formula, fast easy hardcore that hits hard when it needs to. Thrash metal stomp parts with Judge style filler, so good.
Scene Point Blank: Favorite Clevo hardcore record? Why?
Nicholas Smith: I would have to say it is a toss up between three for me?
Ringworm?s Birth is Pain: Plenty of groove, thrash, and the basic Clevo hardcore sound. Dora, 3Gun, and Human Furnace?need I say more?
Integrity?s Humanity is the Devil: First Integrity album I ever picked up and left me with a new favorite band at that time. Although I love Systems Overload and Those Who Fear Tomorrow, this record just reminds me of growing up in Cleveland and the area when I was younger.
One Life Crew?s Crime Ridden Society: The same reasons they are my favorite Clevo band.
Scene Point Blank: Favorite Clevo hardcore song? Why?
Nicholas Smith: One Life Crew?s ?Real Domain,? Ringworm?s ?Take Back What?s Ours,? and Integrity?s ?Abraxas Annihilation.?