Singled Out: The Beach Bats' Knockdown


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The Beach Bats News Album art August 17, 2023

Hamilton, ON trio The Beach Bats just released their new album, "Limbo". We asked frontman Tony Doni to tell us about the single "Knockdown" to celebrate. Here is the story:

I spent a lot of time in my early twenties working construction and home reno jobs in a neighbourhood down on the beach in Hamilton (shout out to Kevin Sr.). There were a few years there where I was just trying to make enough money to burn through on the weekend and was unsure of what I would do with myself outside of playing music. Since then, I've been interested in writing a song that reflects those years in some way. I didn't know what a "construction song" might look like (cue Layin' Pipe by David Wilcox) but I went into the writing process for this one with those images in mind.

"Knockdown", takes influence from my life at that time, if only in it's use of imagery. The lyrics paint a picture of dilapidation and rot, reflecting some of the houses I was wandering through as a young man pretending to know what he was doing. This visual acts as a metaphor for the breakdown of the relationship in the song. "Portraits of better days lie stacked up in my brain/an indifferent haze is now hanging in every room". There are a lot of unanswered questions here, the type of questions you ask after the breakdown of a serious relationship. "In the years we walked this floor/wishing we had more/what was I wishing for?" Is this house even repairable or is it a "knockdown"? That metaphor struck me as something that would reflect the experience of a once powerful relationship burning out. Sure, you could fix it, but do you know how? Can you afford it? Do you have the time, money or energy?

This song's working title was "Gross Chords" because of the crunchy diminished E chord in the bridge section. Musically, the song developed in a fairly straight forward fashion. We workshopped the ideas together at our instruments as we do all of our material, rather than writing off in our corners and bringing fully developed songs to the table. I remember distinctly coming up with much of this tune at Gabe's house at a time when we were rehearsing there fairly often. Usually, I'll catalogue rehearsals and jam sessions as voice memos and then we will go back and shape ideas, connect them to other ideas, etc. I wasn't very convinced that this song was a keeper until we got into the recording process.

As with every song on this record, we recorded the bed tracks live off of the floor together. Gabe counted us in and we went for it. You can still hear his count-in's on the hi-hat throughout the breaks in this song, we didn't take them out. I definitely heard a little Stone Temple Pilots influence creeping into this one but didn't mind heading in that direction. How we would treat the instrumental bridge was still a bit up in the air as we took it into the studio. I tried some organ stuff, some Rhodes stuff and even synth parts but nothing was sticking in a way that felt natural. Chelsea had been messing around with the lap steel quite a bit leading up to this record so she gave that a shot and wrote that killer little melody section to sit on top. I kept some basic Rhodes elements and ambient vocals and let the section breathe. We did three takes of this vocal in the studio and ended up using the guide track vocal that I tracked in my basement. The take you hear was the first time I had ever sung the song from front to back. It felt more honest than trying to replicate it. The three note lap steel melody in the final chorus is one of my favourite moments on the entire record. I also snuck in a few samples of my friend hitting pieces of sheet metal in a warehouse he works at (shout out Abreu). Try and find them. Overall, we decided to keep this arrangement fairly stripped back. Thinking subtractively as opposed to adding too much really helped this one find its' place on the record.

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself below and learn more about the album here

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