Behind White Knuckle Riot's mask
The Sacramento band unveils its plans for heavy metal domination
Anyone who’s attended a show in last year probably noticed that the attention spans of both band members and attendees is practically nonexistent. Most bands seem to want the coveted middle slot and nobody wants to open or headline the show.
Overall, musical solidarity is getting harder to find in the local scene.
The members of Sacramento’s heavy metal squad White Knuckle Riot, however, have made great strides to unite those in the city’s different metal genres and get their band seen and heard in the process. Rather than just playing the same clubs repeatedly, this band has its sights set on bigger things, including an upcoming tour with with fellow locals FallRise and the Alpha Complex.
The band, which plays in masks that obscure its members’ faces, features Johnny Schizo ECV (vocals, guitar) and Misfire ECV (bass), Cory “Durus Cora” ECV (guitar), Robbie Fingers ECV (guitar), and Brian “Beatdown” Kelly (drums). Yes, those are stage names, and, yes, the ECV stands for E Clampus Vitus, a largely secret society devoted to the history of the American West and, in particular, the long-forgotten miners.
History aside, the band’s members say they’re looking forward to the upcoming run of shows on their Insane By Daylight tour, in no small part because of the people they’ll be working with, including a member of the iconic metal band Motograter.
“We joined up with Mike Woodruff from Tattered Wings Booking Agency and they are now booking our shows,” Schizo says. “Mike also played in Motograter and is now in the Alpha Complex.”
The tour will give all bands equal billing, he adds.
“On this run, we’re simply going to switch off headlining slots in each town. … Everybody’s really cool to work with,” Schizo says. “We know there won’t be any big egos since we’re all working for the same thing: to be seen and heard by more and more people.”
In addition to the shows, White Knuckle Riot also just released a new EP, Lullabies to Murder By; the collection is one of the band’s best yet, Schizo says.
“It includes four of our strongest songs to date,” Schizo says of the release, which is currently streaming online and will be available at shows for $5.
Songs like “Rise Up & Remain” and “Opposition” are anything but typical suburban metal fare. Fans of early Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front’s older anthemic metal and punk, and even current metal fare agrave; la Five Finger Death Punch, Lamb Of God or Testament, will love the immediacy of the background gang-style vocals and shredding guitar riffs on both jams.
“We’re providing a voice for the youth and those who can’t speak up by simply standing up for our beliefs and convictions,” Schizo says of the music. “There’s so much bullshit in the news these days and the things we’re allowed to see on mainstream media are so screwed up and mostly one-sided. I do a lot of research on YouTube [for lyrical content] … and I definitely think our government is doing some sneaky shit as well.”
Conspiracy theories aside, the band’s members collectively share more than 15 years of experience playing and their median age hovers around 37. That said, White Knuckle Riot has only existed since 2013. In the short time since they formed, however, they’ve earned headlining status at shows and a legion of fans who flock to see their onstage schtick.
Those quick to misconstrue the band’s onstage garb and band name should note that these five guys are anything but thugs.
“We wear bandannas over our faces only for the first couple of songs for effect,” Schizo said.
And, behind the masks, they really are a bunch of decent fellows, Schizo insists with a laugh.
“We haven’t really had any fights at our shows sans a couple of ones involving our girlfriends.”