We don’t hear of too many bands out of North Carolina, but Fayeteville’s MKNLY make up for it with their fun, energetic, punk-fuelled rocky sound – which frontman Benny tells us has largely been inspired by UK’s own You Me At Six.
In fact, he tells us MKNLY probably wouldn’t have happened at all if it hadn’t been for his friends, who convinced him that the songs that formed their debut EP Something To Stand Behind had to be released.
As Benny explains: “I had been working on music for a couple years and just keeping it to myself. So me and two of my buddies Jeff and Harrison filmed a music video for our debut single and released it. It was originally supposed to be a solo project but after all the great feedback and support from friends telling me to play shows I decided to find some talented musicians with the same passion and heart, and the rest is history!
MKNLY officially formed last July, with Benny joined by Tristan (guitar), Josh (bass) and Anthony (drums). And on their hopes as a band, Benny continues: “Personally I decided to be in a band for the same reason as most! I wanted to be a rockstar, play in front of thousands of people, tour the world, hear my songs on the radio etc… As I’ve gotten older though it’s evolved into just being able to have a platform to be heard. To create something that’s undeniable!”
The band just released When I’m Lonely, which is the first of two singles to be released from next month’s second EP. It presents a more poppy side to the band but retains their rocky edge, opening up with a little synth sound over light looping guitars under Benny’s vocals “When I’m lonely, I stay locked in my head, Except when I speak, with every word I ever said.”
The guitars gradually increase in intensity, then palm-muted guitars lead us into a lively singalong chorus of “When I’m alone I think I care too much, I don’t want you but I need your touch, You might be perfect but it’s never enough, When I’m lonely. When I’m alone I wear my heart on my sleeve, I think I need you but I need you to leave, You think it’s low ‘cos you want it to be, When I’m lonely.”
The pace drops right down after a second chorus, with repeats “If misery was company why can’t I be alone / is that why I call your phone,” then high-pitched guitars, driving guitars and drums come in as the vocals intensify towards a final blast of the chorus.
On the track, Benny told us: “This is probably one of my personal favourite records I’ve ever worked on! You should definitely expect a lot of fun, high energy rock with very catchy pop melodies. This is a very different MKNLY than most have heard in the past, so super excited!” Check it out in the video below:
As Benny alludes to, When I’m Lonely offers a slight departure to the MKNLY sound presented their debut EP, which is much more edgy, heavy and punk-fuelled. Opening track Wake Up is a great example of that, with a chorus of cries of “Wake up, Wake up, We’re spinning out of control” that you can’t help but sing along with.
While second track Save Me sees punky guitar riffs drive along Benny’s engaging, edgy vocals. And the infectious War Within builds up to a huge singalong chorus “We’re all warriors, To the point of no return,” with big chunky guitar riffs and a fun flying solo.
Who knows what’s in store for us on the new EP, but we’re certainly looking forward to it. As Benny puts it: “We just write stuff that sounds good to us or until we are like yo this is cool! I would definitely say that we have the right combination of Alt Rock and Pop Rock.”
As well as You Me At Six, the band takes inspiration from rock and punk through to country, including the likes of 30 Seconds To Mars, Emarosa, Rise Against and State Champs. And on what inspires the MKNLY sound, Benny tells us: “Everyday life mostly. The best way to answer this question would be to tell you how I do it. Once the music is laid out I literally close my eyes and listen, and whatever emotion or thoughts the music provokes is normally the direction I take it. I try really hard not to go into the writing process stuck on one idea or attached to a specific theme.”
As mentioned, we don’t meet too many North Carolina bands, so we asked Benny for his thoughts on the scene. He told us: “In the time that I’ve been in the NC scene there have been so many incredible talents coming up and really pushing the musical limits – LOWBORN, Glow, Empty, Set For The Fall, Messenger Down etc… But it’s very much the same as throughout the US, everyone has honed in on being creative and fresh, and it’s become a closer community for sure!”
MKNLY release next single You Can’t Stay next Friday (23 November), then release their second EP next month. They plan to keep writing and pushing their boundaries, and hope to hit the road to support the new EP. So if you like what you hear, hit them up.
As Benny explains: “We are just dreamers running like hell to make them come true. We want everyone to know no matter how old you are or where you at in life if you’re passionate about something, be passionate and chase that passion. Life is a gift we are given and it shouldn’t be wasted doing what the world says we have to do.”