Exclusive Interview with Atreyu Bass Player Marc McKnight
I recently got the chance to chat with Marc McKnight, the bass player for the rock band Atreyu. In addition to being a full fledged rock star, he is also a burgeoning photographer, collage artist and illustrator. He sells his artwork (which he deems his healthy addiction) on Imagekind and he was cool enough to answer a few questions about his art, the band and life.
Make sure to check out all of Marc McKnight’s artwork.
You’re the bass player for the band Atreyu. How long have you been in that role and how did it start?
I’ve been playing bass and singing with Atreyu for around four and half years. I parted ways with my band back in 2003 and coincidentally Atreyu were in need of a bass player. Funny thing is, when I left my last band, I decided to quit music and go back to finish my degree in Graphic Design. But hey, when a band you listen to regularly asks you to play for them, ya don’t really say no! We’ve been touring the world nine months out of the year ever since.
As a musician, photographer and collage artists (just to name some) how do your artistic expressions influence and affect each other? How does what you express musically, connect with what you express visually? Or, do you view them as completely separate?
My life is like an awkward act-of juggling chainsaws. A near impossible, and sometimes dangerous, catch and throw of a music life, an art life and what I try and attempt to call a social life. I tour 9 months out of the year in support of my musical career, which in turn fuels my love of photography. My photography and travels are where I find the inspiration and materials for my collage work.
You recently added a ton of new images to your galleries at Imagekind that depict several amazingly beautiful places from around the world. Do these offer a glimpse of some of the places you have seen while touring with Atreyu? What has been your favorite place to visit and photograph? What did you like most about it in particular?
Being in this band has allowed me to travel to places I’d only dreamed of, to examine first-hand the very things that I grew up fantasizing about. When touring overseas, I wake up as early as possible and explore each city as much as I can in our abruptly short stay in each location. I try and fly over early before a tour, or stay late to get the most out of my time abroad. I really pride myself on trying to truly embrace and experience each new culture with open arms and unbiased eyes. The very brief time I have at home is spent creating new pieces of art based on whatever my sponge-like mind can squeeze out in the limited time before heading back on the road again.
It’s an arduous task to try and pick just one or two of the places as my favorites, but I’d have to say Scotland and Japan. Edinburgh, well Scotland in general for that matter, provide me with an overwhelming sense of peace and calm, a homely comfort. After three trips to Japan and another one on the horizon, I haven’t found a single thing that I don’t like about the country and could eat their food ‘till I was fit to be a sumo wrestler myself.
It is said that your artwork “speaks for itself, with a voice that is haunting and demands our attention.” What would you say is your inspiration or purpose for creating the artwork you do?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this drive inside of me, this strange and awkward desire to make something- to create. When I sit down to make a new piece of art, I try to come to the table without any premeditated ideas and just start creating whatever comes to mind. I get completely lost in making a piece that when I step back a few hours later, it’s become this strange monster that I had no idea lived inside of me. It’s a very, very odd, yet relaxing, feeling, one that has become what I consider to be a healthy addiction.
What does your Imagekind screen name, anempireoffilth, mean? Where did this come from and how does it represent your art?
An Empire of Filth was a moniker I dreamed up about 3 years back. I was making this massive wall collage to decorate my room in a new house we rented, but after staring at it for hours, the piece still felt lifeless and incomplete. My good friend Sean Stiegemeier (who now films almost all of the videos for my band and is a genius cinematographer/director) suggested that I find a way to tie it all together. Looking at the different photos I had unintentionally placed together, and words I’d haphazardly scribbled on its massive canvas the phrase, “An Empire of Filth”, came to mind to make it complete. I liked it so much I decided to use it as my title for the next few years, and we’ll probably see it pop up every now and again. Now, I just go by Porter McKnight. I don’t want to hide behind some sort of pseudo-name any more as I have finally begun to comfortably call myself an artist.
Out of your collection on Imagekind, what is your favorite piece of work? What are you most proud of, or inspired from?
That’s a tough, tough question, like asking a father to pick a favorite child. I never really have a favorite piece, cause after about a week of looking at something I created, I find flaws and ways to improve it. Right now it’d be piece called “Violence” which is 5th of 7 in a series called “The End is Here” that’s meant to represent a few of the aspects of humanity that will destroy each and every one of us. Sadly, I left for tour before completing the 7th and final piece, so I hope to finish that when I manage to find my way back home in LA, waking in my own bed.
What was it like moving from Southern Alabama to California? Why did you decide to move? What kind of inspiration do the two places offer in terms of your artwork?
It was absolutely terrifying for me, but ended up being the best decision I’ve ever made. I was very lucky to meet the people I call my best friends early on in my collegiate career, as they as the ones that provided me with the courage to be who I am today. I still couldn’t tell you why I decided to leave Alabama- it truly was an incredible place to grow up. I guess the same creature inside of me that forces me to create new artwork everyday decided to drag me in the direction of the west coast, a modern age Manifest Destiny. I first moved because of a soccer scholarship and to pursue an art degree, but ended up not wanting to be a part of their soccer team and picking up an instrument again. Good thing I did! No matter how far I travel away from my birthplace, I’m still the same southern boy and I’ll never be able to shake that, nor would I ever want to.
Anything else, either with the band or your artwork you are currently working on or have planned in the near future we can let your fans know about? What should we be looking out for?
Well, my band is about to do another international tour, which means many, many more photos. That sadly means no more collages, paintings or illustrations for a while since I can’t carry around the tools necessary for the job. But expect a tidal wave of new pieces a few weeks after my return. I’ve got my hand in about 10 different projects right now that will be ready to see the light of day once I get some quality-time at home, so keep your eyes on portermcknight.com and here at Imagekind for prints!
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