Interview with Kyle McKnight from Goddamnit

Joe McRedmond interviewed Kyle McKnight, bassist from Goddamnit from the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, via email about their faithful yellow monstrosity known as “Goddamn Van Damme”.

Published July 3, 2020


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What was the catalyst for getting a van, specifically? Was the yellow van the band’s first van?

Shows. Totally needed one for shows.  We played a lot of shows the first few years. For a few months we were just packing shit into our cars and taking 3-4 cars every time we played. It was a really pain in the ass way to go about it. And then all of sudden one day in November 2011, our guitarist (guy who started the whole band), Jeff Kelly, texted us and said he had just bought us a van from a local school for $300. We all kinda thought he was fucking with us until a few days later when we were all sitting around in it drinking beers. And yes to date he was our only van. As soon as shows are a thing again we’ll be seeking out his replacement. 


Day we got him

Where/from whom did you get it? Did you know the background of this van when you purchased it?

Jeff stumbled across it somehow at a school near his house and just went and got it. It was the van the maintenance department used. We never took the stickers off in hopes it made us less desirable to local law authorities on tour.  As far as we know it was just used for doing random stuff around the school and was constantly maintained so it was a great score. 

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Tell us about the van, year, make, model, color – did it need work, and did you do any DIY?

Don’t remember the exact year. Early 2000’s Chevrolet Express 3500. Mustard Yellow.  It was a pretty odd van. Drivers door only opened from the inside. The passenger side door didn’t open at all, nor did it have a seat on that side when we got it. We immediately got one at a junkyard and installed it very poorly. It moved all over the place and didn’t have a seat belt.  Aside from that, I put some shitty curtains in and built a wall in place of the last bench seat to keep our gear safe. It worked great unless a certain drummer (Arik) was driving and then all bets were off and guitar heads were flying through windows!

undefinedPost-guitar head flying through the window 

What’s the longest drive you ever did between shows? What was the first trip you took with it?

Austin I’d imagine was the longest. 1700 miles. We drove straight there from Philadelphia for SXSW one year and then maybe played a few shows on the way back. Outside of that probably hauling ass to Gainesville to get to Fest on time. I’m not sure what the first trip was though. Probably New York. 

undefinedParking garage in Austin during SXSW

Do you have a classic nightmare van/police/mechanical/crash/fire story from tour or any other shows?

First time going to Fest. 2013 I think.  The plan was to drive straight down and then play shows on the way home. Left ourselves 2 full days to get there. Our van started acting weird in Virginia, and ultimately broke down in the hell on earth known as Santee, South Carolina. It was fairly early in the morning, and luckily we had AAA, so a nice gentleman who looked just like Busta Rhymes towed us to what looked like the gas station from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Jamison Auto Repair. Half burnt down from an arson attempt weeks before, and being powered off of generators. Waited hours for someone to show up. Finally the owner showed up and the rest is kind of a blur. All I know is he took all our money and sent us on our way only to break down miles down the road, and then have his driver threaten us. Old guitarist chased him around with a hammer for a second. A new tow truck, new mechanic, and a $35 part later, we were on our way just in time to miss our set at Fest. Saw some great bands though, and played some good shows on the way home. But seriously fuck you Jamison if you’re out there. 

undefinedThe second and much more honest mechanic we encountered in South Carolina

Where did the van end up? 

I think the Philadelphia Parking Authority impound lot? Sometime in 2019 it began breaking down and running pretty crappy. It was parked near our studio in North Philly, and at some point while we were in Europe for 3 weeks, the neighbor who got stuck looking at it took matters into his own hands. He took the tag off, and then reported it to have it towed. We didn’t even get to say a proper goodbye. 

Any funny or unique features with this van?

No not really, aside from the almost ejector passenger seat, we always had these really obnoxious drum machine toys that we bought at some random store. People were constantly fucking with them or accidentally setting them off. And every once in a while you’d hear a synth beat or “yeah boi” come from the glove compartment.

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Much annoying

Any other entertaining tour stories?

Oh man. So many. We loved fucking around in the van. We actively and successfully trolled David Drayman from Disturbed. Joke was on us though, cause he turned out to be a really nice guy. Unsuccessfully trolled the Steve Harvey Show for a whole mid-western tour once to try and get on as a musical guest.  And we used to film all these ridiculous internet shows including our own YouTube show called “Snacks With Arik”.
 
Snacks with Arik episode
Goddamnit-No Sleep Til Fishtown- Static Sessions
Photos courtesy of Kyle McKnight

Check out Goddamnit here:

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Bandcamp

Creep Records

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They have a new full length release out soon!

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