Freestyle: Knumbskulls recreate magic on new EP

Aug. 15, 2015 | 0 Comments


Clif Knumbskull, left, vocalist Aaron Knumbskull and bassist Rolángel Dongon on stage at The Knumbskulls’ Super Show in 2012.


Punk rock holds a special place in my musical pantheon. It’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but it’s sounds better when defiant, and Honolulu band The Knumbskulls have the deal down.

After making its mark on the city’s music scene in the late 1990s, drawing crowds and selling out vinyl singles here and in Japan, The Knumbskulls have raised a ruckus again in recent years.

Knumbskulls-Untold Classics


Featuring The Knumbskulls with Above Reproach, Black Square, The Even Odders, Ignite the Red, Prevail and Rats

» Where: Crossroads at Hawaiian Brian’s
» When: 6 p.m. Friday
» Cost: $5; all ages
» Info:

The band hosted a Super Show in 2012, has been writing new music and re-recording alternate versions of some earlier songs, and played high-profile opening gigs for Agent Orange, the Adolescents and Goldfinger.

On Friday they’ll host an EP release party and have gathered up a bunch of musical friends to join them on stage, including punk, ska, metal and rebel-roots musicians.

Guitarist Clif Knumbskull and vocalist Aaron Knumbskull (not their real last names, obviously) started out as street punk teens. In the 20-odd years since they joined up as Knumbskulls, they’ve come a long way, but from the beginning, the band attracted enthusiasm.

When The Knumbskulls released its first songs on vinyl via Japan’s Karma label, the 7-inch sold out its 1000-print run in about a week. The guys figured they were on to something and went on to record more music.

“We do it out of pure love for the music,” Clif said. “Back when we were teenagers, we didn’t have cell phones or social media (to share videos or promote the band).”

“It was the stories” in the songs that drew in listeners.

“It’s fun,” he said. “We’re an emotional band.”

The new EP, “The Untold Classics,” re-records songs from this earlier Knumbskulls era as the band would like to hear them today, with Knumbskulls drummer Paul Van as sound engineer.

Female vocalist Sidney Branch, who will appear with the band on Friday, is on “Classics” too, for a dual vocal lead on “Beautiful Ones.” Clif said the song always called out for two vocals.

Keep your eyes open, too, for Mickey Finn, former lead singer of 1980s San Francisco punk band Jetboy, who now lives on Oahu. Finn has been joining The Knumbskulls on stage, pumping up the energy levels that much further.

Expect to be surprised, in a way that’s only possible if you are on the scene and in the crowd.
Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at or follow her on Twitter.

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