Who the FUNK Are the Knutsons? Campus Band Opens Up

4 min read

Those who attended Relay for Life’s “Battle of the Bands” event at the Mill last Friday night were treated to a number of great performances, but one group in particular stood out (and not just because of the out of nowhere Jack Black tribute).
The eclectic band, formerly known as Guacamole Shmear, is comprised of three Trinity students: senior bassist Andrew Houseman, junior drummer Alex Rusbarsky, and junior guitarist and lead vocalist Sam Shield. They first started playing together informally in the Fall of 2014 and have been jamming ever since.
Trinity Tripod: So the Knutsons…how did you come up with that name?
Alex Rusbarsky: There came a point when we just needed another name, and then I just got it in my head that it’s gotta be a Big Lebowski reference, ‘so help me god it has to be a Big Lebowski reference’ and it’s been our name since the Fall 2015 semester.
TT: Any reason for the change?
Sam Shield: We are not tied down to anything, pretty much –if you put us down as anything– we are just, like, a trio that’s really open to playing with other people and bringing anyone into our shows.
TT: How would you describe your sound?
AR: We try to hold it down and also just mess around while bringing something new every time.
AH: At our first show of the year, The Welcome Back Weekend here, we were doing some hard-rocking, indie-rocking, punk-rocking…
SS: We played with another person for that show, which is cool because every time we play with someone new we have different sound or a different flavor.
AR: Yes- that was a surprising hit. But we definitely don’t sound the same now as we did at that show, right now we are doing a bit more psychedelic-funk punk.
TT: What are your roles within the band?
AH: We don’t really think of it that formally, it’s just really a collaborative effort and everyone brings their own thing in.
SS: I guess my role in the band is that I’m the guitarist and I try to keep it fun and positive.
AR: Also, he’s the writer of the group. He writes, like, 90-100% of our original riffs.
AH: Yeah he’s the riff-master, and I’m the pick-master.
AR: I’m the drummer and for me that’s just keeping the beat cool. But there’s always something more you can do, and I try to do that.
SS: Yeah, you could say that one of Alex’s roles is also to make sure we practice.
TT: This is the first time in a while you all have been in the same place at once. How do you manage to sound so fluid and in sync?
AR: Over the summer we were just like ‘we need to record something’ but we were all in different time zones. So we did a lot of recording on line, and just shared it with each other.
SS: On one recording the drums, the guitar and the bass were basically recorded on three different continents.
AH: Also we practice a lot.
SS: Yeah we practice anywhere from 3-5 times a week.
AH: It’s very important that we all come together and practice.
AR: We’re pretty dedicated to practicing and it is easier with only 3 people. And practicing is fun, if we’re practicing and not having fun there’d be no point to it.
SS: If it’s not fun then it definitely has an impact on our sound.
AH: We’re always available, so book us for any gig!
It’s one thing to read about the Knutsons, but to truly understand their sound and style you have to hear them live. As Alex concluded “everything really does come together in the end.”
You can listen to the Knutsons on SoundCloud, but definitely take the opportunity to see the band live. The Knutsons will appear at a number of different places, from performing their latest at the Mill to playing background jazz at the Scholarship Dinner, and they are always available to do events.


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