When you’re a hard-rocking punk band, you need swag that blares as brashly as your distorted bar chords. That’s just what the four-piece group, KNIF, had to offer their audience of pogoing punkers at an early summer show at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch, NJ. T-shirts with brass knuckle graphics, vinyl stickers bedecked with skulls, buttons with song titles like “Get Dorked” – corporate swag this was not.
And yet, KNIF’s reasons for investing in branded merchandise was essentially the same as the most button-downed organization: to project its unique image to audiences with which they want to connect – to get broader, positive exposure that helps win new fans.
“It’s cool to have real things you can put in people’s hands and say, ‘Here, this is what we’re about,’” says Chloe Stewart, KNIF’s drummer. “The hope is that somebody is out wearing your T-shirt or your button and then someone asks them about it. Word starts to spread.”
At the Brighton Bar gig, KNIF had shirts, stickers, buttons and CDs arranged at a merchandise table. While items were for sale, it’s common for the band to give products away, too. “It’s good to just get stuff out there,” says Stewart, whose bandmates are Steve Sherk (vocals), Deane Clapper (guitar) and Tom Sullivan (bass).
For KNIF, black T-shirts with the band’s name spelled inside the finger loops of a brass knuckle design are particularly popular with listeners. Fans also especially appreciate the retro appeal of buttons that feature band members’ faces in black-and-white. “It’s an old-school style that people like,” says Stewart.
And, as KNIF brings its chunky riffs and driving drums to bars, clubs and beyond, you can bet that their swag will go with them. “We have our merch,” says Stewart, “at every show.” – CR