Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM


EP Review | 10 Years of Pop Culture by Knocked Loose


Five songs that started it all.

Listening to Pop Culture ten years after its release, you wouldn’t think that Louisville hardcore band Knocked Loose would be on a headlining tour at venues that can host entire festivals. Vocalist Bryan Garris’s trademark yelp seemed out of place in 2014; now, it’s hard to imagine a world without it. In the decade since this EP first saw the light of day, hardcore has experienced an unprecedented renaissance spearheaded in part by Knocked Loose with Pop Culture.  

With tracks recorded at guitarist Isaac Hale’s parent’s house, cover art photographed by Garris and physical copies released through a Louisville record label called Little Heart Records, it is the definition of DIY. After the release, Knocked Loose flew the flag of their hometown all across the country, forcing their sound upon the hardcore scenes of the lower 48 states and touring incessantly. It became a common occurrence for the band to play a show and, while onstage, announce that if the crowd liked their set, the flier for their next show in that same city was already on the wall. 

The EP arrived at the perfect moment in time. The days of melodic hardcore and Have Heart’s — and their many clones’— supreme reign over the scene was long over, and Trapped Under Ice had ushered in a new era of violence. 2014 also saw the release of Code Orange’s debut album, I Am King, which is nothing less than a full frontal assault on the listener, a dizzying compilation of mosh parts. Knocked Loose’s Pop Culture was a sonic sibling to it, so it should surprise no one that in 2024 both bands are enjoying success. 

Clocking in at just over 12 minutes, Pop Culture is a quick five song listen, and a violent one. Rejecting almost any semblance of melody, it is built for the pit. Lyrically, the EP embodies the angst riddled attitude of any young hardcore band, with hints towards what would become Garris’s signature writing topics: portraits of death, hate and misery. This is not your daddy’s hardcore band with songs about friends and family, persevering through hard times and sticking it to the man. This EP laid the foundation for a band soaked in rage and torment, angry at the world and angry at themselves. Lyrics so dark should hardly be relatable, but the almost audible tears in Garris’s voice drive the point home regardless.

All my friends have problems with themselves /

We don’t talk about it, nothing helps /

We tuck it deep inside, so no one can see /

Then we think about it later in our fucking dreams /

Where are all my friends? /

All my friends are dead /

All my friends are dead.

This isn’t the typical writing style of lyrics you might find reviewed by this radio station. There is little metaphor or fanciful wordplay. Every song is a target, and every lyric: a bullet. Everything is to the point, because why shouldn’t it be? Critically analyzing the lyrical content of these songs is fruitless because there is nothing to break down; the band has already distilled the message to its most explicit form. It’s not that these songs are without depth but that there is little room for misinterpretation. They are angry, and they want you to know it. 

“The Gospel”: They are angry at religion.

“Separate”: They are angry at posers.

“Manipulator II”: They are angry at the opioid crisis.

“Small Victories”: They are angry at themselves.

“All My Friends”: They are angry at each other. 

In 2014, these lyrics read like a period at the end of a sentence, a definitive and complete statement of rage. Today, they are the seed from which a success story has grown, one of touring with some of the most popular heavy bands of the century. But with such success comes the risk of losing yourself, succumbing to what people want from you instead of what you have to offer. Since Pop Culture, the band has ratcheted up the intensity of every subsequent release, seemingly defying people to call them sellouts. 

Knocked Loose remembers where they came from. Knocked Loose remembers who they are.

I will break your pretty little heart /

Don’t put it past me baby girl, I’m a wild card /

With a past that is full of mistakes /

And anxiety that gives me shakes, because I’m /

Dirty and haggard, covered in blood /

Selfish bastard, never known love.

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About the Contributor
Nick Sanchez
Nick Sanchez, Airstaff Coach/Host of Thee Hourz O' Power
Nicholas Sanchez (he/him/his) is a senior at Michigan State University. He is the host of Thee Hourz O’ Power, the longest running specialty show at impact, as well as an airstaff coach for new DJs. He studies Journalism and has two minors in Film Studies and Documentary production. In the summer you can find him somewhere roaming his home state of California. In the winter you can find him under too many jackets, still adapting to Michigan winters. “I want money, I want love” -Militarie Gun

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