Singer and bassist Jessica Knight on the anxiety-ridden 'Nailbiter' and learning to move forward
Anxiety weighs heavily on Looming's 2015 full-length debut, Nailbiter (No Sleep), surfacing in everything from the nervous-tic of an album title to singer and bassist Jessica Knight's words. “I can feel it, the monster breathing,” she sings on “Cotton Tongue,” delivering the lyric amid bounding bass and drums and tangled innards of guitar.
Regardless, the songs' narrators rarely crumble under this pressure, and the album signs off in an uneasy truce with life's ever-shifting ground. “The worst that can happen is it all will stay the same,” Knight repeats mantra-like over an instrumental that sounds like the dawning of a new day.
It's a theme that carries over into the band's still-untitled sophomore album, which it recently finished recording at the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania home of drummer/producer Brandon Carnes. (Knight said the group hopes to release the LP by year's end.)
“The new record seems to be a stem off the song ‘Nailbiter,' in a way,” said Knight, who joins her bandmates for a concert at the Summit on Friday, March 10. “It's all about going through cycles. What is it they say? Wherever you go, there you are. You can't run away from yourself.”
The lyrical themes were inspired, in part, by Knight's early 2016 relocation to Austin, Texas from Looming's Springfield, Illinois home (with Carnes in Pittsburgh, the band now boasts five members stretched across three states).
“I moved across the country away from my family for the first time,” said Knight, 28, who started playing bass guitar in her early 20s but didn't try her hand at songwriting until Looming's 2013 formation. “But just because I'm in a new place doesn't mean I deal with different problems. So the new record centers around some of those same thoughts and feelings and the ‘what now?' kind of stuff.”
Since starting the band, Knight has operated as something of an open book, pouring her inner most thoughts into Looming's songs — a natural extension of her unfiltered offstage personality.
“I think I write lyrics how I talk,” she said. “I'm constantly putting all my feelings out there for everyone to hear. I think that's my approach to life in general: I'm all about transparency.”
It's a transparency the singer inherited, in part, from her father, a professional sword fighter and blacksmith who never shied from discussing his own issues with anxiety with his daughter, baring flesh even as he earned a living forging armor.
“My dad has struggled with [anxiety] more than I ever have, and he's all about embracing your weirdness but not letting it get to you,” said Knight, who grew up dressing in medieval clothes for Renaissance fairs and even dabbled in sword fighting after turning 18. “That's why I like to reach out to people and make sure people don't feel like they're alone in their thoughts. I don't want people to feel like it's a weakness.”