With the boom-bap stylings of The Roots, the sonic freedom of The Mars Volta, and the politically active messages of Dead Prez, Madison's own Know Boundaries find themselves crossing borders, both musically and in their fandom. The sextet is fresh off of a third-round victory in the international Bodog Battle of the Bands, winning the first two rounds at the High Noon Saloon last year, and subsequently taking first place in regional semi-finals at the Metro in Chicago in January.
Know Boundaries remains a fierce competitor in the battle, which will culminate with the a new season of the Bodog TV series, which will pit four American bands, four European bands, one Canadian group and a wild card entry against one another for a shot at a $1 million recording contract with the online gaming company's music label. The regional finals will be held at the House of Blues in Chicago on March 9, and will decide which band will be the Midwest representative on the program.
The Daily Page sat down with Aaron J. Konkol, the 27-year-old keyboardist for Know Boundaries, a few days before the band is scheduled for a homecoming show at the High Noon Saloon. The group deliberately plays few shows in the Madison, hoping to keep their fans hungry and the crowds big when they do take the stage. We shot the breeze about the battle, the Know Boundaries's history, and the ultimate goal for all artists -- the chance to quit our day jobs.
The Daily Page: So, for posterity, tell me the names of everyone in the band.
Konkol: Besides myself, there's Cloak the rapper, Aaron Blacker, our singer and guitarist, J on bass, Dr. Oz on guitar, and the drummer, JAH Boogie.
You have a one-letter man, a doctor, and an article of clothing in the band? Have you guys ever thought of streamlining your namesakes a little?
Well, are you as eclectic as you sound?
Absolutely. We call ourselves an Ultra Rock Hiphop group. It's kind of a hybrid of rock and hip-hop, but it's not that simple. We don't really sound like anyone else. A lot of bands say that, but in our case it's true. We rap, we sing, but it's more than that. The judges in Bodog Battle of the Bands have said the same in every round. We are entirely unique in what we do.
What has the Bodog process been like for you guys?
We first heard about it through the MySpace site and decided to give it a try. We got first place in the first two rounds held in Madison, and in the third round (held at the Metro in Chicago) we got first place as well. The regional finals are on March 9th, where we'll be competing against winning bands from Chicago, Minneapolis, and Dallas. The winner of the whole contest gets a $1 million recording agreement.
Are you nervous?
No, not at all. We went into this thing with no expectations. We've gotten nothing but a hugely positive response. The judges for each round have gone out of their way to let us know that we're something else. That we've got it.
What do you have that sets you apart?
Our main thing is that we have incredible energy. Our fans can feel it coming off from the stage.
Where do you think that energy comes from?
Life experience, mainly -- we try to bare our souls onstage. We work so hard at this. We don't even play out that much. Some Madison bands -- they play out twice, three times a month. We can't do that. We practice and we record. We put everything into our music.
How did you guys get together, by the way?
It's completely different, depending on the person. I went to West High School with Cloak, and then he went to Memorial with Dr. Oz and J. We've all lived in Madison for a long time.
When did you start playing together?
A: Know Boundaries formed in 2002, but JAH Boogie and I joined in April of 2006. We have two live albums and one studio album, and another studio album coming next. You can buy them at B-Sides, Mad City Music Exchange, Strictly Discs, Sugar Shack Records, as well as on Rhapsody, eMusic, and iTunes.
iTunes, huh? This all smacks of a band on the rise.
We're doing all that we can.
What's your biggest goal now?
We'd like to get to the point where we can make music and have that be the only thing we have to do. We'd all like to quit our days jobs. I left mine a couple weeks ago, and it's amazing how musically productive I've been.
Know Boundaries is hoping to draw as many fans from Madison as they can to attend the Bodog battle regional semi-finals in Chicago in March. To help, they've organized a party bus for the show, with pick-up and drop-offs in Baraboo and Madison.
For a chance to see them before they hit it big, though, head over to the High Noon Saloon on Saturday, February 2. Know Boundaries will be playing a homecoming show with support from local favorite Rob Dz and Kanser from the Twin Cities. Be sure to get there early; it looks like this one will be packed.