I haven’t talked much about music on this blog, but I am a big fan. I’ve listened to a lot of Christians who are musicians. One man stands out in my mind as the most creative artist in “Christian” music. Unfortunately, as is often the case for the most talented artists (at least in terms of creativity), Michael Knott is an obscure name to most people. I want to take a moment here to recognize his work and share his art with you.
Knott first came to light in the early 80’s as front man of the punk band Lifesavers (a.k.a. Lifesavors). After a half dozen years, the band changed their name to L.S.U. (Lifesavers Underground) and their style to more alternative rock. In 1987, L.S.U. released the landmark album “Shaded Pain“. Though controversial at the time, the album is now considered one of the top releases in “Christian” music history. Knott is also a painter and the album artwork consisted of his paintings on both the cover and inner sleeves. (His paintings have since graced the covers a many more of his own albums as well as several other musicians.) His art as well as the band’s dark alternative (sometimes even described as gothic punk) sound were incomprehensible to most Christians at the time. (It took quite a while for the album to grow on me after I first got it years later.)
In 1992 Knott released the first of approximately seven solo albums (as of the time of this writing). The second, “Rocket and a Bomb”, became one of his most popular works. He wrote each song on the album about one of the neighbors in the Hollywood apartment complex in which he was living at the time. He followed up a year later with another now classic (in my opinion) album “Strip Cycle” in which the album was written and played on a non-standard tuned guitar. L.S.U. (as well as Lifesavers) also continued to release music concurrently; “Bring It Down Now” is another of my favorites.
In the early 90’s Knott began his own record company, Blonde Vinyl. The label was short lived but help launch artists such as Deitiphobia (the first “Christian” industrial artist), Dance House Children (the brothers Ronnie and Jason Martin went on to form Joy Electric and Starflyer 59 respectively), and Dead Artist Syndrome (the first “Christian” goth artist), as well as being an outlet for Knott’s own music and bands.
Knott is prolific and talented. His lyrics are honest, heartfelt, and masterful. His music is interesting and he is also one of the top live performers in the business. L.S.U.’s 1993 appearance at Cornerstone is legendary. He is also one of the very most creative artists out there. One example of this is the little known release “Fear of the Digital Remix” in which Knott took Deitiphobia’s first two albums, cutting and splicing them along with other material to create a whole new sonic work of art. “Think of it as a sonic painting using the sounds of DEITIPHOBIA as the colors.”