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NAS 10 Questions with River Knight

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

This time, we get to know River Knight, AKA

Mark Stone River - Vocals, and Darren Knight - Guitar and Vocals. With various influences from multiple decades and genres, River Knight creates music that defies labels. Each of the songs has its own individuality, all the while retaining the essence of what River Knight is: 2 blokes, 1 guitar. 2 voices, and 6 strings.

The track "Unsprung" is featured in the New Artist Spotlight Family of Playlists.

Link To New Artist Spotlight Playlists:

1. Tell us a little about where you are from and what you are currently doing.

Mark: My name is Mark Stone River and I do lead vocals, lyrics, arrangements, and the odd bit of music writing.

Darren: My name is Darren Knight and I’m the man with the 6 string and harmonies. I write the music and a line or two here and there.

Mark: We're both from Southampton, on the south coast of the UK and we've known each other a very long time.

Darren: Yeah, over 20 years. It all began when I was playing with the first band I was in "Happy As Larry" at the rehearsal space formerly known as Unit 6.

Mark: I was in a different room, working with the band I was in at the time; "Templeball". Anyway, I was a little bit inebriated and I was listening to "Happy As Larry" while my band was packing up their gear.

Darren: We had just finished doing a song and in walks Mark, bold as brass, and states 'It sounds like you need a singer!'

Mark: Hahaha, yeah it's amazing the confidence, or is it arrogance, a few beers will give you.

Darren: Hahaha. We had a jam with him there and then and decided it was a good fit and Mark became a friend and bandmate from that moment on.

Mark: After a while the first band I was in decided to wipe the slate clean, drop all our songs, and rename the band, and that's how "This Black Static" came about but we needed a rhythm guitarist, so I spoke with Darren and he became a part of the band. We were now in 2 bands together.

Darren: Those bands both fizzled out after a couple of years and we went our separate ways musically. I joined "Mark Rooney and No Hot Ashes" and Mark joined "60th Parallel". Once "No Hot Ashes" ended I took a break and got married but sadly, a couple of years into my marriage my wife passed away through cancer. When that happened I spiraled into a dark place and was self-medicating, although I was also going through the process of mourning and healing via my guitar and I'd started writing some new songs. I needed help getting my words down so I reached out to Mark.

Mark: Obviously I was there for my mate and we started meeting up a couple of times a week and we ended up writing our first 2 songs in a while - "Heaven's Door" and "Sense Out Of Crisis". We recorded "Heaven's Door" and released it as a one-off song through Bandcamp and we're donating all monies from that release to charity.

Darren: After we released that song we made the decision to make our little musical journey a real thing as we'd written quite a few songs and learned a few covers. We couldn't think of a name for the band though, so we just used our surnames.

Mark: We did a fair bit of gigging around Southampton, Portsmouth, and London, were gaining momentum and the pandemic hit us. Suddenly we couldn't gig or rehearse. Luckily we had been planning on recording an album and Darren was living with another mutual friend who happened to own some recording equipment, which coincidentally was the same equipment that I have. So we met up virtually twice a week and we were able to record the majority of the album that way.

Darren: Then, as soon as the lockdown was over, we got together, invited some friends around, and got them to add their own thing to one or 2 songs. The result was our debut album "Grow". We released a few singles off that album and gigged it everywhere we could.

Mark: More recently, we recorded and released a stand-alone song called "Unsprung", which is kind of an extension to "Heaven's Door" about coming out of the darkness and returning to the light. We've just played The Joiners in Southampton, a small venue that has had a myriad of top talent play there from Oasis, The Verve, The Charlatans, Ed Sheeran and so many more, and we have a few more gigs lined up including a couple of small, non-commercial festivals in April, and we're returning to London in March.

2. What inspired you to start playing and making music?

Darren: For me, it was listening to my dad's old albums. He had a great collection but The Beatles really got to me. I loved the songwriting and I loved the harmonies. My dad had an old guitar that he never played so I picked it up and started teaching myself to play. The funny thing is though, I wasn't comfortable playing it right-handed even though I am right-handed so I restrung it and started playing it left-handed and that really worked for me.

Mark: My story is a bit different. I was really into heavy metal when I was younger and Steve Harris, the bass player and main songwriter in Iron Maiden, was my hero. So my schoolmates and I created a fictional band where I was the bass player. I say fictional because we couldn't play and didn't have instruments hahaha. Around the age of 16 or 17, I was convinced by my girlfriend at that time that I should audition for a band that was looking for a vocalist. So I plucked up the courage and did. My singing wasn't great, but I had long hair and tattoos so they asked me to join hahaha. I learned to sing by doing covers with that band, rehearsing twice a week. Really taught me how to put power in my voice as they were a heavy band and I had to be loud to cut through. I have a lot of fond memories of that band and we recorded an EP. Reckless Temptation was the name of that band.

Darren: He's a bloody nightmare with them. Every time we're out, at some point in the evening a song will be played and he'll say to me - 'I used to cover this'. Oh, what band did you play this in? It's become a running joke hahaha.

𝟯. Who are your biggest influences?

Mark: Well, like I said, I was really into my heavy metal and rock, so my early influences as far as vocals go were people like Paul Di'Anno, Axl Rose, Vince Neil, Whitfield Crane, Gary Stringer, I could go on. But it was Noel Gallagher that influenced me to pick up a guitar and start writing songs rather than just lyrics.

Darren: I've already mentioned The Beatles, how could they not be an influence? But along with them I was listening to Joni Mitchell who was such a big influence I had an album cover tattooed. And I couldn't very well complete an influence list without mentioning Wham! who was a big part of my mix tapes growing up.

Mark: Shit yeah, I can't not mention Errol Brown, the man can write lyrics about anything without having them sound corny. An Alex Turner of his time. Every time I try to do that it comes out tacky as fuck.

4. What are your goals in the music industry?

Mark: Goals? I've kind of given up on any goals I may have had when I was in my prime hahaha.

Darren: Hahaha, I know what you mean. But we still try, you know, we want our music to sound good, we want it to reach as many people as possible, and fingers crossed that will lead to more people connecting with our songs and then who knows. It'd be nice to turn a profit instead of it being a constant drain on finances. It's definitely a labor of love hahaha.

Mark: Totally! I don't want to be negative about goals. We still have aspirations to play Glastonbury Festival. We still want to create more music and continue doing so until the time comes when we physically can't anymore. It's just so hard trying to tempt people to take a punt and listen to our songs for more than 30 seconds and take a deep dive into the meaning and messages of what we do.

Darren: Our songs are multi-layered and you don't get the full experience with a basic surface to listen. Although saying that, I think they scrub up well If you're just a surface-level sort of person.

5. Tell us about your creative process when you make new music.

Mark: It can vary. Not a lot, but it can, and does vary. Although they always kind of finish off with the same process.

Darren: I think most of our songs come together after a few drinks and whatever else is around at the time, but the starting point for them is usually one of four ways. One, I have a chord progression or a riff and a basic melody with maybe one or two lines of lyrics, then we get together and jam it through, Mark will finish the lyrics off and we'll work out a structure. Our current singles "Unsprung" and "Sense Out Of Crisis" are examples.

Mark: Two, I have the basics of a song I'd written and I bring it to rehearsal and we jam through it, maybe change the structure a bit, maybe add a bit. But then again maybe not. "Regret My Goodbyes" and "Something Gone Wrong" were finished in this way.

Darren: Another way is we write it on the spot in the rehearsal. Songs such as "She Came Round" and "Not How You Mother" was written this way.

Mark: Finally, we wrote songs together in the past with our previous bands, so we have resurrected a couple of old songs. "Shades That Hide The Sun" is an example of that.

6. What is your all-time favorite song?

Mark: Oh jeebus, are you kidding me? I got to narrow it down to just one song? Two seconds, let me have a think.

Darren: Oh man, that is such a tough question. Um, I'll go with... um, anything by Elbow. I absolutely love them!

Mark: I'm gonna be controversial with this one and just say my favourite song right now, and apart from any of our songs {wink} I'm gonna say "The A Plus" by fellow NAS artist Coastal Town, I'm really digging that song. Love the hook and the timing in the chorus, and the simplicity of the lyrics.

7. What is the best advice you have either given or received in terms of music?

Mark: Just keep at it and always stay true to yourself. Music is art and a form of expressionism. It's a reflection on you personally.

Darren: Study other songs and styles. Listen to how the songs are put together. Take an influence but never mimic or copy.

8. Proudest accomplishment?

Mark: Oh my, let's see... what have we accomplished?

Darren: Not a lot hahaha. No, seriously we got our album made during a global pandemic and lockdown. I'm very proud of that.

Mark: Totally agree, getting that album done under the circumstances at the time was a hell of an accomplishment. And managing to get it sounding as good as it does on a shoestring budget is also worth mentioning.

Darren: So basically, it's our album, "Grow", that is our proudest accomplishment.

Mark: Yeah, I'm happy with that.

9. Just for fun! What's been your most embarrassing moment so far?

Darren: How do we answer if we don't embarrass easily?

Mark: It's a tough one isn't it?

Darren: I wish I had a story of my trousers falling down on stage or something like that but it's never happened.

Mark: How about we go with the first time we tried to use a backing track so that the live performance had all the bells and whistles of the recording?

Darren: Yeah, that was pretty embarrassing. Basically, we didn't spend enough time creating the backing tracks. We kind of rushed them out and, like we practiced with them and in the rehearsal studio they sounded OK but...

Mark: There was something not quite right with them, but we couldn't put our finger on it so we just thought it was the quality of the PA in the room.

Darren: But that wasn't it. Turned out, that once we removed the main vocal, my vocal, and the guitar, the tracks needed to be completely remixed and remastered to account for the missing parts, which unfortunately we didn't do.

Mark: Uh huh, so when we did our first gig with the backing it sounded awful. The Bass had been boosted, some of the tracks were a lot quieter than others, and the strings were all over the place. It was a mess, but we had to stand up there and fight our way through it. We haven't really used them since, but it's on our list of things to organize.

𝟭0. Tell us about your lowest and highest points in music so far.

Mark: In River Knight? The lowest point for me is the amount of rejection an artist has to go through to find a modicum of success. It's soul-destroying, especially when you have good reviews and you know your recording is of a decent standard.

Darren: Highest point has to be getting on the bill of Victorious Festival. It's a medium-sized festival based in Portsmouth. You have acts of yesteryear, mixed with up-and-comers. It's a good festival and a great opportunity to play in front of a lot of people, even if they're just walking by.

Mark: We've had a fair few stop to listen as they walk by, which is always a nice feeling.

Stream "Unsprung" now

and follow their socials (Charity single - hence different Bandcamp URL)

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Hayes Elizmi Mia
Hayes Elizmi Mia
Mar 23, 2023

Great to share your stuff guys. love how honest you have been.

River Knight
River Knight
Mar 30, 2023
Replying to

Thank you, we had a good time answering, glad you enjoyed reading about us.


River Knight
River Knight
Mar 15, 2023

Thanks for chatting with us, we really enjoyed it. Oh, and the March London gig was postponed, it's now on Friday 26th May at the Hoxton Underbelly.

The ticket link can be found on our website



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