Up the Crowns: Interview with Danny Knight of Crown of Earth
Written by Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
Philadelphia-based “melodic, powerful, progressive and classic sounding heavy metal” band Crown of Earth formed in 2012, released their debut self-titled CD in 2016, and are currently in the process of working on a follow-up album. The band is very supportive of the US Armed Forces and even donated a portion of the proceeds from their “Born Again Warrior” video to them. It was great getting to chat a bit with founding member Danny Knight about Crown of Earth and learn more about his background, the band, and what’s next.
ALISON “METALBABE” COHEN: Hi Danny, it’s great to be interviewing you. I’ve been diggin’ the album.
DANNY KNIGHT: Hi there Alison. So great to chat with you! Thank you for the compliment, I’m glad you like it.
METAL BABE: Let’s start off by talking about the name Crown of Earth. How did you come up with the name and what does it mean to you?
DANNY: I think it’s very hard for a band to come up with a good fitting name. We called ourselves Megalon when we came out, which was a fictional character that fought Godzilla. His likeness is owned and created by the Toho Co., Ltd. which is a Japanese film, theater production, and distribution company. They contacted us and kindly asked us not to use the name.
We went back to the drawing board. Each of us in the band at the time would bring a list of names to hash over and see if any worked for us. One day, I hit the local children’s library and created a new list of possible band names. I started reading the names off my list and one caught Michael’s (Michael Ellis/Rhythm Guitar) ear. He backed me up to the name Crown of Earth, and when we all agreed on it, I checked the availability for the domain name. To my surprise, it was available.
METAL BABE: Crown of Earth has been together about five years now. How did the current lineup come together?
DANNY: The current line-up consists of founding members Michael Ellis on rhythm guitar, Christopher Graziola on Lead Guitar, and myself on vocals, meat whistle, and once in awhile… I play the radio. MarkyZ came in next on the bass, replacing Matt Harrigan (who is an awesome player but couldn’t commit to live shows due to other engagements). Matt is a good friend and is listed on the credits on our self-titled debut release. Lastly, Nikki Shannon was our original drummer and he recorded the drums, but was later replaced by a number of drummers that didn’t make the grade. Finally filling the drum hole is a great player and the perfect compliment to our band, Vinny Corrado, who we now play live with and is recording on our new album.
METAL BABE: That’s great. Congratulations on winning the Akedemia Award. How was that, and what can you tell us about the song “Why Should I Care?”
DANNY: Well, MarkyZ presented the song to the Akedemia Award panel and they selected it as the Best Heavy Metal Song of the Month. They offered our band a spot at the award ceremony in Los Angeles. However, we had previous shows booked so we couldn’t make out there. It was very cool to see that our song was recognized by a pretty cool award. Michael Ellis wrote the words as his version of “a love song.” You know…. Guy meets girl, girl cheats on guy, guy doesn’t give a sh*t? I guess that was his love life at the time. Either way, I think it turned into a pretty good song at his expense.
METAL BABE: Agreed. I really love the song and video for “Born Again Warrior,” which is a tribute to the men and women of the US Armed Forces. What is your personal connection to the US Armed Forces?
DANNY: My personal connection stems from my patriotism and love for my home country, The United States of America. I’m proud to be an American. I’ve been abroad and I’m pretty certain that even with all of our homegrown problems, in my opinion, we’re still the greatest country in the world. I have a great admiration for all the men and women past, present, and future, that continue to put their lives and limbs on the line for my freedom and for this country. You should always thank a Veteran for their service.
METAL BABE: Crown of Earth donated a portion of the proceeds from “Born Again Warrior” to help returning soldiers in need, and there was an amazing video of the band presenting the check to the Philadelphia Veterans House. What was that experience like?
DANNY: That was as great a feeling as you would expect, knowing that we can try to help those wounded warriors in need. I remember a cold Thanksgiving morning prior to that where all the members of Crown of Earth went to a Veteran’s shelter and helped serve up a nice Thanksgiving meal. We also showed them the video (Below ) and it was very well received. Another awesome feeling of accomplishment!
METAL BABE: Definitely. What’s the story behind “Frank (The Hellraiser)?”
DANNY: To be honest, Mike Ellis wrote the words, and it’s basically about the movie “Hellraiser.” Remember the Cenobites and Pinhead? F*cking creepy! We have a Halloween greeting that we like to send out around Halloween. Check it out. It’s pretty funny.
METAL BABE: That’s such a great and fun video! Love it! What else can you tell us about the album?
DANNY: We had a great time recording it since my longtime friend Richard Gavalis at Dome Sound Studio http://domesound.net/ in Royersford, PA. Co-produced, engineered, mixed, and mastered the entire album. We abused and took advantage of him in the sense that because he’s my friend, we got a great deal on the cost of the project. Shhhh…. Don’t tell him I said that. He has a number of gold and platinum credits to his name for work on bands like The Bloodhound Gang, Viking Skull, (England) Bam Margera, and countless other bands.
METAL BABE: That’s awesome. I won’t tell anyone. [LAUGHS] You definitely have some high-octave screams on the album. Who is your biggest influence as a vocalist?
DANNY: My influence as a vocalist has always been a toss up between my two metal heroes; Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden and Eric Adams from Manowar. Those guys are arguably the best in the business. I have no doubt they are at the top of everyone’s list.
METAL BABE: Do you have any kind of formal training?
DANNY: Funny you should ask that because I do have some formal training and I attribute the power and my capabilities to a vocal instructor at the local music store back in Detroit where I grew up. I was in a band throughout high school and I guess I sucked as a vocalist because my peers that I thought I would take over the metal world with, kicked me out of the band for another singer. Well, that gave me motivation to do something about it. I took vocal lessons from Davis Gloff for a short period of time. Soon after the lessons, I went back to them and they saw a huge difference in my capabilities. We continued to rock for another four years.
METAL BABE: Wow, that’s great.
DANNY: That’s really where I developed my style, and contribute my power and range to. That band was called Medieval Metal. I had the best time of my life with those guys… And gal! Shelly Baron was our female bassist who was considered, just one of the guys. I remember how she rocked a cover of ” by Manowar! You know that chorus saturated bass line at the beginning of the song? She pulled it off perfectly.
METAL BABE: Way to go Shelly! What advice do you have for singers who want to hit a high-octave range while preserving their voice?
DANNY: From my personal education and experience, I found “breath control” to be the secret. Learn the basics of that, and it’ll do wonders for any singer.
METAL BABE: Sounds like good advice. Breath control is definitely important. You play a lot of shows locally? What’s the scene like in PA?
DANNY: Ask any musician in the music scene here in PA and they’ll tell you that the music scene anywhere other than here, is better. That’s what any musician will tell you about any hometown music scene. It’s just okay.
METAL BABE: That’s funny. I’m sure you’re right! Do you ever play with Corners of Sanctuary?
DANNY: Yes… I love those guys in COS! I became friendly with Mick Michaels through the local scene and he is a super nice guy and great guitarist. Those guys are gigging workhorses! I wish we could play as much as them. We played a show with them and we’re talking about doing more in the future.
METAL BABE: I’m really glad to hear that. I love COS too. Hopefully you end up doing more shows together. Since this is a Vegas-based magazine, we always ask a question about Las Vegas. If you could put together your perfect show in Vegas, who would play and where would it be?
DANNY: Well of course, in a dream, since we’re in Vegas, I would love to open up for the King of “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Elvis Presley. Warming up the show before us would be a different type of act but great nonetheless… The infamous, David Copperfield! The venue would probably be in the conference room at some sleazy motel just off of the strip.
METAL BABE: Very creative. What is next for Crown of Earth? You’re working on a follow-up release?
DANNY: Oh yeah…. We’ve been working on some new songs and really putting Vinny to work behind the drums. He thrives on the up-tempo beats. We also have a song that I’m in love with and I just can’t wait to record. I’m very proud of the guys and how it sounds. It’s called “On The Edge Of Time.” It’s very well put together. MarkyZ wrote some great words for the song. It just rocks and I love playing it.
METAL BABE: Can’t wait to hear it! What final words would you like to say to our readers?
DANNY: I can’t thank you enough Alison, and I know for a fact, speaking for all of us in Crown of Earth, we truly appreciate people like you that seem to care about metal and the people in our industry, to help promote it and keep the music alive and well. Without you, it would be hard to care and share. Keep up the good work!
METAL BABE: Aww. Thank you so much. I appreciate that, and am glad that Online Metal Promo and Sin City Presents Magazine gave us this opportunity!
DANNY: You’re welcome. I’d love to hear from anyone that might stumble onto our work and give it a listen. Please visit our website for more info and updates at www.crownofearth.com Also like us at www.facebook.com/crownofearth
If you need an awesome and affordable recording, mixing, or mastering of any previous recording, talk to my buddy Richard Gavalis at www.domesound.net Tell him I sent ya, and I promise you’ll get a great deal!
METAL BABE: Thank you for your time Danny. It’s been a pleasure!
DANNY: Thank you Alison! Get those Crowns Up – Up the Crowns!