New Cincinnati reggae band Know Prisoners is poised and ready to officially debut their first album Warrior March at Urban Artifact in Northside on June 18. It's taken nearly two years for them to reach this point, but the end product turned out to be well worth the wait.
In 2014, Cal Kuhlman and Jonathan Lucky Spalding made it their mission to start a world class reggae band. A year later, the duo brought in guitarist and vocalist Nikko Manamikko and bassist Aaron Freeman to start to develop their sound. Derrick Davidson was later added to the roster earlier in 2016 to replace Freeman who still regularly gigs with the band.
“We wanted to make a strong and concise freshman effort, emphasizing our favorite genres and songwriting diversity,” Manamikko said. "Everyone brings a different musical background to the table. Lucky has a R&B and reggae background, I have a jazz and hip hop, Derrick comes from rock and Cal loves funk and blues. Aaron is the son of Sistah Ivette from WAIF 88.3 Rhythm Come Forward and has grown up around reggae."
It took a few changes to the band's lineup to find the right blend of songwriters and musicians that helps define their eclectic style. Once locked in on the right combination, though, Know Prisoners rapidly moved forward with Warrior March until they had a collection of tunes they felt comfortable with. Now that it's made, the release show on Saturday hopes to be a catalyst of notoriety for the group.
"A release show is crucial for creating a buzz on the local scene and getting people to listen to our music in their cars or at home to connect on another level besides our live shows. Being our first album we can't wait to introduce ourselves to the world," Manamikko said.
The classic roots reggae sound of Know Prisoners is wonderfully orchestrated and grooves along similar styles of those of hallowed roots stalwarts like The Gladiators and Aswad, yet Warrior March maintains its own unique characteristics that helps it stand out among its peers. In addition to the prominent reggae flavor, the listener becomes pleasantly surprised with soul, R&B and dub tracks along the way.
"It seems like there's songs everyone can connect to, although were primarily reggae. Even fans of other genres are surprised when they hear how well our style can blend and morph from song to song. They just want more songs on the next one, which we are already starting work on," said Manamikko.
Know Prisoners is already prepared to immediately become a heavy-hitter among the Cincinnati scene and in their first year of existence has already been nominated by the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards for Best Reggae Band. Warrior March is a thrilling first album that lends itself to even higher expectations of those highly anticipated projects to follow.