Although he had played guitar since his teens, Ben Young never really thought about turning pro or starting a band. For the past 15 years, he was happy enough working as a guitar tech for groups such as Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy and Stone Temple Pilots.
That all changed in 2015, when he was asked to fill in for Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson for a series of dates in Brazil.
“Brad got sick and couldn’t play, so the band was faced with a choice of canceling the shows or getting somebody who could step in fast,” Young says. “They knew I could play the parts, so that was it.”
Before he knew it, Young was on stage performing for 50,000 fans – and he was hooked. “After that, I was like, ‘Wow, I just played lead guitar for Linkin Park. Maybe I can do this after all.’”
As it turned out, Young didn’t have far to look when recruiting band members – he was already friends with bassist Brian Diaz and drummer Warren Johnson, both fellow roadies whom he had jammed with during soundchecks.
Guitars: 2010 Les Paul Traditional, self-built Tele-style model
Amps: Fractal Axe-Fx II, Matrix power amp, Marshall and Mesa/Boogie cabs
Effects: RJM Mastermind MIDI foot controller
“It happens all the time,” Young says. “The headliner band might be busy doing interviews and they can’t make soundcheck, so the roadies will play a few songs to get levels in place. There’s lots of roadie bands, but Brian, Warren and I decided to make it official.”
Calling themselves Knifes, the trio forged a sound reminiscent of alt-rock bands such as Green Day and Blink-182. They issued their debut EP, Proof of Concept, in 2019, and their follow-up five-song set, Regression to the Mean (which includes a snarling cover of Barry McGuire’s classic protest song, Eve of Destruction) dropped in 2021.
Young is back on the road as a guitar tech for Fall Out Boy’s Joe Trohman, but he’s hoping that one day soon audiences will see him on stage with Knifes.
“Everybody in the band is pretty realistic,” he says. “We have great day jobs, but if the new EP takes off, maybe our own band can be more than just a hobby. We’ll see what happens.”
- Knifes' latest EP, Regression to the Mean, is out now via Keystone Estates.