The Story of Knifewear’s (Musical) Instruments
Why are there so many instruments in Inglewood’s premiere knife shop?
Guitars fixed with magnetic bars hold knives at Knifewear in Inglewood.
Photos by Andrew Guilbert
The expectation when going to a knife shop, is, well, a lot of knives everywhere, but in Inglewood’s Knifewear, blades aren’t the only instruments used to shred. The store takes its bright neon “sharp knives rock” sign very literally, as the various guitars hanging from its walls attest. “We like the idea of a ‘rock and roll knife store,’ that’s why guys like Amos Garrett are coming here to get their knives sharpened,” says Knifewear owner Kevin Kent.
Kevin Kent holds Knifewear’s in-store bass guitar.
The blue bass hanging behind the register holds particular significance to the Knifewear team, as it belonged to a former colleague. “It was Toru Tamura’s, he worked here for about a year and he was a bass player for his band Peach Legs,” explains Kent. “When he went to Japan to take up blacksmithing he left this guitar for us.”
The “Punk Rock” inscription Tamura left on the back of his axe, which Kent assures us is a sign of affection.
Kent says he bought the store’s Theremin simply because he thought it would be cool. “It sounds like pigs fighting. You can’t make it sound like something,” says Kent. “Well, some people can, but most people can’t.” Memorable guest players include jazz vocalist and CBC 2 radio host Tim Tamashiro. “Tim was in here one day and he was doing the theme from Star Trek and figuring out how to work the machine by himself. There was a big group of people listening. He was giving them a free concert while just trying to figure out how to use it!”
Kent’s enthusiasm for the Theremin is plain to see from his chosen attire.
As for the guitars fitted with magnetic strips and turned into knife holders, they were “cheap, old Kijiji guitars” that Kent believes they’ve transformed into something better. “I was thinking of doing one with a ukulele for the farmer’s market,” he says. “That seems like more of a farmer’s market kind of vibe.”
Kent says you can hear the strum of strings at the store occasionally, as he’ll often play with friends, but cautions people to keep their expectations in check when it comes to their musical virtuosity. “We’re no good, we’re terrible, but we make up for it with enthusiasm!”