By Kieran Webber
Skinny Lister have are one of those bands that when they roll into town you go to see them even if you aren’t a fan due to their ferociously energetic live shows, fan or not you know you are in for a wild ride and chances are by the time the show is finished you’re walking out of there a fan.
With their new album ‘The Devil, The Heart & The Fight’ coming out this friday (September 30th) via Xtra Mile Recordings we thought we’d have a catch up with the band.
CLUNK: Hey guys! So how are you and what have you been up to?
SL: We are SO great! It’s been a busy old time! We’ve been on the road with Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls for a large part of the last year which was amazing and during the days we worked hard to get the new material up and running so we could go straight into the recording studio when off tour. It’s been a fun summer with festivals all over Europe, in Canada and California and with the album campaign running and so yeah…it’s been busy but it’s about to get busier! With the third album ‘The Devil, The Heart & The Fight’ out on the 30th September, we’re obviously looking forward to touring again with pretty much a sold out UK tour in October, and our longest ever headline tour across the whole of the States in November, and back in mainland Europe in the New Year.
CLUNK: Your music has a huge soundscape dancing between genres as well as grabbing elements of them and blending them but how did you get the sound that you output?
SL: I guess it was a natural progression from a number of different factors. Dan and Sam used to holler shanties at a regular folk club in Greenwich, Max and Dan played a lot of traditional Morris tunes at house parties for fun and Max and I sang for friends parties in an Appalacian family band. At the same time Dan was writing his own tunes and eventually we just thought about putting all these together to create a band and take to the festivals! When we went on the Vans Warped Tour I think the more punk side crept in as we were competing with some pretty hardcore bands!
CLUNK: Your upcoming album ‘The Devil, The Heart & The Fight’ is set for release September 30th i’m curious to know your recording process and how you go about crafting an album ?
SL: As I mentioned, there wasn’t a lot of downtime over the past year so we basically booked ourselves in rehearsal studios all over the world. By night we were singing and playing to thousands of Frank Turner fans, getting drunk and meeting wild and wonderful people and by day, we’d crawl out of our holes into all sorts of places. In Berlin we were in an amazing underground bunker, in Pittsburgh our good friends Anti-Flag let us use their pad, in Falmouth we had an amazing warehouse over looking the sea. Loads of really cool places! We tested the songs out on the audiences, which helped us really work on arrangements and so when May came around and we were due in the studio we were pretty happy with the majority of them. I guess there was a bit more time in the studio for some experimentation too though and we had a great time developing ‘Devil In Me’.
CLUNK: You’ve gathered a strong following since your beginnings in 2009 because of your electric live performances and solid releases do you feel a pressure to match previous releases or have you become more confident?
SL: Of course, you want your followers to like the new stuff as much as the old. Sometimes that happens over time and sometimes it’s instant. We obviously are proud of our release and think it’s our best yet. It’s great for artists to keep things fresh and new. We find it revitalizing to listen to and to play, although sometimes it can be hard when you play something new to a crowd and you can tell they want to perhaps hear something familiar. We certainly found that with the last album. The first time around playing the new stuff live was not half as rowdy as when we went back a second time and people had got to know the words and stuff. With this album though, I think there’s enough impact for people just to join in immediately. We’ll see anyway on our upcoming tours!
“We obviously are proud of our release and think it’s our best yet”
CLUNK: I read in a previous interview that you started Skinny Lister to get into festivals for free did you ever expect to be in the position you are in now?
SL: I guess the rest of the band certainly joined with ambitions of a life in music. I have always sang and enjoyed singing but had never been in a band, other than the family band with my brother, but when I saw that we could get gigs and have ‘essentially’ parties and get paid for it I was in! I have always loved festivals so yeah when we kept getting festival offers to play I was in hook line and sinker. I knew we were going to do pretty well early on. We had one of our first ever gigs when releasing an EP at the Lock Tavern in Camden. The room was packed with people who wanted a good time and they had come to see us. It was so exciting to see people crammed into this room, standing on tables and chairs trying to dance and see the band. I guess that’s where I really got the flavour for performing then.
I certainly never thought we’d be opening up Fuji Rock festival in Japan, or the main stage at Coachella in California or playing on a cruise ship festival in the Bahamas. It’s mental. We work hard but we play hard too and we just thoroughly enjoy it!
CLUNK: What was your initial influence to pick up instruments and how long have you all been playing?
SL: Dan picked up the guitar early on. He fell in love with Brylcreem and 50’s music when he should probably have been down the park playing football. Max learned the piano early on and was always into creative music projects but picked up the accordion fairly late on when he had decided he wanted to spend time with our dad playing music. Thom got into drums when discovering Nirvana years ago and Mule and Michael spent a lot of their youth in bands!
“I certainly never thought we’d be opening up Fuji Rock festival in Japan, or the main stage at Coachella in California or playing on a cruise ship festival in the Bahamas. It’s mental. We work hard but we play hard too and we just thoroughly enjoy it!”
CLUNK: How do you feel creativity and arts are going to be affected by Brexit?
SL: It’s difficult to tell. Our gut instinct is not a great one and we believe unity is better than separation. We spend a lot of time in Europe and certainly didn’t want to feel that people thought we wanted to isolate ourselves. It’s all speculation at the moment. The worse case scenario is that we can’t afford to travel because of potential visa costs and fees when entering a country with merchandise etc. And then likewise with European bands coming into the UK. Already bands tend to skip the UK as they don’t get as well treated here as they do in mainland Europe. As a creative industry we’re all used to ‘speculating to accumulate’ but you can only afford to do that for so long. With this in mind we wouldn’t experience great European acts that we should discover.
CLUNK: What was your standing on Brexit ?
SL: We were 100% in. However, we have to accept that we were not in the majority and hope that the future remains bright for us as musicians travelling around Europe.
CLUNK: London as a city has always played a huge influence on your music but what is it about our capital that you find so attractive and inspiring?
SL: London is an amazing city. It is steeped in history, both other people’s and our own. There’s so much to see and do. You don’t need lots of money to discover a lot of interesting things there, in fact I once challenged myself to live off £5 a day after paying my (at the time) very cheap rent. I had loads to do. Free art viewings, concerts and walks around the many interesting places. That and all the nostalgia we have from hanging out there, going to parties, getting slung out of pubs and hanging out in parks in the summer. It’s hard not to find something there inspiring.
CLUNK: When can we expect you to grace our Cornish shores?
SL: Oh gosh, we would love to head your way again. It’s trying to find the time. Everyone needs a break and I guess we’re not totally sure of how many people would come to see us!
CLUNK: Lastly, what can people expect from your upcoming tour?
SL: The tour is going to be so much fun. We’re planning on playing the whole of the new album, there’ll be some musical developments instrumentally and then the usual. We’ll be bringing our flagon filled with rum, expecting the crowd to join in and we’ll no doubt be getting into the crowd occasionally for a dance or what ever. We’re so thrilled it’s nearly completely sold out and we can’t wait to announce more dates!
We want to extend a massive thank you to the guys in Skinny Lister for taking the time to answer our questions, if you want to pre – order ‘The Devil, The Heart & The Fight’ you can do so here:
Xtra Mile: http://smarturl.it/DevilHeartFight_XMR
Banquet Records: http://smarturl.it/DevilHeartFight_Bnqt