Skinny Lister – Interview

Skinny ListerHow did your upcoming album  ‘The Devil, The Heart and the Fight’ come to be, and were there many challenges along the way when putting it together? 

We put this album together while on tour with Frank Turner across the UK, Europe and the USA. Party by night and rehearsal by day! Whether it be down in a dark dank bunker in Hamburg or a swish singer songwriter rehearsal suite in Nashville. Finding the time amongst all the rum swigging and celebrations was a challenge. We feel as a result of our extensive annual mileage, the album we’ve created has a more global and wider reaching feel to it. We’ve loosened the folk leash and run into a more rocky landscape.

How do you feel your latest album differs musically and in tone compared to your previous record ‘Down on Deptford Broadway’?
Though we still have folk at the core of Skinny Lister with this album we’ve worked with a wider sound palette that includes shades of 80s revival, heavier punk overtones and wide-screen balladry. Down on Deptford Broadway saw us introduce a drummer for the first time and definitely marked our move into a heavier sound that came from 7 weeks on the Vans Warped Tour across the US. We feel that ‘The Devil, The Heart & The Fight’ is us moving into a more self assured and confident Skinny Lister Sound. 

With having so many creative minds at work in Skinny Lister what is your creative process with regards to writing new songs?

Sometimes this can be a real joy and other times a challenge! Dan creates the core of the songs and brings them to the rehearsal studio or makes demos for everyone to check out and then we hammer ‘em out in sessions in which the band pull and push ‘em into shape.  With this album we were grabbing hours here and there whilst touring so we just about managed to get everything in shape in time to head into the Silk Mill Studios in Newcastle-Under-Lyme earlier on in the year.

When it comes to playing live how do you usually go about putting together your set list? Do you have any favourite live songs?

We usually bandy this about in the dressing room before a gig. Sometimes it can be painful but other days it’s a doddle. We often have a skeleton list for a tour that we tweak here and there to take in potential requests or killer responses from the crowd at last night’s show. Current live favourites from our latest album are ‘Tragedy in A Minor’, ‘Injuries’ and ‘Grace’. Older favourites include ‘Cathy’, ‘Trouble on Oxford Street’ and of course the whole room singalong that is ‘John Kanaka’.

As a band do you prefer playing smaller, more crowd intimate venues or larger arenas that allow you to spread out more?

We love playing gigs great and small. Skinny Lister was formed so that we could enjoy ourselves and get into festivals and parties. You know whether it be at the base of Mt Fuji at Asigiri Jam Festival in Japan, Hurricane Festival in Germany, the Avalon Stage at Glastonbury or a sweaty boozer in South East London, Skinny Lister love to play live and bring the party to the people!

What other bands are you listening to at the minute?

We still love listening to our Xtra Mile Recordings label mates Beans on Toast and Will Varley. Wider afield we have an eclectic bunch of tastes that take in a wide range of musics. In the van at the moment we’re listening to the ‘Heart’ playlist we created as part of our album release that has amongst others Morrissey, Killing Joke, Alt J, Blondie and The Family Crest.

Who are the artists that inspired you to pick up instruments in the first place, and who influences your music?
As a young whipper snapper Dan was listening to Buddy Holly, Mule’s Mum could play a mean boogie woogie on the piano and on the distant shores of Hawaii a young Michael Camino was inspired by the rockin double bass of Bill Black who played with the great Elvis. We’ve also been inspired by the folk musicians in our families and folk clubs that we attended throughout our childhoods. On the party side we love bands like Kate Bush, Dexy and the Midnight Runners and more pastoral folk music from the likes of Chris Drever and James Yorkston. Our core influences are still the punk folk ethos and power of bands like the The Pogues and The Clash. 

As artists do you feel the music scene has changed a great deal since you first formed?
During the life of Skinny Lister, social media has become so important. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter mean that we can talk with fans and share Skinny news and snapshots of our lives on the road. We’ve started Facebook Live interview sessions which have been ace. Sitting in a dressing room on the other side of the Atlantic getting messages and questions from fans and friends from all over the globe is really exciting. It feels like we can really connect in a meaningful way with people. 

Finally, do you have any words for the increasing number of people being inspired by artists such as yourselves to find their own voices and put their ideas into music?
Like Nike said ‘Just DO it”. Say yes to everything at first as you need to be doing it to be in it. You basically become whatever you do and with enough grit and determination you can make amazing things happen. Keep going, keep positive and make sure that you love what you’re doing.

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