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Band Of Skulls Interview

British rock trio Band Of Skulls have managed to accomplish a feat that few UK alternative bands are able to execute successfully – breaking the United States of America. The fact that they have created a high enough profile in the US to complete a headline tour and appear on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show after only (officially) forming in 2008 makes the achievement even more bewildering.

To be fair, Band Of Skulls were given a helping hand with the inclusion of their song ‘Friends’ on theTwilight: New Moon soundtrack alongside Muse and The Killers – a compilation that 99.9% of all females aged 10-20 purchased just for the cover art featuring you-know-who.

Consisting of guitarist Russell Marsden, bassist Emma Richardson and drummer Matt Hayward, Band Of Skulls’ blend of Led Zeppelin style blues-rock and garage punk will delight fans of Jack White. Rivmixx managed to catch Marsden for a chat just before the band headed back to The States….

Rivmixx: You formed the band at college, but how did you guys come to meet in the first place?

Russell Marsden: “The initial thing was mine and Matt’s families. Because we both had an interest in music they put us together. We were children – Matt was 11 years old when I met him. His dad was a musician, there was a drum kit in their house, the guitar was found and plugged in…sort of put in the back room to make a racket. It many ways we’re still in the back room making a racket.”

R: What about Emma?

R.M: “Met Emma when we were going through that art school system. Emma was a painter, and I probably met her hanging around the art department. We were looking for a bass player at the time and, every week, I was bringing back (to Matt’s house) some random who had a bass guitar. And Emma was the last one that ever came round, because she stayed.”

R: You were originally called Fleeing New York before changing your name to Band of Skulls in 2008. Why the name change?

R.M: “While we were at art school we kind of experimented with music – trying all things out, trying out different members of the band. It was a free time. At one point we decided to stop gigging and go away and write some songs together. It ended up being the core of the band, just us three. When we came back with the songs, we just felt like it was a new thing. So we just wanted a fresh start.”

R: Do you think the direction of your sound also changed?

R.M: “In many ways it was like a simplification. We went down to the pure essence – it was the heart of the band, us three, and it was the heart of our sound.”

R: All three of you contribute to writing the music as well as the lyrics. Was it a conscious decision from the start to share lyric-writing duties?

R.M: “Me and Emma do the majority of the singing, and as any singer you do tend to write more lyrics. Saying that, the main line in ‘I Know What I Am’ (the new single) was one of Matt’s things he stole off a drink in a pub; a catch phrase of a local old man. There’s not really hard and fast rules, we all write music. Our philosophy is “never finish any piece of work.” The hardest thing when you’re on a role is to just stop.”

R: You spent a solid 18 months writing and recording your first album ‘Baby Darling Doll Face Honey’ – did you consciously want to take your time with it?

R.M: “It started really slowly, because we got the chance to make a couple songs as a demo. It was going so well with our producer Ian, and it was played to a few people. The band got signed on the strength of those demos and then we finished the rest of the songs we had. It gradually became a situation where we went in to make an album. It was quite exciting at the time.”

R: The artwork for the album was based on some of Emma’s paintings. What made you decide to use her art and is painting something she still likes to do?

R.M: “As we took her out of art school and scuppered her art degree, or at least delayed it, it was our way of getting some karma back. It felt really natural to use something form the band as well. Emma’s always worked on that kinda stuff; it’s always been around us. Felt like a no brainer. She can’t really bring the giant canvasses around on the tour van, but in a really weird way she’s addicted to drawing. She nervously sketches all the time.”

R: Your song ‘Friends’ appeared on the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack, despite it not appearing on your album. How did the offer come about?

R.M: “We finished our record and we had a deadline because of the first release, so there were a few songs that we had but hadn’t had the same amount of time to work on. And ‘Friends’ was one of them. When we went on tour in America and we were reading the LA times, we just read that the director had chosen us to be in the film. And we were like ‘what the hell is this!?’ We thought it must have been a mistake or something. We called the studio – “I may have given them that song that you don’t like.” There was basically a leak in the studio and it ended up on the desk of Chris Weitz (New Moon director). Its kinda cool it’s not on the record, it’s like its own extra thing.”

R: Have you noticed increased exposure in the States as a result?

R.M: “It’s a different audience. I think there’s an audience that has discovered us because of being into new music, and a separate set of people from the film. It’s a different set of people – it’s broadened the range of people who come to our show. If they come and like us, its good.”

R: Your music is often described as a hybrid of ’90s garage rock and ’70s blues rock, but how would you personally describe your sound?

R.M: “The way we write music is the only way we can really. There was never this meeting where we sat down and said ‘right, were going to do this.’ I think we’ve got back to the closest thing when me and Matt first picked up instruments.  When we first picked them up it was a bit bluesy, and a bit, you know, dynamic. It’s what comes naturally to us.”

R: Lastly, apart from your UK tour in May and upcoming single release, what are your plans for 2010 – any new material or festival appearances on the cards?

R.M: “Yeah, we’ve had just this week to start writing. It’s a very overwhelming thing to stare into the blackness of starting a new album. We’re about to go on tour in America, so the rest of it is going to have to happen as we’re on tour – it’s going to be stolen chances to do it. Hopefully by the time we get back to England there might be a couple things sneaking into the set, which might be the beginnings of some new music.

“And there’re a few [festivals] that possibly could happen, but I can’t say which ones. We are really hoping to do some festivals, though, so we hope it works out.”

Band Of Skulls return for their largest headlining UK tour this May. Their single ‘I Know What I Am’ is out now.

Originally published by Rivmixx here

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~ by cliveparisrozario on March 18, 2010.

One Response to “Band Of Skulls Interview”

  1. […] with the wailing vocals, brings to mind the 70s hard rock of Zeppelin, delivered in a kind of Band Of Skulls way (i.e. a Jack White style – since Band Of Skulls borrowed heavily from White). There are a […]

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