British six piece punkfolk act Skinny Lister are heading back home with a string of UK headline dates that will see them play in the biggest venues to date. It comes hot off the heels of a sold out UK tour last fall as well as a US tour opening for Flogging Molly. GIGsoup caught up with vocalist, crowd surfer and flagon distributor, Lorna Thomas about the band’s future, their new band member and their excitement for the upcoming headline tour.
Are you looking forward to the US tour with Flogging Molly, how’s the US been treating you? You’ve been performing over there for quite some time, any particularly memorable shows? How does it compare to shows back home?
We can’t wait to be back on the road with Flogging Molly. We did our first ever serious US tour with them so naturally have some great memories. The last time we saw them (other than briefly at some European festivals in the summer) was on the Salty Dog Cruise last year. That was one insane party! They know how to throw them properly! That HAS to go up there in the memory bank. Also playing The Roseland Ballroom with Flogging Molly was great in NYC. Opening the main stage of Coachella was pretty crazy too and the whole of the Vans Warped Tour will never leave us either! So yeah, some amazing memories! The shows aren’t altogether that different to be honest (though the temperature can vary somewhat). People come to the shows, sing along at full pelt and have a drink and a party with us. The travelling is pretty different though and I’d hate to think about how many miles we’ve clocked up travelling from East to West and back.
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You’ve been lucky enough to tour with some incredible artists over the years, is there any in particular that you’ve enjoyed touring with the most?
I think it’s fair to say that whilst all tours have had a huge impact in helping us along this crazy path of rock and roll, touring so many places with Frank Turner has been incredible for us. Since supporting him on his world tour we have been able to sell out our UK shows, play our own headline gigs all over the states and enjoy packed rooms in mainland Europe too. But then opening for Dropkick Murphys on their last leg of Europe was crazy enjoyable. Every night we played to thousands and seemed to be received really well. Its brilliant to reap the rewards of lots of hard touring! That and the surreal opportunity to support Boy George in the UK a few years back all add up to some great memories!
It was less than six months ago you were touring up and down the UK on a sold out tour, how does it feel to be heading back and this time headlining even bigger venues?
We’re really excited to get back on the UK roads! It’s amazing seeing the tickets sell so fast and even better when you’re in a venue that you’ve attended times before as a punter and to think that it’s more than likely to sell out when you headline is just brilliant. We’re just thinking about how we’ll up our game and keep the party growing!
The approach that the band has towards touring is to hit it full throttle, what influenced this approach from the band?
To be fair I think there are a lot of bands who tour more than us but we do a fair bit of travelling, mainly because we enjoy playing live and people still come to the shows! We don’t ever like feeling like we’re not giving a place enough attention but it all has to be measured right! Time at home is a rare treat but it’s always great to get back on the road, with the rest of the guys and walking out onto a stage where the audience is cheering. Nothing beats it and we want to make sure that continues to grow.
Your live shows have grown in reputation as a unique and energetic experience that few bands can offer, does this help to motivate the band for each show or does it add any extra pressure as the bands reputation grows?
Like I said, I think we’re always thinking about how we can improve our performance and when we get on stage, it’s kind of like a button is switched. You’re not really thinking about anything other than making sure you give your all. As long as we all come off stage feeling like we did the best that we could, then we feel it’s a good show. If the crowd are into it then that makes it a great show. And when we play to newer/bigger audiences that just fuels our motivation I guess.
I was sad to hear that your double bassist, Michael Camino has decided to take a step back from the band, seeing him surf across a sea of people with that double bass in hand was always a highlight from the shows and will be sorely missed but was his departure a sudden one or is it something that’s built up over time? Is there plans in place for a replacement?
It’s always sad when the time comes for a band member to leave and seek normal life. They become like family – which I guess brings with it all the advantages and disadvantages that family brings. It was particularly difficult for Michael, being so far away from home and over the last year I’d say it was evident that he was getting very homesick, very distant and so we had a chat and everyone felt it was time for him to go home and rekindle his family ties. The bass crowd surfing will be missed (though the potential lawsuits won’t) but we feel that the show will continue to be a Skinny Lister show! For us it’s business as usual. We have a replacement lined up in Scott Milsom. He joined us on the Dropkick Murphys tour in Europe and instantly clicked with us all. He’s an amazing player and totally gets the Skinny Lister work ethic. So, we’re excited about the future and really feel like we have everything to get where we want to be.
Your latest record The Devil, The Heart & The Fight has been hailed as the bands best work, you managed to make your music sound more contemporary without losing your punk-folk edge, is this the direction you’ll be taking your music going forward?
Thank you and yes I think we’re all really proud of the last album. Things feel really positive for us and I’m not sure that anything is intentional but we certainly want to keep things fresh. I’d say it’s safe to say that the next album will continue down this vein for sure. We’re not afraid to experiment with sounds and where as we may have questioned whether a song was ‘skinny enough’ in the past, we’re quite excited to try and deliver stuff that pushes that definition now.
What else is on the Skinny Lister agenda for 2017?
Are we still in 2017? Plans are already being made for 2018! In all seriousness though there is the upcoming US and UK tour. We have loads of festivals over the summer in the UK and mainland Europe and then intend to take ‘The Devil, The Heart & The Fight’ on a headline tour of Europe too in the Fall.
I remember you proclaiming at a show that you actually started the band as a way to get into festivals for free, is that true? Could you even imagine this level of success at the time you guys got together?
Success is a funny term to use. We still feel we have a long way to go. It is true that I didn’t really take any of it that seriously at the time we started. I mean I took the performances seriously and always wanted more but I never thought passed getting gigs. To think that we’ve been all over the world, playing massive festivals in japan, America and in the UK (particularly Glastonbury) is insane. To have been to the Bahamas on a cruise is just mental. So much fun times have been had but I think there are still so many more to be had and the band want MORE!
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
This varies for everyone of course but I really enjoy ‘Devil in Me’. I love that it’s a ballad but with a twist, I love the drums at the end and ever since I first heard Dan play it on the guitar I just fell in love with it. It’s not quite as mental as some of the other songs but it gives us a moment to really enjoy the experience of standing in front of the crowd and soaking in the atmosphere. Which, lets face it, is what it’s all about!