We recently had the opportunity to chat to a band bringing a much-needed breath of fresh air to the current UK scene, The Skints, before the final date of their two-week stint on the road with Random Hand, in Newcastle. We got talking about: their upcoming debut album, touring as a young band, their recent signing to Rebel Alliance Recordings, the state of UK punk, and Reggae Reggae Sauce.
Faye: Can you say your name and what you do?
Josh: I’m Josh, I play guitar and do vocals.
Jamie: I’m Jamie, I play drums and I also do vocals.
Faye: How did the band start?
Josh: The Skints initially started in about 2004/2005, I just got mates that I knew played instruments, and we played old school-style ska. Me, John (bass) and Marcia (sax, melodica, organ, vocals) were playing with another drummer for a little while. Then, in May 2007, we got Jamie, who was one of our really good mates, to do drums and we realised he could drum and sing at the same time. Then we started writing songs in a pretty much reggae/rock-style.
Jamie: Yeah, it sort of went from pop-ska and submerged more into the whole reggae/dub/punk sort of sound.
Josh: Yeah, we’ve been doing the rounds and touring for about a year now.
Faye: You’re still quite young, aren’t you?
Josh: Me and Marcia are 19.
Jamie: I’m the eldest one actually, I’m 22 in a couple of days.
Josh: John is 21. I just finished college like two days before we started this tour and Marcia was doing a foundation at uni, but she dropped it to be in a band… [laughs]
Jamie: To her credit, she tried and hung onto that course, but they just got sick of her taking loads of time off.
Josh: So, yeah, we’re kind of doing this over everything. [laughs]
Faye: On your MySpace, you list Reggae Reggae Sauce as an influence, how does that influence you?
Josh: ‘Cause it’s amazing. [laughs] It’s the best thing ever.
Jamie: Yeah, it’s good shit, it’s better than any other sauce I’ve tasted.
Josh: Yeah, it’s the best sauce and you can have it with anything, like pasta and a chicken sandwich. When we did The King Blues tour, Reggae Reggae Sauce was part of their rider every night, so they kept giving us loads.
Jamie: Yeah, Dave Taylor, their manager, gave me a bottle of Reggae Reggae Sauce and, one night, we were staying in this house in Exeter, and me and Marcia were up and couldn’t get any sleep, so I decided to do a bit of experimentation with some digestive biscuits and some Reggae Reggae Sauce and I poured it on top.
Josh: It was fucking gash.
Jamie: I was very high at the time, I’ve got to say. [laughs] But I tried it and it was fucking wicked. I made everyone else try it, but they thought, “Oh my God, what the fuck’s wrong with you, man?”
Josh: Everything, man. I didn’t rate the digestive.
Jamie: Nah, they were fucking awesome.
Faye: You’ve been on a good few tours this past year, do you think you’ve adapted well to the touring lifestyle?
Josh: Yeah, this is the longest tour we’ve done, it’s been like two-weeks straight, with like one-day off. Last July, we did a self-booked tour with our mates ClayPigeon; then, in October, The King Blues took us out; then, in February, we did a tour with a little band from America called Knock Out; then we did a little one in April, with a band called Jaya The Cat; and we just did The Slackers tour in May. So, yeah, I think the first couple, we were very much getting into it and learning what it’s about, but I think everyone’s all just ready to jump in a van now and go away and just have fun. It’s all we want to do.
Faye: So, you’ve done a lot within the past year, what have been your highlights?
Josh: Mine was probably playing the Slam Dunk Festival and we’ve also just recorded our new album and that was amazing, just to hang out in the studio where we were was fucking wicked. There’s just been some really good gigs, y’know? We supported Farse on their comeback gig at the Birmingham O2 and it was sold out, with like 650-people or something, that was an amazing gig. Everything really though, this whole year, it’s been enjoyable all the way. There’s not been a part where we’ve been like, “Oh, this is not want we want to do.”
Jamie: There’s been so many highlights, I’ve kind of lost count, to be honest, but I definitely fucking rated Slam Dunk. I’ve rated all the different tours and all the people we’ve met so far.
Josh: It’s really nice playing gigs with your mates as well, like going on tour with Random Hand for two-weeks.
Jamie: Yeah, and making new friends as well.
Josh: This tour has probably been one of my highlights, Random Hand have really, really looked after us, it’s been like a two-week holiday, just playing tunes every night. Getting to play with Sonic Boom Six, The King Blues, The Slackers – if it wasn’t for The Slackers, we wouldn’t be half of what we are, so that was absolutely amazing.
Faye: Have you finished recording your new album?
Josh: Yeah, it’s all recorded, we’ve got a bit of mixing and mastering to do.
Faye: What can we expect from it? Is it much different from the EP?
Jamie: Yeah, I think it’s pretty different, in the sense that it’s much more reggae/dub influenced than ska.
Josh: It’s our first album and, obviously, the more hardcore people who seen us in the early days are going to have the EP, but it’s kind of like our introduction to the world. There’s definitely not that much ska on it at all. Like Jamie was saying, it’s very, very reggae and dub, with a bit of punk and rock influences in between this and that. We’re really proud of it, the whole thing flows together, so there’s no proper gaps or anything. We wrote it as an album, I think the main difference between the EP and the album is that the EP was just six of our best songs at the time and we wrote the album as an album.
Jamie: It slots in with what we’ve been doing live for ages, it’s basically a representation of what we’ve been building up to, to this point. That in an album, really.
Josh: It’s pretty much an album that says, “Hello, world, we’re The Skints.”
Faye: Is there a release date yet?
Josh: The release date is November 9th, it’s going out on Rebel Alliance Recordings.
Faye: You’ve just signed to Rebel Alliance Recordings, haven’t you?
Josh: Literally, yeah, we’ve just sorted that out, which is wicked.
Faye: How did that come about?
Josh: We didn’t really know what we were going to do, but we did a few shows with Sonic Boom Six, got quite matey with them and I think it was after a gig in Leeds we did with Random Hand, Barney, from Sonic Boom Six, was sort of like, “Who’s putting your album out?” and I was like, “Oh, I don’t know.” and he asked, “Can we do it?” and I was like, “What do you mean, ‘Can we do it?’ Of course, you can do it, that’d be wicked!” and after some talks, it’s going out on Rebel Alliance, which is wicked, because there’s some awesome bands on there as well, obviously, Random Hand, Mouthwash, Sonic Boom Six and it’s only going to get better. So, yeah, it’s going to be released on November 9th and the release gig is at the Barfly in London on the 12th, which is going to be the first date of a three-and-a-half week UK tour we’re going to be doing. We’re going to go everywhere with it in November/December.
Faye: I read in your blog on MySpace, that there’s songs about cannabis, unemployment and youth gangs on your new album, would you call yourself a political band?
Jamie: We dabble, we try not to get too involved.
Josh: I think it’s more about personal politics, like every thing’s political. I think with a lot of our songs, there’s not like one message being said or being pushed, it’s sort of like, all the political stuff is our own things and what we’re thinking, instead of thinking, “This is definitely going to be a song about this political thing or that political thing.” It’s just more like our own personal politics, it’s just things that have happened to us. We’re definitely not one of those bands that will talk about things that we haven’t personally experienced. We have a lyric in one tune about just drinking a cup of tea, it’s just something that happens us, as opposed to make some big bate love song that doesn’t mean anything to anyone.
Faye: Being a small band, what do you think about people downloading your music?
Josh: It’s a tricky one, because if I said, “I’ve never downloaded an album.” I’d be lying, but at the same time, for a small band, it’s hard, because the money situation is so tight for eating on tour, fuel, and just like living, basically. You kind of need to sell something, you need money coming in, but at the same time, I would rather have like 50-people at a gig all singing along that hadn’t bought it, then no one there with everyone sitting at home that’s bought it. It’s a really tricky one, I think it’s got good and bad points, and you can argue forever and ever, but I think if someone downloaded a few of our songs and got to know them, and come to see us live off the strength of that, wicked. When our album’s out and if someone comes to the gig and buys it, it’ll really help us out, even better. It’s a really on-going argument, but I don’t think it’s a really bad thing. Obviously, we’d really appreciate if people bought our album, but we’d also really appreciate the fact that people just want to listen to it, regardless of whether we got their money or not.
Faye: What do you think about the state of UK punk at the moment?
Josh: Well, there’s a lyric, it might sound like a bit of a jive, on one of our new songs on the album that says, “I can count on both hands the bands that I think are worth a damn.” It’s probably more than both hands, I definitely think we’re coming out of a bit of a recession quality-wise, because it’s been dead for the past couple of years, but there’s bands making movements and coming back. I’m not trying to say that we’re better than any other band out there, but for every brilliant band, I’ll probably see two not-so brilliant bands. The thing is, nowadays, is that every other person is in a band, there’s so much music, it’s becoming increasingly hard to filter out the quality from the rest, but I think there’s definitely bands coming out strongly. It’s like the bands that are trying to do something different, rather than being just some punk band or just another ska band or whatever. But, yeah, I definitely think it’s on its way up out of a bad patch, like The King Blues on the cover of Kerrang! and Sonic Boom Six opening the main stage at Reading can only be good for UK punk rock.
Faye: What do you think about those who say that The King Blues are selling out for being on the cover of Kerrang! and signing to a major label?
Josh: Well, they’re not, the thing is, is that The King Blues, for a band in their position, they still do so much DIY, they’re very good mates of ours.
Jamie: Don’t take them on their last record, Save The World, Get The Girl, because if you actually go see them live, you’ll realise that is more than what that album is.
Josh: They write amazing pop songs that are punk songs at the same time. The selling out thing is just ridiculous, because they are a very political band and they’re trying to spread a message, but if they keep playing in punk circles, they’re just going to keep playing to the converted, like preaching to the converted or whatever. They’re the sort of band that needs to tell all the kids that aren’t switched on what’s going on. I don’t think it’s selling out at all, they’re an amazing band.
Faye: You’re going to the Czech Republic soon for a couple of shows, are you excited?
Josh: Yeah, we’re flying on Friday, we’re playing a festival called the Mighty Sounds Festival, which is sort of about punk, hip-hop and reggae, and it’s going to be wicked. It’s the first time Jamie will have left the country, so I’m going to be holding his hand. So, yeah, we’re playing the festival on the Saturday and then we’re hanging out there over the weekend, and then we’re playing the after-party of the festival in Prague, which is wicked. It’s the first time we’ll have left the UK as a band, so we’re genuinely really looking forward to it, it’s like 70p a pint or something ridiculous like that.
Faye: Have you got any more plans to go to Europe?
Josh: There’s nothing concrete at all, I wouldn’t like to say anything. Between now and next summer, I think we’d definitely like to do a European tour, if not, in the next 12-months, the definitely in the next 18.
Faye: What does the rest of the year hold for you?
Josh: After this, we do the Czech Republic, when we come back we’ve got a couple of gigs with Sonic Boom Six and Mouthwash, then we’re doing Infest with Random Hand in Peterborough, then we’re doing a couple of gigs with Voodoo Glow Skulls, we’re doing Rebellion in Blackpool, then we’ve got a three-date tour with The Aggrolites, which we’re really, really excited about, because they’re one of our favourite bands, they’re just amazing. Then we’ve got a few one-offs and then in October, we’re doing a UK tour with Sonic Boom Six, which is going to be amazing, we’re going to have a single coming out for that as well.
Faye: Are you going to do a video for it?
Josh: I don’t know, we don’t even know what song it is yet, it’s going to be a single for that tour and then in November, the album comes out, then the headline album tour in November/December. So, busy times.
Faye: Change the record, who should we be listening to?
Josh: Squab, Moral Dilemma, Mouthwash, Minus Society, Jimmy The Squirrel, ClayPigeon, these are bands we’re peers with and, obviously, big-up to The King Blues and big-up to Sonic Boom Six and Random Hand, because they’re our elders, everyone knows about them. Check out our boy Reeps One, he’s now the UK’s number one beatboxer and he’s a mate of ours.
Faye: Is there anything you want to say before we finish?
Josh: Thank you very much for interviewing us, making us feel like a real band, in our smelly van. [laughs] We’d like to say a big thank you to Random Hand for taking us out on an amazing tour and, yeah, the album’s out on November 9th on Rebel Alliance, called Live. Breathe. Build. Believe., check it out and come see us soon, we’re on tour all the time, forever.
The Skints’ debut album, Live. Breathe. Build. Believe., is out on November 9th on Rebel Alliance Recordings.
For more information on The Skints and tour dates visit: www.myspace.com/theskintsuk