Interview: The Skints

A year-and-a-half since we last spoke to them, it all seems to be falling into place for East London’s The Skints, as Faye caught up with Josh Waters Rudge [vocals/guitar] ahead of their recent Newcastle show, with a whole lot to talk about, including: the band’s highlights of 2010, finishing their second album, the story behind leaving Rebel Alliance, feeling like a ‘proper’ band, and much more!

Faye: You’re touring with your friends, Random Hand and Dirty Revolution, has it been fun so far?
Josh: Yeah, the tour’s been great, the city shows like London and Leeds absolutely blew us away by how many people came out. It’s just been real fun, good to tour with Random Hand again and hang with the Dirty Revolution guys and stuff. It’s been wicked, yeah.

Faye: So, what have you been up to this year? Can you give me a rundown?
Josh: Wow, so we started the year with the Rebel Alliance Tour, we done a lot of UK touring, we re-released our album ourselves, we done our first proper run festival season, we did our first European tour with The Slackers, we went to a bunch of other countries we’d never been before, we done Reading and Leeds festival, we got to play with Sublime, started selling out shows for the first time and we partied real hard. It’s been a really good year.

Faye: What were your highlights of 2010?
Josh: I’d say, this year as a whole has been wicked. There’s bee so many good gigs and tours. I think we’ve done nearly 150 gigs this year. The Sublime gigs were very special to me and recently did a couple of gigs with Gogol Bordello, who’re really cool, and obviously Reading and Leeds Festival. I really enjoyed Slam Dunk this year, that was fun to do. And we got to go on tour for a week with Bedouin Soundclash, which was amazing, because we love that band, I think that’s quite apparent in our music and they were like the nicest, nicest guys. They’re probably like the nicest band we’ve ever played underneath that didn’t know who we were at all, they completely too us under our wing.

Faye: Can I ask, what happened with the whole Rebel Alliance thing and you leaving?
Josh: You know what it is? There’s no bad blood at all between Sonic Boom Six and The Skints or anything, it’s just that the business end of it got a little bit sticky and we thought it’d be best just to keep doing it ourselves. The situation’s blown over by now, but we thought at that time when things weren’t going too great with the label that it’d be easier on everyone if we just stepped out and did it ourselves, because, unfortunately, within the music game, money does fall into a lot of things and can mess up a lot of things as well, so we thought it’d just be easier if we kept doing our own thing, but we’re still tight with the Sonic Boom Six guys and stuff, it ended well.

Faye: The last time I interviewed you in July 2009, at the end, you said, “Thank you for making us feel like a proper band.” Do you feel like a proper band these days?
Josh: [laughs] Yeah, we’ve done a lot of proper band-based stuff since then, but at the end of the day, we’re just being us. Obviously, we’ve done quite a lot since then and we’ve probably lost quite a lot of our innocence as a band since you last interviewed us as well.

Faye: How so?
Josh: Just went you step into the touring thing, your eyes are open to a lot of things and how things work – like when you’re a music listener, you might be oblivious. We run our operation a lot more like a machine than we used to, we’ve had to find that order to sustain ourselves with constant touring and stuff. You know what? People have said to be a couple of times recently, ‘Don’t you think when you did that, it was wicked?’ We haven’t really had a chance to stop and look back at like what we’ve done, it’s only when you get put on the spot and think about it, you’re like, ‘I can’t believe we done all that, in that amount of time.’ Obviously, there’s bands out there that have done much bigger things, but we’re just very proud, considering it’s all pretty much self-generated.

Faye: So, are you not looking for a label right now?
Josh: We are, we’re chatting to a couple of labels at the moment, because we have a new album that’s pretty much all written. We’re hopefully going to have it all demoed by the end of next month, so we are chatting to a couple of labels. We might not even do it with a label, but right now, we’re thinking it’s best to have as many options open to us as possible, rather than saying, ‘We’re going to do it ourselves’ from the onset, because it might not necessarily work in our favour. We’ve learned as well that it might now always work out how you think it’s going to plan, so we’re chatting to a couple of people who’re interested in putting the new album out. So, we’ll see how it goes.

Faye: So, you’re pretty much finished the new album?
Josh: The thing is, we’ve written close to a full album’s worth of material and we want to write a few more songs, then demo it and be able to say, ‘We want that, that and that, and this is our album.’ We want to have the choice to knock a few songs. It’s definitely the strongest stuff we’ve ever written, I think.

Faye: Is it much different to Live. Breathe. Build. Believe.?
Josh: Musically, it’s probably different in that we just tried different ways of writing songs. Lyrically, it’ll be quite a different album, I think it’s going to be more based on personal experiences of the band, like our personal views. Some of the songs on the last album were opinions from a wide-angle end and I think the next album is going to be our opinion on certain situations, and a lot more personal story-telling from people in the band as well, so hopefully people will rate that.

Faye: You released Live. Breathe. Build. Believe. over a year ago, were you surprised at the positive response?
Josh: Yeah, the response has been mad. I don’t think we’d have had such a good year, if we didn’t have an album out yet. So, we’re really happy about how much people were into it. I’m just really excited for people to start hearing the new stuff, because we’ve been playing one or two songs live the past few months, but we’ve got a whole album’s worth of stuff that we’ve been keeping a lid on, but we’re really, really grateful, on an underground level, how the album came out, because it seems like it’s spread in a very ripple-like sort of way, like, ‘My mate showed me your band, then I got all my lot into it and they’ve all started coming to the gigs.’ I didn’t really anticipate how much it would spread in a year, because we only in initially pressed one thousand and they went in the first 6-8 weeks, and since then, we’ve just been pressing them ourselves. I think the Internet had a lot to do with it as well. We’re just very, very grateful.

Faye: Do you find it a bit mental seeing it in HMV?
Josh: It’s a bit weird, yeah. [laughs] It’s cool, because everything is in HMV at the end of the day, so it’s nice to know that you can get it anywhere, because there’s some bands and you can only get their CDs at their gigs, so it’s nice to know that if people come to a gig then they’re in the shopping centre the next day, they might be able to pick it up.

Faye: Do you feel there’s a bit of hype around The Skints?
Josh: I don’t know about hype, I like to think that the people into our band are excited by our band, because we are and I think it’s sort of spread through non-stop touring. I think it’s cool that people are banging to our band and coming up to us and saying, ‘You guys are sick, I’ve seen you like five times.’ To me, that’s amazing. There’s not a lot of bands I’ve paid to see that many times, there’s a few, but to think that people think of us in that way is kind of crazy. I don’t know about hype because we still haven’t had a proper press agent or anything, every thing’s just came from just word of mouth. I don’t really like the word ‘hype’, because it seems that there’s no substance. But yeah, we’re really excited by this band and we’d like to think that some other people are as well.

Faye: Like a band like Random Hand, they’ve been touring for years and years, but you seemed to have hit that level already, how does that feel?
Josh: The thing is, this is a movement at the end of the day, there’s a few bands that are sort of doing it together… don’t really know how to answer, that’s a very hard question, but Random Hand are doing their thing and we’re doing our own thing, and fortunately, a lot of the same people are into it, so that means we get to play together a lot.

Faye: Do you find that your sound being as versatile as it is, is beneficial as you can play on all sorts of line-ups and appeal to a wide variety of people?
Josh: Yeah, we’ve been quite lucky in that sense, because it’s not like we can only go out with one sort of band, there’s not a lot of band this year that will have toured with Moral Dilemma and Bedouin Soundclash. So, yeah, we’re quite lucky in that we’ve had a lot of people in different genres of music respond to us in a positive way. I’ve found out recently that You Me At Six are into us and we met them and they were really cool dudes. It’s not really about genre, if you’ve got good tunes and your band carries itself well then people will respect it. We’ve had a couple of grime MCs come up to us and have said we’re wicked, so it’s really cool.

Faye: One thing I like about The Skints, is that no matter how many times I see you live, you always manage to switch your set up, with different interludes, covers, etc. It’s never the same.
Josh: Yeah, nice one, because that’s the thing. People have been saying, ‘Your albums been out for just over a year, why are you writing a new album now?’ And I think it’s because we get so bored of our songs so quickly, I think it’s because we play so much. That first album is kind of old to me now, some of those songs were written a while before it was even recorded as well. But, yeah, in the live show, we like to do new little things to them to make them more interesting for us and hopefully the crowd as well, and just have fun really, that’s what it’s about.

Faye: So, what’s next for The Skints after this tour?
Josh: In the last couple of months, we’ve sort of had a re-shuffle of our team, like the way we book things and we’re in talks with management, we’ve never had a manager before. We’re talking to a couple, so we’ll see how that goes and, obviously, the album stuff. But, yeah, there’s going to be some big things happening, hopefully around festival season. Touring for next year starts in February and we’ll be going to a few different countries.

Faye: I noticed you haven’t been announced for Rebellion yet.
Josh: Yeah, I hope we do Rebellion, because the last two years have been wicked. We’re hoping to do a bunch of new festivals we haven’t done before, but with touring, we’re aiming to hit up a few more countries outside the UK, but at the same time, make sure that all the UK shows are consistently good.

Faye: Change The Record, who should we be listening to?
Josh: You should listen to a band called ClayPigeon who are very, very good friends of ours. We played with them when we were really young and proper nobodies, and they’re starting to breakout of East London now. If you like bands like Capdown or Glassjaw or if you like hip-hop or if you like soul or if you like drum and bass or if you like ska or if you like punk, then there’s something in there for everyone – ClayPigeon, definitely the way forward. I also recommend a wicked little band from Manchester I found recently called Jeramiah Ferrari, they’re like Bedouin Soundclash in a Manchester-style, and Tyrannosaurus Alan, they’re sort of a rappy-skacore-party band, they’re three underground bands I’d definitely recommend.

Faye: Is there anything else you want to say before we finish?
Josh: I just want to say a big shout out to everyone who’s read this, who’s been to a show so far or bought our record or bought a t-shirt, we highly appreciate it, and everyone else we’ll see you in 2011, and thank you very much to Faye for the interview.

Faye Turnbull.

Many thanks to Josh for the interview and for more information on The Skints, visit: www.facebook.com/theskints and www.twitter.com/theskints

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