Interview: Skinny Lister

Skinny Lister live at Cambridge Junction 2 2015

For those that don’t know you yet…who are Skinny Lister?
Skinny Lister are a bunch of mates (including a pair of siblings) that like to have a good time and one way that they’ll definitely have a good time is if they’ve got instruments in hand, a beer on the table and a flagon full of rum.

They started off in different walks of life, listening to different genres of music but one thing they all have in common is a love of traditional music.

Your live shows have picked up quite a reputation…what can people expect from a Skinny Lister show?
Like I say above, when we’re playing music we instantly feel good. The music gives us energy and then we start to move. This is also facilitated by the rum we pass around in our trusty flagon. You might get a waltz from me or you might find Michael with his bass being carried above your head. You will hopefully feel the need to stomp a foot or two and perhaps even belt out a shanty.

So it looks like life is pretty hectic for you at the moment…how is 2015 going? How was the tour with Chuck Ragan?
We’re so excited at the moment. The album is being released on Xtra Mile Recordings on 20th April and we’re doing the tour to celebrate this starting on the 22nd April. We play the Cambridge Junction 2 on Saturday 2nd May which is going to be great. Tickets are selling fast and if its anything like last year when we played Cambridge Folk Festival it’s going to be a riot.

The Chuck Ragan Tour was fantastic and ridiculous at the same time. We flew straight in from SXSW in Austin Texas, after a week of serious partying, and headed straight up to Glasgow to join the fabulous Chuck and The Camaraderies. The nicest guys on the road I believe with an amazing show. We played and drank 18 days straight in the UK and various countries in mainland Europe and ended with a very messy night in Hamburg where the usually sensible Dan was cleaning his teeth with beer. Hmm.

You’re widely regarded as being one of the hardest working bands around, any plans to slow down at all?
We had a few days off around Christmas so I think that makes us the laziest band around! We’re so excited about the new album we want to give it every chance to be known. We gig as much as we can because we love playing but we also love meeting new people. In fact now when we tour we’re basically arranging meet up with old friends and new.

There are no plans to slow down at the moment!

You’ve got a new album ‘Down on Deptford Broadway’ out this month, can you tell us a bit about that please?
Where our last album ‘Forge and Flagon’ set a pastoral scene and our love of the outdoors, this album definitely depicts our love affair with London. We’ve added drums to our line-up which helps give more dynamics to our songs. Ted Hutt produced the album (previous albums he’s worked on Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphy’s and Gaslight Anthem). He came to a live London show and his aim was to get our live sound on record. He really pushed the songwriting too. We’re really proud of this album and we can’t wait to get it out there.

There’s a strong London / Englishness theme through out the album, was that deliberate?
It is deliberate but natural. We spent many years living in South East London and its influence has certainly infused the album. We find London very inspirational – full of life. And as for the Englishness, we’ve always flown the flag for traditional English music, playing old English Morris tunes and Sea Shantys etc.. Having said that, we’ve also thrown a bit of an Irish traditional music influence in there for good measure, you can hear that coming through on tracks like ‘This Is War’.

Where do your inspirations for song writing come from?
Following on from the above question – London has certainly been a continual inspiration. For example, ‘Six Whiskies’ is a love song, but a love song about London rather than a girl, written about getting thrown out of a Farringdon night club in the early hours and wondering the streets. Going to traditional folk sessions, which we still do when we can, also still provides inspiration – ‘Raise A Wreck’, for example, is our take on a traditional sea shanty. ‘Trouble On Oxford Street’ was written about when Dan got beaten up on Oxford Street by a bunch of punks. I suppose we try to stick real life in there – stuff that means something to us.

Festival season is approaching…do you have a preference for festival shows over your own headline shows at all, or vice versa?
I joined the band basically to get into festivals for free so there is something special about festivals definitely. Everyone is in a great mood and you’re bound to have a great time afterwards. In fact Glastonbury was a very special gig for me last year. We flew straight in from the East Coast of America after supporting Dropkick Murphys into Glastonbury Avalon stage. Fans old and new were there and I cried with happiness to have such an amazing show.

And finally…if you could share a stage with any band, past or present…it would be…
These questions are always tricky because the whole band would obviously say someone different. I think I would say Motorhead.

Photograph courtesy of Richard Etteridge Photography
Interview courtesy of Slate the Disco


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