Times are pretty tough for any band these days to make a big impact on the music scene, especially if you are a rock band. Even harder if you are from Southampton, rather than the States. However, Band Of Skulls have certainly managed to achieve that and the release of their new album, Himalayan promises even bigger things (pun intended!). We were fortunate enough to get the opportunity to speak to all three members ( Russell Marsden – guitar; Matt Hayward – drums and Emma Richardson – bass) shortly before their headline set at 2000 trees festival:
Paul: You’ve had a very busy year so far with the release of the new album. Has it been hectic?
Russell: We’ll we’ve actually just come back from Slovakia so it’s been a bit surreal really, but it’s always good to see the green hills of England!
Matt: We’ve just finished a three month tour around Europe. Then we went to The States and then back for the glastonbury festival and now we’re in to the full festival scene.
Paul: Have you got a lot more more lined up?
Russell: Yeah, we’ve got a nice mix, smaller ones like this and then we’re doing Reading and Leeds with a few more over in Europe. We then have our own UK headline tour, including the Hammersmith Apollo in London, Bristol and then our home town of Southampton, that’s pretty much the rest of our year.
Paul: Will there will be any more new releases as well?
Russell: Yeah, “Hoochie Coochie” has just come out and we’re not sure what else will be coming out. We are going to start writing again at the end of the year, so we are already thinking about the new album. So, hopefully, there be may be some new songs for us to play at the live shows.
Paul: In terms of the new album, which came first the title or the song?
Russell: Guess it’s a chicken or the egg thing, the sherpa or the explorer! The title/phrase came first and then we did the song. Then you have the tunes and you have to name the album, which is always a weird time. The title felt right though, we were confident and the title is as confident as the record sounds.
Paul: Big name, big sounding album, did you intend the record to have a sound so huge or is that just how it came out?
Russell: Yeah we intended it. You can’t name it Himalayan and let it be meek and mild, calling a record that means it has to be proud of itself.
Paul: How does it compare to your previous albums? Is it everything you expected it to be?
Matt: It took elements from the first two and kind of finished the trilogy. But, yeah we set out to make a record that was a lot of fun to play live and be very energetic. So we kind of had that in mind when we started writing, so were very happy about it.
Paul: Do you enjoy playing festival gigs?
Emma: Yeah, especially festivals like this where you feel you’re converting people to what you do.
Paul: Is this the first festival of this size you’ve headlined?
Emma: We played Standard Calling that we headlined last year, but of course it’s a good slot to have!
Paul: Especially on a bright sunny day like this!
Russell: We’ve been very lucky with festivals we’ve played at, we just give them a backhander and it’s a demand on our rider; you know, along with peanuts, guaranteed sunshine!
Paul: You’ve played with some pretty huge bands like QOTSA/Muse, how has that been? Do you enjoy playing with bands of that size?
Russell: It’s not about the size, there are bands who have been really successful who, shall we say, we have politely declined! With someone like QOTSA if you get the invitation then you take it, even if it is a little bit daunting, it’s a special thing. It’s flattering for a first to even be invited but it’s a huge challenge, as a three piece rock band to go up against such a huge set up. So when you can pull it off, it’s a thrill.
Paul: You’re one of the few UK rock bands who have managed to get mainstream radio play, even on Radio 1, how have you achieved this?
Russell: (laughing) they were mostly back handers again, we just pay them off!!
Matt: It’s tough in the UK because there are such few outlets. In the U.S. it’s a huge country where each state has it’s own radio station so you have to get around to them. In UK it’s a lot harder to get into them, but if you do, you can cover a lot of ground. We’ve been fortunate to have some fans in that kind of job position to play our records.
Paul: Final question, if you were putting on your own festival, who would you have on the main stage?
Matt: Prince, we played his own venue in Minneapolis, First avenue, where they filmed Purple Rain. In the car park there is one parking space which has a sign saying it’s Prince’s space and anyone parking there will be towed immediately. So you know if that place is filled, Prince is in there!
Paul: So was he there?
Russell: No, unfortunately not, if he does turn up, it’s his joint so he can play whenever he likes. He just wonders on stage and starts playing, which would be really weird.
Paul: I’m surprised you chose Prince, is he an influence?
Matt: Yeah, of course he is, he’s influenced a hell of a lot of people. He’s one of the very few people who are proper superstars these days.
Russell: So Prince would headline and we’d offer to open up the beer truck or Prince’s dressing room as the secret before gig, back stage show.
Thankfully, the band don’t really need to worry about playing the beer trucks anymore as not only have they released a great album, they have also established themselves as a forceful live band. You can check out our review of the whole 2000 Trees festival here https://thesoulofaclown.com/2014/07/19/2000-trees-festival-2014/. If, you can’t make one of their many festival dates, then make sure you get a ticket for their upcoming tour, you won’t be disappointed.