Skinny Lister seem to be one of the more exuberant acts from the UK since their beginnings in 2009. The now 6 piece folk band gradually worked their way to a wider audience by spontaneously playing their upbeat party songs all over Britain’s pubs and bars. Named PRS‘ 2011´s “Hardest Working Band of the Summer“ they have continuously grown their fanbase throughout Europe´s clubs.
After recording the debut album “Forge & Flagon“ which came out in 2012 they are currently working on the follow up which is supposed to be released in May of this year.
Siblings Lorna and Max Thomas, Daniel Heptinstall, Michael Camino, Andy Black and Dave Neale stand out through exceptional use of instrumentation and inflection which creates their specific musical sound
“Up on their stomping feet and clicking their heels, the Skinny Lister sound took hold as Dan’s perceptive ballads and folkie idylls were boosted by an eruption of a rambunctious free spirited rum fueled party music.” – Skinny Lister Bio.
If you have the chance to go to one of the British sextet’s concerts supporting The Dropkick Murphys on their upcoming US tour you will have to take it. It might be one of those nights that you won´t forget for quite some time.
I do call myself a very lucky gal getting to know Skinny Lister´s music over the past few months. I love the infectious energy… I love their easy going approach on life and as a fan I am glad to now be a part of it all. It´s not too long now til the release of the new studio album and I am truly looking forward to it. It will be on my must have´s for 2014!
I had the chance to catch up with Lorna talking about studio recordings, essential songs and attitudes. Here is our conversation.
You´re in the middle of recording your second album at the moment. How are things going?
All fine and dandy! We’ve been in the studio for about 10 days. Drums, guitar and most of bass is down and now the fun part is starting adding all the other instruments and vocals. It’s an amazing studio in Wales. We look over at the horses whilst having breakfast and have great walks into town when we can. We’re getting through a bowl full of hard boiled sweets a day and plenty of Bourbons and there’s been no fights as yet so all rather boring and smooth!
You´ve got producer Ted Hutt on board. Did you work with him before and what is a producer like Ted bringing to the studio that you didn´t have in mind already?
Ted’s influence has been great. It’s the first time we’ve worked with him and he’s really made each second of every song count. He’s been working from LA, helping to look at song structures, adding key shifts and middle eights (which is a newish thing for Skinny Songs but all sound very exciting to my ears).
He’s also a great politician. He’ll listen to everyone’s thoughts on parts and make an informed decision about what sounds best for the song and what he says generally goes!! He’s got loads of experience and we respect that! I mean, we don’t argue a lot but now there’s six in the band with lots of different influences there’s generally bother about arrangements and stuff! No creative process is smooth, right?
In writing and recording is it a sibling process only or is it a full band participation?
Dan Heptinstall writes most of the lyrics and melodies at the moment, then we all listen to the outcome, have a scrabble over what we like and then we all work together to come up with the final arrangement.
While you´re recording are you also still writing or is that process fully completed?
It’s a pretty tight schedule here at the studio so the main parts of all songs have been decided. There are parts that are being developed which sometimes means new words are needed but it’s all happening nicely – with a lot of work! We’re pretty confident that the songs we’ve chosen are going to make a great second album for us! Of course!
What is gonna be the most striking difference between “Forge & Flagon” and record no. 2?
We’re hoping that this album is really going to capture the energy we have on stage. We’ve developed our sound since we last recorded, especially after playing a whole summer of Vans Warped Tour in 2012. We have a harder edge and we’ve recently added drums to the line up (hello Dave!)and we’ve developed ideas, such as writing our own version of a shanty but put music to it. You’ll also still have some ballads sang by me but with more instrumentation than on the previous album. So there’s a good mix on there with perhaps more pop/punkish vibes. You’ll hopefully see what I mean when you hear it!
Did you find a name already? Is there a theme or could you tell us what is it all about?
Ha ha, there’s potentially a name but I’m not saying what it is! We all laugh at Dan, saying most the tracks are about how a girl screwed him over -usually somewhere in London. Although I’m listening to a song being recorded right now about when he got kicked in by some punks.
Reading reviews of the first album they are very varied. How does it affect any of the processes of the band?
Its been 3 years since we recorded Forge and Flagon and whilst we’re proud of what we did back then we’ve developed massively as a band, having toured all over the world and played so many festivals…there’s a lot more attitude now.
Thinking about all the songs that you´ve already taped, composed, performed is there one that has a special meaning to the band?
I think we’d all probably have a different song which means more to us as individuals and there’s definitely some which would be too contentious to say why they have a meaning – so I’m going to say ‘Six Whiskies’. It’s probably a song we’re all really proud of and if one of us hasn’t been thrown out of a pub in London at some point and wandered the streets then I’ll eat my red dancing shoes and give up rum!
Watching you perform it´s clear that the energy consumes you. Is that how you ultimately know that the show/ song is working? And if you notice the crowd is not feeling the same energy how do you pull them in?
I think we generally have fun and the audience seems to have fun too. The more we’re into it, the more they get into it and then that comes back at us. We do really enjoy performing though so that generally takes over whereever we are – we cut our teeth on the festival / busking circuit so we’ve played in some pretty hard circumstances. As long as we’re having fun – we’re happy!
You´re going back to tour the States in February. First you were playing with Flogging Molly now you will be touring with The Dropkick Murphys. Who is gonna be next?
Yep – we can’t wait to tour with the Dropkicks. The Flogging crew were so much fun and we had a great time entertaining their audiences its going to be great doing it again in February. Who’s next? You tell us! We’re just concentrating on getting this album to be the best it can be, peforming the new songs and that’s as far as we can see right now. Touring is going to be a fun! Festival season is on the horizon!
Name 3 things on your bucket list.
Milk a cow, smash a windscreen, …brew my own drink.
Name 3 songs that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood – Nina Simone: Beautiful and probably quite a true reflection of myself – well probably most people?
Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen: Never fails to get me on a table or a fridge or anything, which gives me elevation.
Forty Pound Wedding – My Daddy, George Thomas, a.k.a. Party George. It’s been with me for the past 25 years so I can’t see any reason why it won’t be with me the for the rest of my years!
Worst venue you´ve ever played in.
Blocked from memory.
Name one nasty habit you can´t live without.
Going to sleep in last night’s clothes – I mean I could live without it but it happens a lot!