Friday, the 12th of August. We had the pleasure to be guests at the Pure & Crafted festival 2016 at Postbahnhof, Berlin, and if that wasn’t enough we met Band of Skulls for an exclusive interview.
Band of Skulls are Emma (bass, vocals), Russel (guitar, vocals) and Matt (drums), three lovely guys from Southampton, UK. The band formed in 2008 after a couple of years in numerous different constellations. Their debut album ‘Baby Darling Doll Face Honey’ was released in 2009, the second one ‘Sweet Sour’, of the same name as their well known single, in 2013 and their third album ‘Himalayan’ in 2014. ‘By Default’ is the latest record of the band, which they released the end of May 2016. They say that it’s an honour to put album number four out, because not every band gets the chance to release four albums or even more. They also think that they are going new paths with ‘By Default’ instead of continuing their old route. We think they did pretty well. Check out the interview below to see what inspired them for their latest record as well as what their favourite pieces of clothing are.
Hi guys, welcome to Berlin and to the Pure & Crafted Festival. What do you think of this special concept and are you happy to be part of it? Well yeah, it’s great to be back in Germany and Berlin and learn about the area, thanks to having you guys in the train station here. It’s always a different experience when you go to a new festival and this one is definitely different with the motorcycles. I think the audience are gonna be all motorcyclists, you know, they don’t clap their hands they just rev their engines. Yeah, it’s nice to be back and we’re coming back to Berlin this winter, so it’s good to pop in before the big show.
What’s so special about Berlin?
I just think think it feels like Europe, it feels like London, where you got lots of different cultures, lots of different influences, especially nowadays all mixed together.
Are there any artists or bands that you’d really like to see at this festival? Is there actually any time to see any of the other acts?
(laughs) I don’t know if there’s gonna be much time, but we’ll try – we’re gonna check out some of the motorbikes though, if we have some time to do it. It’s often the case that you only have time to play your show and do the work that you need to do. Eat and leave and go. But now and then you have an hour or two and get to meet some nice people or see or discover a band that you didn’t know about, that’s always good, discovering someone new.
You’re gonna share the stage with Mando Diao tonight. Are you gonna leave straight after the show or stay around and watch them play?
We’ll see, I think we’re around tonight.
And tomorrow Noel Gallagher will be playing…
Yeah, we’re seeing that guy everywhere (laughter). We love Noel but we’ve seen him playing about 8 times this summer so it’s cool, we’ll see him next year.
You renamed the band in 2008 to Band of Skulls, how come?
When we were growing up, the three of us were playing together but there were others as well, we dropped some line-ups for a few years when people settled down and then got ‘real jobs’ and kids and got married and it just got wrong to keep the old name that had the annotations about the old members so we thought this is it now, we started new.
You guys just released a new album in may, what is it about?
Good question. I think rather than what is it about is what it means for us as a band. Kind of the beginning of a next year as a band. It was a beginning as we had lots of ideas of what we wanna do in the future, a statement of intent and we showed lots of different aspects of our music and the songs we wanna write, just that no one’s to shocked when we show up with similar things in the future. I think we tried to broaden our horizons a little bit and gently show our audience what we’re interested in a little bit more. Not only kind of doing elements like on our first records. But yeah, we have to do it very carefully though to not make people afraid and change to much.
Would you say it’s like continuing your journey with that album or would you rather say it’s a totally new thing?
I think it feels like it’s a new beginning in that sense, whereas the other three were more like part of the same thing, it’s funny, I don’t know why but it just feels like we never dreamed that we’d get to four albums, so when you get to do that fourth album, you start to think, well let’s see what’s possible here.
Were you influenced by anything in particular during the production of that album?
The sound of the church. We had a church when we were writing the record. We wanted to work in a new space and we were looking and found a place in an amazing old church in our hometown and the reverend would leave us alone and let us work in there during the week.
That must have been an amazing acoustic in a building like that.
Yeah that was the biggest motion to work in there, just strip down the instruments and start working on the songs, you know set up and start playing and the sound of the drums was amazing, just the feels of the room. Just an amazing environment that luckily made it on the record as you can hear with the reverb. Yeah, we took some church into the studio. For the sound, that was probably the biggest influence. It really was natural then. I was looking at this train station, I bet the drums would sound good in here actually. You start looking around in places and think ‘this would be cool’. And who knows what’s next, the biggest thing for us now is that we’re trying to change everytime we’re making a record. Changing definitely the location and hopefully the people we’re working with, the producers etc. On this last record we worked with a guy called Gill Norton, he’s famous for bands like the Pixies (edit.: as well as Echo & the Bunnymen, Foo Fighters, etc. ), so that was definitely another element to influence the record. Like I said, in the future we’ll change places again and hopefully change people that we’re working with and see how that makes another version of us, it’s always about making another version of yourself. And who knows.
You’re all from Southhampton, right? What’s that church called?
(laughs) We don’t know, it’s in the old town, if you can find it, you get ten points and you can say hello to the vicar. It’s on the record sleeve of the vinyl as well. If you really wanna know, buy the record!
(You heard it guys, buy the album!) Alright, do you have any all time favourite songs? Any morning shower songs, a song that you’d take with you on a lonely island?
That’s a hard one.
Maybe one record, is that easier?
…Oh well, let’s see. One record for the island.
Emma: For me it would have to be anything by Billie Holiday.
Russel: Anything by Miles Davis.
Matt: Well it’s all jazzy so far, we need some rock’n’roll there. We’ve got enough jazz going on. Anything rock’n’roll.
What’s the latest record you bought?
Emma: Iggy Pop’s latest album. Great one.
Russel: Lianne La Havas’ album, she worked with the great Prince, before he died.
What’s on your mp3?
Nothing anymore, because it doesn’t work, they changed the rules, right? Well what ends up being on our computers is all the new ideas. Different versions of things. Because Apple can’t take those from us (maybe) yet. Audio books, the terms and conditions of the iPhone agreement?
If you could chose from another decade of music, fashion or lifestyle, which one would it be?
Russel: The roman empire! No seriously, I’d have the fifties for the birth of Rock’N’Roll. The fifties in America. It must have been really fascinating when that happened for the first time. Like, everything else is set on that, Buddy Holly etc.
Emma: For me the twenties, the golden twenties, because of the style and the rebelliousness of the ladies.
Matt: I think I would like to go back to the nineties, but my age now. I would like to live in the nineties as the 26-year old I am now.
What would you say influences you in the way you dress, would you say that dressing up is something really important to you for doing your shows?
It’s kind of like, well everyone is different, but it’s kind of like armour, when you wear something that makes you feel great and feel confident, like an extra feeling on stage, but you don’t have to, it’s just to make you feel comfortable.
How would you describe your style?
Matt: Whatever is clean! (laughs)
Russel: Grunge is dead if you got clean clothes. I think everybody is different, and we like to change. I dress really simply but then my guitars are really ostentatious. My guitar is like my number one accessory. All the tour clothes are worn out after six months, so you wouldn’t wear like your favourite shirt or whatever. You end up not taking your best things on the road. I’ve got antique watches at home.
Emma: Boots for me, I don’t know why.
What do you pack in your suitcase?
Clothes, Boots, antique watches. (laughs) No, we try to leave some space. We do bring a football for festivals in the countryside.
Most of the bands are saying ‘socks’ are the most important thing on tour, what do you think about that?
No. Rather ‘optional’. You don’t need them. Sunglasses, books. Euro-adapters. That’s the hardest things to remember.
Thanks a lot for having you guys, we’re looking forward to your shows. Band of Skulls will be playing another show in Berlin the 5th of November at Lido. Make sure you’ll get some tickets before they’ll be gone!
xx Jules & Christian
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