Band Of Skulls
Since releasing their sophomore record Sweet Sour earlier this year, Band Of Skulls have been on the road showcasing their new material to fans across America and Europe.
“Fans are loving it,” bassist and vocalist Emma Richardson says softly down the line from Southampton, in a clipped English accent. In fact, one fan was “loving it” so much that he ended up getting tasered during the band’s set at Beachside Festival in San Diego during You’re Not Pretty But You’ve Got It Going On. “It is true,” Richardson confirms. “I think this guy had just taken way too many drugs.
“I don’t know what happened but he was rocking out to the music a little bit too much. I don’t know exactly the reason that he got tasered, but all of a sudden we looked out in the crowd and there was this big kind of scuffle right near the stage and some dude was being pushed to the floor and tasered. It was quite scary, it was quite horrible actually.”
But, luckily for Matthew Hayward (drums), Russell Marsden (guitar, vocals) and Richardson, there have been happier moments on tour recently. “We played Washington DC in America for the first time on this run and we got an email from this guy a few days before saying, ‘Are you going to be playing Fires because I’m going to propose to my girlfriend just after the song’. So we thought ‘Oh great, we’ll email him back and tell him where it’s going to be in the set’,” she says. “On that night, I think Russell shouted out, ‘Hey Joe, what did she say?’ and he’s like ‘she said yes!’ from the back of the crowd. First marriage proposal and acceptance at a Band Of Skulls gig.”
The band have also taken mistakes and mishaps from their live gigs and turned them into positive elements. “We played a festival out in Tennessee called Bonnaroo and I think when we first went on stage, Matt was hitting the kit so hard that the amp started rattling with sounds of like lightning,” she says. “The reverb tubes in the amp were getting pounded. We watched the DVD recording of bits from the show and we were like ‘Wow that sounds great, we should just put it on the record’.”
And that’s exactly what happened. Filled with gritty and grungy guitars, dirty, raw melodies and heavy build ups and choruses, Sweet Sour is a slice of the band’s sound from being on the road, their signature riffs and hard-hitting vocals and is designed for bigger stages and crowds – something the trio have been doing since playing a sold out London Forum in October 2010. “It’s daunting,” Richardson says, speaking of bigger shows. “Every time we play a large show it’s a big deal but there’s an adrenaline buzz, there’s nothing quite like it. It’s exciting.”
Having met at university, it wasn’t until they decide to host a monthly club night together called Club Skull – which they ran for two years – that Band Of Skulls was formed. “It was basically an excuse to try out new songs every month and we ended up playing every month just to test out new material really and so it ended up being just an excuse to see all of our mates and bands that we liked and we’d get in friends and DJs and it was just a great party,” she says.
Hosting the likes of Anna Calvi, The Moulettes, and The Jim Jones Revue, Richardson says her favourite muso who performed at Club Skull was solo blues crazy-man Bob Log III. “He wears like an all in one jumpsuit and a motorcycle helmet with a phone attached and he bounces ladies on his knees while playing really fast slide guitar,” she says. “He’s from America. He’s an amazing musician.”
With Richardson being the artist behind the album artwork for Sweet Sour and the band installing the talents of Ian Davenport (producer of their debut record) once again for the record, the creation of the album was a collaborative effort. “It was just great to work with him again,” Richardson says of working with Davenport. “He knows how we want things done and how we want things to sound and he also takes risks and pushes us. Obviously we had a new set of songs and some new equipment and we were in a new studio so we had to keep one constant and we knew that as a team we work really well together. You’ve got to bare your soul a bit when you’re recording so he’s a good man to go to and ask advice or push you in a certain direction if you’re not sure. Also we can tell him things and say ‘We want this to go this way’.”
Richardson says the band are looking forward to their shows in Melbourne before heading over north for Splendour In The Grass. “The live show – we’re combining both records and it’s quite a heavy set but there’s some beautiful moments in there so hopefully anyone who comes to see us will have a good night.”
BY ANNABEL MACLEAN