Ever since South Hampton trio Band of Skulls hit the music scene in 2009 with their debut album, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, they’ve been making huge waves with their blend of bluesy garage rock. The English natives emit a sound reminiscent of a band with a much greater amount of members, with songs off their first record like “I Know What I Am” featuring on TV series Friday Nights Lights as well as the famed video game Guitar Hero, the band even maintained their musical credibility after appearing on a Twillight soundtrack.
With success spanning around the US and Europe, bassist Emma Richardson admitted the band has a special spot in their hearts for Aussie audiences, “we love Australia, we’re really looking forward to playing live, just generally seeing Australia and meeting some of the people who came to the shows first time round,” she says.
They’ve played some of the biggest festivals in the world including appearances at Bonnaroo, Coachella, SXSW and Splendour In The Grass, which the band are set to play again this year, just two years after their first visit to our country for the same festival; and they couldn’t be happier. Richardson reveals that the band are excited to play the spirtiual home of Splendour in Byron Bay, “we’re looking forward to playing Byron Bay because we were on the other site in 2010, I hear it’s a beautiful place and we’re really looking forward to it.” Richardson continued on saying that Splendour is as good as any of the other massive festivals they’ve played, “every festival has a kind of different atmosphere. I think Splendour has got a wild side which we love, you never know who you’re gonna see music-wise, you can walk into a tent and just be bowled over by an act, and the people are great.”
Earlier this year the band released their second album, Sweet Sour, to plenty of acclaim. For the band, the goal throughout the record was to show different sides to the Band of Skulls outfit, Richardson remarked that “we’ve always had different styles, we all write, it’s like who can come up with the better idea. You really don’t wanna hear the same thing all the way through.”
The bassist continued on saying that the band have plenty more in the tank as well, “there’s things we haven’t even touched on yet. That’s the exciting part, what can we do next?” The band have dabbled in some of that new material while on their current world tour, “we have actually [been jamming a bit], theres a couple of good things in the pipeline, I’m excited. Whenever we get a chance we really try to play some new things.”
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the band though, like all groups, they faced some difficulties when recording their new album, with the issue of band democracy being one they encountered throughout. To counteract that, the three-piece aimed to put everything aside and simply do what’s best for the band. “I think everyone being happy with what was going on [was the biggest issue],” reveals Richardson, ” it can be tough and draw things out but in the end it’s for the good of the song and good of the band.”
When you can come up with some great tunes like “Bruises” the process becomes all worth it. One of the album’s strongest tracks, the band’s sole female member disclosed that the chorus for the song was actually one of the final things they recorded, “the verse parts were quite old. We had them for a while and didn’t know what would fit with them. The chorus part was actualy one of the last things we wrote for the record, it was a brilliant moment when we get it all done it was like ‘yeah’ this works so well.”
The band have also been happy with how crowds have been receiving the new record, Richardson unveiled that “it’s great to see people singing along already, second album in and they already know the words.” Though playing live hasn’t been without its challenges, namely forming a balanced setlist to fit the atmosphere. “We try and make the setlist to fit the moment and we choose the songs accordingly. Now with two albums it makes it a little more difficult with a wide range of styles in there.”
What can Aussie crowds expect when the South Hampton rockers make their way to our shores? The bassist was a little less forthcoming when questioned on the the topic, “are we gonna play a fast rocking set or a slower one? We’ll see. Maybe a rock set with some slow ones thrown in to fit the festival atmosphere.”
Being a rock and roller may be Richardson’s day job but she is also a talented artist. She’s created the album artwork for both of the band’s records and the basssist/artist said that “it’s like having your cake and eating it too. To be able to play music and being involved with the artwork for the albums, because I studied art at college, I’m living out both my dreams.”
A real issue in today’s music industry is that of longevity, can a band maintain their output in an industry that is quite fickle? Now more than ever? When questioned on the issue, Richardson answered that “you’ve got to think about what you have to come up with next as a band. If you worry too much about what the industry is doing and you cater to that, you’re never gonna get anywhere. You can’t concentrate on that when you’re writing because it takes away the magic.”
As long as they maintain their focus on what’s important to them, you can’t see Band of Skulls losing their magic any time soon.
Sweet Sour is out now through PIAS and Band of Skulls play the sold-out Splendour In The Grass in July, as well as a handful of sideshows. Full dates and details here.