A Conversation with Skinny Lister

Greenwich’s Skinny Lister are a band on a speeding upwards trajectory. Having released their debut “Forge & Flagon” back in 2012 via Rob Da Bank‘s Sunday Best Recordings, they have this year released their sophomore album “Down On Deptford Broadway” on Xtra Mile Recordings, which currently stands as one of our favourite releases of the year. We were lucky enough to catch up with the band at 2000trees recently, where we spoke to Max Thomas (mandolin, melodeon), Michael Camino (double bass) and Sam “Mule” Brace (guitar, concertina).

TCOV – I was a big fan of “Forge & Flagon”, but you’ve outdone yourselves with “Down on Deptford Broadway” – how pleased are you with it after having the three year gap?

MC – Well there’s been some personnel changes, we had a drummer and this kick ass producer so I think it’s a combination of a bunch of different factors that’ve helped this album forwards.

MT – Yeah and also relentless touring with slightly heavier bands as well you know, we did the Vans Warped Tour in between, been on tour with the Dropkick Murphys…

Yeah that’s changed the band’s DNA a little bit

Haha yeah, so the first album was quite pastoral and this one’s got kind of a more urban feel to it

And this one’s out on Xtra Mile, what’s it like for you guys being around that label because they’ve built up quite a following around the UK…

It’s amazing

Yeah, it’s awesome

SB – Charlie from Xtra Mile is a champion you know, he’s this real true supporter of new music and the underdog, and I think that he is ‘one to watch’ and the label, it’s a real family feel with it

Well you see bands come through and you’re like “oh they’re signed to Xtra Mile and they’re signed to Xtra Mile”… 

Yeah their eye for music is really good, they know when they see a good band, they sign them and there’s some great acts on that label

So did the process of releasing this album differ from the debut?

No it was great they were really on board, it didn’t differ too much from the other one. I think changing labels is always a bit of a challenge for the band in general so it took a little longer than we would’ve hoped to get the second album out. We’re hoping with the third album it’ll come out a lot quicker! But you know, they’ve been great, big supporters, and like I said the family feel of the label has meant that we’ve got a really nice community spirit. We’ve been on tour with quite a few Xtra Mile artists now, we’ve played shows with Frank Turner, Beans on Toast…

Rob Lynch, Larry and his Flask…

Yeah! And we’ll continue to do that…

We’ve got a big tour with Frank coming up in September, in the US

Of course that’s right, we’re hoping he’ll announce you as UK support for November…

Hahaha, watch this space!

You mentioned earlier, Dropkick Murphys, how was Boston last year, on St. Patrick’s Day?

It was crazy man, they did four days, FOUR DAYS! 

It’s really weird because it’s the same people in the front row every night, it’s like Groundhog Day, I was like “you were here yesterday…” – they’re a great live show

It’s almost fanatical out there at that time though isn’t it?

Yeah.. well he (Ken Casey) is a Boston man isn’t he, I think he was running for mayor or something it’s crazy

No I think his buddy was, but they’re all Irish so we got a good reception

Lucero too, they’re such nice guys. We’ve had the pleasure and been very fortunate to meet all these great people on the road and have such an amazing time. We’re really looking forward to next year’s St. Patrick’s Day because we’re on the Flogging Molly cruise, the Salty Dog cruise that goes to the Bahamas! And again that’s with Beans on Toast, Frank Turner, Larry and his Flask…

Rancid!

Jesus Christ. I’d sell my soul to be on that cruise. Going back to this festival then, you’ve never played here before have you?

No we’ve never been before!

So what’ve you heard about it then?

Just that it’s great!

Yeah, it won some award for being best independent music festival or something? (It was UK Fesival Awards’ mantle for “Best Grass Roots Festival in 2010 and 2013) So far it’s been great, great energy…

I like the fact that not corporately sponsored, it’s got a real independent feel and they’re obviously championing new music and the underground too, so here’s too ’em!

When I’m thirsty I drink ‘Ice Valley’ water!!

*Laughs all around*

So what do you guys prefer, festival season moving around seeing different bands, or that routine of being on a headline or support tour?

I like a bit of both really, vary it up, keep it fresh!

There’s nothing like a homecoming tour where there’s a full crowd of Skinny Lister supporters singing at you but you know everything’s got it’s merits so that mixed with going around to Coachella and Fuji Rock Festival (Japan) and Hurricane Festival… making new friends and stuff it’s been great

Warped Tour you see you’re trying to win over the crowd every night, whereas when it’s your own tour you’ve already won them over so it’s loads easier to get the crowd involved so I think it’s always better when it’s our own show. But support tours are amazing because you end up playing to lots of new cool people, and the bands we’ve played with have been great

I think it was either festivals or tours, Michael, what would you go for?

Ah, well I already fucked up the question…

Ah ha ha, diplomacy!

Diplomacy? Never…

So a lot’s been made recently about larger festival booking a lack of bands with female members, did you see that?

Yep, yeah I did… Like at Reading and stuff

So as a band with a female member, what do you think about it?

I just think that it’s a very male lead industry, I think that’s a shame because on the road we meet mostly men

You meet men, Max…

Hahaha, I’m all for more females in the music industry, I think it’d be great, and I think that there should be 

It’s a shame Lorna (band vocalist) isn’t here, she’d have some opinions on that

I think it’s important that if people want to access an industry, then it should be made possible 

I don’t think it was intentional that they did that though

No I think it’s just the nature of the industry

And finally, as we’ve already said Trees has a reputation for supporting new and underground bands, you guys have been there, what bit of advice would you have to a band wanting to break through?

I think it’s all about your intention, and what you’re doing it for, and if you’re doing it for the joy of it, and you’re doing it for the love of it, then I think everything else sort of follows, you know? And I think that you should just go do it for the sake of doing it, rather than saying “I want to be a musician”

Working hard as well you know, if you’re determined to do it then just work as hard as you can, go to as many festivals as you can. Even if you’re not booked to play, we just used to show up and play around camp fires or even in the line! You’ve got to start from scratch, and the more you can do the better really, people will start to take notice, so good luck to you!

Thanks to Michael, Sam and Max for being lovely, you can buy the latest Skinny Lister album “Down on Deptford Broadway” now from all the usual places including a lovely gold vinyl on the Xtra Mile shop

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