Lorna Thomas, Skinny Lister

With the release of their new album The Devil, The Heart and The Fight at the end of September, we interviewed frontwoman from Skinny Lister, Lorna Thomas.

Interview by Jane Howkins.

Your new album The Devil, The Heart and The Fight is set to be released at the end of September, how excited are you for the release? We’ve been giving it a few spins, and it sounds excellent!

Glad you like it! Of course, it’s always great to get new music out and release these songs we’ve worked on into the wide world, and we’re really pleased with how this album has turned out. We had a great time putting it together whilst on the road with Frank Turner and it was fun to let ourselves a bit off the folk leash – perhaps more than normal.

You’re also going on a European tour pretty much straight after the album release. Is there anywhere you’re particularly looking forward to playing, venue or place wise?

We love being in the studio but of course, we enjoy the live shows too, and bringing the new music to people who follow us is the best thrill of all. The album is released on 30th September and then we’re straight into a UK tour in October. We’re dead excited for that as we’re selling more tickets than ever before and it looks like most of the gigs will be sold out (fingers crossed)! The London show at the Garage will be our biggest ever headline show so that’s pretty exciting too. We then hit the States on our longest ever headline tour in November. We’re in San Diego for my birthday so that sounds like an exotic adventure. We’ll have Christmas off and then plan to head to Europe in the New Year.

The first single from the album, Wanted, is a particular favourite of ours and there’s a very fresh and energetic sound to it. Is that something you have been trying to portray, and are you a very energetic band live?

Yep, we’re always trying to recreate the energy of a live show and trying to create something new and exciting is what drives us. I’d say the new album is a reflection of that. We’ve had some fun with this album pushing and experimenting a bit more in the studio. Wanted was actually recorded in a very live kind of way without a click track. A lot of the vocals on there were taken from the rough guide vocal take. I think these factors help give the track an energy and live feel that our producer Tristan Ivemy was great at getting out of us.

What can people expect from one of your shows, and why do you think people should come and watch you play?

If you like to come away from a gig having sung, danced and had a drink then you won’t be massively out of place. We as a band really enjoy performing live, and we feed off the music and the audience. No matter what has happened that day or the night before or however big the hangover is the show is always fun, high energy and inclusive I’d say! We have sea shanties, ballads, and good old pop melodies – all delivered with a punk attitude!

Can we expect the ‘Skinny Sisters’ to be with you on your upcoming tour?

Haha! Probably not sadly. They were a bunch of reprobates who tore my dresses and drank all of our rider. They were basically all my mates who I wanted to get into festivals with me but they were a force to be reckoned with and left a stream of mayhem wherever they went. Maybe they’ll be back one day but in the meantime the band can enjoy their drinks again!

You’re often called a folk band, but your sound also lends itself very much to the punk movement. Is that something you align yourselves with intentionally, either in music or in ideology?

Definitely in ideology I guess. We come from a very folky background. I actually grew up in pubs with my dad and his mates drinking and singing. No one too precious about delivery, everyone welcome to join in and have a good time. When we started the band that was what shone thorough. After going on the Vans Warped Tour in the States I think this developed in us, we were playing with such hard bands that I guess we stepped the energy up a gear and we haven’t looked back since then. Though I would say that a folk core remains in there somewhere.

Your sound is reminiscent of bands like the Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, and Roughneck Riot. Are groups like that a big influence on you, and who else would you say you are influenced by musically?

Well we’ve been on two US tours with the Dropkicks and Flogging Molly around the States and even had the pleasure of joining Flogging Molly on their Salty Dog Cruise around the Bahamas early this year. It’s inevitable that you pick up sounds but I guess a band that we all love, and ties all those bands together is the Pogues. There are other influences though…Eddie Cochran, Adam and the Ants, the Clash – even a bit of Kate Bush creeps into ‘The Devil, The Heart & the Fight. It’s hard not to pull from a variety of different styles especially when there’s six of you in the band!

You were once described by a journalist as ‘like the Pogues, but with better teeth’. Would you say that’s a fair comparison, we assume you’re fans!

How can you not be?! They’re exciting, a little rough around the edges, got a great lead man and can deliver ballads and party tunes all with the right amount of energy and sentiment. They’re great. The better teeth thing well…it’s not hard to get that bit, right? We do tend to align ourselves with Englishness more but we both have the Celtic flavours, that’s for sure.

Are there any bands or artists that you have been getting into recently that you recommend our readers check out?

Well I’m quite a mainstream girl. I was blown away by Christine and the Queens when I saw them perform on Jools Holland. Otherwise I just discovered an amazing video by De Staat called Witch Doctor which I absolutely love. Also for all the travelling we do we have recently discovered John Grant (I know I’m late to the party) on a Glastonbury playlist. Melody and lyrics are just incredible. Particularly the song Glacier.

Earlier this year you played on the Salty Dog Cruise, held by Flogging Molly. What was that like compared to a normal gig, and how did it come about?

This has to be one of the most surreal experiences ever. We were pinching ourselves for the first 24 hours feeling like – wow, Skinny Lister has managed to find a way on to a cruise in the Bahamas and get paid for it. And to top it off, having people that have actually flown in from the UK (amongst others) to be on it to see us – just incredible. Flogging Molly, stars that they are, put us on as the first band to play as the ship sailed off. We couldn’t believe it kicking off the party on the top by the pool was just insane. Having Frank Turner join us on stage too – just incredible. Sorry – can you tell I’m trying to hide my excitement? As I said before, we went on a Green 17 tour on the east coast of America with Flogging Molly and had the best time. They are the nicest bunch of people and so it was fantastic to have been invited back.

What would you say has been the most memorable gig you’ve ever done and why? Is there anything that can top playing on a cruise ship?

It’s getting difficult to pick just one. The first gig in London at the Lock Tavern where I realised we had something that might just appeal to people, or unexpectedly playing to 5,000 people at Fuji Rock festival in Japan were both incredible. Supporting Flogging Molly at The Roseland Ballroom in New York was great too. I think maybe though it was when we played to a great crowd at the Avalon Stage at Glastonbury. I was so moved by everyone that came to see us and as it was at my all-time favourite festival, it was a real treat. What can I say? So many lucky, lucky experiences. I’m also really looking forward to the UK tour coming up in October.

Any last words for the fans?

Thank you for enjoying our music and for coming to the shows! We’d still be doing what we do on stage even if you weren’t there but the fact that you guys come to see us is the reason we have got to do so many crazy exciting things and meet so many weird and wonderful people. Have a beer for us! Cheers!

The Devil, The Heart & The Fight will be released on the 30th September.