Interview – Skinny Lister

We’ve been following Skinny Lister’s music for a while now and always jump at the opportunity to be able to speak to them, so we’re very pleased to present an interview below with Dan Heptinstall from the band – check it out below for information on their upcoming tour dates and upcoming album!

By Jane Howkins

You recently released a new song titled Shout It Out. What can you tell us about the track? It’s got quite an upbeat feel to it, which is well needed after last year!

With Shout It Out we tried to capture a feeling of release, a feeling of not keeping things bottled up inside. It’s an optimistic song looking to the future without fear, so yeah – the sentiment does kind of sit well in the current climate. When we put the music with the images of our live concert footage for the video, it also took on a slightly nostalgic feel about the live shows we’ve been missing for a year now. And at the same time the video feels like a celebration of live shows and that sense of communal spirit – an optimistic look forward to when we’re allowed to play live and hang out with our fans again. It’s been too long! It’s also completely self-produced and self-recorded which has been liberating and an exciting new approach and challenge to making a record. 

Do you have any plans to release any other singles anytime soon? Do you have any plans to release an album, or an EP? We’ve been following your career for the past few years, and we can’t wait for the next one to be released!

No dates set in stone yet – but a couple more singles followed by an album in the latter part of the year is the plan. It’s been a little while since we released our last album The Story Is, so feels about the right time to get some new Skinny material into the world. Amazingly, it will be album number 5! Like Shout It Out, the album will be entirely self-produced. It will then be mixed by Tristan Ivemy who produced our album The Devil, The Heart & The Fight, so we’re in trusted hands there.

You reissued your album Down On Deptford Broadway last year in celebration of the 5 year anniversary. How did that feel?

Yeah – it felt great to take a minute to celebrate and reflect on an album that we, and many of our fans, have very fond affection for. Most of the songs from that album still remain in our live set, so it’s an important album for us. No set would be complete without Trouble On Oxford Street or a set finale of a drunken Six Whiskies. Those songs took us on a lot of adventures all around the world, a lot of memories of great times are attached to those songs.

When you first started out, did you ever think that you would get to the point where you’d be reissuing albums and having 5 year anniversaries? It must be a good feeling!

Yeah – it’s pretty miraculous that we’ve made it to the point that we’re still together to celebrate it’s 5th Anniversary. 

How has the pandemic affected the workings of the band?

Funnily enough – the timing of the whole pandemic thing wasn’t too bad for us. Mainly this was because Lorna and I had a baby in March 2020 – so we had a very quiet year planned anyway. It also came after we’d been on the road a lot so a break was welcome at that point. Obviously a number of shows have been rescheduled. Due to the pandemic we have found new ways of recording which incorporates band members recording remotely. This is how Shout It Out was made. It makes it a little tricky not being in the same room bouncing ideas of each other and feeding off each other’s energy, but we’re trying to ensure the recording maintains the usual Skinny energy.  

Do you have any tour dates planned for the near future (obviously when lockdown has ended). Would you ever consider doing socially distanced gigs?

We have a UK Tour booked in which goes through October till December this year, finishing with our annual Christmas bash in London. Tickets are now on sale for the tour. We’re hopeful and as optimistic as we can be that this will all go ahead as planned. A few UK festivals are a possibility as well depending on how the Covid situation unfolds over the summer. Socially distanced gigs have not appealed to us so far. The idea of fans being socially distanced feels that it would really compromise the live Skinny Lister experience, which is a very communal up-close and personal experience. Therefore we’re happy to sit things out until we can do shows properly.

Your music contains elements of lots of different genres, with the most prominent being punk and folk. Would you say you have quite varied music tastes? What have you been listening to recently that you can recommend to us?

The band as a whole has a very eclectic taste in music. But it was definitely a love of folk music and sea shanties that initially brought the core of the band together. It’s been very strange over those past couple of weeks seeing sea shanties really taking off due to the TikTok community. We’ve performed various shanties over the years including John Kanaka at pretty much every show we’ve done. I think our fans would feel cheated if we didn’t do that one. We also infuse a lot of our own songs with a shanty flavour. Hopefully as a result of this current shanty mania, there’ll be a whole load of new fans of the genre, who will of course be very welcome at a Skinny show! I can’t speak for the rest of the band with regarding what’s on their playlists at the minute, but Lorna has made it through lockdown listening to a lot of Sylvan Esso. And because of the whole sea shanty thing going on, I’ve most recently been re-introducing myself to a load of old shanties which has been fun.

Have your influences changed over the years? Who/what would you say has influenced your music most?

As well as the folk and shanty influence, bands like The Clash, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Madness, The Pogues, Squeeze and XTC have all influenced our sound to some extent. A very specific early influence on the band was Scottish singer-songwriter James Yorkston, particularly on some of our quieter tracks. But ask Lorna and Max – and they would say their Dad – Party George, who is a long standing folkie and great folk songwriter. He actually wrote Forty Pound Wedding which features on our first album Forge & Flagon.

We’ve seen the band perform a few times, and it’s always fun. How would you describe your shows to someone who hasn’t been to see you before?

High energy, communal and perhaps above all – fun. We give a lot of energy and we usually get a ton of energy back, which makes for a great night. We also pass the infamous flagon of rum around which usually gets people in the spirit pretty quickly. Though we’re not sure what role the flagon with play in freshly post-covid times. But flagon or no flagon – we’re gonna party!

Any last words for the fans?

We’ve missed you friends. We can’t wait to hang out again and raise our glasses and voices together! Too Rye Ay!