Interview: Skinny Lister

If you’ve been following these pages for a while, you’ll know we’re big fans of Skinny Lister. We recently reviewed their upcoming album Shanty Punk, and they’ve also got a tour coming up soon, which we’re extremely excited for! I decided to have a chat with Dan to find out more – don’t forget to check out the album when it’s released on October 20th.

By Jane Howkins

You have a brand new album coming out soon titled Shanty Punk. Are you excited? What can you tell us about the record?

Yeah – It’s always exciting putting a new album out into the world and sharing what we’ve been working on with our fans. Also – this is a collection of songs that are pretty much built for the road, so we can’t wait to play them live and have a room full of people singing them back at us. 

Am I right in thinking that Shanty Punk is a concept album?
Yes – the concept is Skinny Lister. We decided, for this album, to go back to our more folky roots a little. We’ve always had folk at the core of our sound, but Shanty Punk strips it right back to the essence of Skinny Lister, and what makes the band tick. And although we’ve enjoyed venturing into other musical areas over the years, such as ska and some 80’s influences, it feels refreshing to really drill back into the sound that people probably most associate with the band. Musically and thematically – everything about this album screams Skinny Lister. This is carried through to the artwork, which incorporates a lot of the imagery that has become associated with us – such as flagons, horse brass, Land Rovers and red shoes. 

The lead single is called Company Of The Bar, an amazing folk-punk song with a catchy rhythm. Why did you pick that song as the lead single, and what can you tell us about the track?

This is a straight-down-the-line stomping accordion-led track about the good old English boozer. Drinking, travelling and sea are three themes that have loomed large throughout our output – and this track has all three. This song feels like a perfect representation of the album. It’s also a track we’ve been slipping seamlessly into our live set for the last year – so it had a bit of a road test before it hit the studio. Really looking forward to playing this one on our upcoming UK tour. 

Do you have any more singles planned for release from Shanty Punk?

Unto The Breach will release around the same time as the album. This is another stomping accordion driven track about resilience and not giving in. We had great fun shooting the video for this – which involved ascending a massive slag heap along with all our instruments and performing on top of it. Although a couple of tumbles were taken, luckily no one was hurt!

 One track that really caught my attention is Mantra. It reminds me a lot of the music Beans On Toast makes, another amazing British folk-punk artist. I loved the lyrics, can you tell us more about that song?

Ah – Beans On Toast is a very good friend of ours, and any comparison to his music is obviously taken as a compliment. In fact we’re doing a few dates in the US together in November. I wrote Mantra about the age old idea of grabbing the moment, instead of living in the past, or indeed living for tomorrow. As the lyric says – it’s about recognising what we have while we have it. It’s all too easy to recognise something was great when it’s gone, so it’s just a gentle reminder to take a look around now and again and appreciate what we all too easily take for granted. We also had a load of fun filming the video for this in the garden of a good friend, who perfectly sums up the spirit of the video. Check it out on YouTube. 

Party George (Lorna & Max’s dad) sings on William Harker. Why did you decide to include him in the track, and can we expect more collaborations in the future?

Ha! George has been singing this song with us on stage for a couple of years when he happens to be about. We already included one of his songs – Forty Pound Wedding – on our debut album Forge & Flagon, and we thought it would be great to include William Harker on our new album which has echo’s of that first album. And as Party George has become a bit of a legend in the world of Skinny Lister, we felt it  would be fitting to have him also perform the track in his own inimitable style. It’s still a set highlight when we’re able to bring him up on stage with us for this track – expect to see it happen on our upcoming tours. 

You’re also embarking on a UK tour soon. Are you pulling anything special out of the bag?

We’ve handpicked some great opening acts on the UK Tour – including Noble Jacks, 3 Daft Monkeys, Truckstop Honeymoon, Old Sea Legs and Life Aquatic Band, so it will be fun for us to get to see those every night. As far as our show is concerned – it will be the usual party, with the great atmosphere brought by our fans. And after a couple of years absent – it looks like the trusty Skinny flagon will be back in action. And look out for appearances by the bonafide legend that is Party George. 

What can fans expect from a Skinny Lister tour if they’ve never seen you live before?

It’s all about the community. Expect mainly a party atmosphere and some good old sing-alongs. Think part rock show – part folk club.  

You’ve been creating music for several years now. Has the writing and recording process changed much over the years?

The process of putting the songs together has largely stayed the same. I’ll write the song, then we’ll take the song into a rehearsal room and assemble the arrangement very much together. All band members put their own distinctive stamp on the tracks. The part that has changed a little, is that we’ve self-produced our last two albums, which has been a great liberating experience and worked out well. I also mixed the last album A Matter Of Life & Love and co-mixed Shanty Punk with mixer friend Patrick Phillips. 

Any last words for the fans?

We hope you like the new album, and we can’t wait to see you on our UK Tour in November and December. Shanty punks Unite!