Skinny Lister are a five piece band from London who recently released their debut album " Forge & Flagon " on Sunday Best. The band has gained something of a reputation as a vibrant live act that isn't afraid to have a good time on stage. We asked Lorna Thomas from the group to tell us more about the hardest working band in Britain.
The name Skinny Lister has a connection to the Lister family. Please explain!
Dan Hep used to go to school with a skinny lad called Lister. Weirdly years later he decided to use the name Skinny Lister. A friend of the band decided that as he was an ex copper, he'd seek out the 'real' Skinny Lister and did just that! He's not been to a gig yet but he has got in touch.
You have been called the 'hardest working band in Britain'. Tell us how you came by that reputation.
We love festivals. We love drinking, dancing and having a good time playing music. We played over 30 festivals which according to PRS was the most played by any artist in the UK last summer. It was a fun summer that lasted for months. We played camp fires to main stages each having its merits. 'Wild as the Wind' from our new album 'Forge & Flagon' is an ode to this festival sprit.
You obviously do a lot of gigs. How do you maintain your enthusiasm for life on the road, endless driving, dodgy digs, being in close proximity to each other for long periods?
We love playing but I also think we've become institutionalised! Even when we have bags of room and plush dressing rooms we often find ourselves in tiny dark rooms rocking or hiding under a chair. Basically we'll take the piss out of each other, keep laughing oh and I'll probably drink more than I should so that every gig seems almost like the first. We've survived 10 days on a narrow boat and 4 weeks in an RV crossing America recently so reckon we can survive pretty much anything.
The obvious reference point for influences on the band are the Pogues and the Men They Couldn't Hang but are there other artists that have had an impact on creating the Skinny Lister sound and getting you into music in the first place?
Max and I grew up in folk clubs listening to jigs and reels, Sam's been singing shanties in pubs on the south coast and the east end for years and Dan Hep and Dan Gray are just about into anything and everything. I suppose the Skinny sound really came into its own when Dan Hep's original song writing was mixed up with these traditional sounds. I keep pushing for a Kelis style influenced tune but the boys are hesitant.
You have signed to Rob da banks label Sunday Best. Your music isn't the sort of thing we would normally associate with him so how did the deal come about and why choose Sunday Best?
I suppose playing at his festivals Camp Bestival and Bestival, we got ourselves a name. He came along and invited us to play his Bestival party at Koko in Camden. We had a great gig and since then he's been pretty excited to work with us. We're pleased too. It's a creative label that allows us to continue to have a lot of artistic direction in artwork. For example, we come up with the ideas for all our videos, get friends to help out and edit them ourselves. They're great fun to do and it helps to get realistic emotions and reactions on camera.
Your album "Forge & Flagon" has just come out. How did you decide which songs to include and as a band renowned for your live work how did you manage to capture that kind of energy in a recording studio?
We really wanted our album to capture the live feeling and we're really pleased with the results. The songs were mostly played together live whilst standing in circle in the studio. There's not much layering added to it and no click track in sight! We recorded a few more songs than those included but the ones on there were the ones we felt really happy with once played back.
You have been recording the track "Captain Morgan" with Welsh legend Howard Marks. How did that come about and what was it like meeting the great man.
We've recorded a smuggling song which Mr Nice does indeed do the vocals for. He's been a fan of the shanties for a while. He's a great character, very clever and interesting to talk to - similar drinking tolerances to myself too.
Is it true you have a connection to the legendary Martin Carthy?
This is not actually true!! I think he may have stayed at my dad's house once years ago but that's about it. We might still have one of the pint glasses he had a drink out of but actually even that's unlikely! We did however, get Kathryn Tickell, an amazing Northumbrian Pipe player to play on the album as well as Roger Wilson, a fantastic fiddle player, who has incidentally, worked with Martin Carthy in the past.
What does the immediate future hold for the band after your summer appearances?
When we get back from the Vans Warped Tour in the States we have Festibelly and Bestival lined up. There are also plans to take Skinny Lister to Germany and France and we may well return to America again in the autumn. At the end of the year we'd really like to get another album recorded. We've got some songs up our sleeves that we're looking forward to developing.
Finally if a member of the band decided to take the pledge and stop drinking would they be required to leave the band?!
Ha ha. I can't even imagine that happening, so hard to know. I think we'd all be so shocked we'd die of heart attacks and then there'd be no band left to sack them! Ahem...I mean, of course not, we love all kinds of people from T-totalists to complete monsters!
Forge & Flagon (2012)