The rock trio has a way of swallowing blues and rock, only to then spew out a soundscape that tugs without caution. Feeding urgency with well-groomed musicianship, ‘Band of Skulls’ latest album Sweet Sour delivers just that – a puddle of emotive-soaked songs that bite and blend. Songs like ‘Wanderluster’ and ‘Lay My Head Down’ shrink your shoulders a bit whereas ‘Lies’, ‘The Devil Takes Care of His Own’ and ‘Bruises’ infuse triumphant tell-tales into the backbone of your body.
An early 2012 UK tour with Americana troubadours, The Black Keys, was also a nice checkmark added to the band’s repertoire.
Solace can be particularly found weaved throughout the titled track, ‘Sweet Sour’ with pressing lyrics like (take notice at the comma pauses too):
“Pick up your stitches, better than your riches – think about it. I know what you’ve been through, you don’t really need to, talk about it. It’s just a little calmer, trying to disarm ya, shout about it….sour by the minute, but you’re sweeter by the hour.”
Sweet Sour was produced by Ian Davenport (Supergrass, Badly Drawn Boy) and mixed by Nick Launay (Grinderman, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire).
The buzzworthy Brits’ present quite the rock-grandeur and chatting with frontman Russell Marsden was nothing short of awesome. Check out the interview below.
So how important is touring for the band?
I think it’s probably the most important thing for us. It’s important to match up on what people read or if they haven’t seen or heard it, we want to justify that with being a good band and the only way to do that is to do shows live; it’s where we really exist. We want to play every night.
Has there ever been a time when you’ve toured with another band and won over their fans? What’s the fan exchange like in your experience?
I think it happens all the time, that is what happens with support time—you either just fill it up or sometimes you make a real impression. The best situation is when the band you’ve been invited out on the road is cool with that.
We did a big tour with Black Keys in the UK and I hope that was the case there. It’s kind of a polite exchange of fans. It’s not about stealing fans, it’s about sharing them. We’ve been really fortunate with who has taken us on or who we take. We’ve learned how we like to be treated so we try to do the same.
So what is this album to you and the band?
We made a record on how we were feeling at the time, kind of a ‘token of time’ for us in many ways and the record really reflects it. There is a kind of intimate and inward feeling and then there is this big announcement of rock, it’s an honest record for us. I also think it’s opened up more options for us and opened doors rather than closed them and we are excited about that.
How is it all translating on stage?
All the new songs are exciting to perform because it’s about getting them across right; it’s not built into your memory. And to do it live is something (chuckles) – ‘cause it can always go wrong in a three piece, but if it goes wrong it goes wrong.
In the end the show is the real band, there is no trick about it, it’s a real Rock ‘n’ Roll band and you see it for what it is, there’s no playback. I don’t mind if people see the flaws – why not, it shouldn’t be perfect.
I like when something happens in the room, someone shouts something for example and the band goes in a different direction. I don’t like anything too automated and we try to just go with the flow no matter what.
WATCH BAND OF SKULLS PERFORM LIVE ON LETTERMAN:
How do you keep yourselves entertained while performing the same material to different audiences?
We try to play different every night and make it interesting for ourselves, and if we are really comfortable we try and make each other make mistakes – musically that is.
When you have your downtime and want to be reflective what kind of music do you go to?
When we were writing the record (I can speak for Matt too) we weren’t listening to music, we can’t help but be inspired if we listen so we didn’t listen. Records came out that we were really excited about and we just put them aside cause we were making a record.
For me, I like to listen to old recordings. I love it when I listen to something and I don’t know how it works; I like studying. It’s when you can’t find the beat or you say “what the hell is this”, that makes it exciting.
FYI: When performing at different venues the band will often take a local beer up on stage to show support for homegrown breweries.
“You don’t really know about it all until you tour and live from spot to spot; every town has their own thing!”