We had the opportunity to talk to Band of Skulls, returning to San Diego at The Belly Up on September 24th. The British rock trio is touring in support of their fourth album, By Default.
Band of Skulls is noted for their showmanship and energy that they throw into every show; is it easier to exude this in the large or small venues?
BoS: We love performing live whether it’s in a tiny club, a huge festival or a big theatre we try and bring the same show and the same energy to them all. If we play on a big stage like that Muse support show in an arena you do have to exaggerate your movements to really get the performance across that size venue, to reach to those stalls way up in the back. But it’s equally exhilarating seeing the whites of people’s eyes in the front row.
Does the crowd have a large effect on your shows? Can you tell us the craziest crowd/fan story that comes to mind?
BoS: It’s all about connecting with the crowd, it’s a reciprocal thing. They have the ability to create so much energy and spirit and you feed off it and give it right back them and those moments really make for a memorable show. We give it our all whatever the gig and when you feel like the audience are with you then that makes it really special.
Your new album, By Default, was written in a Church. Said Church is featured on the cover. You have mentioned that the sounds unique to the church were an integral part of the writing process; has it been difficult to translate the songs as you are playing in venues that aren’t churches? Is it a challenge finding a similar sound?
BoS: Making a record and playing a live show are two different beasts and we always try and make the live version of the song the best it can be. The church definitely shaped the record and we havE tried to recreate this as best as possible and it is possible. We have a fourth member joining us for this tour our good friend Milo Fitzpatrick who will be adding to the live set and playing what we physically can’t so it’s really exciting as all the songs have taken on a whole new life are sounding amazing and we can’t wait to play them all to you.
All of Band of Skulls’ albums have their own ranging sound, which we imagine is tough as a three-piece. How did you determine the main influences for By Default?
BoS: We are all influenced by a lot of different music and this has been more apparent maybe on this latest album. We are always interested in pushing what we are capable of and keeping it exciting for ourselves and because we all write there is a constant flow of ideas that get added to the pot which are always exciting to work on. That’s the challenge for us, making something new with our set up.
Does the wide range you guys are capable of affect setlists? Do you prefer to keep with one sound or do you prefer presenting the full variety?
BoS: Variety definitely. We always want to showcase all the elements of our band and make it the best live experience. It’s getting more and more difficult to write the set list as we try and include songs from every record and every style. We change it up a lot more and you can gauge the audiences reactions to certain songs and work with it.
Up until this album there has been a connection between the music and Emma’s art. Are we going to be able to see that anytime soon?
BoS: The first three records worked really well as triptych in terms of the cover art. It was great to explore that idea and use three different mediums and work with others artist. Painting Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, glass sculpture for Sweet Sour and computer generated imagery from soundwaves for Himalayan. For this record we thought it was a good chance to change it up and use photography and give people a window into our writing process for By Default. Strangely it has quite a lot of symmetry in it too!
As you tour the country, what are the top 5 bands that you’ve been listening to? Podcasts?
BoS: We have a great band out supporting us this tour called Mothers from Athens Georgia who you should check out. Other records that I’ve been listening to are Iggy Pop’s latest Post Pop Depression. Glass animals new album is cool. Anything by Missy Elliott. I’m a big fan of the Radio 4 Desert island discs podcast. It’s presented by Kirsty Young and she talks to some really interesting people about there life and the music that means a lot to them. A fascinating listen.