Interview: Band of Skulls on growing up by the coast

Prior to their explosive performance at Victorious Festival in Portsmouth, Ollie Tunmore sat down with rock outfit Band of Skulls.

Band of Skulls performing at Victorious Festival
Band of Skulls performing at Victorious Festival

Hailing from Southampton, Band of Skulls are known for their brand of romantic rock and roll.

Just before they set out to play the Castle Stage last night, Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson sat down with Ollie to chat about growing up in the area, festivals and touring life.

Ollie: “You’re from Southampton, are you still based there now?”

Russell: “We are there, when we’re home. Which used to be not very much, but thankfully this year is more than it used to be.

“This is the first stop of a short tour we’re about to do, so we’re still close to home at the moment, which is always nice”.

Ollie: “You spent the majority of your youth there, what would you say are your highlights of growing up in Southampton and along the coast?”

Emma: “There was always so much going on, and so many bands used to come through Southampton. The Guildhall, Joiners, Talking Heads, I remember going to three gigs a week sometimes which was pretty awesome.”

Russell: “I saw the Libertines at the Joiners, which is about as big as my mum’s front room.

“It was the coolest thing – I really enjoyed that night, despite not remembering much of it... It was the perfect night in the indie-rock club”.

Ollie: “By Default, your last album, came out well over a year ago now. How was the reception? Have you enjoyed touring it?”

Emma: “It’s been great; we’ve been able to go around the world again. We played a lot of shows - we got to see Australia, America, Europe, and of course some shows around the UK too. It was great to have four albums to choose from, it was a struggle to get them to all fit in to the set list actually!”

Russell: “Yeah it’s a big group of songs we’ve got now! You can change it for each show as well so if you have a special gig coming up then you can change it accordingly for that.

“Even tonight, we’ve added some tracks we haven’t played for ages to the list.

“It’s great because as a new band, you think ‘what are we going to do? We only have five songs…’ so there used to be a lot of jamming and playing off the crowd. So now, it’s great to not have to worry like that anymore.”

Ollie: “You’ve got your mini-tour coming up next week, are you looking forward to that?”

Emma: “Ah it’s going to be amazing. To be in those tiny independent venues again which we don’t often play anymore will be great. What with independent venue week and people supporting their local venues – what’s left of them – I think it’s great to play small venues of a 200 to 300 capacity again.”

Russell: “It’s how we got our first gig on the rock’n’roll windmill, so small venues are so important.

“Without them, the next generation of artists are going to miss those opportunities. So we’re really excited about them – it’s going be down in the audiences’ faces, hot and dirty.”

Ollie: “With small venues in mind, the festival scene in the UK seems crowded in my opinion.

“With several smaller festivals suffering failures, do you think the festival business should be refined, or stay as busy as it is?”

Emma: “I think it’s always about balance to be honest. You’re obviously always going to have the big grandmother festivals like Glastonbury and Reading that will forever reign, they’ll always exist.

“But it’s great to see new smaller festivals start up and maintain it at that size. Boutique-style ones seem to be the rage right now, so hopefully they’ll manage to keep going.

“I think it’s good that Secret Garden party stopped when it did, otherwise it could’ve gotten out of control. Festivals will always come and go, and I think that’s a good thing - but yeah, the market can get a bit saturated, I agree.”

Russell: “If a festival can offer something different and something new every year then yeah it’s a good thing to keep the smaller ones going.

“But I think it’s important to find what you like and what you want in a festival and then you stick to it and become loyal to that brand. Hopefully it’ll balance out, there can never be too much music, right?”

Ollie: “You go to so many festivals actually performing, are you ever able to just attend them anymore?”

Russell: “We are normally playing… but we do usually get to hang out afterwards too. Coachella, Bonnaroo in America, Summer Sonic in Japan, they’re all absolutely great festivals.

“Local festivals too though are great, Common People in Southampton, Victorious! They’re all fantastic little festivals and we’re so happy to be able to be here and play for the first time.”

Emma: “It’s an absolutely amazing position to be in, as a band, to be able to travel round the world playing your music.

“You get to see all these different festivals and countries, but for us, Glastonbury will always be special. We grew up going there as children, so to now be able to play it… yeah, that’s always going to blow our minds.”

Ollie: “You’re on the road and have been for many months now, what’s on your playlist?”

Emma: “Ah god, all sorts. Usually quite a lot of jazz, blues and old-school rock, we try and pick a new record and listen to the whole thing while we’re away.”

Russell: “Elton John. EJ demos are the one for us. Young Elton, he’s the one.”

Ollie: “Are you able to stick around or are you off rehearsing for next week?”

Emma: “We’ve got a show on Monday, so we’ll actually be heading off to that pretty soon after.

“We’ll stick around and make sure we get a party in tonight and celebrate a good show!”