By Chris Fishlock

As things start to kick off for The Skints’ annual Christmas party, with the bar in full swing and as the venue starts to pack out, I head backstage to catch up with Josh from The Skints to talk about their very successful 2011, touring, the making of the new album, their year ahead and more…

2011 has been a fairly big year for you despite not releasing anything, has there been any particular highlights?

Yeah man, it’s been kind of nuts really, we’ve done a bunch of touring, we started the year going on tour with Reel Big Fish in the UK and Europe, we demoed the album and then we did some more headline shows then it was festival season. We recorded the album, it was kind of stressful at points but we did have a lot of fun doing the album, getting to do an album with Prince Fatty is definitely my highlight of the year personally, but the Gym Class Heroes tour was wicked as well.

Josh from The Skints

You have done a lot of big shows this year, playing with loads of big bands such as Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake and Capdown, did you grow up with these bands, is it pretty mind blowing that you’re now supporting them and hanging out backstage with them?

Yeah man well we listened to a lot of different types of music growing up but the ska punk thing was always the kind of shows that I went to and I went to see all those bands when I was a kid, I never ever thought that one day oh yeah I’m going to be on tour and just hanging out with these guys and you know their just normal dudes like everyone else, it still does mess with your head slightly in that how things can come full circle when you have been listening to a band growing up, so yeah man in a big way.

Is there any one band in particular you have sort of thought ‘wow, I love this band, how have I ended up playing with them?’

There’s so many dude, when we went to Europe with The Slackers that was one, the Sublime shows in London that we did, that was unbelievable for us to be the only British band that has played with Sublime at the time, that was fucking crazy and even when we’ve just done some festivals with people like Toots and the Maytals, Julian Marley and people like that, it’s just yeah outrageous man, Reel Big Fish, loads and loads man, were very very humbled by most of the people who we support.

Aside from the album, what else can we expect from you guys in 2012?

Videos definitely because we haven’t really had our video game up to scratch so the videos and stuff will be coming hard, and much more touring and festivals next year, headline tour, load’s man, were going in guns blazing.

You seem to be doing a lot of acoustic things at the moment with the acoustic session today and also tons of YouTube videos, is that something you are loving quite a lot as a band?

Yeah it’s just like you know, we’ve always kind of played acoustically to ourselves just hanging out and stuff and we’ve done a lot of touring full band and the acoustic thing is something really simple that we can just set up in front of a camera  and it doesn’t take any effort on our part at all and it’s something really quick that we can turn around within a few hours and we’ve been enjoying some of the stuff, some of the covers we were doing  and just yeah we sort of thought we’d use it to our advantage. We thought how little effort it takes us to be able to throw together , so hopefully people enjoy that side of it as well as the heavier bassier side of the live show and the records.

When you played the acoustic session earlier to a very small amount of people, is that almost even more nerve-wracking than when say supporting Capdown to loads of people?

So much man, purely because we’ve never really done it before, playing acoustic to like 20 people today was scarier than when we played Reading Festival in front of like 4000 people, definitely. It’s really weird.

The Skints – Up Against The Wall

You’ve made the album with the pledge campaign, is it important to have the fans as being part of the album?

Yeah it definitely was that, but in truth the reason we started the pledge campaign was that we didn’t really want to be in debt to anybody, like a label or anything then them being able to call the shots on what we do because they’ve lent us money, so obviously we didn’t have our own money to record at the time. It is important to have the fans involved, the thing is, it is important to us but at the time we really didn’t expect the response it got, it was a full on gamble really and it really did pay off in our favour so we literally can’t thank everyone that helped enough. It’s shown us that there are people that care about this band enough to pay for something that they’re not going to see a return on for a while.

Was making the album with complete creative control something that was important for you and is that something you plan to keep to for the rest of your career?

We’d never say never to having a label it’s just at the time we didn’t want someone to have our nuts in a vice about the kind of album we wanted to make, you know if the time comes and there’s a deal offered where we have got complete control and they can fund it then yeah that’s cool but at the time it wasn’t really being offered to us so, you know I’ve got nothing against record labels, what I have got against is people trying to buy their way into being in The Skints.

Jamie from The Skints

You use Twitter and Facebook a lot to connect with fans, is it an important thing to keep a good relationship between yourselves and the fans?

I think with the twitter and Facebook thing, it is important in this day and age with people looking at their phones looking at that every 5 seconds, if you can be connecting with people and let them know what’s going on because people see so much information all the time from bands, if you want people to know you’re there, you’ve got to let them know all the time so that stuff is important.

Yeah yeah definitely, well me, Jamie and Marcia are the ones who write all the tunes, and we have collaborated a lot more on this album than we did on the first album and I think it benefited from that. The first album, the way we write, and is sort of still true, is that whoever’s singing has probably written the song, we kind of write our own parts. This album was a lot more all 3 of us writing on one tune together rather than Jamie’s song, or Josh’s song, or Marcia’s song or whatever.

There’s a big mix of instrumentation on the first album, is that something were expecting on the new album as well?

Yeah man, even much more so, when we recorded we just went hard, we’d tried to make our album sound as full as we could, so yeah, loads more.

You’ve got a fairly dedicated fan base but you’re starting to branch out more with shows, such as the tour with You Me At Six next year, what are you thinking about playing to a different crowd that isn’t quite as dedicated to you?

It’s not about playing to people who are and who aren’t dedicated it’s more about getting more people involved you know. We’ve been kindly offered the You Me at Six tour by the band and were really not going to say no to playing to those kinds of numbers even if a handful of those people become fans after it then it was worth it you know. Obviously we’ve got mad love for the people who are into us already but for us were really not interested in staying in one little box and playing with one type of band and playing to one type of crowd you know, we just want as many people who are up for it to get involved and come hang out at the shows and stuff and listen to our records.

You Me At Six talk about The Skints on BBC Radio 1

With your own gigs like this, when you get to pick your own support acts, you’ve gone with a bit of a different flavour of genre with the acts tonight, do like mixing it up a bit?

Definitely man, I get bored with one genre at a gig you know what I mean, obviously we don’t always get to pick the bands all the time but tonight it’s our show that were hosting so we got to pick bands were really into and their kind of doing their thing which is different things to us which is important, we listen to so many different types of music were probably not going to put on a gig of bands that all sound like us or whatever, yeah man there’s a lot of different flavours tonight, I’m hoping that will make it worth a ticket for people as well, because we’re here to entertain.

Marci from The Skints

As well as this being your own Christmas party and headline show, in a relatively small venue from around where you’re from, it’s almost a friend and family type show, is that something you love doing? And how do you feel about tonight?

London shows in general for us do feel like coming home. We haven’t headlined in London since the summer, and we’ve had such a good year that we just wanted  something to round the year off and have a bit of a party, to say thank you to everyone who has been with us this year. Gecko who have been friends with us for a long time and Random Impulse we’ve been touring with this year and we’ve been really good friends. Yeah man it’s to see the year off in a party style you know, yeah and have a bit of fun tonight.

To end with, any idea when were expecting the new album, that seems to be on every fans mind right now.

Literally, there’s going to be an announcement in the first week of January, but it’s really not that long, it’s really not that long, it’s not that long at all, it’s just the thing were waiting on at the moment is finishing the artwork, were really proud of the artwork with the first album and with this one we want to make even better, the album is done, all the music is done.  But we have a date and that will be announced in January.

When you’re spending a long time on the album, do you prefer it so you can make the best album you can make rather than just throw it together to get to the fans straight away?

It wasn’t really a case of being in the studio for ages, the album, we finished recording it for quite a few months now, realistically if you add up all the sessions we had recording we probably only spent about three or four weeks in the studio, of course it’s long but we did the first album in 6 days, which was because of the budget and stuff but this time we had a little bit more room to breathe, we didn’t get anal about it at all, we tried not to get hung up on being perfectionists because otherwise you’re never going to be happy with it, but the reason it’s taken so long is more because of the timing and us wanting to do things in a bit more of a structured way you know, rather than just get it out for the sake of it being out, were really proud of this album and we want to do it right, we want to do it justice.

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Random Hand // Nambucca // London

15 October 2011

By: Chris Fishlock

As part of their amazingly named “Terminatour”, Yorkshire ska-punk-metal act Random Hand hit up North London’s best small music venue, Nambucca, bringing along a great selection of ska infused bands from the current UK scene.

Opening the night were acoustic act Chapter Eleven, playing with one less member than usual. Their short set contained some well written songs that could just have easily have been performed by one person, but the use of two acoustic guitars allowed their sound to become louder – making them fit better into the line up, as well as having songs about passed away Anti-Vigilante drummer and Rebellion festival – these are guys who are just as much fans as they are musicians.

Adam Payne // Resolution 242

Second band on the bill were the brilliant Resolution 242 playing a short set of powerful tracks mostly taken from their recent EP ‘Resurgence’. Most the set featured ‘Mr Wheelz’ on hip-hop vocals, the band ignored their Dog The Dog released debut album and sounded very much like a different act. This is a band clearly still in development, but they are starting to create their own solid sound – definitely a band worth keeping an eye on.

Next up were Essex reggae act New Town Kings, giving a fantastic half hour set made up mostly of songs from their well received recent album ‘MOJO’. Playing with one less guitar than normal was a slight downside but this did not affect the overall sound a great deal. Where the previous two acts had failed to have much of an active audience New Town Kings managed to achieve a decent portion of the crowd – skanking their hearts out with the incredibly danceable music. New Town Kings are a great and entertaining live act, perfect to get people dancing. They have a tight live sound leading to flawless performances from the clearly talented band – well worth checking out live.

No nonsense skacore// Anti Vigilante

Aggressive skacore band Anti-Vigilante had a bit of trouble with their guitar amp, but this didn’t stop them from tearing the place apart with their mix of hardcore punk and ska, with front man Josh switching between vocals and saxophone. It’s very easy to compare the band to British ska punk heroes Capdown, the two bands have a lot of similarities (including both being from Milton Keynes), but Anti-Vigilante are a much more aggressive band, just lacking the discography that Capdown can flaunt. The band proved to be a perfect warm up for Random Hand, despite their technical difficulties – but they did still manage to keep a full room and perform well.

Arriving on stage to a enthusiastic and packed crowd Random Hand kicked off with ‘Find What’s Out There’ but were interrupted by a failing guitar amp much like the previous set from Anti-Vigilante. After starting again the guitar amp failed yet again, but luckily having given up on the opening song they didn’t have any further problems. The band played a fast paced, entertaining set with a good combination of songs from all three of their albums; including fan favourites such as ‘Bones’ and ‘Play Some Ska’.

Random Hand // Matthew Crosher

The band kept the crowd active for the entirety of the set, even having to ask the crowd to calm down at times, but also spurred on the crowd to partake in a “crawl of death” during ‘Anthropology’ which was fairly entertaining to watch (like you can imagine it was much like a wall of death but with crawling). Ending the set with ‘Anger Management’ once again Random Hand proved that they are one of the best live bands in the ska scene today, the only criticism you could give to their set was they didn’t play the 90’s classic ‘Macarena’ as the crowd requested (because let’s face it, Random Hand doing a cover of ‘Macarena’ would be incredible).