By: Adam Harrison (@AdamRHarrison) –
It’s rare, but some musicians just seem to have a natural formula that’s consistent and fresh. That rarity can be found on any Band of Skulls album or live show. If you haven’t heard of this trio from Southampton, England yet, then its time you “throw your hands up, kick back your heels and dance to the beat,” as quoted from the title track of their newest album Himalayan. Their music has been categorized as a mix of alternative, blues, garage, and hard indie rock, garnering a broad and diverse fan base across ages and demographics, much like our city of Toronto. When Band of Skulls launched their current North American tour on April 24 in Toronto, we sat down with Emma Richardson, the group’s bassist, vocalist, and songwriter, to talk about their new album, Himalayan, and the tour.
Himalayan is Band of Skulls’ third album, and the development of their new material occurred a little differently than 2012’s Sweet Sour and 2009’s Baby Darling Doll Face Honey. “It was a bit more relaxed process of writing, rather than putting a lot of pressure on ourselves,” Richardson explains. “We were going in every day and going home every evening and we had a bit of space from it.” They created the album in London, which Richardson notes was also new to them. “We usually haul ourselves away in the countryside.”
Richardson explains that the writing process of exploring themes “was a bit more of a focused decision… I think the main thing is ‘what songs are we lacking in the set? After playing live for a couple of years, what are we missing? What songs haven’t we got yet?’” Although it changes from night to night, her favourite song to perform at the moment is “Hoochie Coochie” off the new album, because of it’s upbeat and fast pacing.
“After playing live for a couple years, what are we missing? What songs haven’t we got yet?”
On the makeup of their audiences being from all ages and walks of life, she describes that was not purposeful, but rather a byproduct of the trio’s democratic approach to songwriting. “All three of us write, so it’s kind of a mixture of all of our influences I suppose… It’s great to have that kind of skill set… It comes naturally and we don’t try to force anything.” “It just feels like something connects with a lot of people.”
Elaborating on the songwriting process, she characterizes every song as being a team effort; “It’s always a mixture. No one writes a whole song usually. We start ideas and then other people finish them. Sometimes some lyrics are by one person, but generally each song has three of us stamped on it.” Nevertheless some songs always speak to each of them a little more, for Richardson it is “Navigate” off Sweet Sour the most. “[It has] quite a strong personal meaning. Live, it kind of transfers onto the crowd, who seem to understand that and you get that emotion back.”
Richardson says the band loves playing in Canada, and their launch of the tour in Toronto is a great start. “[In] Toronto and Vancouver especially we’ve had great responses early in the band’s career.” She continues, “we’ve got three records to choose from playing a full set and we’re really excited to show people this new album.” The band have their sights set high, she says that one venue they’d all love to play is the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, “that’s quite an epic venue and we do have a song called the ‘Hollywood Bowl’. That would be kind of cool to play that there.”
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