Interview with Skinny Lister

This coming winter Beans on Toast and Skinny Lister will head out on a co-headline tour of the UK. Label mates, touring buddies and drinking companions they make a perfect match. Both bands are hardworking, fun Loving, heavy touring acts that bring a unique and modern take on the age-old tradition of English folk music. Together they are given the opportunity to play on bigger stages and bring their shows to larger audiences. Both bands will be playing full sets. It’s going to be one hell of a party. The Double Trouble comes to Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms on November 29th. We spoke to Lorna Thomas about all things Skinny Lister.

How did Skinny Lister form?

Well Max & I grew up listening to our dad sing in folk clubs. After spending most of our youth trying to avoid the folk world, eventually we succumbed and started playing in our front room. At the same time, Max and Dan were playing traditional tunes at house parties and pubs in London whilst Dan was writing tunes and attending a folk night in Greenwich with Mule, where they sang sea shanties and played tunes. I suppose it all came together as we started hanging out together and wanted to get the upbeat feel of the tunes that got everyone dancing with the original material.

Is there a story behind the band’s name?

There’ve been a few different stories over the years but the truth is Dan went to school with a thin lad called Stephen Lister. He was given the fairly reasonable and not too offensive nickname Skinny Lister. Years later, and despite, not being in touch with him anymore, Dan thought he’d reclaim the name and use it for this project. Since then, another Lister, who is a retired Policeman took it upon himself to find the real Skinny Lister so Dan and he have been in touch but I don’t think he’s actually made it to a show yet. I think he’s busy refereeing footy matches up north somewhere!

Who would you say have been your biggest influences as a band?

There’s various influences  as you’d expect from a six piece band, but I kind of think it largely depends on what the band have been doing at the time of recording. I see each album as a snapshot of a moment in time. You can definitely hear the folk in our first album, ‘Forge & Flagon’, then in the second ‘Down on Deptford Broadway’, the Dropkicks Murphys and Flogging Molly influences are well and truly there, sprinkled with some Clash, Adam & The Ants and Dexy’s. The final album again has all sorts going on in there, including some Kate Bush beats.

Would you say you prefer being in the studio recording new material or playing live shows?

Now that depends on who you ask! Dan is never more at home than when he’s in the studio, where as I really thrive form walking out on stage every night to a big crowd of beaming faces. I think he sees that more as an affirmative for the hard work put into the writing and recording process. I think it’s a massive process that each has there rewards. Its amazing to put together the songs and record them in the studio and have a finished product that stays with you and that you can then share with a crowd of people. I guess they go hand in hand.

What was the first music festival you went to – as a fan or indeed as a band?

Glastonbury! We snuck in with some kind of UV pen and light trick. It was a sketchy entrance and we were very fluky. I’d just finished my A-Levels and hopped on a coach to go and meet Max and off we went into the massive crazy beautiful world of complete abandonment. AMAZING! I have to say I don’t remember much music but I think I just walked around the festival site wide eyed and overwhelmed by the mentalness. I knew then that Festivals for me, but it wasn’t until quite a while later that I figured out a legitimate way to get into festivals: JOIN A BAND!

Do you have a favourite venue/city to play live? (They don’t have to be the same!)

I always find this tricky question as generally there’s great fun to be had wherever you go. That said, for sentimental reasons I guess it’s London. It’s where we started out and now to be selling out our last two shows at Garage and Scala is monumentally mind blowing. To be able to say were headlining Koko this December with our pal Beans on Toast is just insane. Love that venue. Though is it my favourite? I’m not sure. We’ve definitely had some pretty mental nights there. Particularly crazy was when we played a Bestival party there. I think the backstage was just chaos. When it comes to venues though, Flogging Molly’s Salty Dog cruise liner which sets sail from Miami to the Bahamas has to be up there as one of the best. Four days of great music, great crowds and great weather with free bars and bubbling jacuzzis is just unbelievable and well worth splashing out on a ticket.

If you had to only play festivals or headline sets for the rest of your career, which would you prefer?

I think now that whilst I still love festivals, there’s nothing like the feeling of being backstage and hearing your audience cheering just for you. The minute you walk on to stage and the feeling you get as the lights flash and the music starts is amazing. Every night I get goose bumps as I see the crowd go crazy for the songs we’ve worked hard on. In fact I was actually moved to tears last night in Cologne, Germany where we played our biggest show outside of London. We were called back on stage three times for an encore. The crowd was crazy & gave everything, which obviously means that we give even more than we knew was possible!

Do you have a favourite song to play live?

Hamburg Drunk is always cool as the crowd go mental, there’s circle pits and everyone enjoys a true story about when Dan got into a spot of bother after having a few too many drinks!

What are your ambitions as a band for the future?

To keep writing, to keep recording & to keep performing the songs to an ever growing following.

And finally… If you could have written one song in history yourself, what would you have preferred it to be?

‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen.

Photo courtesy of Sonic PR

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