Sep. 05, 2012 - Issue #881: Sex 2012
Band of Skulls
Wed, Sep 12 (8 pm)
Starlite Room, $22
'In this day and age, there's no time for breaks," says Band of Skulls drummer Matt Hayward.
Not that he minds. The alt-rock trio from Southampton, England has been on overdrive since releasing its debut record Baby Darling Doll Face Honey in 2009. After two years of steady touring, Band of Skulls hit the studio right away to record Sweet Sour, which it's still on the road supporting, and will be until the end of the year, when they'll hit the studio again to start work on a third album.
Band of Skulls started small, with an intimate record befitting of the small venues it was frequenting, but when the trio—comprised of childhood friends Hayward and guitarist and vocalist Russell Marsden, along with bass player and vocalist Emma Richardson—began writing Sweet Sour, it became evident the band needed beefier tunes that would stand up on much larger stages.
"When we were imagining playing it live, it was a much different environment than the first one where we had no experience in touring at all," Hayward says in a charming English accent during a trans-Atlantic phone call, adding that two years on the road certainly changes a person as a musician. "I think it's inevitable. Before we released a record, we'd gig maybe once a month if we were lucky, and you'd gear up all month to play this one gig and if it didn't go well you'd be really devastated about it, but now we get to do it every day, so you don't have to wait very long to right all your wrongs."
Lyrically, Sweet Sour became a massive decompression after relentless touring, but Hayward says he's always wary of "rubbish cliches" about the second record being the toughest one and turning it into a predictable record about the trials of life on the road.
"When I listen back to it, it captures that whole period where it was exciting, but also very nerve-wracking because we'd sort of built up a name for ourselves and it was whether or not we could continue doing it," Hayward notes of the album, which was recording during what he says were very happy times in a studio in Wales. "We all write individually, so some songs lyrically were written by the three of us sitting around writing and some of them were more individual in certain aspects, and so it's everyone's take on the last two years, really."
The experiences included touring as an opener for The Black Keys earlier this year and performances at festivals such as SXSW. Hayward says the trio treats each as a learning experience and admits getting up in front of a crowd of thousands doesn't get any easier, no matter how many times he does it.
"We're always such pessimists about everything, so we're thinking, 'Oh God, I hope a hundred people turn out,' and we're real panicky about it and every time we walk out we're like, 'Holy shit there's like fucking thousands.' We're very grateful," he says, recalling a recent performance at the Reading Festival in England that was particularly nerve-wracking. "We used to look up at that stage as kids and we like 'Wow, one day I'd love to do that,' so to walk out on the main stage was one of the best feelings, but one of the scariest feelings."
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