Described as one of British rock ‘n’ roll’s brightest hopes, The Skinner Brothers have enjoyed a promising few years, rising in popularity following acclaimed EPs ‘Iconic’ and ‘Culture Non-Stop’, along with a plethora of hit singles. As well as being championed by new music specialists, This Feeling, The Skinner Brothers have also been selected as special guests for the likes of The Libertines, Kasabian and The Streets on recent tours!
The prolific consistency of frontman, Zac Skinner, the creative force behind the band’s recent success, has allowed this band to grow independently, and they are now on the verge of releasing their new album, ‘Soul Boy II’. The record tells a story of youth culture, written and produced in Zac’s home studio in Brentford. It includes guest appearances from Rob Harvey (The Music) and Russ Pritchard (The Zutons)!
We spoke to Zac ahead of the eagerly anticipated album release. We discussed Soul Boy II, the UK tour, supporting Kasabian and plenty more!
NC: Soul Boy II is nearly here, can you sum up your feelings ahead of release?
ZS: “I’m just hoping it all goes well, there’s so much going on at the minute. We’ve got the tour and album, my mind feels like it couldn’t be anymore in it. The tour will be a whole month of March, I’m always thinking there’s a million things that could go wrong and same with the album. On top of this, I’m trying to write new tunes. But I just hope people like it.”
NC: From an outsider looking in, you’ve enjoyed a rise in popularity over the last couple of years. What would you put that down to?
ZS: “I’ve been doing it for quite a long time. I think since we got the manager we have now, we’ve honed in a little bit on the tunes and straightened everything out. We’ve got all the right people in the right places. It’s about consistency and things have started to come into the right lanes now.”
NC: You released the first ‘Soul Boy’ record in 2020, so was this project always planned, do you see it as the follow-up?
ZS: “Musically, it’s nothing like it, but it’s the same idea – a snapshot of the current time. I really liked the name ‘Soul Boy’, so we checked it on the internet and got it trademarked. I was getting clothes embroidered with ‘Soul Boy’ and it just became our thing. Volume 1 was a bit more chilled out, I’d say.”
NC: Are there any album tracks you’re particularly looking forward to fans hearing on the 18th?
ZS: “The lead single I’m looking forward to, ‘Stupid Much’. I wouldn’t say it’s pop but it’s a lot more accessible. I’m also looking forward to the slightly heavier stuff. I wouldn’t say there’s any typical ‘album tracks’. The tester for me is if I’m enjoying listening to the songs in my spare time, then I’m confident people will like it.”
NC: Do you feel there’s more pressure on this album compared to previous due to this increase in popularity?
ZS: “Yeah, I don’t feel like we’ve even broken yet but there’s way more pressure. The songs, the gigs and keeping the band together is hard enough. When there were no fans, I could sort of chill on my own and work at my own pace. But on the other hand this pressure is good, I can’t complain because it’s what I’ve always wanted. You can never win!”
NC: What are your views on how music is consumed today. Are albums still viewed as the pinnacle or is there more of a focus on singles and EPs?
ZS: “I used to be a big fan of albums. I loved vinyls but I don’t get them so much these days. I got Spotify in the last few years as a listener, I liked it when I was going out on a run or something. When I’m writing music, I always think I’m not going to worry about the singles and get an album together, because if you worry about songs being singles too much it’s not healthy, you’ll never finish writing the tracks. But the reality is it’s the singles that will make you popular today. Mostly I’ll hear what’s put in front of me, if a single is being pumped around all the playlists. I don’t honestly know how many people invest in albums anymore. I’m guilty of it, the last album I properly listened to was Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.”
NC: You don’t tend to see it as much with bands these days compared to the past, but you are consistently managing to put new music out there on a regular basis. Is this a conscious decision, do you ever consider holding off with any of your material?
ZS: “You’re right, you see a lot of bands release just a few singles sporadically and they’re doing really well. I can see why, but I produce so much music all the time which we think is of a reasonable quality, so our thinking is if we’ve got it, we’ll put it out there. Back in the day, bands would release two or three albums a year. It was pretty normal. Now you’re lucky if you get one album every two years. It depends how you do it, whether you want the mystery around the band or not. Maybe we’ll mellow it down a bit with the tour coming up, in lockdown it was easy to create new stuff!”
NC: We need to dicsuss a couple of support slots you’ve had recently – Kasabian and The Streets. What was that like to be chosen?
ZS: “It was very cool. The Kasabian tour was a full month but it was a little bit different because of COVID. Everyone gets sent home if someone gets it so there were extra precautions but it was great to play with them. It’s harder playing as support, trying to convert a full room that doesn’t know who you are. Our own tour next month is different because people have paid to see you, so it’s a win win.”
NC: Speaking of the big tour coming up, where are you excited to play?
ZS: “I’m looking forward to the whole thing. Glasgow is the furthest away, I don’t know anyone there so I was worried about it selling out, it sold out though so I’m buzzing for that. To know there’s people hearing your music on the other side of the country is insane. Manchester always gets a good rep too but there’s always the pleasant surprises, that’s what we found on the Kasabian tour. Like a Sunday night in Lincoln, it might just pop off. So you can’t be snobby with any dates you’ve just got to get out there.”
NC: Have you had much chance to prepare for the tour with everything going on, what have you got planned?
ZS: “We’re pretty fresh from the Kasabian tour so that should play into our hands. We’re going to play a couple of the old songs to keep people happy, because we’ve been doing this for years now. It’s going to be raw power, I’ve always thought about a big intro but when you’re playing the smaller venues that’s not possible. It’s good though, you’ve just got to get into it. We know it won’t sound the same as the big venues where we’ve been playing as support, but it’s not all about that. It’s about switching mindset now ready for our own tour.”
NC: Do you get nervous playing live anymore?
ZS: “I got nervous at Brixton, it was a bit daunting because it was such a big show. Especially if you’re supporting, if your voice starts going then you don’t really have much choice but to play, and I was coming down with a cold. It wasn’t as if I could just ask Serge to cancel that night! But you can’t be good every gig, there’s no way around that. You’ve just got to keep your head straight and make the most of any chances you get to perform.”
NC: You often hear funny stories of things not going to plan at gigs, do you have any of those from The Skinner Brothers?
ZS: “At some of our gigs ages ago, I’d fight with my brother on stage, it was a bit ridiculous. You see it on documentaries and think it’s cool, but then it happens in real life and people don’t want to work with you. Back in those days people earned big money, that’s the difference. So I’ve learnt from my mistakes but you never know what’s going to happen at the gigs.”
NC: Before we go, I need to ask you about the cap which has become synonymous with The Skinner Brothers. With the Soul Boy branding in mind, is the style important for the band?
ZS: “Yeah it is. I started wearing it when we were in the pubs, I had short hair back then. My hair got longer and the cap was on to keep it in place. Me and the photographer, Connor Hill, we carved it out a bit further and gave it a push. But it is real, if you see me out and about that is me. Every gig I wear exactly the same thing, it’s more recognisable. It’s a little bit boring for me but if I see a band and they come out looking exactly how I want them to look, I quite like that and I get a little buzz from it. That’s the guy I wanted to see. I’ve never really watched Peaky Blinders either!”
The Skinner Brothers new album, ‘Soul Boy II’ is out TOMORROW (February 18th). They will be releasing even more new music later this year and have promised festival dates this summer after their own tour. Remaining tickets for the March tour are available here.
‘Soul Boy II’ tracklist:
- ‘Mountain High’
- ‘Put Me Down As A Maybe’
- ‘Away Days’ (acoustic)
- ‘1000 Reasons Why’
- ‘Told You So’
- ‘Culture Non-Stop’
- ‘Give It All To Me’
- ‘Stupid Much?’
- ‘Way Too Far’
- ‘Stupid Much?’ (featuring Teef)
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