Talking the Creative Process with Band of Skulls
We sat down with UK rock trio Band of Skulls at Life is Beautiful festival in downtown Las Vegas. After getting the know the group, we talked about their latest tour, the creative process and their overall views of Life is Beautiful.
Sensible Reason: Introduce yourselves and give me your specialty in the band.
My name’s Matt, I play drums.
Russell: Is that it?
Matt: [Laughs] Yeah
My name’s Emily I play the bass and sing.
I’m Russell I play guitar and sing as well.
SR: You guys have quite the tour coming up.
Russell: Always, we always have a tour. We always have more dates added before we can finish them, so the tour always gets longer before it gets smaller. We like it. We’re halfway through our US tour and then we carry on to Europe, Scandinavia and Australia before the holidays this year. It’s just begun.
SR: Where are you most excited to go?
Russell: It’s always nice to go back to places we’ve been before, but it’s exciting to play cities we’ve never been to. We’ve never been to this festival here in Vegas, we always play shows here but not a festival, so it’s nice to do something different.
SR: Are you planning on checking it out? Walking around and getting some food?
Emily: Yeah, we have been out and wandering.
SR: What do you think of it?
Emily: It’s cool, I like all the graffiti and big pieces of art.
SR: It’s super immersive. Are you planning on catching any sets? See any other artists?
Russell: We might see some people as we go, we like to plan it to not have a plan. Our tour is always so scheduled, so this is nice with more free time to be flexible and wander around and see some things. We’ve seen some people hula hooping [pointing to the hula hoop which sits beside us] being sprayed with CO2, maybe we’ll go back to that.
SR: Are you going to try it?
Matt: [Russell] did.
Russell: Yeah, I was.
Matt: Back at home he’s a national champion.
Russell: I did some second in a quite prestigious competition, a long time ago.
SR: Would you like to have a contest?
Russell: I’m more used to traditional ones, so I’m not sure about that.
SR: [Laughs] Anyway, what most excites you about your new album? Any particular song or conceptual theme?
Emily: We started recording this record in a church in our home town, so it’s got a particular sound. We were using a big room in a beautiful old church so it influenced the sound of the record, I think.
SR: Are you thinking of doing that again for another album?
Russell: We like to change things up, so I think the next record we’ll be trying to find somewhere inspiring, but even a stage is a similar shape to the space we were using. You want to make a record in a place and then try and bring that sound with you into the show, taking those samples and trying to pull it out of the inner. We’re just trying to find some other situation that’s inspiring to us.
SR: Do you find inspiration from people, life, or where you travel?
Russell: Both, yeah.
Emily: Yeah, all of it. We’re lucky, we draw it from everywhere. When we go on the road you get to see a lot of different countries and meet lots of people and you soak it all up.
SR: How do you create your tracks structurally? Do you write your own parts, do you work together?
Russell: Yeah, we’re a big collaboration in that sense. People come with starting points and then we all work on the same piece of material at a time and it gets quite cutthroat in a sense that if someone says the verse is great but the chorus isn’t good enough we have to be cool with someone replacing that part of your music. We do that and we keep working that way until it’s more than the sum of its parts, something that we couldn’t do individually. It’s quite chaotic, but in the end you get a Band of Skulls song. It’s kind of a long process and it changes a lot from the initial demo to the record, but it makes sense for us to do it that way.
SR: How long do you think it usually takes from start to finish?
Russell: It takes a lot of steps. Sometimes we can get it done in a little over a week, at times we just put it to the side and come back to it later. Both ways can work.
SR: Within the group, who is the parent, who is the liability, and who is the voice of reason?
Russell: I think it changes all the time, at least the liability and the voice of reason.
Emily: We all takes turns being each of them.
Russell: I agree, like our songwriting. If someone is having a day where they fancy being the liability, then the other two members will probably fill the other roles, and not to say that maybe some of us take on those roles a little more often than others, but it’s not like one of us is super sensible while the others run wild. We all have our moments, that’s how we would say it. We have our moments.
SR: And you deserve a time to be the liability every once in a while.
Russell: Maybe today, who knows.