To celebrate the release of their fourth album, By Default, Southampton rock trio Band Of Skulls are heading back to Australia this November! With a string of headline national shows as well as a top spot at Perth’s Disconnect festival, this will be the first time Australian audiences will be able to experience the record in the flesh.
We chatted with frontman Russell Marsden about writing the album in the church, touring North America and what separates this album from the rest.
Thanks for speaking to us Russell! You toured all around the world after releasing your third record, Himalayan, were you writing during this time or did you wait until you got home?
A little bit of both I think. We had a couple of songs that were kicking around at the end of the tour cycle, but we definitely did sit down and talk about what we wanted to do and how to get ideas together.
There was a moment where we put all our ideas on the floor, and that was in a church in Southampton, that was quite a unique environment.
We’ve heard quite a bit about this church, how did you book it, and how did it help the writing process?
For booking it, we just walked in and asked the vicar if we could rent the room. He brought us biscuits and looked after us, it was great.
Writing wise, we were aware that we didn’t want just to make some music for the sake of it. We wanted to take some time for this record. In the end we wrote about 100 songs, we only ended up with 15, but we had so much to draw on.
100 songs! how did the cull work? You’re all songwriters and have two singers, so it must’ve been tough. Do you pick the ones that match the theme of the album? Does your producer get involved?
It’s the songs that seem to hold and hang together. Also, if there was a theme to this album, it was to have no theme.
We wanted to just try everything, so every song has a very individual vibe. But our producer (Gil Norton – The Pixies, Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World) was definitely involved in that. He helped us shape and choose certain songs for the record.
We really wanted to open doors, so what we do next can be in any direction – we’ve shown our hand and were quite experimental.
In your opinion, how do you know whens a song finished?
From my point of view, when I bring in an idea for a song, if it gets through the process of the band liking it, the demo stage, and the producer liking it then that’s the sort of a natural finish. We never pull our punches when it’s an idea that’s not working.
So if it can get through the piranhas than we classify it as finished.
AUSTRALIA, we’ll be seeing you for a full tour in November!!
— Band of Skulls (@bandofskulls) September 27, 2016
Do you have a favourite track off the album?
We’re touring now and I’m really enjoying play a couple of songs at the moment. I really love playing ‘In Love By Default’ cause I think that sums up the air of experimenting. It’s different for us to do, we’re popping it in the set to get it out to people because it’s not really rock, but it is us.
I haven’t listened to the album since we finished to be honest, but I’ll go back to it soon and then I’ll probably be a song or two that speak to me.
What separates this album from the others?
It’s very difficult to see it at the moment, but as time goes past we’ll get a sense of what was going on at the time. But nothing is ever the same.
For this one though I guess we were showing off a lot more of our influences, and making a record for ourselves.
You just completed one of your biggest tours all around the USA and Canada. Have you got a favourite city to play in?
Its funny we’re here in Europe at the moment, and it’s a bit similar. All the American states are so different, they’re all their own countries. Going from Paris to Berlin to Barcelona, they’re all very different. Just like going from LA, to Austin Texas to New York.
But I love playing the music scenes like Nashville, and Austin. There is so much history and competition in these cities, so if you can survive a night there you’re not doing too badly.
You’re headed back to Australia in November, do you have much downtime? What are you looking forward to?
I’m not sure if we do this time round, but I remember last time we did. We were supposed to tour with The Black Keys but they couldn’t come, so all the nights we were meant to play with them we had off.
I do remember last time we were there, Matt and I were working on a song in a hotel room in Sydney. that made it to the record. That was ‘Something’ that ended up making it on the record actually.
Pick up a copy of In Default and check out all Band of Skull’s tour dates here.