The Skinner Brothers are a band that have survived the live music lull of the pandemic, emerging fighting fit and ready to take on whatever comes their way. People are really starting to sit up and take notice of this band, who are full steam ahead for success. The Skinner Brothers can now boast regular air play on BBC 6 Music and Radio X and a knack for selling out shows. A glace through their discography could fool you into thinking this is an overnight success story, with their earliest single only dating back to 2018, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. After moving to London back in 2012 as an 18 year old, with dreams of pursuing a career as a musician, front man Zach Skinner isn’t afraid of a bit of hard graft. He starts our chat with anecdotes of bank holidays spent working in Boots, or pulling pints for punters, without being able to enjoy any of the fun himself. Fast forward a few years and he’s spending this bank holiday playing Glastonferret festival in Preston followed by a few vodkas.
You’ve been so busy the past few months, it’s hard to know where to start! But we’ll start by congratulating you on selling out not one, but two nights at London’s Iconic Hundred Club. How did it feel when you found out that both dates had sold out?
Well, the first one I was like OK cool, cause we hadn’t played a gig for a little while because of the lockdown. I was still way buzzed like oh its sold out! It was a sweet gig. Then the October one we released the other day sold out in a few days. I didn’t know if it would cause we haven’t done many gigs because of covid. I didn’t even realize [it had sold out], then an Italian guy, was messaging us on the Instagram like, “I’ve got a hangover, I couldn’t get tickets and now they’re all gone.” And I was like WHAT they’re all gone. It always happens people ask like, are there any more tickets? Is there a guest list and I’m like no, I’m not allowed because I’m an idiot. I’ll say yes to everyone. Like, yeah, yeah, we can fit more in the door. But when it comes down to it, people are going to be fucking pissed at me when they can’t get in.
The first night looked like it was an intimate gig. The crowd were quite close to the stage!?
A little bit too intimate to be fair (laughing). They were like wild animals out there, beer everywhere and that. That was kind of funny. I was I was just trying to hold it together. Now, for the second one, we know what’s up. I just encouraged it because before no one really knew what to expect because of the lockdown.
How did that compare to supporting The Streets, those were pretty big shows.
Yeah, I was actually more scared playing the Hundred Club, they were our crowd so they were rooting for us, not much can go wrong. But it was a little bit daunting with some of the big geezers there. So when we played the streets the other day, I was like, oh, this is pretty easy. Like there’s no one spilling beer and pushing the amps over. You’re very far away from the crowd so no one can fucking physically attack me (laughing). I’m scared of the next Hundred club because you just never know what’s going to happen. It’s a bit unpredictable and it’s quite fun but I’ve just gotta run it like a lion tamer, it could turn into a riot.
How did it feel stepping out on stage after all this time, were you nervous?
So, we did one a week before at the Joiners supporting Dead Freights as a warm up thing in Southampton. That was pretty cool, but obviously that wasn’t our crowd so we just had to get what we can there. But then, stepping out at the Hundred, I didn’t really know what to expect or what to do but the old natural instinct kicked in I think. I don’t know what it was, but it was so sweaty after about four songs. I said to Perry our bassist, I don’t even know if anyone’s listening anymore because everyone was so pissed. Like, I remember handing out some Stella’s cause we got some on the rider. Too many to drink, so I thought I’ll give them out. I just passed this crate of stella out and it was like Shaun of the Dead. I was expecting people to pass it back civil like, hand one out and pass it on. But obviously it didn’t work like that because then they pushed it back and it was all flailing arms trying to grab beers everywhere.
Have you got any pre-show rituals or anything that you do before you go on stage?
Well, it’s been a while. So when we came back I was thinking oh, am I one of those guys, the ritual guy. I’ve seen other people do it, some people do loads of weird stuff, maybe like press ups or something. Perry goes on about doing rituals all the time. But I don’t see him doing none. I think before The Hundred Club, we were praying to the God of rock or something. There’s no ritual really, you just go to the stage nervously, especially for The Streets ones and just hope nothing goes wrong. Then I guess try and amp myself up a bit. But to be honest now I’ve come full circle in a way, where I used to be way different on stage than I was offstage. I’d try and be the big man on stage, now I just think I’ve grown up a bit, it’s pretty much exactly the same. You could be talking to me before or on stage, and I’d just do the same shitty jokes, I’m just an embarrassment the whole time, there’s no cool time. People seem to like it more.
So the new EP Culture Non-Stop came out at the start of August, where did the concept come for these songs? Was there a theme you wanted to focus on for the EP or are they just songs that you had in the bag?
Usually I’ll just be smashing out songs, not necessarily for singles. I’ll just be making tunes as much as I can and recording them. No theme really, just a loose theme of “Don’t stray too far away from the guitar stuff” or it just won’t work for me. I came up with [the title] Culture Non- Stop when I was making the tune, I was just messing around in the chorus singing over random words. A bit like uh, culture, nonstop, oh that actually sounds pretty cool.
I read that you prefer to get the melody first then work on lyrics, which surprised me because you’re such an eloquent lyricist. I always thought the lyrics would come first.
No, some guys love writing it down. You see them a lot maybe like Pete Doherty or something, with a little diary thing and writing all these lyrics down. I used to have a little diary a few years ago but I didn’t write lyrics down. I would just write what I did down. I felt always guilty a little bit, even up until like the other month or something, like oh maybe I should be writing them down. Maybe I’m just like lazy and I can’t be bothered. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t enjoy doing that. I just like to just get the melody. You know, when you hang out ton of guys that write songs and they’ll read you a lyric or something, and it’s got no tune. I’ll just be like cool means absolutely fuck all to me but it sounds pretty cool. Unless you’ve got a banger going with a banging melody and drops on or just a poppin tune, keep that in your poem book mate. It took me a few years to not be guilty about not being a poem type guy. So I think there’s two different types of guys who write songs.
The new EP is quite a progression from your early singles, Jericho Star is very different for you but then Mountain High, has similar themes to songs like Away Days.
Yeah, it’s like a rockier version innit. Compared to Watchu, I’d say that was like a different band. I don’t know when Watchu was actually written, it was probably in like 2016 or something. It was years before it got released and even when it came out I was so bored and hated it. Then and it was a bit weird because we released all these songs which were actually really old. I was also trying to do random stuff like try and rap and all that. I’m glad I’ve done it because I won’t make that mistake now. The weird thing is people message me like “When are you going to play this one live” and I’m like man, I’ll take that to my fucking grave and never play that live.
So, when should we expect new music from The Skinner Brothers?
The next thing we’re releasing is an album in in October/November. It’s basically a 3rd EP, we’re putting them all together. There will be a couple of extra songs, so its more like a mix tape. The stuff after the album is a bit more melodic. Just because, there’s only so many years you can do that, all the mad energy and stuff before there’s a younger band that’s doing it better. I always think, what do I aspire to? Obviously, we want to play the biggest stages and to play the big stages, I think you need the anthems.
So you’ve got a few festivals slots coming up, including Neighbourhood Weekender next weekend, where you’re set to headline the Viola Beach stage.
I don’t know what to expect I’ve not really done it before [Neighbourhood]. I hate going to festivals. I don’t like all the people. It’s like New Year’s Eve, like everyone trying to have a good time. I’m not trying to be cool. I just like to sit in a pub, an old man’s pub. Has to have a pool table. I quite like to meet people backstage and I don’t mind watching people play from the side.
The Skinner Brothers new EP Culture Non Stop is now available to stream on all major platforms. The band play Neighbourhood next weekend. For tickets and to keep up-to-date hit follow below…