Zachary Skinner has all the key ingredients required to become one of the UK’s most iconic frontmen in the not too distant future. He’s stuffed with lyrical talent, bags full of whit and just a pinch outspoken. His flat cap acts as a cherry on top, a piece of clothing synonymous with its owner as of the youngest Gallagher brother and his parka. After a whirlwind of 2 years, The Skinner Brothers have emerged from the pandemic with a dedicated army of fans up the length and breadth of the country, despite never headlining a show outside of London.
I caught up with Zac before the release of his new album ‘Soul Boy II’ to talk about the record, social media and a potential Elton John Collab.
Your new album Soul Boy II is out now, how are you feeling ahead of the release?
Yeah, I’m alright, just proper boring innit. Cause I want to do some music, and that and I can’t, I’ve gotta spend all my time doing this on the phone. I’ve literally spent yesterday and all of today going mental. I just sit on the floor in the living room with my phone and it’s sad! Because obviously we ain’t got a fucking social media guy and hardly any marketing budget. That’s why I’m basically just doing it with my bare hands. I just have to fucking message everyone in the whole of the internet- ever. There’s nothing I can do though. I can’t just sit around and be like ‘The album’s out” – I’ve gotta tell them – fucking share it like, cause I want it to get to as many people as possible.
Do you think that’s the hardest part of being in a band these days – the marketing online?
Not the hardest, the music is the hardest part. It’s just mind-numbing, to be honest. You just sort of sit there and feel like you’re wasting your life. I’ve got a cat, and the cat’s not in a good mood with me because the energy in the room is not good. Just me sat around, instant mash, empty things everywhere. My missus is away looking after her parent’s dog, which was kinda planned anyway because I’m going to be a miserable bastard. So there’s no point in her coming round.
She’s got an easy way out there.
Yeah, it’s not good. It’s not good. I’m just stressing about putting this record out.
This is quite a long-awaited album for you. Your fan base has grown a lot in the past year or so, do you think there is more pressure with this one?
I don’t know to be fair, I’m not worried that people won’t like it. Nothing like that. Cause’ it’s basically running on from the EP so that’s not going to be a problem. I just want it to get the traction it deserves, because with the internet- I’m no expert- but I know some days you put something up and it will do well, and another day it won’t do anything. I don’t know why. I need Spotify to get on board with it a bit because we’ve had no love on that front. All the fans we’ve gained have been totally organic. They’re just absolutely fans of the music. There’s been no like real buzz, around us- not compared to some proper buzz bands around at the moment, we’re not even buzz yet! You know what I’m saying?
Yeah, there’s room for definitely a bit more support from the media and Spotify and all the big, big boys.
Yes, I hope we will catch a bit of wind on that. We’ve got a good team around us, but it would be nice to get a couple of extra big fish promoting it, like a little share from Liam Gallagher or something like that. Or fucking Elton John getting on board. He seems to want to collab with other shite bands, doesn’t he?
Would you do a collab with Elton John?
Yeah, yeah, definitely. I don’t think it would happen though.
What song would you do?
I don’t really know much about his music, I tried to get into it years ago. Probably a Christmas song or something. I’d fully try to cash in (laughing). You know what I’m saying though? Like little leg ups? I’ve seen other bands moaning about it a bit like The Sherlock’s put something up like “We ain’t got no dads in famous bands or in the record industry”. I was like yeah, that’s spot on. I feel the same. I didn’t realize it because a lot of bands have like famous dads and stuff. You must have clocked it. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing because you can’t help who your dad is. I can see where the moaners are coming from because I guess everyone likes a bit of a moan, me included. But I can also say like if you were that geezer from Inhaler, it’s fair game, what would you do?
But anyway, that’s what I’m saying. It’s hard I find without any of these legs up internally because a lot of people do have it and you don’t realize. It’s really hard to crack the egg if you ain’t got a spy on the inside that’s had their fingers in all the pies for about 15 years.
So tell me a little bit about the recording process then. Did you do it all yourself again?
Yeah, I just did it in my bedroom I’ve got a little setup, got a little microphone and that. I don’t have a guitar amp or anything. I just plug it into the computer. Because over the years, I’ve been in so many different rooms and lived in so many horrible places, I couldn’t even make any noise. So I always have to plug it straight into the computer and go through the headphones. People always go, what amp you got, and I’m like, man, I hardly know what the fucking buttons on that amp do. I literally don’t care and I couldn’t care. I find it boring, it’s for old men. The geezers in the band love the amps and are always like “what guitar you got”. I clock out on that conversation, I just want to make the tunes, I want everyone to sing them at the shows, and I want to have a bloody good time. At certain times the recording is boring – I find it hard because you really want it to go well and it puts you in a good mood when it goes well. Then 10 minutes later, when you can’t work out why the melody aint coming together it puts me in a bad mood. It’s not good, it’s toxic man.
So your tour starts in March, how are you feeling about it?
It’s gonna be fucked up. Look, we got nine people in our touring party, right? So that’s nine people in a fucking small van! I’m quite looking forward to it, but all I know is you can’t have 9 people in a van for 30 days and not rub someone up the wrong way. Cause we’re pretty much on tour for the whole month. The tour starts on the 4th and ends on the 30th. Especially after a few drinks, someone gonna piss someone off, someone’s gonna be leaving the band, it’s gonna be mental. That’s not even counting all the mayhem at the shows.
Yeah, the fans you bring along are something else aren’t they
Well, I think that lot of people get carried away and you want that to happen as well. I’m not even slagging it off, I’m just saying it’s going to be a naughty period of time these next few months.
You need to get training for it to get yourself ready.
Yeah, I need to try and stop talking so much. The more open my mouth, the worse things get the more arguments and that.
So you’ve filmed a music video with some of your fans, how did that go?
That was good. So I just put a thing up on Instagram, like we’re doing the video down the pub and dm’d some people the address. I didn’t know how it was going to go so I text the guy that works in there and said ‘What’s it like in there?” And he says, full house! I was like oh that’s cool, people must really wanna go to the pub or something today. It was weird when I walked in there because obviously, I know a couple of people in the pub anyway, but not that many. So people were also there looking at me, but they don’t want to come over. Like it’s a weird vibe because everyone’s trying to be cool. Then because it’s like a pub. I couldn’t really tell who was there for the video. Like what do they dress like a fan of ours? So I was thinking who the fuck is actually here for the video, and it turned out that pretty much everyone was there for the video. It’s a proper community thing we’ve got going on, after a few drinks, people start making friends. A lot of people know each other from previous shows and previous videos. There’s all sorts of people there but there was no trouble. You’d think after a few drinks, there might be something but not this time really. Or nothing to do with me anyway (laughing).
So what is the video about?
It wasn’t for a specific song it was more like a promo video. One where I played a song outside in the smoking bit, I was on the table and it was like an impromptu sort of gig thing. We did like a big shot outside, which we’re posting on the day of release, which is like a big crowd shot. I’m in front of everyone and we’re just walking on the road and I’ve done like a voiceover for that, which is like saying, “We’ve taken over!” (laughing). I don’t know if it’s just me, but I don’t normally go to YouTube and watch the full music video. I normally just see what the promo is.
Yeah, it’s sad, I don’t think a lot of people actually watch the full video anymore. We used to get them on TV a lot, now it seems like they are just for great content for Instagram.
We have got a video that’s coming out for the single tho, that’s like a proper music video. It’s just me going back to all the places where I’ve lived over the last few years.
You leaked a song on SoundCloud to a couple of fans didn’t you, what was the reaction?
It’s been good yeah, I know people will like it. I mean, it’s been around kicking around for years now to be fair. We’ve left it and not released it for so long because we always thought, it’s a good one. So the time to put it out is on this album.
You also did a version with Teef collaborating on that song, where did that idea come from?
Well, Tim started managing us just at the start of the ‘Corona’ period. I sent him that track cause I already had it pretty much done. I wanted Mike Skinner to be on it right? He said Mike doesn’t really do that but liked the track and that’s how he started managing us. Then he said I’ve got this guy, Teef, he plays in the streets. So he came around to my house the next day or something just recorded it. We liked both versions so we put them both out.
So have you already started recording anything new?
Yeah, I’ve got half of the next album after this one done pretty much. I just know it’s going to be a fucking busy year, so I’m scraping around to try and find as much time as I can to write the music now. It’s hard to find it at the minute because like I said, we can’t employ anyone to do the social media because there’s just not enough money to do that. So I’m going around doing like five people’s jobs! If I was that good at social media I’d be doing some geek job or something. I’m here to do the music and I dabble in social media because I have to. Sometimes it can get a bit on top where you’re thinking, “Do I even fucking do music anymore?”. Because it feels like all I do is fucking comment and like and share and make stupid content all the time, which pisses me off, but it needs to be done.
What song are you most looking forward to playing live off the new album?
Any of the new ones – I don’t know how they’ll go down. I mean, we’ve played ‘Stupid Much’ before live, but obviously, no one had heard it. We haven’t done a headline show outside London, so I don’t know how these crowds are going to react. I mean, when we play Glasgow, it’s was nearly sold out, so I’m thinking, who are all these people that are coming? I don’t know any of them. Are they going to react the same way as London does and just kick off on the first song? I’m thinking Glasgow, probably.
What about in Cardiff or like Exeter or something like that?
We’re not just doing the main towns, we’re doing the small towns too on this tour. So like, you’d be thinking in the main towns, it’s got to go off. But then when you go to Tunbridge Wells, it’s like are they going to go off or are they just gonna be standing there? Let’s just put it this way I won’t be putting up any videos of the gigs where they’re standing still. But hopefully, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Catch The Skinner Brothers on tour on the following dates…
4th – Preston, The Ferret
5th – Norwich, Waterfront
6th – Brighton, Green Door Store
8th – Exeter, Cavern Club
9th – Birmingham, Hare & Hounds
10th – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
12th – Nottingham, Bodega
13th – Newcastle, Think Tank?
14th – Glasgow, King Tut’s
15th – Manchester, Deaf Institute
17th – Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach
18th – Stoke, Sugarmill
20th – Tunbridge Wells, Forum
22nd – Bristol, Thekla
23rd – Leicester, Firebug
24th – Liverpool, Jimmy’s
26th – Bedford, Esquires
28th – Guildford, Boileroom
29th – Oxford, Bullingdon Arms
30th – London, O2 Academy Islington
2nd – Leeds, Temple Newsam Park (guests to The Music)