are a London UK based quartet whose roots are in punk and ska music but the band soon developed and refined their sound to encompass soul, hip hop, and reggae. The group has been busy for the last several years and it shows, not only through their live shows and constant touring but also in their recorded music. They are releasing their 3rd full length studio album FM this March and are about to embark on their first east coast tour of the US. ReadJunk’s resident music journalist, Ray Manuud, returns with some Q&A with…
The Skints, what’s in the name?
To be skint in England is to be low on cash!
When listening to your music, it’s clear how well the band works together as a unit. Each member brings something to the table as it shows in the band’s ability to alternate in song writing and vocals. One of the most interesting aspects of The Skints is how well you are able to unify all this into well thought out music and harmony. With the distinct creative personalities apparent in your music sharing both writing and lead vocal responsibilities, describe the creative process within the band and how all this comes to fruition?
The process is always different. Depending on who comes up with the initial ideas or whatever, there’s no set structure in how we write songs. Could be someone’s written a 16 bar verse that someone else writes a chorus to, or the whole thing is mapped out then brought to the practice room and we just bust it. All different!
You’ve talked about your punk rock and ska influence in the past but how did hip hop become an influence and a key focus within the development of the band’s sound?
Hip-hop and grime have always been a big part of the band’s music listening and tastes but I guess as the sound and style has developed, we’ve just brought more of our different influences into fruition.
Aside from a maturing Jamaican music sound among others, hip hop has become much more prevalent in The Skints music with every successive album. What are the band’s primary hip hop influences?
I’d say that UK grime as a genre has been equally as influential as USA and UK hip hop. Everything from Kano to Wu Tang Clan, to Ghetts to Big Pun, to The Pharcyde to Roots Manuva. Too many names and styles to mention!
How is it that reggae ultimately became the current direction or focus of the band besides it‘s segue from ska?
To be honest, we haven’t really made rules about “right, we have to do ska, now we have to do reggae.” Like I said, as the group has grown and the sound has evolved, our personal tastes have reflected the music we make.
How challenging is it to not water down the reggae music you play without trying to add additional musical genre influences in a particular song?
We’re not a reggae revival band or a genre purist band that will only play 1969 Upsetter studio style vintage reggae for example, so we don’t see mixing styles as an obstacle. I think everyone knows what ‘watered down’ reggae sounds like, and I don’t think that comes from having different influences. Not everyone can sound like classic Channel One forever. The tree must grow new branches.
The Skints are once again spreading their music to uncharted territory this year, mainly east coast North America. Your upcoming tour dates include NYC which is a significant city for music especially for punk, hip hop, and reggae. How exciting will that be for you guys?
Very! We’ve always wanted to come to the USA from day one, and to be starting in New York is especially awesome for us as so many of our influences are from there and the musical history is so rich.
Some of your upcoming dates in the states will include legendary groups like English Beat and Fishbone. That’s good company to be associated with. Do The Skints hope to achieve broader appeal with these groups or the like?
If you mean do we want to play in front of Fishbone and English Beat’s live crowds, then yes! That’s why we’re there haha! Big respect to both those bands for having us on the shows, it’s gonna be a fun time.
Since touring allows you to be exposed to a larger world of reggae music or it’s international scene, what reggae scene, or any music scene for that matter, has impressed The Skints the most so far?
The good music scene! We play so many shows with so many different kinds of bands, that we don’t really see ourselves as being in a one genre kind of scene, and there’s good and bad music in all of them. We are more impressed by just wicked, honest music.
Your love for records and music is referenced more than once in your tunes. What are your all time favorite records?
I genuinely cannot even begin to answer that. We listened to “Off the Wall” in the van last night so that can be today’s answer. And “Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)”.
Prince Fatty returns as your producer for FM following the excellent sophomore release, Part and Parcel, describe what type of impact Prince Fatty has had on the development of the band.
Fatty is our studio sensei! We learned so much from working with him on Part & Parcel and the subsequent works that working together now is a real pleasure and the producer / band relationship is awesome.
What’s new or different that The Skints have done during the production of FM compared to the previous records?
The main one is having the freedom to write and explore more ideas whilst actually in the studio, rather than having it all written before we go in.
A stronger dancehall presence is more apparent in FM than in previous records with vocal support from the likes of Tippa Irie and Horseman. What other dancehall artists would The Skints like to work with?
Man, well obviously Tippa and Horseman are the dons and we give thanks and respect every time for the works. I’m a huge dancehall fan, and there’s so many names I’d love to work with. Maybe Admiral Bailey? or a Super Cat or Pinchers would be awesome.
The Skints development as a band is progressive and evident with every successive album so far which I find very refreshing and even exciting to discover when going through a band’s discography. Any vision, thoughts, or plans you may already have for FM’s follow- up?
Respect! That’s very kind of you. To be honest, I’m so locked in on FM zone right now that I could tell you, although history is started to show that when it comes to The Skints records, expect the unexpected!
Be sure to pick up FM, which is out March 9th in the UK and the 10th here in the United States. They will be touring the US in April and May, which you can check out here.
You can also read our review of the new album here as well.