Music Interview: Skunk Anansie

The worldwide, multi-platinum selling UK rock superstars are back. Skunk Anansie are poised and ready to soar into their upcoming tour on the back of their fourth studio album Wonderlustre.

After a long hiatus and a greatest hits album in Smashes and Trashes the fans are ready to hear what the band have got to say this time around. Claire Cameron spoke to singer Skin ahead of their Leeds date next week.

Firstly, congratulations on the new album; it really is a masterpiece and it is a delight to hear new Skunk Anansie material. Is it how you imagined it to be when you started the recording process?

Thank you! I think it is, we knew it was time to take a risk and do something new with our sound but we still wanted to make a rock album. For us this album is all about connecting emotion with sound, we wanted to make a record that was touching, enduring, fun but solid. Our main goal was to keep that sparkly feeling we had when we wrote the stuff there all the way to the mastering – difficult but we did it!

You've described this album as different to all the others because you all sat down together in a room and wrote it together. Could you describe how you go about writing a new song – do the lyrics come first or the music?

A good song starts with a good idea and that can come from anyone in the room – a guitar riff, bass line, melody, drum groove. There are songs on the album that came from all of this but the ones that survived had to have a great chorus with meaningful lyrics or they just wouldn't cut it.

In the same vein, how did you decide which songs would become 'Wonderlustre' – what ingredients did they have to have to stand out for you?

It was quite easy to pick the songs for the album because we have a rule that ego gets left at the door (although attitude is more than welcome!). That means that wherever they come from only the best songs make an album, when you let go of your attachment to songs and take your ego out of it's quite obvious and clear which songs rock and which ones are lacking booty.

'Talk too much' has so many wonderfully dark and melodic moments and brilliant lyrics it is definitely my favourite. Which is your favourite track on the album to listen to, and which one is the most fun to sing?

I love Talk Too Much too but my personal favourite is My Love Will Fall, its dark and broody and for me is a totally different song for me to sing. Most of this album is an octave down from where I usually sing because I wanted my voice to have more of an earthy sound and this tune shows off that idea the best. I admit, I may have been channelling a bit of Nick Cave!!

The album cover is beautifully constructed, what would you like fans to take from both the imagery and the title?

The album cover is about the art of heart. We just feel that too much music nowadays has lost its connection to real people with real feelings that have soul and spirituality. The cover depicts these materialistic pieces that come together to make true heart with old blood going in and new blood coming out, its just kinda summed up what the music is about and where we are now as a band.

How would you describe the feeling of recording and performing again with the band in contrast to being a solo artist?

The band is about a group of like-minded individuals coming together to create something important to them as a group. We all share the load, good and bad, but it's much more fun than being a solo artist – although I do like making solo records cos sometimes I just wanna do what I wanna do and do it all my way!

The melodic soundscape of Wonderlustre immediately makes me want to see you in the open air. For those who missed your festival appearances in 2010, are you going to be doing any festivals in 2011?

Oh yes, with bells on!

What do you think it is like to be in the audience at a Skunk Anansie live show now?

Like being tied to the back of a steam train without your mummy.

What's your outlook on the music industry today; do you think that live performance is becoming the way that fans rate a band over record sales?

Well I think that making a record is still the best way to judge the quality of a band but it is clear to me that being good live is more important than ever in terms of promotion etc, I think record sales are null and void, they no longer give accurate representations of how well a band is doing, neither do the media, they are now well off a lot of the time. New ways of consuming music are happening all the time and I think the way it will end up is that there will no longer be just one way for all.

I've noticed that the Twitter Page is kept well updated, what's your take on using Social Media to interact with your fans?

It's now the lifeblood of the music industry – no social media, no comment.

You have a unique dress sense and the enviable ability to make any ensemble look fantastic- how important do you think image is to how people perceive the band?

It's all about personal expression, a lot of work goes into it because I discovered a long time ago that there's no point in me trying to look like the girl next door!

Did you always know that music would be the reason you get up in the morning from the word go?

No, I learned that the hard way.

When you are on the road what do you listen to get ready for a show, and in turn to wind down?

Everything from Gallows to The Carpenters warms me up, at the moment I'm loving Madonna's Borderline. Afterwards it's all about house music and I like it hard.

Finally what's next for Skunk Anansie after this Tour?

A long holiday, other interesting personal projects then a new album but maybe not in the usual new album framework.

Nov 19, O2 Academy Leeds, Cookridge Street, Leeds, 7pm, 20. Tel: 0844 477 2000.

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. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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