Happy new year!

Ahoy there fellow Skinnies! Happy New Year and all that to you! Thought I’d give you all our best and have a quick reflection on what a truly amazing year it has been for us (sorry its taken a while – just found it difficult to pull myself away from the leftover mince pies and sherry)!

Seeing the year out by playing two amazing support gigs with the Levellers and then our own sold out London show left us with one almighty hangover that didn’t seem to disappear until this very morning. Wow!

hoxton

Given that we started this band to get into our favourite festivals for free it’s amazing how far we’ve come. Being invited to play at the infamous NPR Tiny Desk Session, supporting Flogging Molly on an amazing tour of the East Coast of the States, opening up the main stage at Coachella in California (a ridiculous pleasure), flying over to the Japanese mountains to play in front of thousands at Fuji Rock (unbelievable), and loads of other more familiar and yet heart warming happenings back here in the UK, for example playing the Big Top at Bestival, and entering more European countries such as Holland and Spain. Oh and lets not forget our magical town of Haldern where we played to a sold out bar, with people watching from outside in the snow. I think it’s safe to say that Skinny has gone ‘international’. Plus, we’re fresh out of The Legendary Rockfield studio and awaiting first mixes of our second album – due out in Spring…

We also welcomed our latest addition Dave Neale on drums – which has taken our sound into another dimension.

dave hoxton

We’re well and truly equipped with everyone on board to conquer the world in 2014!!

Max Thomas, Daniel Heptinstall, Michael Camino, Slim and Dave Neale – are you ready
?! The rest of you…are you ready?!!!

Well here we come!

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Next few days at Rockfield!

I’m trying to cast my mind back to events over the past couple of days. It’s becoming more difficult as each day becomes much like the last but what I do know is we’re working hard and feeling like time is slipping away. Dave returned to Brighton a couple of days ago and Slim has just returned after having got his visa for India sorted for his Christmas holiday.

I’m frantically trying to become 100% confident with parts and harmonies so that I’m ready for recording. Max’s new accordion in the key of C has finally arrived so that he can play along with more of my ballads, which is definitely exciting for me! Big thanks to the Birmingham Accordion Centre for getting this tuned up in double quick time. I can’t wait to hear some of my songs on the accordion. Get practicing Max!!

new accordion

Cabin fever is taking hold of some of us too. Max and I managed to escape one evening to the very ‘local’ pub The Green Dragon. It was great fun and only there for an hour but managed to meet a character a bit like Dirty Den but more silent and drank visibly more, mimed to about how to cook a bean and bacon omelette by one chap with no teeth and asked to have sex with his wife (who also has few teeth) and watch some one else off their face mop up a pint that they’d spilt. I also learned about the over 55′s club which sounds more like its for over 85′s as a lady called Grace recently out of hospital after a hip operation was out dancing with her zimmer until 11 o’clock having to ask her career to come and pick her up later. Good fun. We’re planning a night out there on Friday God permitting that we’ve caught up with our schedule.

Town is amazingly Christmassy and an early morning run through the fields to the town was beautiful and well rewarded with possibly the best fish pie and Bakewell tart courtesy of Becky, EVER!

monmouth

Yesterday we also picked up Holly, our penny whistle player that played on the first album. She did wonders on some of our new tracks. Good on you Holly! Thank you!

holly

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The first few days at Rockfield Studios…

Waking up in the stables is great. There’s black-out blinds on the windows and it’s easier than normal to sleep. Slow mornings are compensated by long days. We start in the studio at around 11am and usually finish up around 11pm, though sometimes later. This seems like this is a long day but when we’re in there the time flies. We’re spending the first week on getting the drums and guitar down. Songs we think are going to take no time at all take much longer whilst some come straight out the blocks.

Meeting Kingsley, the owner of the legendary Rockfield Studios, is interesting and he’s got loads of stories about all the greats that have recorded there and how many hits have come out of the place. Dave heard that Ozzy Osbourne got chased around the grounds by a swan and Phil Collins puked in Max’s room after a night out down the town. Nothing that rock’n'roll happening here yet unfortunately but once the pressures off I hope we’ll be getting up to our own mischief. Hearing these stories, I have to say, I’m in a bit of awe over the people that have stood in that room. We learned today that the piano we’ve been tinkling on was THE piano used on Bohemian Rhapsody. Nuts.

dan freddie piano

I’m not really doing much at this stage, mainly listening to the lads and watching Ted Hutt rock back and forth over the vintage Neve preamps that everyone seems to be getting very excited about. There certainly seems to be lots of equipment here and everyone who works here are amazing. Becky, our evening cook is definitely fattening us up with tasty dishes in the evenings and I’ve heard a rumour that we’re finishing early for a film – yep – that’s about as rock’n’roll it gets so far. I’ve never seen the whites of my eyes so bright. I thought it best since having ruined myself last week for my birthday!

The tracks are sounding great though and I can’t wait to finish getting the basics down so that we can start putting vocals and other instruments down. Wuh-whoooo! Lets hope we don’t get too crazy with cabin fever before that kicks in! Dave has already started imitating Ted.

dave or ted

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Album Preproduction

It’s been a busy old time for us Skinnies as usual. We’ve spent a lot of our time over the past few months developing new material, rehearsing it though and then gigging it. And now we’ve been in London putting it all under a magnifying glass with our new favourite – Ted Hutt, our producer.

ted+dave

So, he flew over on Saturday and on Monday we were in a studio and playing through the new songs, taking them apart, trying out different things and then putting them back together again. Monday was productive. We got to know each other, and started to play through stuff. Tuesday was even more productive and we started to really make some improvements on stuff that I already thought were good. Each day we’d try a different pub for debrief. One was a bit scary and actually homophobic so not actually good at all but The Eagle (from the Pop goes the Weasel nursery rhyme) was gentrified but a welcome relief and after Thursday’s hard work, a pint or two of ale at The Wenlock Arms, my personal favourite – was well deserved. Michael’s face when the mustard from the hot salt beef sandwich was great – ho ho ho!

Anyway, after much work in the days, and much drinking in the evenings our week in London finally came to an end. Songs I was confident before grew into great pieces and now I REALLY can’t wait to get into the studio.

We’re recording at Rockfields in South Wales where really great albums have been recorded including my favourite ‘MUST dance on tables’ Bohemian Rhapsody. I can’t believe I am going to be at the very same studio as the late Freddie Mercury. That is just silly!

Let’s head to the country…

And so it begins…

The boys and Ted head off straight after Friday’s day in the studio. Spending the night at some dodgy Travelodge. I’m picking up Ryan, Ted’s engineer, from Heathrow early next morning. You’d think I’d be in bed early then – no sirreee! I’m out with my lovely skinny sisters. Uh oh. I go to bed and it seems I lie down and close my eyes and then my alarm is going off. There’s accidents, satnav issues but in the end we’re heading our way down the M4. As we enter Abergavenny we arrive at Rockfields D.I.Y. Store – whoops – don’t think I can blame that on the satnav. Eventually we get there.

arrival

It’s a great place just outside of Monmouth in a farm. There’s blue skies and fields and a log fire. I realize that this will be the longest I have been in the same place that I’ve been for at least a year, maybe two, maybe more….its going to be like home.

rockfield landscape

By 11pm we’ve got most of the instruments sounding good. I cook dinner (thank God we’re having a chef as of tomorrow)!

kit

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UK TOUR BLOG – Final Instalment!!

Hung over we head south to Southampton where Max recalls his old stomping ground. Set up is slow but eventually we get there and have a fun night. We drink with the promoter and are especially happy when he brings out the rum. That eases and fragile bodies but no doubt guarantees more fragile bodies the next day.

I feel worse than ever when I wake up but nothing a good fry up can’t handle. Then we wait. Wait and wait for the aforementioned promoter to turn up and let us in so that we can load up again. Max sets up his office near the bins and we discuss potential tracks for the forthcoming album.

Eventually he arrives and we start to load – shit – another casualty – the flagon is down and cracked in half.

broken flagon

Bugger. Oh well – its not the first and I doubt it’ll be the last. The hunt for a new one ends in failure so in the next gig in Cheltenham (possibly one of the poshest areas we’ve ever played) we decide to gaffa tape a bottle of rum and hand that out instead. It’s a tricky gig as the sound is not the greatest. We’re tired and tomorrow is Vans Warped Tour UK. We hit the road and land in our Travelodge at 3am for the evening and I fall asleep to the sound of someone doing 360°s in the car park. Nice.

We are in bed for no longer than 4 hours and then its time to hit the road. Everyone looks shattered and most admit they are ill. One more gig to go. What will the Vans Warped Tour UK entail? We can barely imagine. Really looking forward to playing in Alexandra Palace though. We sort out our stuff, set up a merch table, which is about a mile away form where we’re playing, and then we meet Dan, a lad who is videoing us for the day and then head over to the pub with a journalist who is writing a biography. Finally our time on stage is upon us. It’s a fun gig and great to see some familiar faces amongst a relatively unfamiliar crowd. After that we bump into a few of the Flogging Molly crew.

matt and max

Its great to catch up and we hang around for the gig later on, which is lots of fun! I forget about my injury and get into the think of it with the rest of the crowd. I hear about one of my favourite acts form the previous week has crazily climbed the rigging on the main stage and jumped off. Disaster as one girl has her arm broken and another lad hurt. Fortunately no one else was. Then after a few more drinks its time to head home. Tour complete!!!

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First Installment of the UK TOUR BLOG – renamed the Travelodge Trailer Tour!!

What a week it has been! I’m not going to lie and say it was the easiest week ever and I have to admit, my idea to travel in the Landrover (all six of us and EVERYTHING that comes with each of us included) was perhaps – not the best ever.

As I wake up to an earlier than planned call from the boys in Amsterdam saying their flight had not been confirmed and that I need to pick them up in an hour or so from Leeds – I was up quickly and looking at the pile of equipment required to be squeezed into the Landy and accompanying 4×4 trailer borrowed from the Forge and Flagon.

full landy

Tight squeeze but nevertheless its all in and I arrive at Leeds Bradford airport to see some very tired / hung over fellas with a lot more equipment. We make it to Newcastle where there have been a few venue changes for various reasons. Should be fun though as our good friends Holy Moly and the Crackers are supporting us and we meet up with some familiar faces and cousin Ben.

newcastle

Next day we have a nice walk down by the river then its off to Salford. There’s a good vibe to the gig until to our horror they cut our set. Timings ran over and our set got cut – well you know us Skinnies… we just played on anyway. The whole place was hollering John Kanaka and then we headed to the pub. Good times.

Next day we head to Birmingham. The venue looks great and the sound is good. Our mate Rob takes us out for curry and then we’re on. The crowd a little less animated than usual surprised us with a determind encore and a record number of sales on the merch stall. Then its straight into the Landy and down to Bristol where we’re staying in one of the quirkiest houses ever. Its 2 am and we’re locked out – but eventually get in. We wake in the countryside to beautiful blue skies and decide to take a stroll down to the local boozer for lunch. Gorgeous and much needed.

skinny stroll

Back at the house we’re all tired but packing the Landy and trailer still a necessity. As I pull something out I rip my hand open on the trailer and blood spurts. The usually unsympathetic Dan rushes to find a bandage and takes me directly to A&E where I’m left to chat to Doctors and nurses whilst the boys do sound check. Some sort of stitches and dressing is administered (before instructions are read!!) and then I jump in a cab and head to the venue just in time to grab something to eat – shouldn’t have been pie really and then onto the stage. A fun gig with lots of dancing. Can’t believe we’ve never played Bristol before! Most of the band head out to party whilst I’m feeling a little nervous of my wound and head home.

Tomorrow its Southampton.

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Vans Warped Tour – Europe

It’s another middle of the night flight to Berlin on Thursday. We get up, pack up and set off to the airport weary eyed.

It’s a beautiful day in Berlin. Our hotel is near the the remaining part of the Berlin Wall and some of the group go off to ‘sight see’ after our meetings are done. Slim and Dave see the Holocaust Museum. And its out to dinner in the evening with friends.

skinny berlin wall

We all wonder what Warped Tour Berlin will be like and arrive early to get set up. Its great to see some familiar faces. Lots of heavy bands, lots of men in general and lots of beer. We entertain ourselves looking at pictures of cat owls and a man with a swans head, oh and a pigeon on a train reading an ipad.

The gig is great, circle pits and hollering. The crowd it great and everyone enjoys having run poured all over them. After the gig we hang out and watch lots of bands and get quite drunk, then it’s the night train to Eindhoven in Holland. The bunks are so tight you can’t turn over. Thank goodness we were able to store our equipment in one of the tour buses!

After about 3 hours sleep we pull into Eindhoven and arrive just in time to get on stage and do a sound check before the doors open and the queue piles in.

warped holland crowd

Another great fun set! But there’s no time to hang about. I have to get about 3 trains to Brussels to get a flight home and pick up the Landrover whilst the boys head to Amsterdam for a night on the town before flying to Newcastle.

dam busters

I don’t want to ask what they got up to but they all said they laughed harder than they had laughed for a long time. Good times!

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The Start of the UK Autumn Tour..

We kicked off the tour in the historical town of Winchester on Halloween at The Railway. Now we’ve played here a few times before so we all laugh as we go through our usual routines. Of course dinner and drinks with friends in the Black Boy pub is crucial after the sound check. Dan even goes for an identical beer to what he had last time and we sit in the same table and probably eat the same food. Creatures of habit. Only there is one difference. We have an additional member. Dave is our new drummer and I think we’re all feeling more than a little bit excited to get back on stage and see what it sounds like with the drums.

drum pic

More to the point we’re really wondering how Dan is going to move around the stage now that he’s not anchored to his beaten up stomp box. He’s not much of a dancer so this is going to be funny.

Back at the venue I fill the flagon, get on my red shoes and get into the spooky spirit of Halloween with a black dress. We’re playing lots of new stuff and as soon as we get on the stage I’m starting to feel very conscious that a) I might not remember all the words, b) that its been a month or so, so need to warm up and c) we’re playing with a drummer – shaking it up is always a little nerve wracking but as soon as we kick in it feels as natural as anything else. Great. People get drunk, people dance and people sing. We all have a good time – though can’t hang around as it’s a 3 hour drive up to Leicester. A long haul.

Friday we spend rehearsing and drinking and then I realize I left my case in Winchester. No dancing shoes. Argh! New shoes required! Max finds his bellows snap – off he goes to fix them and then Slim forgets his amp so all in all things start to fall apart but typical of us Skinnies, everything gets sorted just in the nick of time! It’s a bit of a rush to get to the Donkey on Saturday but we get there in the end with everything we need to make a party happen. It’s always good to see the Landlord Warren, especially when pouring his donkey juice and especially when he’s holding mole spades. Yep. Best not to ask.

warren pic

Party George and Roger get on stage and do a great set together before we get on. We have new merch all sorted and up on display. The rum flows and we have a cracking night. A bit too good as I barely remember making it to the homemade pub The Forge and Flagon for more drinks before crashing.

Roll on next weekend. I like this new set and I want to play it again!

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Skinny’s back!

Alright there strangers?! Sorry it’s been a while – technical difficulties and copious amounts of partying have meant that we’ve been away but now we’re back so I hope you can forgive us and let us back in? Pretty please?

Summer

As a lot of you know we’ve had an AMAZING summer full of fun and flying…lots of flying. Japan was truly incredible and we have our fingers and toes crossed that we’ll be back next year…

fuji crowd pic
Germany was great fun as always and we know we’ll be back there soon. Asturias – your cider is incredible as were you. Holland – you gave us a great time on our first ever trip there as a band, and we’ll be returning soon. Great, great times had and to be had.

Autumn / Winter

Heads have been down and working hard as we’re very excited to say that work is in progress to record our second album. Can’t say too much at the moment but we have been writing lots of new material and working hard in the studio to bring it all to life.

Some of you can have a listen if you come to a gig and have a listen as we try it all out during our UK Autumn Tour. It starts next Thursday at the Railway Tavern in Winchester. It will be a debut performance for quite a few songs so should be fun! We’re also playing The Donkey in Leicester on Saturday 2nd November…yes a Saturday! We’ll then be heading over to Europe for Warped Tour Germany and Warped Tour Holland to play some oldies and some new stuff too I reckon before returning back into England for the rest of our short tour. Details listed below:

uk tour poster
31st Oct – Winchester Tickets here
2nd Nov – Leicester Tickets here
9th Nov – Warped Tour, Berlin Tickets here
10th Nov – Warped Tour, Holland Tickets here
11th Nov – Newcastle Tickets here
12th Nov – Salford Tickets here
13th Nov – Birmingham Tickets here
14th Nov – Bristol tickets here
15th Nov – Southampton here
16th Nov – Cheltenham FREE ENTRY!
17th Nov – Vans Warped Tour, London here
19th Dec – Nottingham w/The Levellers here
20th Dec – Manchester w/The Levellers here
21st Dec – London here

We’ll also have new stuff on sale at the Skinny Shop as well as the album…so bring your wallets!

Think that’s enough for now – oh except the Landy also made it passed another MOT (with some work) so we’re good for another year (Hurray!!)

 

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Thank you Japan!!!

Back in Tokyo

So we all head off in the mini bus back to Tokyo. Larry DJs R’n'B and sups saki. Next day we have a lie in and recover before heading to Buchie’s bar for a small web gig. As we arrive on to the 4th floor the lift opens to really loud bag pipes playing to a hip hop beat. The Ally Band are really great and lovely folk too.

After the sound check we go for dinner and already I’m starting to feel tipsy. The gig is fun and hot. We then head on to another bar for shots before heading out to Karaoke. Very messy.

Monday

Needless to say the next morning we all feel pretty rough. We have a busy day – 3 performances! We arrive at Tower Records. Get something to eat then play two acoustic sets. Get very sweaty and sign lots of albums for people who have arrived straight from Fuji Rock festival. Amazing times. Then it’s straight to the main Tower Records in Shibuya, the centre of Tokyo. The gig is fantastic. So many people there. Great times!

We then head out for dinner before passing out!

Tuesday

Only Slim and Larry make it out early. They visit the infamous Tsukiji Fish Market, Slim carries on and visits various temples and the Tokyo Sky Tree, the tallest tower in the world.

In the afternoon, once we’ve all woken up we head to the absinthe bar to play another session and then head to Shibuya crossing again for videoing a time lapse thing.

Then it’s dinner again before packing up for our flight in the morning.

All i can say is that it has been incredible and amazing. Thank you to all!!!!

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