Getting our kicks on Route 66!

There’s been a hell of a lot of driving which has sent us insane some days…we’ve done a hell of a lot of laughing, seen landscapes change from brilliant white to muted browns and saw migrating birds fill the sky above us, thousands of them clustered together as far as the eye could see. Amazing!

St. Louis is our next stop. Mary Terese, brought us some homemade lasagne, with an extra special pudding. The show was great fun!

Next up is Springfield and its party night as we’re all very excited to be reunited with the Party Wolf, Rosco from Onward etc. uh oh!!!! We meet him early afternoon when he’s already laying out shots of fireball to accompany the delicious pizza John and Bri have for us!

rosco reunion

The venue has a great vibe and the night is fun! We hang out with the fellas from Lucero backstage drinking moonshine and discussing tattoos.

lucero tattoo

After that we head back to John and Bri’s pizza parlour for cocktails and everyone gets stuck into making their own pizza. Great fun and as usual I end the night on the table….Wooooo- whoooo!

pappos crew

lorna on table

Next day we take the Route 66 all the way to Oklahoma, where we enjoy our night off watching Marathon Man (eeeeek) and enjoying Mary’s lasagne and desert!

lasagne

The venue in Oklahoma is in the middle of what can only be described as a car park. It’s the kind of place you would only find in the US. There’s neon lights everywhere advertising beer and all the staff are great too. Chipotle backstage means we’re soon full. Just enough time to neck a few cans and get on stage. The room looks pretty full and yep, it’s another great show!

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We made it! And boy, are we happy to be here!

The tour kicks off in Madison – snowy, freezing cold Madison. There’s a beautiful blue sky and clear white ground. We spend the first day getting stuff together and ready for a fantastic tour.

slim snow

I have to say, I’m filled with nerves and excitement and can’t quite believe we’re about to support the almighty Dropkick Murphys on their St Patrick Day Tour. It is going to be MENTAL!

The room is already filling up as we wait on the sides for our stage time. A beer and a swig of rum sets me up and I feel like we explode on to stage. We’ve been waiting for this for months and its finally here and it’s great! I love it, I love it, I LOVE it!

Beautiful venue and a beautiful crowd! Straight after the show I head over to merch and meet loads of cool people. It’s so much fun!

madison crowd

The next day is a Beer festival, Brewfest, in the middle of nowhere in Minnesota. It’s a long slow drive over treacherous icy conditions. Eventually we pull up at the black bear casino. It’s a long wait so we stuff our faces at the ‘all you can eat’ buffet and gamble. I put a dollar into a machine and won $5 back. Woo hoo! A good feeling and a good omen for the gig…the room is full of people singing and chanting and sampling all the great beer. It’s a fun show and again working on merch is great fun. Thanks for helping out Canadian Colin and oh my god!! I just remembered this….jeeeeeeeeesus!!

mascot

It’s another early start as it’s a 10 hour drive back south to Chicago. The windy city. The Riviera is an old beautiful theatre very near to the Aragon where we supported the wonderful Floggiing Molly last year and played our first ever US gig at Cubby Bear Bar the year before. Blimey…what a great few years its been. Life is good to us Skinnies! It’s even better when you get backstage and there’s a bottle of rum waiting for you (dropped off by Molly and Anthony! Thanks!)

The gig is great fun and its really fun hanging out with people at the merch table too. Thanks for all the drinks and cheers to everyone who bought something from us. Always appreciated!

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People of Detroit:!

We were really hoping to get our visas today! BUT sadly we will not be partying with you guys on Wednesday. So very very sad and frustrated!

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A message to the eastern states of America: SKINNY IS COMIN’ ATCHA!!!

I am currently filling my suitcase with thermal underwear, wooly jumpers and big comfy snow boots (obviously whatever I can fit in around my flagon – which plays an essential part in keeping me warm particularly in the evenings!

If you’re asking why we’re packing then you must have missed previous announcements!!

WE ARE SUPPORTING THE DROPKICKS ON THE EAST COAST OF AMERICA ST PATRICKS TOUR!!!!! WhoooooooOOOOOOP!! And Lucero are going to be there too!

The BAD NEWS is that our visas haven’t arrived on time to fly today so we’re going to miss the Cleveland show. We are absolutely devastated and really sorry if we have let anyone down. Its always amazing fun so we are just so disappointed.

For those of you that are thinking about braving the weather and coming out to see us though…I will share my flagon with you! Just hurry up and buy tickets as there are at least 10 shows already sold out…

Feb 19 – Fillmore – Detroit, MI Tickets
Feb 21 – Orpheum Theatre – Madison, WI Tickets
Feb 22 – SOLD OUT – Black Bear Casino – Carlton, MN Tickets
Feb 23 – Riviera – Chicago, IL Tickets
Feb 24 – The Pageant – St Louis, MO Tickets
Feb 25 – Gilloz Theatre – Springfield, MO Tickets
Feb 27 – Diamond Ballroom – Oklahoma City, OK Tickets
Feb 28 – House Of Blues – Dallas, TX Tickets
Mar 01 – SOLD OUT – Stubb’s – Austin, TX Tickets
Mar 02 – House of Blues – Houston, TX Tickets
Mar 03 – SOLD OUT – House of Blues – New Orleans, LA Tickets
Mar 05 – Iron City – Birmingham, AL Tickets
Mar 06 – Maverick’s on the Landing – Jacksonville, FL Tickets
Mar 07 – Fillmore – Charlotte, NC Tickets
Mar 08 – SOLD OUT – Stage AE – Pittsburgh, PA Tickets
Mar 10 – SOLD OUT – Starland Ballroom – Sayreville, NJ Tickets
Mar 11 – SOLD OUT – The Paramount – Huntington, NY Tickets
Mar 13 – House Of Blues – Boston, MA Tickets
Mar 14 – SOLD OUT – House of Blues – Boston, MA
Mar 15 – SOLD OUT – House of Blues (Matinee) – Boston, MA
Mar 15 – SOLD OUT – House of Blues (Evening) – Boston, MA
Mar 16 – SOLD OUT – House of Blues – Boston, MA
Mar 17 – SOLD OUT – House of Blues (Evening) – Boston, MA

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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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