They have toured with Boy George and taken the US and Japan by storm.
The Examiner caught up with Daniel Heptinstall, singer and guitarist of six-piece folk act Skinny Lister, who have just played at the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds.
Your third album came out on September 30. What should people who have not heard it yet expect from it?
The Devil, The Heart and The Fight might be our most far-reaching album yet. It was written in the weeks we weren’t on the road (not many) but put together as a band whilst on the road with Frank Turner when touring the States and Europe. Working out the songs during the days in loads of different places across the world and then playing the tracks in the evenings was hard work but a great way to road test them!
How would you say it differs from your previous releases?
There’s still lots of shantyesque foot stomping but we’ve definitely allowed ourselves off the folk leash on this album. It has been rocked up much more. Lorna sings ‘Devil In Me’ which is a kind of a haunting ballad but the beats are far more Kate Bush in style.
There’s also a lot of true stories on the album, making it our most personal album yet.
The title reminds me of something by the Pogues and I know people refer to them a lot when talking about you. What do you make of that comparison?
The Pogues are an amazing band and we love them so that is not at all a bad comparison to have. I’m not sure anyone can quite pull off the Shane McGowan style, other than Shane McGowan though. We’ve always tried to make sure we play on our Englishness, for example, borrowing old English morris tunes when composing songs. But The Pogues’ punk ethic and delivery is something we have definitely tried to aspire to.
You’re proud purveyors of modern folk story telling. What do you hope listeners get from your tales of London?
We try to write songs that are directly drawn from our experiences. ‘Trouble On Oxford Street’ is another true story about when I took a bit of a beating from a couple of punks. It’s great to be able to turn something that was pretty grim at the time into something that feels kind of euphoric when we play it live!
Do you still find that people have difficulty describing your music?
We’ve always considered ourselves a folk band first and foremost. I think the difficulty comes because our sound is a bit broader than that and we don’t like to restrict or pigeon-hole ourselves too much. In the US we’re perceived as more of a celtic-punk band which is also fine.
Most of the last 18 months you’ve spent on the road, supporting Frank Turner and playing your own headline shows.
We’ve been very lucky to support some amazing artists over the last couple of years. Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys and Chuck Ragan took us on the road with them, which was a great opportunity and helped solidify our fan base in the US. Opening for our label mate Frank Turner was another amazing opportunity. He took us out with him across the UK, Europe and the US, so we really became part of the furniture for a while there. When we we’re playing Hamburg with Frank we were practicing during the day in some kind of rehearsal bunker. Somehow the owner locked us in there for a number of hours meaning we almost missed our show that night. On the plus side – we got a few songs worked out!
I must admit, I didn’t believe it at first when it was announced that you were supporting Boy George. How did that happen and what was the experience like?
Strange as it seems – Boy George is a Skinny Lister fan and asked us to support him personally. He comes from an Irish background and particularly likes the celtic flavour that’s sprinkled amongst our music. A strange combination I suppose but it seemed to work and we won a bunch of fans including his mum! He’s a thoroughly nice fella too!
Do any other bizarre moments over the years spring to mind?
Being invited to play the Salty Dog Cruise by Flogging Molly recently was a slightly bizarre highlight that we won’t forget in a hurry. Singing shanties in the Bahamas sunshine on the deck of a huge cruise ship was something we would never have imagined when we got together in the pub folk club all those years ago.
You’ve got another stint of touring ahead of you, what can fans expect this time around?
A bunch of new songs and possibly some new dance moves too! But don’t worry, the old trusty flagon will be joining the party too.