Order the new release, Himalayan by Band Of Skulls, and get a limited* autographed CD booklet with purchase!
Breaking out of the blocks as Band of Skulls in 2008, having initially played together under a different guise for the previous four years, the Southampton trio, formed of Russell Marsden (guitar, vocals), Emma Richardson (bass, vocals) and Matt Hayward (drums), first began to pique interest with the call and response vocal interplay of early single 'I Know What I Am'. A debut, 2009's Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, shortly followed alongside a host of glowing reviews praising the record's dangerous, dusky charms and glam sensibilities.
Following successful support tours with the likes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Dead Weather, a new EP (Friends) and a live record, the trio then unveiled album #2 in February 2012. Sweet Sour not only took the blues-ridden sonic imprint of Baby Darling Dollface Honey and ramped it up several gears, it also showed a band dreaming bigger. fuller and more fleshed out than its predecessor. The likes of 'The Devil Takes Care Of His Own' and 'Bruises' were tracks born to fill bigger venues and tracks that very quickly did.
"We learnt a lot in that middle period," begins Russell. "It gave us a bit of validation and confidence. We realized then that we wanted to make an upbeat and energetic album, and we mostly succeeded I think." He continues: "This album feels like a coming of age record for the band because of the confidence in it. We really know our own sound now. On your second record you're doubling your back catalogue, which is a bit stressful. Whereas on your third, you're adding to your canon of work and they all start to interact and reference each other. We're doing the MA of ourselves now."
"We went in with a very clear idea of what we wanted to do," continues Emma. "We were trying to get rid of the choice of what would be the single and make 12 pop songs." "Playing to lots of audiences has helped. You have songs that clearly do something and you can see it happening, and then you see gaps in your armour and you have to go back and write them," adds Russell. "It's like a very long-term plan of filling in the gaps."
From the opening assault of recent single 'Asleep At The Wheel', which the group say, "bridges the gap between the last record and this one" and represents Himalayan in terms of its "confidence and swagger", to the gutsy, full-throttle riffs of the title track. 'Hoochie Coochie's' seductive glam rock-isms to the expansive, echo-laden atmospherics of Richardson-fronted 'Cold Sweat', the record begins in dramatic and uncompromising form. "'Cold Sweat' is a tune that's been around for a while and it felt like the right moment to do it justice," Russell informs. "Sometimes when you're younger, you write a song that's almost too mature for yourself or the band whereas later it seems to align with how you're feeling."
Much of Himalayan, indeed, was also born perhaps from interesting beginnings such as these - either sonically or lyrically. 'Heaven's Key', they note, "was written as a pop song, but it turned into this monster rock song", while 'Toreador' was inspired by Ernest Hemingway's 1932 novel 'Death In The Afternoon' and a subsequent trip to Spain where Richardson became interested in the rituals and culture of bullfighting. The intriguingly-titled 'I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead and One Dying', meanwhile, was named after a favourite phrase of Marsden's great grandfather. "Sometimes people say these great lines and they don't even realise; it's up to us to at least do something with them," he notes.
Between these intriguing idiosyncracies and the overarching scale that the group are quite clearly aiming for now, Himalayan lands at a junction that's epic without sacrificing personality. It's a record that can afford to aim big because, with ten years leading up to it, it's earned the right to. And it's a record that's not afraid to wear that aim on its sleeve. "We were hyping ourselves up [with that title]," Russell smiles. "We thought, why not go brave with it? Calling it something with an epic title seemed quite fitting as that was our manifesto all along."
Also available with Autographed CD Booklet:
Band Of Skulls' North American Tour Dates:
- 4/24 - Phoenix Concert Theatre - Toronto, Canada
- 4/25 - Corona Theatre - Montreal, Canada
- 4/26 - Union Transfer - Philadelphia, PA
- 4/28 - 9:30 Club - Washington, DC
- 4/29 - House Of Blues - Boston, MA
- 5/1 - Mr. Small's Theatre - Pittsburgh, PA
- 5/3 - Big Guava Festival - Tampa, FL
- 5/4 - Revolution Live - Fort Lauderdale, FL
- 5/6 - Cannery Ballroom - Nashville, TN
- 5/7 - Cat's Cradle - Carrboro, NC
- 5/9 - Shaky Knees Festival - Atlanta, GA
- 5/12 - Emo's East - Austin, TX
- 5/13 - Warehouse Live - Houston, TX
- 5/14 - Granada Theater - Dallas, TX
- 5/16 - Gothic Theater - Englewood, CO
- 5/17 - In The Venue - Salt Lake City, UT
- 5/19 - House Of Blues - San Diego, CA
- 5/20 - The Observatory - Santa Ana, CA
- 5/22 - The Regency Ballroom - San Francisco, CA
- 5/24 - Sasquatch! Festival - Quincy, WA
- 5/27 - Wonder Ballroom - Portland, OR
- 5/28 - Commodore Ballroom - Vancouver, Canada
- 6/3 - First Avenue - Minneapolis, MN
- 6/5 - Park West - Chicago, IL
- 6/6 - St Andrew's Hall - Detroit, MI
- 6/7 - Newport Music Hall - Columbus, OH
- 6/9 - Headliners Music Hall - Louisville, KY
- 6/10 - The Vogue - Indianapolis, IN
- 6/11 - Granada Theater - Lawrence, KS
*Offer valid only with purchase of Himalayan. This special offer is valid for both domestic and international orders. CDs shipping with promotional items are limited to (5) per customer. Autographed CD booklets will be available while supplies last, newburycomics.com will post information when autographed booklets are sold out.