For years now I’ve had the love for a certain band who brings happiness to any scenario, addictive tunes to my ears and catchy beats to my feet! I don’t know how they do it, but each of Skint & Demoralised‘s songs are amazing. The attribute I admire most about the band’s music are the inspiring lyrics. So when I had the chance to interview Skint’s lyricist and vocalist Matt Abbott, I couldn’t have been more excited! Check out this interview!
AMBY: I’ve been a fan of Skint & Demoralised for a long time now and would love to see you live, which makes me wonder… What was the first concert you attended and what was that experience like?
MA: The first gig I attended was actually with the intention of watching one of the support acts back in May ’05. The headliners were a band called Embrace, but I was there to see The Ordinary Boys and when they took to the stage it was an incredibly enthralling experience. In total there were around seven bands on the bill as the gig was a big outdoor event at Millennium Square in Leeds. There were a couple of thousand people there but TOB didn’t get much of a cheer because at the time they were relative unknowns, but nevertheless they were my heroes and seeing them playing live on stage right before my eyes was an amazing feeling. As I soon discovered, their headline gigs were always really crazy so it wasn’t long before I had the full TOB experience, but seeing them for the first time was brilliant!
AMBY: That sounds like a surreal first gig! So, who influences your sound? Especially your distinct, poetic singing style!
MA: The main thing that I’ve always wanted with my vocals is for them to sound honest, genuine and natural. I don’t have a natural singing ability but I don’t think that’s essential, as long as you can make up for it in other areas. Because my lyrics are conversational or styled like a stream of consciousness for example, it’s important that they sound believable and are easy to relate to. So I’d say my influences in that sense are Mike Skinner (The Streets), Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys), Paul Weller (The Jam), Chris Difford and Glen Tilbrook (Squeeze) and Billy Bragg. I’d also say that Shane MacGowan (The Pogues) and Bob Dylan have inspired me because their tone and conviction make up for the fact that they lack in technical ability.
AMBY: You definitely deliver on how you want your vocals to come across. And wow, a ton of influences! What’s would you say is one of your all-time favourite lyrics?
MA: That’s a very tough question! I personally think that the most compelling, inspiring, moving, powerful and romantic lyric of all-time is ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ by The Smiths (and written by Morrissey of course). I know it’s an obvious choice but I really can’t think of any other lyrics that hold such sheer impact and poignancy, whilst at the same time carrying a huge dose of tongue-in-cheek humour. As in, depending on what mood you’re in, the chorus lyrics can either make you laugh out loud or bring a tear to your eye. And how many lyricists have the ability to do that?!
AMBY: Can never go wrong with Morrissey. I’ve noticed that in a couple tracks like You Probably Don’t Even Realise When You Do The Things I Love The Most that you’ve joked around by mocking your own singing. So, how would you describe your vocals?
MA: Well put it this way; nobody likes S&D because of my singing ability! As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’ve always wanted my vocals to be honest and genuine and sincere and natural. The same goes for my lyrics, and I like to think that this is one of the appeals for fans of the band. I’ve always been an honest and down to earth guy and I’ll never try to be anything different, and whilst music needs the enigmatic rock & roll front man who oozes confidence and charisma, I think it also needs the normal guy to balance things out and reflect a bit of reality amongst the fantasy and escapism. Hopefully my vocals help to capture this, because I really don’t fancy any singing lessons!
AMBY: One of the main reason everyone I know likes S&D is because of your singing! Well, now that you’ve had some time to distance yourself from 43 Degrees, is getting high all you want to do still?!
MA: To be brutally honest I absolutely despise that chorus lyric and I actually cringe every time I hear it. The implication was supposed to be that getting “high” meant experiencing a natural high through doing something that you love, such as going out with your friends or going to a football game or playing in a band or even collecting stamps – anything. But obviously that was lost pretty much straight away and in reality in just sounds really cheesy, and most people think I’m just promoting drugs. But anyway, we all make mistakes!
AMBY: We all thought it was getting high on life, so that makes sense! Skint’s music is quite funky, where do you think that element of your music derives from?
MA: When we first formed we both shared a love of Northern Soul music, which was reflected a fair amount on the debut album, and we’re very much keen on a pop hook or a catchy melody, no matter what the lyrics are about! I’d definitely say a love of Northern Soul inspired the “funky” nature of our sound, as well as great indie pop bands such as The Cure, Squeeze, The Go-Betweens and The Stone Roses.
AMBY: Now, one of the most important questions, do you like pina coladas…?
MA: I’m not really a cocktail man to be honest but as long as there’s no whiskey in it I’ll always be happy to drink alcohol!
AMBY: Haha, if I asked you to recommend three artists that people should be listening to, who would they be? Next to S&D, of course!
MA: I would recommend The Kabeedies, Baxter Dury and The Answering Machine. I’ll let their music do the talking!
AMBY: I’ll have to check those out! And finally for our last Q, tell us something your fans yet to know about you.
MA: Hmm…I’m not sure which direction I should take this in! Haha. Okay, I’m currently writing my debut novel. This is based on a story that I’ve been working on since October 2008 and originally started as a screenplay. The two main characters were referenced a few times on ‘This Sporting Life’ and will be referenced more on the third album. This is loosely based on personal experiences but also massively influenced by the British new wave of cinema and “kitchen sink dramas” of the late ’50s/early ’60s such as ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’, ‘A Taste of Honey’, ‘A Kind of Loving’ and also ‘This Sporting Life’ which obviously christened our second album. So keep your eyes out for that!
I have to say this was surreal for me; I never thought I’d have the chance to interview a band like this whose music I adore. I’m especially looking forward to their new album The Bit Between The Teeth which is aimed to be released in January 2013! Be sure to check back then for a follow-up interview all about the new album! If you ever want to hear some funky bass which will drive you to dancing within seconds, or some guitar which chimes and jingles along with beautiful and dreamy lyrics, then listen to Skint & Demoralised’s track All The Rest Is Propaganda now! Last but not least, I’d like to say thank you Matt, for giving me your answers!