Skint & Demoralised may sound vaguely familiar to the Myspace generation youth bouncing round the room to their contagious indie pop in part sounding like a northern soul Arctic Monkeys fronted by Jamie T but it’s 8 years since we all danced to ‘Red Lipstick’ and to be honest we’ve all (this writer included) forgotten who the hell Skint & Demoralised are. Hearing ‘Boro Kitchen 4am’ caught our attention and led to some research and we found it was by a band we once knew well; I’m sorry lads the late 2000s were a hazy time for the indie youth but we’re excited you’re back. Skint & Demoralised are a poet and a producer who met through the internet made some banging tunes and then a few years later stayed friends but went back to their original career paths. With such a cool back-history we were excited when frontman Matt had a chat with us; with ‘Boro Kitchen 4am’ being as strong as it is we’re wondering whether Skint & Demoralised’s album coming this summer may make our end of the year top albums list.
Hi, how are you? You’ve just released your first single in 6 years ‘Boro Kitchen 4am’ to great acclaim and played your first gig in almost as long; how does it all feel?
‘If you’d have asked me on 27 November what the chances of new S&D material were, I’d have said less than 5%. And then David casually suggested it over WhatsApp on 28 November and here we are.’
I’m great thanks! It feels surreal and exciting in equal measures. If you’d have asked me on 27 November what the chances of new S&D material were, I’d have said less than 5%. And then David casually suggested it over WhatsApp on 28 November and here we are. The response to the track has been fantastic, which is obviously pleasing to see, but we’re over the moon just to have it out there and see where it goes.
Stepping out in front of an audience with a band after all this time what were your feelings at that moment in time? And can you tell us about the live band right now, the project has always been a duo but played live as a band but are any of the previous touring line up still playing with you two?
The gig last week was something else…I’ve been heavily entrenched in the poetry world for the last 6 years, and I love it to the depths of my core, but the feeling of performing with a live band to a packed room is unbeatable. At the moment, David is on bass and two new musicians completing the rest of the live set-up (Kerry on drums and Cam on guitar). We’ve had countless combinations of musicians over the years and David hasn’t been involved on that front for the vast majority of shows, but this time around it’s really important to us, because we’re best mates and above all we just want to enjoy it.
‘Skint & Demoralised’ feels almost as much a band name as a statement, returning to this project just over 10 years after it started it feels in our socio-economic climate right now the phrase ‘Skint And Demoralised’ is more relevant than it ever has been; what did the name mean to you back then and what does it mean to you now?
‘[The name Skint & Demoralised] feels much more appropriate this time around in terms of our musical and lyrical output.’
Yeah, it’s unfortunate quite how relevant the S&D moniker is nowadays – especially considering that the band were formed a year before the 2008 global financial crisis. It almost increases in power every year – not least thanks to a certain referendum a couple of years back. But most importantly feels much more appropriate this time around in terms of our musical and lyrical output.
You’ve described your 2007 poem ‘Nazi’s on the Doorstep’ as your breakthrough (which was released as a YouTube video before the band formed) but a large portion of Skint & Demoralised’s material you’ve called ‘pop ditties’ leaving us to feel that ‘Boro Kitchen 4am’ could be a return to where it all started for you as a politically minded social commenter; how does that idea sit with you?
‘In hindsight it was certainly a regret of mine that S&D never had any political songs [in the last 3 albums]… So, this time around, it’s heavily political.’
That poem was certainly a breakthrough for me as a spoken word performer, but my political activism never once filtered its way into the S&D lyrics on the first three albums. I was thinking about this the other day. I think ultimately the main reason is because I was too young. Writing political lyrics without them sounding like preachy clichés is a tall order, but in hindsight it was certainly a regret of mine that S&D never had any political songs.
So, this time around, it’s heavily political. There are some personal lyrics on there, but I’m 30 years old now – I was 18 when I wrote the lyrics on the début album – so they clearly have a different feel to them. I’ve made my name as a political poet because that’s what’s important to me and what drives me on a daily basis, and I’m over the moon that S&D have had a chance to channel that.
We’re led to believe Skint & Demoralised are the product of the Myspace generation and its very probable you and David Gledhill ‘MiNI dOG’ would not have met without Myspace. Fast forward to 2019, social media is a completely different beast as is the way we consume music; how do you think Skint & Demoralised would have fared starting now?
It’s impossible to say, really – I guess David could’ve just as easily found me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc. All I know is that I’m eternally grateful that he found me on MySpace back in May 2007! In many ways, S&D are starting afresh in 2019. Don’t get me wrong, I realise we have a fan-base from first time around, but I’m building our social media profiles from scratch and we’re totally out of the loop with radio, PR, live shows etc.
In some ways, music is worlds apart from when we started in 2007 but in many ways it’s the same. Anybody can upload their music for the whole world to hear; you find yourself drowning in an infinite mass of other music; acts are obsessed with digital numbers (Spotify streams only replace MySpace plays), etc. Ultimately, it’s all about the songs, though. And I don’t think that’ll ever change.
You initially signed in a whirlwind to Universal being hailed as the next big thing but were dropped quickly signing to Heist Or Hit Records for the rest of your output. Recently you signed to Fierce Panda Records who released ‘Boro Kitchen 4am’ and will release your album; how does Fierce Panda fit with the S & D ethos?
Fierce Panda are a perfect fit for the S&D ethos, and we wouldn’t have signed to them otherwise. When we’d written the first couple of tracks back in December, our initial plan was to self-release. We have a fair amount of industry experience between us and didn’t want to deal with the rigmarole of messing about with a label who made us compromise, delay, etc.
Now don’t get me wrong – that isn’t a reference to Heist Or Hit. They’re a fantastic label and we were blessed to work with them on three album releases (Universal never released the début), but the chances of finding another label like Heist were slim. David has known Simon Williams from Fierce Panda for a long while, so he casually sent a few of the tracks over. We agreed to meet – I suggested The Kingsland pub in Dalston (an old cash-only Irish boozer) and after a chat over a few pints, we agreed that the S&D album campaign would be with Fierce Panda. I’ve known about Fierce Panda since S&D first started and I’m properly chuffed that we’re working with them. They’re indie icons.
Our main rule this time around is enjoyment first. I’ve made a name for myself on the national spoken word scene and David has been making waves either side of the Atlantic with his song-writing and production (mainly with SOULS), so there was no point in us doing S&D unless it was enjoyable above all else.
We’re awaiting your fourth album ‘We Are Humans’ which has been reported as completely unlike previous releases; what can we expect of this upcoming release?
‘[The new album is] an honest criticism and commentary of Brexit Britain in 2019.’
Well, we’ve set the bar high with ‘Boro Kitchen 4am’, but I think it sets out the stall pretty well in terms of being urgent, political and raw in sound. The début album is a production masterpiece; brass, string sections, glockenspiels, Northern Soul-influenced backing vocals, etc. Whereas the new album is much more simplistic, with a heavy post-punk influence.
Lyrically, as I said earlier, it’s an overtly political album and an honest criticism and commentary of Brexit Britain in 2019.
With so many facets to your career would you describe Skint & Demoralised as reformed and what are the current plans and goals for the band?
Well, I don’t really know the difference between “reformed” and “returning from a hiatus”, but as soon as we started working together again, it was like we’d never stopped. David and I are extremely close and are fortunate in that we share a lot in common when it comes to our worth ethos, tastes and opinions, and what we want for the band. We have absolutely no idea what will happen with this album. But we’re extremely proud to have made it, we’re loving working with each other again and also with Fierce Panda. And we’re experienced enough to have humble hopes, whilst also working our arse off to make the most of it. Either way, we’ll have a bloody good time.
You’re well known for both your spoken word and musical output, what acts on both scenes have caught your eye in recent months?
I was largely out of loop with new music until around a year ago. I moved in with my fiancé last April and we always have the radio on in our flat (usually 6Music), so I’m really into new music again, which I’m thrilled about. My favourites at the moment are She Drew The Gun, IDLES, Fontaines DC, Louise Distras and Grace Petrie.
In terms of spoken word, I’ve known these artists for years, but I have to mention Salena Godden, Maria Ferguson, Toria Garbutt, Louise Fazackerley, Luke Wright and Kevin P. Gilday. If you’re into discovering new spoken word acts, check out my independent spoken word record label Nymphs & Thugs.
Questions: James Wadsworth
Photos used with permission from Skint & Demoralised.