|photo credit: Debbie Scanlan|
British garage rock trio Band of Skulls play Mr. Smalls Thursday, May 1, in support of the their new album, Himalayan, the band's third to date. NME scored the album 8/10, calling it "In turns more glam-indebted and more duskily evocative than anything they’ve previously offered up."
BoS play a rugged blend of blues and rock that's familiar, yet far from derivative. Emma Richardson and Russell Marsden trade off on vocals, both within the album and between verses. It's a formula that has led them to open for some of the biggest names in rock. Now they're out on their own.
Here's the excellent first single off of the album, "Asleep at the Wheel:"
We were fortunate enough to speak with the band's guitarist/vocalist, Russell Marsden, prior to their appearance in Pittsburgh:
Pittsburgh Music Report: You've toured with some of the biggest names in rock: QOTSA, Muse, Black Keys, Red Hot Chili Peppers... is there anything you learned from being with these bands night in and night out, either musically or about life in a band? You've gotta have at least one good Josh Homme story...
Russell Marsden: I guess you learn without noticing. It becomes a normal day and you play your show. We see it as a challenge, playing to another band's audience. It can be daunting, but there's a certain thrill to it. We spent some good times with Josh, but I'm not telling you a thing.
PMR: Besides playing longer sets, what's it like switching from a support role to main act? Do you have to approach it with a different mindset?
RM: Not particularly. It's just a lot more exciting to have your audience with you from the off. Rather than having to win them over. Saying that, there's more pressure to get it right as they know all the words.
PMR: I read an interview where you said that with your second album, Sweet Sour, you didn't want to get pinned down as a band that exists within a single genre. Did you take the same approach with your new release, Himalayan? I feel like there's a lot of diversity on that album, especially when you compare between side A and side B.
RM: Yeah. We kept opening doors. Yet this album has lots of elements in common to the older records. We like to exist in a no rules environment when it comes to writing songs. And now we have a diverse signature sound because of that.
PMR: Talk a bit about your songwriting. Is it a collaborative process? How do you decide who takes lead vocals on a particular song?
RM: We collaborate a lot, but sometimes prefer to work alone. Sometimes a song just comes to you. It's like tuning into a radio. Bam! There it is.
PMR: You played Pittsburgh – and Mr. Smalls – in summer 2012, a solo gig when you were on tour w/ Jane's Addiction. Anything you remember about the venue or the city? Or is that asking too much from a band that travels the world?
RM: Yeah it's a great venue, we supported Metric there before that so it's great to come back. The perfume of the Heinz factory, or did I make that up?
PMR: Got any specific plans for when you're in town this time?
RM: Just to play our best show to date. And say hi.
Tickets for the show cost $20 and are available via Ticketweb. This all ages show starts at 8, with NYC-via-Cali rockers SACCO opening.
We have two tickets to giveaway for the show. Email us at pghmusicreport [at] gmail.com with "Band of Skulls" in the subject line to enter. We'll announce a winner Tuesday night.
-- B. Conway