Daniel Heptinstall talks all things Skinny Lister in an exclusive interview
Skinny Lister have cemented themselves as a RUSHONROCK favourite since their rise to prominence. From small intimate gigs to their biggest ever headlines tour, we’ve watched them all the way. Adam Keys caught up with the band’s extremely talented songwriter Daniel Heptinstall to discuss the tour, Beans On Toast and new music.
RUSHONROCK – Thanks for joining us! Since we last spoke you’ve become a big name worldwide, playing shows and festivals all over. Could you tell us a bit about your busy summer?
Daniel Heptinstall – Thanks for having us! It has been a busy one indeed; we’ve been mainly juggling festivals in the UK & Europe. Most of the time we had a relatively relaxed schedule with just one or two festivals a weekend but the pinnacle of busyness was playing Hurricane & Southside festivals in Germany and then back to the UK for Glastonbury all in the same weekend. Three amazing festivals – so couldn’t possibly have turned any of them down and such a privilege to play all of them, but blimey, it was a pretty frantic behind the Skinny scenes compared to normal.
Our first early morning flight was delayed so we arrived at Hurricane with only 15 minutes until stage time and we’re taking on the main stage! Luckily for us, we had good friends on the sound desk that had done our sound for the entire Dropkick Murphys tour and The Sleeping Souls were complete angels and line checked our gear for us as they were playing later in the day with Frank Turner.
The show was CRAZY. The adrenaline and the crowd went off! Then rather than hang around we had a 9 hour drive to Southside Festival where we were due on stage the following afternoon. This was a less stressful affair as we didn’t have to rely on flights. Again the show was wild but not a lot of time to chill out as we then had to drive and catch a flight back to the UK.
The morning of Glastonbury was pretty chill and we were all relaxing and having a good time before the show. That was until we got a text from Scott saying the bass neck had snapped during the flight and was completely unplayable. Then it was a matter of getting in touch with as many people on site as possible to find another bass. To our good fortune we got one and again, the show was wild!
Needless to say the party after the show was crazy. Old fashioned cocktails back stage set us up good and proper for a night at my personal favourite festival. You can check out our video for ‘Hamburg Drunk (Live at London Roundhouse)’ (see below) for a condensed version of the weekend.
RUSHONROCK – Your stock in the UK continues you rise, but have any other countries stood out as being particularly receptive to your music?
Daniel Heptinstall – It seems that everywhere we go we have a good strong underground following. We love Japan for the craziness, Germany for the beer and the States for being so massive and varied. The people all over are the same though: fun, fun, fun!
There is nothing more affirming than having a room full of happy people jumping up and down and singing along to your music. Of course London is most memorable for this as it’s the band’s birthplace, so selling out our biggest headline show ever a month in advance is obviously a real highlight.
RUSHONROCK – You’ve got an incredibly exciting double headline tour with Beans On Toast coming up. Could you tell us a bit about the tour?
Daniel Heptinstall – Yep. Beans is pretty much family. We are really looking forward to this one as we’ve already toured with Jay in the USA, which was a great success, and it’s just going to be fantastic on home turf. There’s never a dull moment with Beans on Toast, on and off stage.
We’re playing some of the biggest venues we’ve ever played as headliners and so that’s very exciting. We end the tour at Koko in London, which is going to be insane. It wasn’t long ago we supported the fantastic Gogol Bordello there so yep, very excited about all the shows.
We’re also dipping our toes into some unfamiliar or missed territories like Exeter, which will keep us on our toes.
RUSHONROCK – What can fans expect each night from two acts that are renowned for their fun loving stage shows?
Daniel Heptinstall – I’m not completely sure what Beans on Toast is planning but I know he’s going to have some amazing musicians playing with him. We’ve had a sneak preview of his new album and it’s sounding great! I’m sure that some collaborative stuff will happen on stage and a few surprises!
We’ll be bringing out some old favourites, obviously we expect plenty of singing from the crowd and we’re also going to be bringing with us some brand new material too which is very exciting for us and always great to get instant feedback from the audience! Being so close to the end of the year I’m sure there’ll be a bit of Christmas cheer too!
RUSHONROCK – Off the stage, how much fun will this tour be?
Daniel Heptinstall – None at all. I mean seriously no fun.
RUSHONROCK – The venues continue to grow in size. Has the bottle of rum got any bigger?
Daniel Heptinstall – It’s multiplied! There’s no longer just one flagon. If the show demands it we roll out a herd of flagons (is that the correct term – probably not).
RUSHONROCK – The Devil, The Heart and The Fight was an incredibly successful album for you guys (hard to believe it was only a year ago!). Do you have any plans for album number four?
Daniel Heptinstall – We’re incredibly proud of the album and think that Tristan Ivemy did a great job producing it. We’re also releasing a Deluxe version on 27th October which does have two brand new studio recorded songs which we are extremely excited about. Thing Like That is very topical and probably the most political we have been to date and the other will be a Christmas single called Christmas Calls and is probably my favourite song that we have produced.
There’s also loads of other stuff on there from live tracks recorded at The Roundhouse & our headline gig at London Scala, some session stuff and chat from the band as well as a low key iPhone recording of a song written about the Hastings fishing community called Boy Ashore. And in answer to your question, we’re working on new material and pretty determined to get a fourth album out into the world in good time!
RUSHONROCK – How do you balance song writing with so much time spent on the road?
Daniel Heptinstall – Songs are generally written in the little time we have when not on the road. Being in a van or on a tour bus is not generally conducive to song writing, at least it isn’t for me. It requires a very different state of mind. Having said that, we have worked heavily on arranging the songs as a band while on tour – squeezing in rehearsals on days off, or mornings off to get them ready to ‘road test’ at the next show. Audience response to new material can be very useful.
RUSHONROCK – You’ve just announced a North America 2018 tour with your Xtra Mile label mate Will Varley. Tell us a bit about this, and the bond between the Xtra Mile family?
Daniel Heptinstall – Yeah, we’re really excited to get back to the States, and whilst we were there supporting Flogging Molly earlier in the year, it feels like an age since our last full US tour last December. Can’t wait to get back! And who better to be our travelling companion than Will Varley! Another class act from the Xtra Mile family! Again, we’ve toured together when opening for Frank Turner and after we did the Flogging Molly Salty Dog cruise last year, so we’re well accustomed to each other’s touring habits. We really love being part of Xtra Mile for this very reason. The relationship and support between all the bands is great and we attribute a lot of our good news stories to this (beside the hard graft we put in)!
RUSHONROCK – It may seem like some time away, but you’ve been announced to play Salty Dog Cruise again in 2018. For fans thinking about buying tickets, could you tell them what an average day on Flogging Molly’s famous ship is like?
Daniel Heptinstall – I don’t remember! Too good a time! All I know is that the alcohol was flowing faster than the waves, the gigs were wilder than a storm at sea and the hangover wasn’t actually too bad as the laughs and dreamlike memories all acted as the finest cure! No seriously, probably two of the best shows we have ever played and just an incredible experience for everyone. Hats off to Flogging Molly for throwing one of the best parties ever – every year!
Northumbria University Journalism graduate, rock and roll enthusiast and co-editor of RUSHONROCK.com.