The early millennium that saw the likes of The Libertines et al dominating the alternative music scene may well be dead and gone but it seems that new kids on the block SKATERS are set to revive the scuzzy, lo-fi, indie rock sound that left a gaping void in the airwaves, even if to them, it’s just about playing the music that they want to play, to the people they want to play it to.
They’re being billed as 2013’s answer to The Strokes and taking into consideration both their sound, and their nonchalant swagger, apparent even over transatlantic phone call, it’s easy to see why. Following the release of their five song EP ‘Schemers’ earlier this year, they caught the attention of Warner Bros Record, and have just fin- ished recording their debut album. Ahead of their show in Leeds next month, I caught up with lead singer Michael Cummings to talk late night conversations, tour buses, and New York comparisons.
The band first met when they were intro- duced through mutual friends. “We had one of those late night drunken conversations,” Michael tells me, “where we said ‘hey, let’s start a band!’” Unlike many similar conversations, this one actually worked out for them.
Given the kind words of the music press, and the constant comparisons from the likes of the NME to bands such as The Strokes, you’d think that SKATERS would either cave under the pressure or be getting a bit annoyed at it all by now. “Oh no,” says Michael, “I have no problem with comparisons, people can make their own assumptions and judgements. It’s good, a lot of people are talking about us… I’m happy.”
SKATERS released ‘Schemers’ earlier this year for free. In the same way as bands such as Coldplay, I wondered if this might have been some sort of a publicity stunt? Michael is adamant that this wasn’t the case though: “We just wanted our friends to hear it, so we recorded it in my apartment and we just wanted our friends to see what our sound was like and what we got up to. Then 10,000 people downloaded it, so it got a lot more attention than we’d expected.”
And it seems that they’re jumping on the guitar bandwagon at just the right time, even if the glory days of rock and indie may seem long gone: “Well yeah, but guitar music wasn’t being played on the radio five years ago, there was a point when Radio 1 wouldn’t play guitar bands and now they will.”
Having toured all summer, the band are excited to get back on the road again this autumn, first for a tour in the US with British indie darlings Palma Violets and then in support of Californian duo Deap Vally back in the UK, which brings them to none other than Leeds itself. “We’re psyched, but there’s no rest… it can get a little mad and we can go stir crazy in that tour van, but once you’ve played a show then you’re fine again.”
The new tour, which sees the band travel from Sheffield, around the country and up to
Edinburgh, is in support of their new single ‘I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How)’, re- leased on November 18. I asked Michael to convince me to buy it: “You should buy it ‘cause it’s good, and ‘cause you like it. It’s the first single from our new record, that we recorded here in New York, at Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady studio, right here in Manhattan. We’re super excited about it.” The debut album doesn’t have a name yet but is due out on February 24.
From a clichéd beginning to a clichéd end, I finish up by asking Michael what the high- light of the past year has been: “Probably finishing this record, which we’ve just done.” And where does he want to be in another 12 months? “I hope that lots of people hear the album over the next 12 months, for sure. I’m just excited to put it out, you know.”
It sounds like pushing the new record will form a substantial amount of the next year for the band, or as Michael describes it “A LOT of hard work. I think we’ll be touring for the foreseeable future.”
You can catch SKATERS supporting Deap Vally at The Wardrobe in Leeds on Friday November 8.