INTERVIEW: Skinny Lister | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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If you are looking for a feel-good night out, you can’t go wrong with Skinny Lister. The purveyors of the finest shanty folk will soon return to the North East in support of their fifth album, A Matter of Life & Love, with a date at Newcastle University on Friday 9th December.

This year has been a bit of a whirlwind for the British outfit. “We did a tour earlier this year with Less Than Jake. We had a bunch of festivals; we’ve been to Europe a couple of times, and we’ve got the UK tour coming up. So, we’ve filled it nicely,” explains vocalist and guitarist Dan Heptinstall. “Amongst all that, we have been writing new material as well; because we’ve got our eye on the next album for next year.”

During the pandemic, co-vocalist Lorna Thomas gave birth to the newest member of the Skinny Lister family, daughter Bonny. This change in dynamic has added some challenges to life on the road during the band’s recent European tour. “I think it was a 10-date run that took in Germany and Switzerland. It was great catching up with old friends, and it’s good to be on the road,” explained Dan. “We’ve got Bonny with us, and that does bring some logistical headaches with it. Lorna’s mum was on tour with us in a separate vehicle with Lorna and Bonny. It’s a slightly different way to tour, but it works so far – touch wood.”

I just wanted to create a warm communal singalong feeling, a bit like a folk club that we used to go to

The addition of Bonny to the Skinny Lister family has also become a source of inspiration for the group’s songwriting. “It’s such a big thing that I think it kind of changes your outlook generally on life. If you’re a songwriter, I think that it inevitably influences you in some way,” said Dan.

One of the band’s most recent singles, Embers, is a timeless, heartwarming, and somewhat emotive slice of Celtic-tinged folk. The song is so memorable that it makes the listener want to charge their glass and have a good old singalong. “It’s one of those songs about getting together with a bunch of mates, having a beer, a drink, a sing, and maybe remembering those that are not with us anymore. I just wanted to create a warm communal singalong feeling, a bit like a folk club that we used to go to,” said Dan. “When I was singing it, I could envisage being back in a room full of people singing. It did give me goosebumps when I was recording it. It’s a beautiful song,” adds Lorna.

Those attending the band’s upcoming shows will perhaps get a taste of the group’s forthcoming new album. “We will be test running a few new tracks on the tour. It’s always nice to have tried some in front of an audience before you go into the studio and get them down,” confirms Dan.

The band are clearly looking forward to returning to Tyneside. Dan concludes: “We’ve been going to Newcastle since day one. It’s always a good crowd. We always try and get it on the schedule if we’re touring. We can’t wait to get back there in December.”

Skinny Lister play Newcastle University Students’ Union on Friday 9th December.

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