Skunk Anansie were formed in London in 1994 by the band’s frontwoman, the “unstoppable” Deborah Anne Dyer (a.k.a. Skin), guitarist Martin Kent (a.k.a. Ace), bassist Richard Lewis (a.k.a. Cass) and drummer Mark Richardson. Their creations are a mix of punk, rock, heavy metal and electronic but also pop music, which deservedly earned them a place among the most important Britrock bands that predominated during the 90’s.
The hits were many, “golden” and “platinum” and clearly there were many important milestones in the band’s career such as appearing alongside Luciano Pavarotti or their Hall-of-Fame-award by Kerrang!. All these until 2002, when band members agreed to take a break which lasted for seven years. In 2008 Skunk Anansie came back to music and the sequel was just as exciting…
But what happened and why did they get to this point? How much has the political scene influenced their songwriting and what did they tell us about the most important moments of their journey so far?
SounDarts.gr asked these and several other questions to the band’s drummer, Mark, in a full-length interview….
Mark, welcome to SounDarts.gr! What have you been up to lately with Skunk Anansie?
Hi SounDarts.gr! Since the tour last year, we’ve been mainly songwriting and recording, Skin has been busy DJing and travelling between NYC, London and Milan, Ace has been working a music college, Cass has been riding his motorbike and I have been studying for my masters degree.
Recently, you released your new song “This Means War”, the follow-up of “What You Do for Love”. What were your thoughts during the writing session?
Our writing sessions are at worst sometime fraught and difficult, and at best it feels so easy. This was one of those songs that wrote itself easily and the subject matter as always is what’s going on in the world, I’ll give you one guess! We can write so well when we make the time for it. It’s a shame we don’t write more often.
In the past, you went on hiatus for seven years. Was it a beneficial gap for the band?
Yes and no. No because we didn’t think it through properly, I didn’t benefit anyone in the long run. People say it was the right thing to do because otherwise we would have exploded and never got back together but to that I say we are grown up enough to have adult conversations and sort out issues. The only caveat with that is that people have to want to sort out their issues. Yes, because we were burnt out and sick of each other’s bullshit. It’s easily done when you’re together 24/7. If bands don’t communicate efficiently in that environment, then they’re in for a rocky ride.
What do you think was the highlight of the band’s career so far?
There has been so many, headlining Glastonbury, meeting the Dalai Lama, playing with Pavarotti, playing to 850,000 people in Poland (yes 850,000), being one of the world last bands to be politically outspoken in a world full of increasing ‘blandism’, having so many of those gigs we’ll never forget because we were in full flow, getting a Hall of Fame Award from Kerrang! last year, the singing duck… the list goes on.
Your song “I Believed in You” was a hit single in Greece. What drew you to write this song?
It is a great pop song, typical Skunk, hooks galore, great groove, nice tempo, socially commentarial lyrics, what more do you need?
How do the social and political issues affect you as musicians? As we can mention it is a source of inspiration for you, right? Can you give us a specific fact that inspired you to write a song?
‘I Believed in You’ is about Tony Blair for example, ‘We Love Your Apathy’ is about the lack of young voters, ‘This Means War’ – Trump/Johnson having a love affair, there’s too many…
If you had to choose between the meanings of love and war, which one do you believe that represents better the theme of your songs and why?
Lovers at war.
Who is the “brain” of band’s name?
Skin and Cass came up with the name.
Do you prefer the recording sessions or a tour? What are those elements that make you want to keep going on your musical career?
I like the studio, which is a shame because that means spending money not earning it but my favourite place is that 2 hours on stage for the fans. I like to travel with my wife which is great because now Erika plays with us as backing vocalist and multi-instrumentalist but I love being at home too so I get to do mostly be at home and then tour for two months per year and spend a few weeks in the studio.
In what ways has your sound evolved through these years? Was it a need of times?
We don’t really think about it too much, we always experiment and don’t like most of it so we pull the reigns in. We are what we are; a mentos. Rock hard on the outside with a soft centre on the inside.
When are we going to hear the new studio album of Skunk Anansie? What should we expect from your next project?
Patience. We only write once a year so it difficult to write enough quality songs in that time. We’re working on it though.
What is your message to the Greek audience?
Can’t wait to see you. Get ready to be fucked up.
Interview: Elektra Limnios
Translation: Thodoris Kolliopoulos