Ones To Watch: Band Of Skulls

Making waves across both sides of the pond
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A little delving into Southampton group Band Of Skulls and you’ll be forgiven for conjuring up images of dark, twisted ideas and listening out for heavier riffs than Metallica at Wembley Stadium on a Friday night.

However, delve a bit deeper and you’ll find these former art students have more of a love for blues alt rock than anything Kerrang! are likely to throw up.

“We’ve never had a problem with it yet,” says guitarist and vocalist Emma, during a day off in London. “We haven’t had anyone book us on a bill and say they were expecting us to be heavier, so I think we’ve got away with most people thinking we’re a metal band!”

“We’re not goths though - we are nice people!”

Created through childhood friends Russell and Matt, Emma joined the band while at art college and the trio quickly appeared regularly at the Talking Heads club in Southampton, where a sign of Hamlet holding a skull inspired their name. Taking a dirty blues rock riff, the band are more akin to The Subways and The White Stripes rather than Slayer, yet their latest career move may involve the group’s darker side, and a whole lot of vampires.

Speaking about their latest addition to the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack, Emma said: “It was just something commercially we were asked to do and it’s the one thing every family member said yes to, so of course we did it!”

Having no experience of Edward Cullen and his vampire clan, the group offered up ‘Friends’, a castaway from the band’s debut, ‘Baby Darling Doll Face Honey’ for the album, which includes Death Cab For Cutie, Thom Yorke and Muse.

Emma continues: “None of us have actually read the books or seen the film so we’re going to have to do our research! We’ve been told it’s going to be in the film but we don’t know where and for how long.”

Yet after listening to ‘Baby Darling...’ it's not surprising Band Of Skulls will be among pride and place with the world’s best musicians. Latest single ‘I Know What I Am’ nods towards The Kills, as Emma’s dirty vocals clash with Russell’s clean crisp lyrics. The band’s throbbing tour schedule has also clearly had an affect, as the group clinch hammering out guitar hooks aplenty. Having played with the likes of Spiritualized and Spinnerette in New York (one gig the band count among their best), it’s clear Band Of Skulls will be making waves across both sides of the pond and may be creeping more towards the vampire and goth communities than they think.

Words by Ruth Offord

What: Alternative blues rock
Where: Southampton
Unique Fact: Drummer Matt once played tennis with John McEnroe after he was chosen in a line-up of children to play with the champion by presenter Sue Barker.
Get 3 songs: ‘I Know What I Am’, ‘Impossible’, ‘Death By Diamonds And Pearls’

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