Catching up with Band of Skulls

With four albums under their belt Charlotte Pearson chats to Band of Skulls' drummer Matt Hayward about set lists, their all-time favourite gigs and which song their Australian fans love.

Friday, 11th November 2016, 7:01 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:08 pm
Band of Skulls
Band of Skulls

Most bands have that stand out concert, the one that people come up and say ‘I was there’.

For Band of Skulls the gig most people recall isn’t actually one they headlined themselves, but was one where they were the support act.

“The gig at Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace) in London really sticks out in our minds,” explains drummer Matt Hayward.

Band of Skulls album By Default

“We were supporting American band The Black Keys and we get so many people come up to us and say that we totally rocked that gig.

“It was in February, 2012, and it had snowed a couple of days before and all around the venue just looked amazing.”

The band, consisting of Russell Marsden on guitar and vocals and Emma Richardson on bass and vocals, was formed after the trio met at college.

Band of Skull’s first album ‘Baby Darling Doll Face Honey’ was released in 2009, followed by ‘Sweet Sour’ in 2012 and ‘Himalayan’ in 2014.

The most recent ‘By Default’ was released earlier this year and had previously been described by singer Russell as a ‘new era for the band with the first three records acting like a trilogy’.

“I think we constantly have to make sure we evolve so that our sound changes so each record is different to the last,” reveals Matt.

“The way we write the album has stayed the same but we want it to be different each time to keep it interesting both for us and our fans.”

Produced by Gil Norton (Pixies, Foo Fighters, Patti Smith) and recorded in Rockfield Studios, the album is described as ‘the sound of a group on the sharpest form of their career, more engaged and focused than they’ve ever been’.

Matt adds the band were thrilled when the album was finally released as they felt as if they ‘had been sat on it for a while’.

“You write it, record it, it gets mixed and finished, then the record label will decide when it goes out,” he explains.

“It is great that we can now get out there and play it with people knowing the songs.”

The release of the album also saw the band embark on a tour.

The trio have been on the road since May playing festivals with their headline tour kicking off officially in September.

It saw them visit Canada, America, and Europe before heading to the UK, and their old stomping ground Southampton.

“It is a little odd going back to your hometown and playing,” reveals Matt. “We lived in the area and would go to music venue The Joiners pub, a lot of our early gigs were in there.

“I was there the other day watching a band and it is just a great rock venue, just really sweaty and you can really get into the music.”

With a number of songs in their back catalogue Matt admits that the band like to keep people on their toes when it comes to the set list.

“We don’t want to get bored with what we do so we swap the set list around a lot,” he adds.

“Sometimes we play a song and it goes down really well so we add it in to other shows to see what kind of a response it gets.”

The set list is changed pretty much every night and with four albums worth of songs Matt says it is nice to have the luxury to be able to do that.

“We have found though that different places we go some prefer different songs,” he explains.

“When we go to Australia we play ‘Wanderluster’, which was on our second album.

“It wasn’t a single anywhere but it must have had a lot of airplay over there.

“They love it so we always include that and have to relearn it when we go over there.”

So does he have a favourite song to play live?

“Not really,” he smiles.

“Each album is like your child and you never want to pick one child over another.”

While in the past the band have played acoustic gigs, with the new album Matt says that they are keen to play as it is so rock fans rejoice.

As far as Band of Skulls are concerned I don’t think the Ally Pally gig will be the only stand out in their career.

The album ‘By Default’ is out now.

For more information on Band of Skulls and for full tour information, visit

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