Josh, last time we talked the 'Short Change' EP had just been released and you weren't too forthcoming about the new album yet. 'FM' has turned out to be a concept album and a tribute to those great pirate radio stations that helped create the musical identity of Britain. When and how did that idea take form?
Josh Waters Rudge (guitar & vocals): "There were actually a number of different things that led us to that final idea. One was watching the Spike Lee movie 'Do The Right Thing', where at the beginning you got the Mister Señor Love Daddy character played by Samuel L. Jackson who's this radio host really setting the mood for the rest of the film. A second thing was the 'Songs For The Deaf' album by Queens Of The Stone Age. The album evokes a drive through the Californian dessert and you can hear them go through the different Mexican radio stations you can pick up there. A last thing was the simple fact that these pirate radio stations have been so instrumental in the development and popularization of reggae and music in general in Britain. Once we got the idea, developing it into an album was really a lot of fun."
Did you guys experience the golden age of pirate radio first hand or was that before you time?
Josh Waters Rudge: "Some of them have now turned legit, but there are still quite a few pirate radio stations around. There's even one right next door to the place where we usually rehearse. Looking at the promotion of bass music and black music in the UK, the different pirate radio stations have played and still play a pivotal role. Obviously since the rise of the internet pirate radio stations no longer hold the same importance they once had. Still in London there are hardly any empty frequencies to be found on the FM band."
For 'Part & Parcel' and the 'Short Change' EP you still collaborated with Soulbeats Records in France, but for 'FM' you crossed the Atlantic to work with Michael Goldwasser's Easy Star Records label.
Jamie Kyriakides (drums & vocals): "Yeah, we'd been following these guys for years, so for us it was a logical step."
Josh Waters Rudge: "We toured with the Easy Star All Stars a couple of years ago and had always stayed in touch, so the label was sort of aware of who we were. Even though we were also talking to a number of other labels, we really felt the love from Easy Star and the fact they really seemed to understand the kind of band we were trying to be."
The collaboration with Easy Star Records also means you guys will be touring in the US soon. What are your expectations?
Josh Waters Rudge: "Hopefully it will be the start of something really good, but what we want to happen and what will happen, might be two very different things! (laughs) The Skints have always toured very intensively. The past few years we've been doing that across Europe and the US was kind of a logical next step."
Seeing The Skints also seem quite fond of the fast rapping style, it's no wonder one of the guests on 'FM' is Tippa Irie. How did you guys link up?
Josh Waters Rudge: "We got to know Tippa when we travelled to Thailand with Prince Fatty and Horseman a couple of years ago. Tippa and Hollie Cook also came along and we really got on well from the get go. He told us to give him a shout when we'd start recording our next album and that's exactly what we did. If you're talking UK reggae music, Tippa is definitely one of the cornerstones. Big him up every time!"
You once again collaborated with Prince Fatty.
Josh Waters Rudge: "Obviously we could opt to work with other producers if we wanted to, but at the end of the day we're recording a reggae album in the UK, so he's kind of the go-to-guy! (laughs) In all seriousness, we've developed a really nice working relationship with Fatty and we've also got to know each other on a personal level from touring together. I'm not excluding we'll ever work with other producers in the future, but thus far he's definitely our favorite producer in the UK."
On 'Part & Parcel' you guys included a cover version of Kathy B's 'On A Mission', and on 'FM' you did something similar with Black Flag's 'My War'. Who's the Henry Rollins fan in the band?
Jamie Kyriakides: "Well what happened is that someone messaged me online that Mike Davis, radio host for BBC Punk Radio, dared us to play a hardcore punk song in a reggae style. Now I'm into computer games and had heard 'My War' while playing GTA5 (Grand Theft Auto, an action-adventure video game series, red.). Since that song was stuck in my mind anyway, one day I just switched on the recorder on my phone and started freestyling on my acoustic guitar. When I played back that recording to the rest of the band, they we're immediately very receptive and eventually a final version even found its way to the album."
'This Town', the opening track of 'FM' is a clear homage to everything that makes your hometown London great, but with housing prices ever on the increase and gentrification seeping into areas that were once working-class neighborhoods, how difficult is it to still love this city?
Jonathan Doyle (bass): "(laughs) It's definitely a love-hate relationship, but you can't really deny the history and character of the place. It's a song that perfectly captures the spirit of a lovely summer's day when the city looks at its best!" "
Jamie Kyriakides: "We all grew up there, so even though we all carry love for the city in our hearts, we don't necessarily like what it's become. There's a lot of gentrification and privatization going on, resulting in people being pushed out from the neighborhoods where they grew up in. Even in the East End where living tended to be affordable, things have started to go up since the Olympics."
Josh Waters Rudge: "We've already got plenty of songs that are quite socio-critical and with 'This Town' we really wanted to put a positive spin on things for a change. (laughs)"