Josh, Jamie, am I right in stating it all started for you guys at Woodbridge High School?
Josh Waters Rudge (guitar & vocals): "Well, basically we're all from East-London, from the Burroughs of Redbridge and Waltham Forest. David Beckham is also from there, Lethal Bizzle as well and I shouldn't leave out East 17 of course! As you just mentioned we all went to the same school, Woodbridge High School, a comprehensive high school which mainly attracts youths from the surrounding area with a big array of different cultures and ethnicities."
The image a lot of people outside of the UK will have of the London East End will probably look like the set of 'Eastenders', but what does being an "east ender" mean for you guys?
Josh Waters Rudge: "These days the East End of London has become a multi-ethnic society, so I think the archetypical "east ender" of back in the days doesn't really exist anymore. Like any place in a big city it has its ups and its downs, but I always found it to be a great place to grow up in."
Jamie Kyriakides (drums & vocals): "East London definitely has its rough parts, but when you're from an area like that it all becomes part of the character of the place."
Josh Waters Rudge: "It's always changing as well. Area's that were still considered rough a few years ago have now been redeveloped, a process referred to as gentrification (controversial topic and term in urban planning, referring to shifts in an urban community lifestyle and an increasing share of wealthier residents and/or businesses and increasing property values, red.). (laughs) There's also always new waves of people coming into East London as it has always been an area that seems to attract migrants."
When you guys started out, Mike Davies, a well-known punk deejay on BBC Radio 1, gave your music a push by playing it on his Punk Show. How important would you say has his airplay been for The Skints?
Jamie Kyriakides: "Very important! His Punk Show has just been cancelled and that's a real shame, because over the years it's meant so much for so many people looking for music that was a little bit outside of the boundaries of what you would normally hear on the radio."
Josh Waters Rudge: "His show was initially called The Lock Up and he wasn't just playing punk, but also punk rock, hip-hop, reggae, jungle… really the things we were also into, you know. It's not like the punk scene won't survive without his show, but in the British media it's really the only acknowledgement of that music genre. It's a true shame it's disappearing and we feel privileged that Mike respected us enough to play our music on his show."
Jamie Kyriakides: "In that respect you could definitely compare him to John Peel, who did similar things for reggae back in his day, playing music other radio deejays wouldn't dare to touch and displaying a genuine love for the music."
I think most people outside of the UK will have gotten to know The Skints through the release of your 'Part & Parcel' album in 2012, but you guys did already do an album before that one as well ('Live.Breathe.Build.Believe', Rebel Alliance/Bomber Music, 2009/2010, red.). Could you quickly compare the two?
Josh Waters Rudge: "Well, the main difference from our end was that we recorded the first album in just five days with a budget of barely a thousand pounds, when 'Part & Parcel' took a lot longer and we also hooked up with Prince Fatty, who we knew could give us that reggae sound we were after."
Would you say it was a conscious choice to collaborate with Prince Fatty and hence opting for a more reggae-based sound?
Josh Waters Rudge: "I wouldn't put it as strongly as that, because even though our first album was definitely more punk-influenced, it was more of a natural progression, a direction the band was evolving in anyway. We've never been about emulating the past and have always tried to give that reggae sound our own personal spin and in that perspective, working with Prince Fatty made absolute sense."
For 'Part & Parcel' you guys decided to go the crowdfunding route, which worked a charm as you succeeded in reaching your required target in just over a weeks' time. Was that a one-time experiment or would you consider doing it again?
Josh Waters Rudge: "We're still working on our next album and up to this point we've completely financed it ourselves. For 'Part & Parcel' the crowdfunding thing was really our only option as we didn't have the funds ourselves and didn't feel like signing with a label either. Fortunately we had a loyal fan base we could turn to, but personally I don't think it's something you can repeat over and over again. We also didn't face the same financial restraints this time around, so there wasn't that necessity either."
The 'Part & Parcel' album was eventually distributed in Europe by Soulbeats Records though.
Josh Waters Rudge: "Right, and in the UK we licensed it to Bomber Music. It's not that we're against working with a label, but we absolutely value our creative freedom whilst recording an album."
Jamie Kyriakides: "Basically, we don't really like people telling us what we can and can't do! (laughs)"
One track that perhaps gave the album that extra push it needed was 'On A Mission', your cover of the Kathy B tune of the same name.
Josh Waters Rudge: "Well, actually that track wasn't even on the original version of the album. We recorded it a couple months after we'd finished the album. We just heard the song one day and felt it would sound cool if we'd give it a reggae spin. All the covers we'd done previously had been covers of reggae songs, so it was our first attempt at giving a non-reggae song a reggae makeover. That being said, 'On A Mission' is still dubstep, which is derived from dub and reggae, so it wasn't that big a step either."
What does the 'Part & Parcel' title actually refer to?
Josh Waters Rudge: "That's actually an English expression to indicate that some things, whether they are good or bad, are all part of the experience, of the road one has to travel to reach ones goals."
Your music is often compared to that of 2Tone era bands like The Specials or The Selecter. What do you guys think of that comparison?
Josh Waters Rudge: "The Specials are one of our all-time favorite bands, but I don't think our style is comparable to 2Tone. Obviously we're also an English band, which differentiates our music from the reggae coming out of Jamaica and perhaps that was also something that could be said of bands like The Specials and The Selecter."
Jamie Kyriakides: "From an outsider’s perspective I can understand that comparison, and even if we're definitely trying to do our own thing, I still consider it a compliment to be compared to these bands."
Josh Waters Rudge: "I totally agree; the 2Tone era has been hugely important in the development of English music and culture, something that goes way beyond just punk and ska. It's a humbling experience for us to be compared to those bands."
You just released the brand new 'Short Change' EP, which offers three quite dissimilar sounding tracks.
Josh Waters Rudge: "To be perfectly honest, we recorded the tracks for the EP in just a few days, with the main intention of putting some new songs out there. We didn't work with either of the producers we're collaborating with for the new album, but opted to work with Jonathan Quarmby instead. We also collaborated with a hip hop artist called Jovel Walker and had a stab at doing a little dancehall with 'Broken Hearted', so I guess in that perspective you weren't wrong. It was kind of interesting, because we'd never really experimented with other genres as much as we did for the songs on the 'Short Change' EP. I guess the more time you spend in a studio, the more you keep learning and growing as a band."