|Posted on June 17, 2021 at 11:10 AM|
As a kid, before I discovered punk, one of the ballsiest bands I ever discovered was Nazareth.
Years later when punk broke into my life it came as no surprise that another of such kicks to my rock and roll bollocks came from another band from the same Scottish township of Dunfermline.
So here now many eons later I sit working for the Loonie dollar and though I’m not scared to dance. I find myself a bit giddy as a young fan boy beginning this interview with Mr. Richard Jobson, vocalist, lyricist, and founding member of the Skids.
Billy Hopeless: First of thank you for this honor and privilege. I remember first hearing and seeing the Skids perform Into The Valley when I was a young lad on a local cable access punk T.V. show and have been a fan ever since. But enough idle worship, let’s get moving. Since you first put the pedal down in 1977 you’ve put on the breaks a few times but keep coming back and making new skids. What keeps you skidding ?
Richard Jobson: First of all, thank you for the kind words. It means a lot! The music and words still feel relevant and the energy makes me feel 16 years old again. Most importantly it’s great to meet and communicate with people from different backgrounds and share something we all love: Music!!
BH: And with these starts and stops you’ve had a few understandable blow outs and tire changes in the bands roster so who’s in the lineup now and where did you pick them up?
RJ: The band is made up of original member Bill Simpson on bass and the Watsons from BC on
guitars. They were both big Skids fans and have brought a freshness to the sound that I could never have dreamed of. It also means I don’t have to play guitar and leaves me free to jump about- some people call it dancing but I would never dare.
BH: BC? I’m from BC too. Oh you mean Big Country, of course... So I’m told via this age of modern technology known as the internet that you have a new album of cover songs on the way. Considering you’ve been covered by the likes of U2 and Green Day, it makes me wonder if you’ll cover either of them? Why did you decide to do an album of covers instead of writing a new album and what classics are you putting your own personal skid marks on?
RJ: We are working on a new album of original material but during the Covid crisis we wanted to do something that reminded us of how much our past history in Dunfermline was dangerous but fun. New material is on its way. I’m writing with the Watsons, Hugh Cornwall, Martin Metcalfe and Youth. The covers album is an eclectic mix of punk and beyond. Songs that meant something to us inthe context of our home town.
BH: Wow! Hugh Cornwall that’s Skin Deep indeed. Speaking of influential bands you’ve got some first place upcoming dates with some pretty big names. You’re opening for The Damned, heading a huge roster at Scarborough Punk Festival ( 999, Peter and the Test Tube Babies, The Vibrators, Menace and so forth ) as well as a few dates with yer departed and sorely missed bandmate Stuart’s band Big Country. Do you still get a kick out of playinglive? And if you could share a stage with any artist alive or deadwho would yer bucket list double bill be?
RJ: I love playing live. It’s where it all comes together and has real meaning for me. I love sharing stories and having a laugh with the audience.
We played with most of the great Punk bands but would have lovedto have shared the stage with Iggy. He is still my great hero!! He introduced us on his radio show recently as being a cool band from LA which was very funny!
BH: Now I’m not going to bring up the past controversy the Skids endured back in the 80’s but as in this modern world we have thing the new generation have called cancel culture going on.
As someone who went through the same sort of thing before it was fresh and ground breaking mainstream. Tell us your opinion on censorship versus artistic freedom or in today’s market “cancel culture”.
RJ: People should be allowed to express themselves as long as it does no harm to anyone. I don’t mean over sensitive bullshit but real harm like racism, sexism, and homophobia.
BH: Oh, shit I did just bring up your past controversy ever so slightly and with respect and grace didn’t I ? Well while the inquisition is google searching the bands history let me dance on the eggshells of time a bit more. It was during this situation I understand that British Columbia’s (hopefully they haven’t changed the provincial name before this comes out) own producer extraordinaire Bruce Fairburn was brought in as part of the clean-up crew. What do you remember of working with Sir Bruce of Fairburn?
RJ: Virgin Records didn’t like the Bill Nelson mix of Days in Europa. Bruce stepped in and did a fine job highlighting the guitar work of Stuart Adamson. The two mixes were always available. Some critics accused me of Nazi Fetishism because of the original sleeve. The same critics who loved JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER!. The original album was never withdrawn because of the artwork.
That’s a myth. I was living in Berlin at the time and found an old poster in a flea market which we used. The album was originally going to be called The Olympian. I changed it to Days in Europa because I used to wait for my German girlfriend every day after work in Berlin at The Europa Centre where she worked.
BH: Sorry you had to bring that up again. Well, I’m sure that’s all-troubled water under the bridge now as Paul Simon says so let’s stay current. From my own bands personal experience this whole Covid spill happened with no warning. It was all smooth sailing and then whammo stuck I’m the muck. How have you been coping with the shit situation and have you been keeping yourself musically occupied ?
RJ: I’ve been writing lots. Finished two new books and the new Skids album Songs from a Haunted Ballroom. I move between the UK and Berlin and have been stuck in England during the pandemic.
The country is undergoing a massive political and cultural transformation, and it’s not good. Our politicians are lying bastards yet the Englishpublic love them. It’s terrible.
BH: I still haven’t found an honest politician and don’t think they exist. Thank God for the modern advancements, couldn’t imagine going through this without the computer phone. Speaking of which, once again via the interweb I keep seeing these posts saying vinyl is outselling digital music.
Since we both come from when the only choices of obtaining music were in physical forms such as the vinyl record and I see your albums are all out in vinyl past and present. Tell us do you still spin the sounds on a turntable or have you got down to the loaded files ?
RJ : I love vinyl. The amazing sleeves that we grew up with from different bands defined a new kind of graphic art. Especially punk.
BH: Especially Punk that’s a great album title. Well thank you again for your time tolerance and music. This brings us to the traditional reader email in question. Today’s question comes from little Steven Vincent of Scotland
Rocks Radio who writes: Hi Richard, did you ever think when you played that first ever gig at the Bellville Hotel that you would have themusical legacy you have now ?
RJ: Hi Steven. I’m surprised to still be alive and doing things. I have had the condition of epilepsy since childhood and I always thought I would never make it past 20. Each night on stage I treated it like it might be the last. That’s still the case today which for me at least makes each Skidsgig unique and full of unbridled joy!
Well kids, there ya have it, we’ve skidded out of room in this month’s column. So until the next case of hoplessness let me tell you this...After our conversation those swell people at Cleopatra Records sent me a play copy of the new Skids Cover album and it rules from the first ripping run from Ultravox’s Young Savage till the closing number. Not only do they do great classics by bands such as The Clash and The Adverts justice but they burn em with the eternal flamethrower of punk rock like a newly born bunch of anarchist arsonists!
So Good to hear a band that was there back in the birth nowhere ready to retire but screaming open