The city of Vancouver has a unique landscape. I’m not talking about the mountains to the north or the Pacific ocean to the west; I am referring to the musical landscape in this city. A weird coincidence that has occurred is the difference between venues on the West Side of Granville Street and the ones on the East Side. Smaller and mid-sized live music venues like VENUE and Joe’s Apartment are on the West Side. While over on the East, The Commodore Ballroom, The Orpheum and The Vogue Theatres. This East/West divide has created almost a benchmark for live bands to see how big their fan base is here in Vancouver. Countless bands have come through Vancouver and played to packed houses at VENUE. Sure enough, for most of them, the next time they come to Vancouver they are playing on the East side. A band that has recently made the move across the street is English rockers Band of Skulls.
I got to sit down with guitarist Russell Hayward and bassist Emma Richardson from Band of Skulls prior to their recent sold out show in Vancouver. When I asked them about playing here yet again Russell chimed in “It’s always been a great audience here. It’s a town and a gig that we always look forward to. Even in the early days we always had such great support here”. “We have some good memories here in Vancouver as well. I remember lots of time spent at the Morrissey bar.” added Emma.
The trio was near the tail end of their tour when I caught up with them here in Vancouver. The tour actually finished off at Coachella this year. This got me thinking, if they are ending their tour at a music festival, does this mean they will enjoy some of the other bands? “There is a sense of togetherness that happens. You get all these bands together, who are all on tour, there all for the same reason; makes you feel like you are a part of a much bigger picture. It can be tough. Even not at festivals you’ll have bands in town you want to see. Last week for instance, we were in Seattle and Radiohead was playing the same night as we were. That was a gig we would have bitten people’s arms off to get into.” explained Russell. Later Emma admitted “This time at Coachella might be the first time we get to stick around and see some bands. Well in the evening at least.”
What else could a band ask for? Ending a tour at Coachella and catching Radiohead. This surely must mean a summer break for the band that has toured vigorously over the past 3 years. Russell explained that it won’t quite be like that “Summer is coming in Europe so that means the Festivals are coming up. We are looking to do a small tour to get ready for those festivals. Hopefully play out the year doing small tours, the festivals and writing. Then in the new year reconvene to make some new music.”
Staying on the topic of new music, Russell shared “I’m hoping it is quicker this time (recording a new album). With the first album we were on the road almost for two entire years. That was a great way to get out and make lot’s of new fans. This time we are trying to just go everywhere once then make a new record.” It might be hard for the band to stay off the road this time around. This is for reasons you might not expect – “We finally got up to tour bus status as a band. Which is a first for any of us. Now we spend a lot of time sleeping.” joked Emma. Russell then chimed in “Well, we’ve been catching up on two years of deprivation on the road. It has made touring Canada and the United States quite a bit different. I think we had done four tours through in a van. I feel like we’ve paid our dues. Plus now we are getting more time in the cities we are playing in”.
Whether they were crammed in a van driving to small venues like VENUE, or relaxing in a tour bus en route to The Commodore, Band of Skulls always bring a great energy to their live shows. Despite what Russell said, I feel like it won’t be too long before the band comes back across the atlantic to tour again. I have my money on winter tour 2012. Regardless of when the next show in Vancouver is, I can guarantee you I’ll be there yet again.