Skarlett Riot

Pre-Gig Interview

The Cavern Exeter 16th July 2013

Not only was I lucky enough to get to see Heaven’s Basement on their recent tour (many nights were sold out), but I was also fortunate enough to grab a few words with Skarlett, Danny, Tom and Luke from opening act Skarlett Riot, who are going down a storm on this tour, promoting their superb debut album ‘Tear Me Down’.

I was a little apprehensive after reading the PR blurb about them being ‘full of confidence’, etc. I’ll admit, I read it as ‘cocksure’. In the event, we had an easy-going, friendly chat away from the noise and hubbub of sound check. After the introductions, I started by asking how Skarlett Riot came about.

Danny – “We grew up just down the road from each other in Scunthorpe. We’ve been in bands together since… 2006?… As a covers band.” almost apologetically.

Nothing wrong with that. (I was in a covers band, and loved every bloody minute of it!).

Skarlett – “It’s a great way to find your feet, learn the ‘craft’ of performing, and learn about each other”
Danny – “…and it led to Skarlett Riot in 2010, all still original members!”

Skarlett Riot

I have to get it out of the way, and I decide to drop The ‘P’ bomb! Any female-fronted melodic modern rock band is likely to draw comparisons to Paramore… Skarlett rolls her eyes. “Bugger! This is going to go frosty, quickly”, I’m thinking. Bravely, I look again, and she’s got a smirk on her face. Phew!

Danny – “To be fair, they’re not a bad band to be compared to. They’re doing all right,aren’t they?”

Having listened to the album (and the earlier ‘Villain’ EP), I can see why the comparison might irk a little. Peel away the superficial similarities, and you’ll find Skarlett Riot are a completely different beast. Unfortunately, lazy pigeonholing means the comparison has been made before, and probably will again.

Skarlett Riot.

I ask how the album is doing…

All – “Yeah, Really well…”, they agree, smiling and nodding.
Danny – “We’ve had some great reviews from some of the top mags. It been great.” I still like the whole concept of listening to a new album, of taking the journey with the band – Danny agrees.

So, was the album recorded as ‘an album’?

Skarlett – “We chose the tracks for the album on each songs merits as a potential single. We don’t do album ‘filler.”
Danny – “We had some more ideas for songs almost straight after the album launched.”
Skarlett – “ooh… We’ve got a few corkers, there.”

Any chance of sampling the new stuff?

Skarlett – “Yeah. There’s one tonight, actually. Third song in.”
Danny- “It’s a bit more of a return to our earlier ‘heavier’ side. If you listen to the difference between the ‘Villain’ and ‘Tear Me Down’, the album is definitely ‘softer.”

Was that a conscious decision?

Danny – “No. Not at all.”
Skarlett – “With the album, we locked ourselves away and jammed it through from scratch, song by song. Those songs are a product of where we were, at that time. I thinks it’s our best material yet.” No arguments from this corner.

Danny – “The pressure of a self-imposed deadline seems to have brought out the best in us.”

Some bands debut album is a collection of songs that have been honed and worked over a number of years.

Skarlett – “I think you can over-work a song. We’ve been guilty of that before,and we’ve just ended up scrapping it all together.”
Danny – “We wrote a song a week, and recorded it a song a day. We’re very happy with how it turned out.”
Skarlett – “It’s kept the energy. Caught us in a moment”
Danny – “I mean, we could’ve gone the Def Leppard route, which,don’t get me wrong,still sounds fantastic…”

Skarlett does a pantomime ‘secret point’, and mouths “Def Leppard fan!” Eeewwwww! (I’m kidding!)

Danny stops, regroups, rethinks…

Danny – “Yeah, the 80’s influenced me…”, Skarlett, too, as it turns out. I also learn that the rhythm section, Luke (drums) and Tom (bass) are more into, and I quote, ‘the screamo, heavy stuff.’

Skarlett Riot..

I turn my attention to the tour.

Danny – “It’s been rammed!”
Skarlett – “Near enough sold out each night. Amazing!”
Danny – “The crowds have been really up for it too.”
Luke – “There’s been a really good vibe, both from the stage, and from the crowds. I think you need to throw some energy out there initially, and we’ve found,particularly on this tour, the crowds are giving it back… And then some!”

There’s been a lot of hot, sweaty shows?

Tom – “Yeah… and there’s not even respite in the van! We’ve got no air con, and a dodgy window!”
Skarlett- “We practically melted traveling down here to Exeter!”

So what’s left on this tour?

Skarlett – “We’ve got a couple of sold out London shows. We’re main support for those.”
Danny – “The numbers we’ve seen at the gate is a great result in these times, when money’s tight, and there’s so much competition. We’ve noticed a broad age range too, which is great.”
Skarlett – “Yeah, the younger gig goers spread the word through social media, and the older fans buy the merch!” she laughs.
Danny – “Any way the word gets around, we’ll take that.”

And after this tour, what’s in the immediate future for Skarlett Riot?

Danny – “Well, we’ve got School’s Out Festival, a headline tour towards the end of the year, and Hard Rock Hell at the end of November.”

Main stage?

Danny – “Who knows…”
Skarlett – “That’d be nice, wouldn’t it?” winks and smiles….and a future album?

Skarlett – “We’ve got nothing fixed yet, but we’re bouncing ideas around.:
Danny – “Yeah, we’ve got a few ideas on the back burner.”

On the strength of what I’ve heard so far, that can only be good news. We sidle back into the venue, where it’s getting close to showtime. The band do their final prep, and I stake my claim to a spot, front and center.

Bring the noise! I’ve got a good feeling about tonight…

Interview and Photography by Rob Nankivell (Shoot Plymouth)