Once more Into The Valley...

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We don’t want to take fans on a nostalgic trip back to 1977,” Richard Jobson said speaking of the Skids’ anniversary tour, when I caught up with him for a chat.

The frontman will be joined by Bill Simpson, Mike Baillie and Bruce and Jamie Watson from Big Country as the band embark on an extensive tour of Scotland which gets underway next month.

“We first announced that we would be doing just one date to mark our 40th anniversary, “Richard said. “But then we were inundated with pleas to do more of a tour so instead of a one-off date we are now on the road until January next year – we certainly never saw that coming!

It’s really grown and we are really excited about it. There was some trepidation of doing anything to mark 40 years as it seems that every punk band and his dog from the 1977 era are doing something, and we didn’t want to just be a heritage band, a trip back to the good old days of punk. Taking these memories and replanting them into 2017 has not been easy,” Richard continued.

“How do you do it? How should it sound? Are we little more than a heritage band? These were the questions rattling around my head as I tried to find a way to celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary. The answers ended up being very simple , really – don’t overthink it, just do it. Enjoy every minute of it. And that’s exactly what we intend to do. ‘77 was a great time to be in The Skids, and I think this tour will be special. Very special!”

Fans will be able to catch the band in Glasgow, Dunfermline, Montrose, Aberdeen and more in the coming months, meaning there is ample opportunity to see The Skids do what they do best – entertain.

“In terms of the venues, we’ve very realistic,” Richard said. “I think there’s an audience who want to see us play live, because that’s when the music comes alive. I think we always needed a connection with the audience and these venues will allow that.

“The Skids were not just another punk band – we were creatively ambitious as well as being close to the core beliefs of our hard-won fans. But most importantly we loved playing live.

“So it’s very much shaping up to be a fantastic tour for us and I hope that is a feeling that our fans share.”

Richard was just a young lad of 16 when he joined The Skids, accompanied by Stuart Adamson, Bill Simpson and Tom Kellichan.

After releasing an independent single the band were played by John Peel, supported The Clash and then were signed to Virgin Records in 1978. From 1979 to 1981 they enjoyed great success before going their separate ways. They briefly reformed in 2007 to celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary with concerts at T in the Park and in their hometown of Dunfermline.

Looking back, Richard reflects on the numerous adventures the band would take him on over the next four decades.

“The Skids was the definitive part of my early life. A brilliant adventure into the world of creativity and adulthood,” he said. I was a kid when I joined the band in 1977 – 16-years-old, such a young age to be getting involved with punk.

“By the time the adventure had run aground, I was a dazed and confused young man. We were fearless in the beginning, always trying new things and not afraid to be different in a musical world that was beginning to sound very derivative and safe. Growing up in a central Fife mining town the only career paths were going down the mines, getting a job at Rosyth dockyards or signing up to join the Army. That’s all we had, things weren’t like they are now with loads of opportunities out there for youngsters. Forming a punk band was definitely not the norm from where I was from. I was different, but I think that helped me get the confidence to do what I did with the band. I gave all the interviews and that obviously needed confidence and a certain degree of self-assurance to be able to talk about the group and try and sell us to the public.”

Being different was a good thing – and still is – Bowie and Lou said it was, anyway...

“Exactly!” Richard agreed. “Growing up I listened to Bowie and Lou Reed and they said it was okay to be different, to wear different clothes. Why be like everyone else? And punk was a cornerstone of that. Punk was a contradiction of real life and acting – and you needed some very big balls to act like a punk rock star and live that lifestyle. When the two ignite at the same time, there will only ever be one outcome – punk rock at its finest. And that’s what The Skids were. We were a really great band, if I do say so myself!” he added cheekily.

Not only will Richard and Co. be entertaining the crowds up and down the country over the next few months, we also have a new album from the band to look forward to.

“The first song that we put out there as a teaser of what’s to come from our new record, ‘Burning Cities’, isn’t even the best song on the album!” Richard laughed. “So if that is anything to go by then we are onto a winner, aren’t we? We hope to slip in at least a couple of new songs on the tour and that’s a good way to gauge a reaction, he continued.

“I’m not nervous about it, more excited. It’s a privilege to still be able to go out there and record some new music as well as still sell so many tickets to our shows.”

And there won’t be too a long await for the new material as it’s expected to hit the shelves sometime this summer.

“I hope to have the new album out at the end of July; it won’t be any later than that I would imagine,” Richard said. “There is so much excitement surrounding the release and that’s actually quite catching. I’m excited myself about getting it out there.

“There is so much material from the world around us as topics for songs so we weren’t short of anything to write or sing about. We had a wealth of material at our fingertips be it good and bad.

“It’s still us, it’s still The Skids, but with a more contemporary feel and sound, I would say,” he continued “There’s a much more mature and up-to-date feel our new music, we have to change with the times. But as with everything that we do, our heart is still right there in the centre.

“So we will be out there playing the songs like it might be the last time; giving it everything. And then... there’s the new stuff!

“The beginning of something new rather than the end of something old. Here we go!”

Catch The Skids when they play Dunfermline PJ Molloys (May 3 and 4), Edinburgh Liquid Rooms (May 5), Glasgow O2 ABC (May 6), Montrose Town Hall (June 29), Dunfermline Glen Pavilion (June 30), Midfest, Dalkeith (September 2), Inverness The Ironworks (October 4) and Dundee BeatGenerator (October 5).

For more information and to book your tickets, visit www.theskids.com/.