The Skapones

“We were born as Ska boys and we’ll die as Ska boys” Artist Spotlight: The Skapones by Damian Robinson

Darlington 2 Tone and Ska specialists, The Skapones, have spent the past few years ‘quietly’ taking over the Ska world with their blend of infectious, upbeat, punk-tinged, good time, rock ‘n’ roll. We say ‘quietly’ as the self-confessed ‘ultimate party band’ are, in fact, anything but quiet.

Originally created to play the style of music and 2 Tone anthems that the members of the band were brought up on, they’ve since progressed to creating their own sounds and foot-stomping tunes with the modus operandi of making people dance and smile.

Scheduled for release in early 2018, the band’s debut album of original material, ‘From Cradle to Grave’, is already gaining considerable interest and excitement in 2 Tone land, particularly as a result of its preceding singles and list of collaborators.

Carrying on 2 Tone’s tradition of being a genre ‘for the people, by the people’, early single releases included the politically-charged ‘Cost Of A Barrel’, a track inspired by the Manchester terrorist attack and focused on the stupidity of hate and fundamentalism.

Featuring and produced by all-round legend of The Specials, Mr. Lynval Golding, and engineered by former Special Mark Adams, the track has the core Ska ingredients of sticking your finger up to anyone wanting to divide society, whilst making you dance yourself into a state.

When I caught up with frontman Paul Williams recently, he confirmed that work with Lynval (who is now based in Seattle, USA) had been done remotely and that he had especially gone out and bought a new harmonica for the track, which he used to create the single’s haunting sound. The band is hoping to grab the Special on his next tour of the UK to record additional vocals. As Paul said: “It’s surreal you know – we had pictures of this guy on our bedroom wall when we were 13.”

Carrying on the maintenance of classic punk and Ska principles, ‘From Cradle to Grave’ will be self-released on the bands’ own Cosa Nostra record label. Furthermore, it will be produced by Tinkerman, a specialist in ska, reggae & dub who has produced a dub remix of the bands’ ‘Midnight Ravers’ track.

Providing an insight into the album, Paul was also able to confirm that the title track ‘From Cradle to Grave’ will precede the album and will be released on 7″ vinyl joint Double AA side in early 2018. There will also be 2 nights of launch parties, one in Darlington (Feb 9th) and the other in Edinburgh (Feb 10th).

Taking its theme from 2 Toners who have loved the genre for life, Paul added: “The title came from our guitarist Mark Wilson and is simply about what we are – Ska boys all our lives, from cradle to grave so to speak. We were born as Ska boys and we’ll die as Ska boys!”

Also appearing on the album will be ‘Skabilly Yell’, a track featuring another Specials legend in Mr. Roddy Radiation Byers on guitar and some vocals. Speaking to Paul, he also noted that the band are keen to bring in ex Bad Manners & Selecter man, Nick Welsh (AKA, King Hammond) at some stage.

Summing up their sound, the final word has to come from Paul: “We’ve drawn on some Ska knees up stuff, a lot of political comment, soul searching stuff, and hard-hitting personal stuff – it has got the lot. Ska, by its own place in history and development, is rebel music, anti-authority, and we’ve tried to maintain that.”

Watch out for the album to be released and the preceding single to drop early next year, including their 2 nights of launch parties (Darlington on Feb 9th and Edinburgh on Feb 10th).

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