Skellums know about working hard to achieve your dreams. Since forming in 2015 the band have independently released a handful of singles on their own lable Rent & Debt records, selling out all physical copies of each release. Their latest single ‘If You Have To Leave’ is currently being play-listed on stations across the globe.
The band continue to tour across the UK, looking to tour further afield in 2018. Not to mention their indie pop rock tunes have earned them massive airplay worldwide. Epic Earworm’ s Helen Weston caught up with lead singer, guitarist and frontman Cal to discuss new single ‘If You Have To Leave’, stage versus studio, touring and having a DIY approach to your music career.
Epic Earworm (Helen Weston): Hi Skellums, please introduce yourselves and tell us what you play?
Cal (Lead Vocals/Guitar): Hi Helen, I’m Cal, I play guitar and sing, we have Crichton on bass and Chris on drums.
Epic Earworm: You guys are based in North Wales and Liverpool but which music scene do you call ‘home’?
Cal: To be honest we don’t really think of stuff like that. The UK isn’t that big and with a bit of planning you can go anywhere and do anything with relative ease. Last month we got in the van, drove down to London, played half an hour and drove straight back. With the internet and social media, the whole country is our home town. Some of our best gigs have been up in Scotland so that says it all really.
Epic Earworm: Your biography says you formed because there was ‘nothing else to do’ but was music always on the cards?
Cal: I can’t do anything else, I’m not wired to do anything different. I left school with all top grades, university was calling and the road was laid out in front of me. I knew it wasn’t for me. I just got my own place and started setting up my studio. Music is in my blood. It’s the colour of my skin. I tried to get a job in a shop to help with the bills and it just melted my brain. I clashed with the owner and just walked out. I wish I could do it, there’s something honourable about getting up and toiling sweat and blood and collecting a wage at the end of the week but I’m not built that way. It’s music or nothing. There is no plan B.
Epic Earworm: Who were the bands looked up to?
Cal: Growing up we were all into punk, from the late 70’s British and New York stuff, through to bands like Nirvana, right up to the modern pop punk radio stuff. I think that whole thing of just doing whatever the hell you wanted was really exciting to us. Then I discovered The Cribs, and their first two albums just blew me away. It sounded like musical freedom. Totally inefficient sounding but with more heart and soul than anything else at the time. There’s something really attractive about that.
Epic Earworm: You’re all about the DIY music scene. What are your top tips for young musicians starting out?
Cal: Don’t wait around for anyone. You have two things going for you. Your talent and your youth, and both of them belong to you and no one else. Do what you want to do and let the world chase you.
Epic Earworm: Does having your own label make it easier to put out music or add extra work?
Cal: 100% easier. We can be as poppy or as sloppy as we want. As long as the song is cool we can release it. Don’t get me wrong, Itd be nice to have a few thousand quid to throw at marketing a single but I’d sooner be skint with creative control than wealthy and being told what I can and cannot do.
Epic Earworm: Did you follow the DIY route out of necessity or wanting to have more creative control?
Cal: Basically, when I was playing solo, just a boy and his guitar, I got approached by someone from Polydor, Liam from The Courteeners had set it up and I was proper excited and thought I was on my way to mansions in the Hollywood hills and all that. Due to some mix up at the venue where the showcase was going to be, it all fell through and wrecked my brain. After that a similar thing happened with Sony and I just couldn’t be arsed leaving my destiny in the hands of someone in a suit. Rent & Debt was something I’d said for years when people asked what I’d been up to so when we decided to see up the label it was the obvious choice.
Epic Earworm: What was the songwriting process behind your new single ‘If You Have To Leave?’
Cal: I write songs every day, just me and the acoustic. That song was written at the peak of this relationship I was in. I was the happiest I had ever been but the pessimist man child in me knew it was too good to last. Lo and behold a few years later and we’ve separated. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy I guess. I’m this bi polar weirdo and can’t just accept that things are going ok. There’s always this voice in my head saying “how will you feel when this fucks up? Because it always does”
Epic Earworm: Do you have preference between the stage or the studio?
Cal: They’re two totally different things and I’m always trying to meld them together. In my studio at home I’m trying to make everything sound modern and cool and engaging. Live all that just goes out of the window. All our punk influences spew out and it’s just carnage every time. Things ALWAYS break and it usually descends into chaos. I love all that stuff. Hiding pop songs under all the fuzz.
Epic Earworm: Which bands would you most want to tour with?
Cal: For me personally it’s The Cribs, they have the DIY punk ethic, but aren’t afraid of a pop song, and they’re phenomenal live. I’ve seen them more times than I remember and it’d be awesome to get involved with them.
What festival would you most like to play?
Cal: We’ve done a load of those metropolitan festivals, where all the venues across a city put music on, and they’re cool, but a rainy field in the middle of nowhere is where it’s at. I’ve just come back from Festival Number 6 and would have loved to have done that. Covered in mud and piss and beer. Rolling round in a mess. Glastonbury, Leeds, Reading, Bestival, get in touch.
What’s coming up next for Skellums?
Cal: Keep throwing out singles and weird videos, keep gigging, eating, breathing, making music. I’ve been recording a few other artists in my studio and would like to release some of that in the near future. Total world domination is probably somewhere in the back of my mind but until then I’m just happy to be out of the house.
‘If You Have To Leave’ is out September 15 via Rent & Debt records. Pre-Order a digital or physical CD copy from Skellum’s BandCamp page.