It takes a story to sell records, and British blues-rock trio Band of Skulls has plenty of them: Frontman Russell Marsden survived a fall through a glacier, bassist Emma Richardson won medals for England as a swimmer, and drummer Matt Hayward played tennis with John McEnroe. The trick is determining which ones are true.
“Basically, our manager was so unimpressed with our life stories that he made a couple of interesting ones up,” Marsden said in a recent phone call. “There are a couple of true stories in there, though, and the glacier is one of them. If I’ve got nine lives, I definitely used one up that day. My poor mother, as we say in England, was having kittens.”
Arriving on the international scene with the one-two punch of an iTunes “Single of the Week” and a song on the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack, the trio have more recently garnered attention with a series of head-turning performances at SXSW—including one tiring three-show day. But after putting together their compellingly dynamic and charmingly syncopated debut Baby Darling Doll Face Honey on a tight deadline that made writing and recording a speedy process, the group knows how to get a lot done quickly.
“I think it’s good that we weren’t poring over it and tweaking it to the nth degree,” Marsden said. “That was our first record, and we made it in a small amount of time and at a modest studio. The energy is still in that record.”
After the tour ends, Marsden envisions a secluded mountain retreat where the bandmates can show-and-tell material, created during the past year of nearly nonstop touring, to jump-start Band of Skulls’ songwriting process for the new album—involving all three members, just as it always has.
“It’s almost like a game of poker,” he said. “Everyone’s got their cards close to their chest. We’re a different band now after touring nonstop after the release, so it’ll be interesting to hear how different we sound.”
Even after appearances at the Capitol Hill Block Party and Neumos, Band of Skulls don’t recall much about their previous trips to Seattle—though Marsden does have fond memories from Belltown’s Hurricane Cafe, the only place he has ever beat Hayward at pool. By all indications, that’s a true story.