Lock The Streets, Pulp and Arctic Monkeys in a room, throw in a Seamus Heaney or John Cooper Clarke anthology and what would you get? A right mess is the obvious answer, although you might also end up with something like Love, And Other Catastrophes, the rather wonderful debut album from Skint And Demoralised.
Born out of MySpace a mere two years ago, S&D is made up of front man Matt Abbott (above), a poet from Wakefield, and furtive producer/musician MiNI dOG, who hails from nearby Sheffield. Their sound fuses Abbott’s relatable, everyman prose with MiNI dOG’s guitar-heavy hooks to produce what we'd describe as kitchen sink northern soul. And since it's become something of an Esquire office favourite (check out their MySpace page), we decided to track down Abbott to find out more...
ESQUIRE: There is a horrifying phrase used in your press release: “drive-time friendly harmonies.” It’s safe to say your album is definitely less Magic FM than this implies...
MATT ABBOTT: Well, I mean we do like melodies, you know, we do want it to be catchy. We’ve both got this kind of guilty pleasure for pop music. But we weren’t going for a drivetime, commercial, middle of the road kind of album. It’s pop music in the more classic form. It’s catchy and you’re tapping your feet to it and it’s got melodies.
ESQ: Listening to the album is like spending a year in your life. How long was Love, And Other Catastrophies in the making?
MA: The oldest song was March 2007 and I finished writing it in March 2008, so, yeah, it basically is a year in my life! It took a year to write and about a year to record so when it comes out the songs will be about two years old, but I’m hoping it’s still going to be quite relevant in that, like, we’ve tried to put in references from the Sixties and Seventies and to make it sound quite fresh and contemporary. I’m hoping that it doesn’t belong to a certain craze. Even though I’ve changed a lot since some of those songs, I can still appreciate that it is a relevant depiction of that time in my life. It’s like the diary of an 18-year-old lad.
ESQ: Can you tell us anything about MiNi dOG, the mysterious other member of Skint And Demoralised?
MA: MiNI dOG’s been in and out of the music industry probably for 15 years. He got to the stage where he wanted to take a back seat. He just wants to be recognised for his song writing and his production. He produced the album and mixed a lot of tracks and he is an amazingly talented man. He doesn’t want any of the spotlight and I think it adds a certain twist to it. It adds a bit of mystery, a bit of intrigue.
ESQ: The rhyming updates on your Twitter site (mattskint) are pretty cool. Do you plan on making a song out of them?
MA: It might be worth looking at, it could form an interesting medley! As you’ve seen I rhyme all day. At any given time I can write a blog and that’ll inspire a poem. I think it’s handy to rhyme 24/7, to keep yourself in that frame of mind. It would be quite funny to compile those Tweets, there have been some good ones…
ESQ: We can give you space for some shameless album promotion, but you have to do it in the form of a rhyming couplet. Bonus points if you rhyme something with “Esquire”…
MA: The songs are two year old, but I hope they’ll never tire / You can see the link to the blog on the website for Esquire / Go to the shops when the summer is over / the album is out on the 5th of October.
ESQ: We'll take that. Nice work.
Skint And Demoralised’s new single "Red Lipstick" is out on July 13. The album Love, And Other Catastrophes follows on October 5.
Interview by Nicholas Carvell