Interview: Skinny Sumo

Interview: Jared Wilson
Friday 29 April 2005
reading time: min, words

This Friday at the Malt Cross is your monthly fix of live local music featuring Skinny Sumo and Alligator

Skinny Sumo are a seven-piece live Drum and Bass / hiphop band from Nottingham. They've had their fair share of successes over the last few years, from winning a battle of the bands at Rock City, to playing Glastonbury with Morcheeba and recording at Abbey Road and Maida Vale studios.

They're performing at this month's LeftLion presents alongside Alligator and are likely to raise the fine ornate glass roof of the Malt Cross. We caught up with drummer Sharkboi for a chat about what makes the band tick...

Describe the Skinny Sumo style to us...

An amalgamation of many styles including reggae, hip hop, drum and bass, electro, indie, folk and Blur…….

Tell us a little bit about each of the band members...

Ed does vocals, keyboards, melodica, guitar. He is an indie-type bloke, an original member who brings a very different element to our sound and songwriting. He also has a good collection of hats, children and Adidas-ware.

Bears plays Bass and Keyboards. By day he is a green fingered florist, by night he has the strength of 10bears. He is an original member who can play bass and keyboards at the same time!!!

Barron D does vocals. He is the “lyrical park ranger” and loves to rap everywhere; on the karzie, by the river, at work, you name it. He is vailable for parties, weddings and cruise ships.

Luke is a DJ. He is a new member, sound as a pound, and comes all the way from Leicester. Sometimes he has an excellent afro.

Mizz LSG is an overexcited, teenage looking youth with a talent for rapping and jumping around a stage for 60 minutes.

DJ Riot is a part-time member who has been to Bosnia with us and performed at several other venues. He is a DJ/Producer in his own right and co-inventor of the phrase “Hot Coins”

Sharkboi is the Drummer. He organises most things, gigs, tries to produce the music and drives the band. He is prone to stress and consequent meltdown.

Where did you meet each other?

Ed, Mike and Bears met at college back in 1998/9 we were doing contemporary popular music on an Access to Music course. Barron D turned up a little after that as did our first DJ, Pat (Strike) who was friends with Ed. Barron’s bro “Ninja” was also in the band till 2002 but then left. Mizz LSG Joined around 2002/3 and was introduced to us by Barron D. Luke was a student on a course that Mike teaches on and joined when we parted with Strike. Danny also teaches with Mike.

Let us know a bit about the 'Access to Music' scheme. What did it involve?

The course involved instrument tuition, as well as studying composition, notation, the Music Business, Music History, and Music Technology. Access to Music recognised our potential and we then moved on to another ATM course which was an NVQ4 in performance development. It was at this point that they really sort of managed us and developed us as professional working musicians. In all honesty they were fundamental to helping us get to where we are so we are very grateful, especially to someone there called John Hart for all his help.

What do you all do when you’re not playing together?

Mike and Danny both now teach for Access-to-Music at Broxtowe College.  Ed is a father of two, and solo acoustic artist he is currently working with ex members of Gene on a project. Bears is a florist and also teaches bass (Don’t book us around any special occasion such as Mothers day or Valentines. Derrick is support worker at a special home for adults with learning difficulties. Louise is Super Sandwich making slut. Luke is a dad and works as a father support worker.

What have the band been up to for the past year or two?

In 2003 we played at Glastonbury on the Avalon Main Stage. We also went to play in Germany and several other big festivals that year. Last year we went to Bosnia where we played a great festival with Dreadzone and some wicked European acts, we also had our first (and only to date) major release. It was a compilation album called “Interesting Flavours” on Chocolate Fireguard

You've supported Morcheeba and played at Glastonbury festival. What are your best memories from being on tour..?

The chance to go to new interesting places that most people wouldn’t get to visit on holiday never mind to actually perform as well. You also get to meet loads of interesting people. To play in front of loads of people is such an amazing buzz. Glastonbury was a great overall experience as most of us had been before as punters, so having all the perks of back stage camping and stuff was weird but cool. We played on fri evening and so we were able to “enjoy” our selves for the rest of the weekend…if you know what I mean!!

I read on the internet that in 2000 you won battle of the bands competition at Rock City? Tell us about that. What were the other bands like?

For me (Sharkboi) it just proved to me that we were talented, and a bit different. We thought we were good but sometimes paranoia or lack of confidence can question this, so winning something like that when we first started out really helped. It wasn’t that difficult because we were doing something other than boring guitar driven, homage to some other fucking rock band a few decades ago, type of music. .Sorry but I have a real problem with this and always end up getting into fights over it but I just want to do something different and new..

Guitar music is dead its corpse just keeps getting dug up on presented to a young eager music generation who want to hear the stones/beetles/iggy pop etc, and so relate to a young bunch dudes making that music. It’s not a bad thing in that respect, but is it anything new? (What a load of crap eh??)

You've recorded at Abbey Road and BBC's Maida Vale studios. Did you enjoy it? How do they compare with Notts studios?

Totally amazing lucky experience, not many people get the chance to see how it works right at the very top, it means we’ve got experience of recording in a full spectrum of environments which can only be good?? We have recorded at Electric Mayhem in confetti studio’s which was pretty good, but I think it’s also good to have your own place to demo up stuff and even release stuff, it can make things easier and quicker when you do go into a commercial studio, because you are more sure about what you want.

Has the band ever been for a meal together in Nottingham's 'Skinny Sumo' restaurant?
No but I have and it was really good!!

What other bands and artists are you feeling (both locally and internationally)?

Locally I like Idiot Joy cause they are different and good, Koda Collective, Vaccine and Alligator. Beck's new stuff is wicked especially his saga style remixes, Ian Brown,

Where can people get hold of your music?

Our website or Funky Monkey, Selecta Disc, HMV, Virgin……

Anything else you want to say to LeftLion readers...?

Don’t take ecstasy too much I don’t think it’s great for you in the long term. Also come and see us play at the Malt Cross on April 29th with Alligator. It’s going to be a while before we play in Notts as we are going to spend some time recording and writing new things.

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