Ahead of the release of ‘Love Undercover’ on June 3rd, we caught up with James Skelly (of Coral fame) and had a chat about his new project, ‘James Skelly & The Intenders’.
It’s pretty crazy to be talking to you – I remember listening to ‘The Invisible Invasion’ almost ten years ago! Tell us a bit about the new project - what sort of direction has it taken and how’s it different to your old work?
Well, we took a break from The Coral and started messing around with tunes, my mates joined in and it happened organically.
You were on the way to recording another Coral album, weren’t you? What happened there?
We just ran out of steam so decided to shelve it for a bit and come back to it. We’re planning to do something, we just need to be at the right point.
Fair enough. So Paul Weller co-wrote your single ‘You’ve Got It All’, didn’t he? What was it like working with him?
Yeah, really good - It was pretty easy! He sent me a demo and I wrote the words and the little chorus bit and then we worked on it together.
Wicked. So do you feel that you’ve got more freedom now that you’re leading this new project and you’re less involved with The Coral?
No, not really. It’s not very different.
Really? Isn’t your newer stuff more bluesy than your older, folky stuff?
Yeah, maybe that’s right. With the new Coral stuff we were trying to do something new with blues and soul – that is what I’m into.
Cool. You’re touring in June is that right?
Yep, it starts on June 6th.
Have you had any weird moments at gigs?
It’s all a weird moment for me! It’s weird just being there.
You find it a weird idea being on stage in front of people?
Yeah, it’s a weird experience but I quite like it.
Are you into much current music? Is rock in a good place right now?
I don’t know! I’m not really an authority on that, I just listen to music I like - Chuck Berry, Van Morrison... I like Gary Park Junior and some new stuff, but mostly it’s old soul stuff from my childhood.
Are you heavily influenced by that sort of music?
I think you’re influenced by anything you hear that you like.
How do you think people are going to react to your new stuff and your performance of it? What will die-hard Coral fans think?
I don’t know, I don’t even know whether there are any die-hard coral fans! I don’t second guess people, I just do what I wanna do. I think that’s why we like it in the first place.
Whether positive or negative there’s bound to be a critical reaction. Do you think music criticism’s a good thing or is it harsh and damaging?
It can be both - it’s pot luck. Someone who loves Metallica might not like you; someone who loves soul stuff might think you fit right into what they want. A ‘Sex Pistols’ fan might complain that it’s not punk, but it’s not meant to be - you can’t think about it like that. What’s your favourite album? How was it reviewed?
Erm, it’s probably something by ‘The Velvet Underground’. Everyone thought the earlier stuff was cool and the later stuff wasn’t.
Do you care?
Right, it just fades away. I listen to Beck! I don’t know what the review of it was and I don’t really care - It’s good. Half of it’s politics. I like the way Neil Young and Bob Dylan don’t really give a shit.
Moving on, we all loved the latest Coral album ‘Butterfly House’, but does your consistency limit your reinvention now?
You’d go insane if you started thinking like that because people have such completely different ideas. You don’t really care because you’ll never meet them anyway! It’s not arrogant – once you start doing that I don’t know what world you’re in.
What’s your favourite track on love undercover?
Erm, I like ‘Here For You’. I did it last and quick so it’s like listening to someone else’s record which I quite like. We did most of the album live – we didn’t have as much money so that was the kind of record we made.
If you could have any superpower what would it be?
I’d say to read into the future but that’d kinda wreck everything, wouldn’t it? I don’t know… to be as good as Jimi Hendrix on the guitar! I’d be able to amuse myself all day!
Ha! Right, is there anything else you wanna say?
Thanks a lot, James.
Check out the new single here:
Interviewer: Alex Dean - @AlexDean94