Ian Skelly has spent most of his musical life as the drummer in The Coral. He recently released his second solo effort, Drifter’s Skyline. The album is a summery album full of short tracks that will help you get a sun tan and put a little glide in your stride.
First of all, congratulations on the new album. How does it feel when an album is released to the world?
You go through the full spectrum of emotions when releasing an album, especially when it’s a solo thing it’s a lot more nerve racking than when you are in a band. For me, it’s a sort of emotional purgatory leading up to the release. But I’m very happy with how well it has been received.
What was it like recording in Berlin? It’s a city steeped in great music; is there an aura and magic to the place?
It’s was brilliant. In early 2018 I had recorded a lo-fi follow up to my first solo album Cut From A Star and was gearing up to releasing it but for some reason it didn’t feel right at that time. Phil (Philip McKinnell) suggested we go to his friend’s studio in Berlin (with Paul Pilot) and try recording something. In two and half days we had finished nine tracks. I think the excitement of going somewhere different to record music played a big part of it. We were not there long enough to become a part of anything but it has got a great energy and mood to the place.
How is it putting together a solo record compared to working with your fellow bandmates in The Coral?
It’s different for starters in the band you only have to focus on your part. But in some ways it was similar because I had my friend Philip McKinnell playing bass guitar and lead guitar. His guitar playing on this album was second to none. I have a similar telepathy playing with him as I do with the rest of the lads in the band. Same musical tastes and references.
Many of the members of The Coral are a part of solo works or extra-curricular activities. Do you feel that these projects help the band continue in a positive way i.e. go away and do your own thing then come back together?
There are too many talented and creative people in The Coral for it to be able to hold everyone’s ideas and songs. Doing solo projects makes every individual better and more confident going out and trying new things, so when we do get back in a rehearsal room together you can bring those new experiences to the table.
The album is very upbeat, happy and brings in the light (something we always need). What albums were you listening to as inspiration for the album? It’s nigh on impossible not to think of The Stone Roses with the opening chimes of Captain Caveman!
I wasn’t really listening to much stuff at the time because when I write I don’t want any outside influences. You can hear the musical Influence across the album, but they are just embedded in the mind.
There are so many beautiful songs on the album. Many of them are very short little ditties. Was this a conscious decision or is that just how the songs evolved?
Yeh, just how they evolved. I prefer short songs.
Where was the album cover shot? It encapsulates the mood of the album…
The photo was taken by my girlfriend on Gilli Meno in Bali. We had gone for a walk just as a storm hit and the palm trees were moving in the wind. The picture was just taken in that moment.
Why did you choose a handsome picture of yourself over a piece of art that you’re so adept at creating?
I did have two other album cover options that were more in keeping with other works I have done. But when I showed them to people the majority picked the photo of me in Bali.
Has being in lockdown helped or hindered your creativity?
I haven’t been as creative as I normally am. Recently, I’ve Just focused on getting this album out.
Aside from Drifters Skyline (!), what albums have you turned too in lockdown?
Mostly Italian Gangster Playlist on Spotify with the likes of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong and Louis Prima. They are good to cook to and kept my spirits up during lockdown.
Liverpool has always been a hotbed for music. What new artists are you listening to/who impresses you? Your brother has been working with James Holt who we really rate on At The Barrier.
Yeh, James Holt is great. I really liked his recent single. I have been working with a band called Children of the State It’s early days for them, but definitely a band to watch out for.
Parr Street Studios in Liverpool was recently threatened with closure for a block of flats. If Liverpool were to lose that studio space, what would it mean to the city, and what would it mean to you personally?
It would be a great loss for the city, to lose all that history to another soulless block of flats. For me personally it’s a second home and a great place to work.
Many thanks to Ian Skelly for taking the time to talk to us abot his new album, Drifter’s Skyline. You can listen to Captain Caveman below, and connect with Ian Skelly via his social links and website below.
Dominic Walsh has written about music for several years for various outlets including Louder Than War magazine, The Sludgelord, Manchester Evening News and Cultural Bulletin.