Interviews

Viva Skate

"The main difference between here and America is size," announces ROLLERSKATE SKINNY's drummer-cum-guitarist beardie Jim, with masterful understatement.

"America is so big that bands aren't surrounded by other bands trying to do the same thing. They got time and space to develop and be different. Over here, everyone's too influenced by everyone else to do their own thing."

Bingo! Likewise, when the Pavements and Mercury Revs failed around in their peculiar padded cells, the thought of getting hip to sway the record buying masses was way down on a list of priorities filled with stuff like, uh, paying the rent and, dur, making music for the hell of it. Bands like that are accidents walling to happen in a world where 99 per cent of groups are casualties of their own blatant ambition.

Rollerskate Skinny have witnessed such lethargic genius 'working' at first hand by playing with Mercury Rev at The Grand in south London. Luckily, they haven't recovered.

"That was a brilliant night," gushes singer Ken, a man who holds his head Onstage. "Mercury Rev smashed a piano, but it wasn't staged, it was completes? natural. Then they were giving out our flyers..."

And the point of all this bountiful back-slapping? Well, it's alarmingly early clays, but Rollerskate Skinny have the potential and the passion to roll out the contrived barrel and give this side of the Atlantic the kind of kick up the arse it so desperately needs.

Their story begins in Dublin a couple of years ago, when Jim, Ken, guitarist Ger and bassist Steve stumbled around as Shake and got thoroughly nowhere: "I saw The Frank 8 Wailers and Sultans Of Ping FC play together at Dublin Baggot's Inn in front of 18 people," grumbles Ken. 'Look what happened to those two when they came over here!'

Suffocated and uninspired by their hometown. Shake shook themselves up. hopped over to London, grabbed themselves a new moniker and like. got their heads together in a chaotic kinda way. Then things got weird.

None more so than on their debut single, 'Novice, wherein the crunching cruise that is 'Cushy Daughter slam-dances its way into the spotlight. A taut fusion of garroted guitars, drum machine dynamics and half-hidden melodies, this is a spectacular, sensual starting point with slow bits and crazed barrages and everything else anyone could want from a slab of noise terrorism.

When asked about the lyrical content. Ken goggles bashfully and mutters strange things about tractors and farms. When they played the song at London's Borderline recently, it stood out like a radioactive rabbit on a nudist beach, primarily because most of the remainder of the set collapsed like a drunk deck of cards. "Oh yeah, we got bored hallway through that one," beams Jim.

This is all about maverick tendencies making themselves heard, about imaginations running wild - if not downright livid. Rollerskate Skinny claim they're not songwriters, they're "almost experimentalists". and they have the good grace to piss themselves laughing. Verily, these people are set upon pushing the noise boat out over the horizon until it arrives ... somewhere.

Simon Williams

 

NME - Squeals On Wheels

Mutual loathing, intense nastiness, gratuitous scowling...
That's what Dublin's filthy-riffed sonic trepanners ROLLERSKATE SKINNY depend on for the creative rush that fires their noise-as-catharsis trip. JOHN MULVEY braves an avalanche of spite and discord to uncover the art of falling apart.

Hatred. Sheer hatred. Ken Griffin, Rollerskate Skinny's faintly crazed singer, takes another long swig from his pint and glares at the other three band members sprawled around the table. It's time for introductions...

"You're a wanker, and you're a wanker, and you're a wanker but he's a bigger wanker, you're just a wanker... We're all wankers."

Charming. It's not unusual to find personality clashes within a band, to find jealous, snotty egos fusing to create an incendiary creative climate. But Rollerskate Skinny, as befits the most vicious, compulsively chaotic new band in Britain, actually depend on mutual loathing.

"I hate it when a band pretend they're really nice to each other," snorts Ken. "We're together because we love music, not because we all wanna be mates. Sometimes we can't even look at each other."

“People expect the band to have a united opinion or manifesto," adds drummer (and occasional guitarist) Jimi Shields, for once agreeing to disagree, "whereas with us the whole thing is just a constant discourse, a constant debate."

It shows. Rollerskate Skinny gigs have been some of the most exciting of the past six months for two reasons: one – the hammeringly intense, well-warped songs that take experimental, effects-laden rock into whole new spheres of nastiness; and two -- the cheap, but very real, thrill of watching a band that could implode, scrap or actually split up at any moment. Basically, they come together to fall apart.

ROLLERSKATE SKINNY moved to London from Dublin nine months ago. Penniless and desperate, they crammed into shared rooms in a friend's flat in Marble Arch, where their cosy' working relationship blossomed. A ten-inch EP, fittingly titled 'Novice', crept out on the tiny Showbiz label in September, with a ten-minute lead track, 'Complacency', that came on like My Bloody Valentine and Mercury Rev blasted on industrial-strength chemicals, rammed into a cupboard and challenging each other to see who could play the fastest, filthiest riffs... Mad, muffled and very perversely enjoyable, in other words.

Live shows became more frequent but no less unpredictable, with much instrument-swapping, gratuitous scowling, and the regular treat of seeing Ken - a bug-eyed mass of madness in a donkey jacket - pummeling a hole in the side of his head with his fist. Just for once, a band claiming they wanted to be hated or loved really were extreme enough to genuinely split an audience, as half the crowd consistently walked out, appalled, while the remainder locked on to the obligatory noise-as-catharsis trip and learned to love tinnitus.

Now, this month, there's a second EP, 'Trophy', on the cool Beggars Banquet offshoot, Placebo (also home to Come), featuring the awesome sprawl that is ‘Bow-Hitch-Hiker'. Marginally calmer but no less visceral, it marks Rollerskate Skinny's arrival as the first British-based match for the burgeoning new art-noise underground movement in America, a genuine counterpart to the likes of Mercury Rev, Trumans Water, Royal Trux, Sebadoh, Pavement and Radial Spangle. Grit your teeth - you're going to love it.

"WE TRY to communicate through our music, says Ken dryly. "If we could communicate, we wouldn't be making music... If only I'd said that seriously."

Ken, Jimi, guitarist Ger Griffin and bassist Steve Murray are sat in an empty pub across the road from their record company offices in Wandsworth, trying to explain why Rollerskate Skinny sound, roughly, like a demo tape of the apocalypse.

"I just get really angry sometimes," continues the singer. “I get really angry in general and, because of the situation that we've been in for the last nine months, I haven't been able to let go. When I get onstage I just let it out. I get angry about my life; the quality of my life is fing shit at the moment. Doing the music is great, but everything else is just..." Ken's voice trails off in disgust. Jimi, meanwhile, has a less serious theory:

“My mother can't understand why I want to make this kind of music. She says, 'You had a really good childhood, there was nothing wrong', and the only thing I could think of was that I was a really late developer, so I had lots of angst from being small. My best friend looked 18 when he was 12, and I looked 12 when I was 18. I didn't start shaving 'til I was over 20 - that's why I've a beard now."

The more cynical might suggest that Jimi, at least, makes this sort of ferocious, daring music because his brother Kevin just happens to lead arch sonic innovators My Bloody Valentine. The more sympathetic would probably agree with the band that living in a cramped, poverty-stricken environment, rapidly getting used to despising one another, has engendered their random, wildly aggressive style.

"We sometimes don't talk to each other at all," claims Jimi. "We go onstage, and that's the first bit of communication we've had all day, even though we're living together. We walk around in this cocoon of silence."

"The lack of communication between us is unreal," reckons Ken, before launching into an extended, increasingly bizarre tirade. "For so long, music's been so passive and asexual. What techno has done is that it's taken a huge amount of the working class away from rock music. That's fair enough, but indie music is getting more and more middle class.

"It's just got weird now. We played Windsor the other night and it was really f—ing strange. People were shouting 'Calm down!' and stuff like that You feel like getting offstage and killing 'em... And sometimes bands get hyped and you think, `Ahh, look, everyone f—ing knows they stink'..." "Bands start believing their own press, and they start believing they're really great," moans Jimi, "... like Suede..."

Ken's off again, spluttering with frustration. "A statement like Brett's 'I'm a bisexual who hasn't had a homosexual experience'... I mean, so am I. Every f—ing man in the world could say that. I don't feel it takes bravery to say that."

Come on, most men would never admit that. "No, but I will. We all are. The whole band are bisexuals who haven't had a homosexual experience... and I'm planning to have a homosexual experience. I am genuinely coming to terms with that side at the moment. I don't care what other people think. It shouldn't be controversial. And if Brett Anderson wants to have his homosexual relationship... don't ring me, 'cos I don't fancy him." He collapses into giggles. Jimi looks distinctly pissed off: "Don't print all this laddish stuff." "No! It's NOT laddish! Saying that I'm bisexual is no way laddish..."

HERE WE go. The main animosity in the band is clearly between Ken and Jimi, the latter having recently escaped the emotional pressure cooker of the communal flat. An innocent query as to what the hell the name 'Bow-Hitch-Hiker' means prompts a feverish and largely incomprehensible argument which ends with Ken bawling "I JUST MADE IT UP IN MY HEAD" at Jimi.

When the singer stomps off to the bar a few minutes later, I ask the others if he's as maniacal as he often appears onstage. "He is unhinged," claims Ger, "he's really moody."

"He's a c ," decides Jimi, sort of jokingly, then neatly changes the subject in a heroic bid to get the band's love of hip-hop (check the programmed drum patterns on the new single) mentioned: "Please don't print anything about my brother and the Valentines, 'cos it's getting boring. I woke up this morning and thought I was related to Chuck D. That was weird."

Ken's back: "I was standing in Jimi's house once having a drink, and his dad came over and went, 'You're a f ing mad bastard,' and just walked away.

As he stares intently from beneath his shapeless sock of a hat, it's easy to see why. Again, like Mercury Rev — who named Rollerskate Skinny as their favourite new band at the end of 1992 —there's a sense that individual band members are working to their own, very separate, agendas, and that the avalanche of spite and discord that we hear is a haphazard but fortuitous collision of four rogue talents.

God knows how it works, God knows how many people will be able to stand it... and God knows how long it'll last But right now, when needs must, there's no need to accept an, ahem, sonic trepanning from anyone else.

Words: JOHN MULVEY
Skinny flicks: DEREK RIDGERS

 

Rollerskate Skinny rides 'Horsedrawn Wishes'

March 7, 1996

Rock critics, always fumbling for adjectives and superlatives, have used every word in Roget's Thesaurus to describe Irish alternative-rock quartet Rollerskate Skinny.

Singer-guitarist Ken Griffin's current favourite is "Echo & the Bunnymen meets 'Pet Sounds'-era Beach Boys."

He prefers this new offering: controlled melodic chaos.

"That's fine, I like that," he said recently from Warner Bros.' offices in New York. "One of the things we wanted to do was something experimental that didn't conjure up images of people in white coats trying to force square pegs into round holes."

There's no chance of that with Rollerskate Skinny's expansive debut Warner album, "Horsedrawn Wishes." From the wall-of-sound track "Swingboat Yawning" to "Bell Jars Away," the Irish group creates static, elusive and often beautiful melodies with just the right amount of hook-sense - not unlike such contemporaries as the Trash Can Sinatras and Boo Radleys.

Their lush, far-reaching sound owes as much to Phil Spector as it does to Pink Floyd, hip-hop and Celtic music. But Griffin says even he and his band mates have a hard time putting a handle on it.

"You wouldn't believe the conversations we have with engineers," he said. "We produce our own music and work with engineers, and we're totally convinced that everything we say is working in a completely logical, practical way. We think that everybody else thinks this, and then an engineer after like three days will make blasé comments like, 'This is really a crazy song,' and we all freak out, 'What are you talking about? What do you mean crazy?'

"One engineer said to me one day, it was the most depressing thing I ever heard, he said, 'You have to remember, for a lot of people Oasis are weird.' This wave of sadness hit me. I felt so sad about that. If people were given time to listen to this album, listen to it a few times in a row, it starts to make sense. I just hope people will give us a chance."

In its native Dublin, Rollerskate Skinny's second major-label album became legendary before it hit the streets. There were rumours that more than 160 instruments were used for one song.

"That's physically impossible," Griffin said. "I'm constantly amazed at how surprised people are when you try to do something different.

"We're just trying to write good music, you know. We're just trying to join the lineage of great bands. We want to be the 647th great band going back to 1956. We just want to keep making records."

 

favouritesons.com - The Long Story

How it came to this….the long and winding biography (Shake through Rollerskate Skinny to Favourite Sons) by Ken Griffin..

“I met Stephen Murray in the mid eighties, we were working in a Hardware store, I was in the Decor department and he was in DIY. We had a competition to see who could give away, for free, the most outrageous thing to a customer as compensation for our terrible service. I was very proud of myself as I watched my customer leave the store with 10 gallons of free pink paint, until I turned around and saw Stephen proudly helping an old man out the door with his free wheel barrow, I knew I had met a real character in Stephen Murray. We drank our 70 pounds a week wages in Bruxelles and The William Tell, we were always borrowing money by Sunday. All we wanted to do was make music, maybe even great music and never work again. The decision was made to leave our jobs, so that we would have nothing to ”fall back on”.

Stephen had a friend Ger Griffin (no relation) who played guitar like no one I had ever heard before or since. We began practicing 5 days a week in Temple Lane studios in Dublin. It was a very joyful time, a youthful good arrogance grew between us, we wanted to be outrageous, grandiose and undeniable, you had to think that way to be Irish and ambitious back then, everything was against you, nothing was with you, nothing but your imagination and bloody mindedness.

We played around Dublin at The Underground, The New Inn, The Baggot Inn, The White Horse. People really responded, local heroes Blue In Heaven and Into Paradise were incredibly encouraging. One night The Edge came to see us at The Baggot Inn, and talked to me for half an hour after the show, I told him I ”wasn’t ready yet to record an album” he laughed and said that ”we were more fucking ready than U2 ever were”, I kind of wish I had listened to him. We were called SHAKE at that time, and the energy of new friendship and love between the band was still there, we never captured that period in the studio. Somewhere along the way we picked up Jimi Shields on drums, which was to prove a fateful decision that would ultimately bring a lot of poison to the table.

In 1992 Beggars Banquet agreed to release a 10 inch record for us, I moved to London with 42 pounds in my pocket, the record was called NOVICE. NME named it one of the top ten singles of that year. Comedian Sean Hayes reviewed it saying, “as an alternative to listening to this, you could turn on all the Kitchen appliances in yr kitchen and listen to them” we were now called ROLLERSKATE SKINNY.

In 1984 my friend gave me a cassette tape of the Velvet Underground & Nico album. I lay in bed with a Walkman on and nothing has ever been the same since. In 1992 I was with Rollerskate Skinny in New York at the release party for The Velvet Undergrounds live reunion album, I was talking to Sterling Morrison and Mo Tucker, I was 22, things were getting as weird as I had hoped they one day would. We played the cities CMJ festival, Matt Dillon was in the front row singing along, the New York Times called us the best of the 800 bands that played that week, YES this was something I could now really FUCK UP. Funny story from that party, we noticed that The members of The Velvet Underground were being strangely friendly and talkative to our one and only Stephen Murray, taking him even at one stage behind the VIP ropes to meet the Kurtz of Rock and Roll himself Lou Reed. Turns out they thought Stephen was The Edge, Stephen never let them think any differently hahaha.

We returned to London and recorded the TROPHY EP, got single of the week in NME and Melody maker. Bow Hitch Hiker (my original name for Rollerskate Skinny) was my favourite on there. We then went to the studio with the incredibly nice and gifted Guy Fixen to record our first album SHOULDER VOICES, it took a grueling 3 weeks, the band was starting to not like each other, splitting into camps, camps of one sometimes, it was tough in London. I remember getting single of the week in NME playing a triumphant show that night, and having to walk home and boil some rice and salt to eat, Rock and Roll.

We released the album, people seemed confused and unsure what to say about it, they liked it in The States, it got Album of the month in CMJ magazine and hit number one in the college radio charts for a few minutes. We got to go and do Lollapalooza in 1994 on the strength of it. We were all excited about touring with Nirvana, but then Kurt Cobain killed himself before the tour. Still, we got to see George Clinton play everyday at 4 in the afternoon, which was splendid, and I got to see two Tibetan Buddhist monks (who blessed the stage every day) drink their first ever coca cola and promptly spit it out on the ground in horror. After wards we toured with Pavement around the States. Sire Records signed us for our next album. Money came in, we finally could pay ourselves 150 pounds a week, I felt like the richest man in the world. Before we went back in the studio, it was decided to kick Jimi out. We thought we functioned much better without him, it was time to start Horsedrawn Wishes.

I stopped boozing, drank two pots of coffee a day and smoked a ton of hash, and fell in love (if anyone is interested in the recipe for making an album like Horsedrawn Wishes) oh and one slice of apple pie with whipped cream a day, prepared by militant lesbian vegans.

I was recording for a week, then flying to New York for a week, and then back for another weeks recording, it was intense and rewarding and ridiculously ambitious. Myself and Aidan Foley would just sit there night after night adding more and more tracks, I think Thirsty European had over 70 different actual parts on it. When I played that song to the record company, half way through, they asked if it was ”still the same song.” I sat there giggling because I knew they had just given a bunch of mad Irish guys a quarter of a million dollars to make a completely noncommercial record. The A&R guy said ” Ken you are either Brian Wilson or an asshole, I don’t know which” One day we were recording one song Ribbon Fat, and I dropped the microphone on the soundesk, it created a weird feedback that I noticed sounded pretty interesting and percussive, so I asked the brilliant Aidan Foley to take a one bar sample of it and loop it for a few minutes, this became the basis for another song SPEED TO MY SIDE. We released Horsedrawn Wishes in 1996, initially Irish Journalists loved it, the English were in the middle of the thick lad Brit Pop thing so they didn’t know what to make of it. Actually I met the bass player from Blur once and he rather proudly told me that he had personally thrown a copy of a Rollerskate Skinny album off of Blur's tour bus because Graham Coxon had been playing it so much, that really made my day. Years later the Irish Times would call Horsedrawn Wishes the 7th best Irish album of all time, that gave my Dad a proud moment, which alone was worth all the hard work.

Quick obligatory Bono story, he came into the studio we were recording Horsedrawn Wishes at, and heard the tape op making copies of our rough mixes, and asked for one. The next day our manager was summoned by their manager for a meeting. I have no idea what happened at that meeting, but somehow for some reason they gave us 5000 pounds to re mix one of the songs. Now why they did that I don’t know, because we were already signed, so I don’t know what they could have done with the mix. Anyway, we spent 2000 on remixing and split the other 3000 between us, thanks lads.

I wanted to move to New York, they didn’t, so Rollerskate Skinny ended, I was offered a small boat of cash from Warner Brother to sign my new band Kid Silver, but it would have required me breaking the Rollerskate Skinny contract, and mean that Ger and Stephen would be entitled to nothing, Couldn’t do it, and I don’t regret it, but man it was back to zero again.

Me, and the producer of Horsedrawn Wishes, Aidan Foley recorded Kid Silvers one and only album DEAD CITY SUNBEAMS in Dublin and New York, usual thing, great reviews, no sales (the singer from Rage Against the Machine? Zach? My friend met him and he said it was his favourite album, I don’t know how I feel about that name drop ha, I just found it very strange) things went dark, the album never got released in Europe. My friend owned a bar, he said ” hey Ken can you hop behind the bar for a couple of hours, the bartender hasn’t turned up” I did, a decade went by. The New York night took me and spat me out 10 years later. I had been married and divorced and had a beautiful son. I hadn’t released a record in 8 years.

Some guys came by the 3rd bar I had now worked in for years, Justin, Aj and Matt, they had known my earlier work, we got talking and decided to get together and play. I was very touched by their interest in me as an artist, we started playing and actually got signed after just 10 shows. It was all very exciting. But then as we went to record, it was obvious my marriage was disintegrating and I was losing my wife and son.. The record DOWN BESIDE YOUR BEAUTY is a brutal brutal affair, I lost my artistic voice and replaced it with a desperate cry, art seemed futile to me in the face of the loss of my young family. It’s not a record I can listen to, but some people have found merit in it.

4 years later, time had done it’s job somewhat, healed my soul a little, and I decided I wanted to try and be a songwriter, and to my amazement found that it wasn’t easy. Everything up to then was pure artistic expression with music just happening to be the form, but now I wanted to take the song form seriously. I was very excited by how terrible i was at it, because it gave me something to work on. I went to work, real work, everyday struggling with the form. So I feel my first real effort as a pure songwriter is this album THE GREAT DEAL OF LOVE recorded slowly over the last two years. In a weird way I feel it is the sister album to HORSEDRAWN WISHES. Enjoy.

 

Irish Times - Chosen Ones

October 27 2006

From a position at the helm of Irish cult band Rollerskate Skinny, Ken Griffin drifted into obscurity and the beverage service industry in New York. He tells Kevin Courtney how some Philadelphia-based fans tracked him down, how they made beautiful music together and how new band Favourite Sons is a venture rooted in reality

LATE one night, in a bar in New York, two guys are having a heated debate about Irish cult band Rollerskate Skinny. One guy reckons they were more innovative than Oxford indie dons Radiohead; the other guy disagrees. The bartender serves them another drink and listens with mild amusement as the debate becomes a full-on, nose-to-nose argument. Finally, the guys turn to a third person who has just joined them, and ask, what do you think? "I dunno," she replies, "why don't you ask the bartender - he was the singer in the band."

Ken Griffin laughs as he recalls the encounter. "I'm like, Radiohead? They probably did it a little better than us. But there have been a few moments like that."

Griffin was indeed the singer with Rollerskate Skinny, a band who never hit commercial paydirt, but whose 1996 album, Horsedrawn Wishes, is routinely listed as one of the greatest Irish albums of all time by those who claim to know such things. When Rollerskate Skinny fizzled out in 1997, ripped apart by their own studied cool, their legend took on a life of its own; meanwhile, their singer, disillusioned with the very act of making music, slipped quietly away and "disappeared into the New York night", getting a five-to-nine job as a bartender, and meeting and marrying a girl named Meredith, with whom he has a young son. Apart from fronting the short-lived Kid Silver, Griffin had been pursuing a firmly non-musical path. In blues-speak, his mojo just wasn't working anymore.

"I just didn't know what I liked about music anymore," says Griffin. "I didn't even know if I liked music. I didn't listen to music, I didn't pay attention to it. But then I started to pick up the guitar and go, how do you write a song, because I'd never approached it from that side before. I'd always started with a concept, an idea, a keyboard line, maybe a melody line, but I started to realise that what I actually loved was songwriting. So I had to learn how to do that before I could come back out.

"I realised I had sort of demonised it. I was young, and I forgot that there was a tradition there, that it was a form of artistic expression, and that the limitations to it are what make it great, but difficult to do."

You'd think a guy who had a hand in making one of the most acclaimed Irish albums of all time wouldn't need to be taught anything about songwriting, but, by Griffin's own admission, Rollerskate Skinny's abstruse, experimental approach to making records proved their downfall in the end.

"The last few Skinny demos we made, they were great Rollerskate Skinny music, but we were just phoning it in. We could layer in a guitar, do six vocals, do abstract lyrics, and make it crazy, and then I started realising, this is almost thuggish. Like we had taken it from Horsedrawn Wishes as far as it could go. It was all trickery, and actively so. It was all about how clever you could be, and we got hyper-intellectual about it, and had endless discussions about it, but ultimately everyone remembered the melodic stuff. All the other shit legitimises them listening to the tunes, but ultimately they're the bits everyone remembered."

Griffin has a new band now, Favourite Sons, made up of ex-members of Philadelphia band Aspera, and the kind of guys who might have had a heated argument or two about the merits of Rollerskate Skinny.

"We were fans of Skinny in 10th and 11th grade," explains guitarist Justin Tripp. "There's a weird pocket of people in Philadelphia that just had their minds changed by Skinny. And I don't know how or why it happened, but it really affected everyone. I was about 14, 15, 16 when it happened."

Having dumped their singer, the remaining members of Aspera moved to New York, tracked down their Irish hero to his Brooklyn lair and asked him would he like to be their singer. Instead of calling the police, as you would when stalked by four crazed fans from Philadelphia, Griffin said sure, and guess what? I just happen to have written a bunch of new songs.

"I think in Ken we saw a talent that hadn't manifested itself properly," says Tripp. "Anyone who'd seen Rollerskate Skinny knew how great they could be, but they'd never realised that potential. We just started talking and realised we shared a lot of the same ideas about music. We developed a friendship first, and it just worked musically, and it's just great because the band have been playing together for 10 years, and Ken's become part of that friendship, and there's a lot of love amongst all of us, and it's driven by Ken. And everyone is supportive of his vision and just wants him to manifest it."

"Also, I could use words like 'spiritual' around these guys and they wouldn't go, uh-oh," adds Griffin. "But we didn't have to talk about it. When I started writing the lyrics, I tried a couple of abstract and metaphorical things, and then I'd write about something that happened last week, and I realised that it was working, that it was connecting. I became really interested in the idea of actually writing about my life, instead of how I wanted my life to be. And these guys really encouraged me to go that way. I was a bit scared but they were going, come on, Ken, stop pretending that you're not crazy!

"It really did open up a whole new world for me, and I became less crazy because of it. Because I was keeping things in all the time, and exploding, and keeping things in again. And then you realise you're not insane, you're just who you are. I started music because when I saw bands on TV I went, shit, you can actually get away with being yourself, and it's fun and it's interesting."

If Griffin sounds evangelical about his new band, it shouldn't seem so strange, because Favourite Sons bring a spiritual sort of polemic to their root-and-branch rock, and the songs on their debut album, Down Beside Your Beauty, feel like they've travelled a winding road from early blues to 1950s rock'n'roll to 1990s indie, stopping off at various truck stops and gas stations along the way. It's music that celebrates the revelatory power of songwriting, and is, says Griffin, the polar opposite of Skinny's detached, pseudo-intellectual artifice.

"That's exactly what made us come together as a band," says Griffin. "It's a different time in my life, it's a different time in the world, and it seems like songwriting is actually sort of interesting again. But I don't know if anyone is mastering it. I mean, where is this generation's Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, David Bowie? Where are these guys, are they going to pop up sometime?"

"There's definitely a problem when all the best albums are being made by Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan," adds Tripp, dryly.

"We've had a lot of people coming up to us at our shows, saying I'm like a crazed preacher," says Ken, who finds that he's enjoying performing on stage more than he ever did with his previous band. "We've had men crying at our shows who've never heard our songs before, coming up and saying, that song really affected my life." "And it's not a concept, which is such a relief," says Justin. "You're not just sitting there trying to craft something - you're being honest. And you're embracing the things that you love and playing the way you play and singing about the things that affect you and make you who you are, and there's no trickery, you're not hiding anything." "Rollerskate Skinny was about what you say," concludes Griffin. "But this is all unsaid. We don't have to say anything - we just know when it happens."

Down Beside Your Beauty is out now on Vice Recordings through Warner Music.