The Rock City archives: 2013

Skunk Anansie, Rock City Main Hall

  • Saturday 16th March 2013
  • Supported by: Kid Kipachi
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Since regrouping in 2009 after an eight-year hiatus, Skunk Anansie have gone from strength to strength. Their 2010 album, Wonderlustre, saw the band combine their trademark raw rock riffs, deep funk, frenetic drumwork and lush vocals with more confidence and maturity than ever before. “It's been very natural and unforced – a bit like coming home,” says lead singer Skin. “We have a huge fan base that was screaming out for us to do something. We got back together because we have a strong chemistry. We’re very proud of our past work, but what drives us is the future.”

The band formed in 1994, when Skin (who quit her career as an interior designer to write songs) met Cass and Ace on the North London indie scene. They named themselves Skunk Anansie – inspired by the West African folk tales of Anansi, the spider man – and performed their debut show at London's Splash club later that year. Within 12 months, they were voted Best New British Band by the readers of Kerrang! magazine. After the awards ceremony, drummer Mark Richardson joined the group on a permanent basis.

Skunk Anansie – a multi-racial band who blend brooding, funky beats with edgy lyrics, driving metal and punk riffs and fragile ballads – broke barriers from the start. When someone once asked her about Brit-rock, Skin jokingly replied: “We're more clit-rock than Brit-rock”. The term ‘clit-rock’ was then celebrated as an alternative to the testosterone-fuelled genre. By 1995, the group appeared on the soundtrack of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1995 film Strange Days, contributing two tracks, ‘Feed’ and ‘Selling Jesus’. After hearing the latter single, radio 'shock jock' Howard Stern predicted that the band would become huge. By 1996, their blistering live shows saw them scoop Kerrang!’s Best British Live Act, and they also earned a nomination for Best Live Act and Best Group at the MTV Europe Music Awards the following year.

Before their hiatus, Skunk Anansie released the multi-platinum albums Paranoid And Sunburnt (1995), Stoosh (1996) and Post Orgasmic Chill (1999). Across these three studio releases, they showed their huge versatility and range, moving from politically- charged metal thrash to bittersweet, tender pop, to dub, hip hop, African and Eastern influences. They had a succession of hit singles including the ballads 'Brazen (Weep)', 'Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good)', 'Weak' and ‘Secretly’ where, with her rich, soulful voice Skin channeled a glorious collision of Robert Plant, Martha Wainwright and Phoebe Snow.

Eight years after disbanding, Skunk Anansie performed two shows at their old stamping ground London Water Rats (then known as the Splash Club). The gigs had sold out in five minutes. Later that year, they released a greatest hits compilation, Smashes And Trashes (which included three new tracks and a remix collection) and embarked on sell-out European tour. Fired up by the success of their tour, the band entered into the studio in spring 2010 and recorded their fourth studio album. The resultant effort, Wonderlustre, is a set that flows from soaring and elegiac to locked-down, sensual and funky. The album was released in September of that year, and included the singles 'My Ugly Boy', and the gothic, slow-burning 'My Love Will Fall'. Wonderlustre cemented their status as one of rock’s most innovative, passionate and soulful bands.

“We’ve got some dirty rockabilly, some fat low riffs, punky sounds and ballads. We listen to new music, but we still sound like ourselves,” says Skin. “If we lose that, we’ve lost the point.” The band recently finished recording their fifth studio album in London with world-renowned producer Chris Sheldon (Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro). The as-yet-untitled collection will be released in September and will be supported by an extensive European tour.

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