If you don't know Band of Skulls yet, you soon will. For while they may not have set the fashion world aflame like Lana Del Rey and Azealia Banks, they r-o-c-k in ways those dizzy dames can only dream of, and are heating up the charts with their sophomore CD, Sweet Sour, and its killer first single, The Devil Takes Care of His Own.
Founded in 2004 by British guitarist/vocalist Russell Marsden, bassist/vocalist Emma Richardson and drummer Matt Hayward, the Southampton-based alternative rock trio has been compared to everyone from Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones to Queens of the Stone Age and The White Stripes. But Band of Skulls' sound—which veers from hard, crunchy rock to more delicate, melodic ballads propelled by deadpan his-n'-hers vocals—really don't sound like anything—or anyone—else. (Which is perhaps why Marsden refers to BOS as "the Swiss Army Knife of bands.") They also look pretty damn cool in their black-on-black stage kit and coordinating scarves.
"All of us were experimenting early on in one band or another around the time of high school and college. I think we all enjoyed playing music with other people but it worked really well when it was just us three, it felt quite natural," Richardson told The Fashion Informer about the band's origins, back when they called themselves Fleeing New York (taken from a chapter title in Hunter S. Thompson's book, Songs Of The Doomed, and the fact that all three hoped to visit NYC one day).
"Picking up a guitar and writing songs is an accessible way to start being creative," she adds. "It's a good starting point which then leads on to exploring other things in music." For Richardson, creative exploration also involves art, as she's an accomplished painter. That's her work you see on BOS album covers, and she had her first solo exhibit, entitled Cruisin' for a Bruisin', earlier this month at Londonewcastle Project Space in Shoreditch.
"For the first record we used some of the paintings that I had already completed for my degree show so it was more about how to make a good album cover out of what we had already," said Richardson. "Working alongside the creative team at our label in Canada we came up with the symmetry idea, which has continued with this new artwork. This time I made four paintings specifically with the album in mind. I took five weeks out after we recorded it and worked solidly pretty much every day on them whilst listening to mixes of the album and rehearsing, so there was more influence from the music this time."
Since releasing their first CD, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, in 2009, their songs have been featured on the soundtracks for Friday Night Lights, Twilight Saga: New Moon and The Hangover Part II, and in Mustang and Hugo Boss ads.
Next month they'll kick off the SXSW Music Festival and plan to spend the spring touring the States, with a stop at Coachella in April. The Fashion Informer's Lauren David Peden caught up Marsden and Richardson between gigs to talk music, touring, bedtime and fashion.
So, Emma and Russell...
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Emma Richardson: Some fruit and nut mix.
Russell Marsden: The hotel buffet.
What time do you normally go to bed and what time do you usually wake up in the morning?
Emma: I usually go to bed about 3am and wake about 10am.
Russell: The same, we have strict lobby calls.
What's your favorite movie of all time?
Emma: It's a Wonderful Life because the story is timeless and it doesn't have to be Christmas to watch it.
Russell: Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Music and UFOs; what's not to like?
What's the best—and worst—thing about touring?
Emma: The best is seeing so much of the world and getting to play live to people every night. The worst is being away from friends, family and loved ones for so long.
Russell: Best: the shows. Worst: the traveling.
Favorite city you've visted while touring?
Emma: There are so many great cities, but my favorite at the moment is Paris.
Russell: It's always the first time somewhere that is exciting, so the last one was Cape Town.
Tell me about your pet(s).
Emma: No pets. I'm not very good at looking after them.
Russell: She's a dog, and she likes beer and cheese.
How did Light of the Morning wind up in a Mustang ad?
Emma: Someone asked us and we said yes. The Mustang looked good.
What's the one grooming/beauty product you can't live without?
Emma: Moisturizer to moisturize.
Russell: A toothbrush, because they say you should not forget it.
How would you describe your look onstage and off?
Emma: Black. It's easy.
Russell: Black—it's the new black.
What is your favorite work of art?
Emma: Rubens' The Fall of the Damned because of the composition, color and the way he paints the flesh whirlwinds.
Russell: Sgt. Pepper because it's perfect.
Do you have any hidden or unusual talents?
Emma: I can't snap my fingers.
What was your nickname as a kid, and what's your nickname now?
Emma: Emmylou, and now I get called 'The Sieve."
Russell: It's always just been Russell.
If given the chance, what one question would you ask God (assuming s/he exists)?
Emma: What the hell are you doing?
Russell: What's up?
How did you come up with the idea for The Devil Takes Care of His Own video?
Emma: A few ideas got pitched to us from different directors and the idea of kung-fu appealed instantly. It was well thought out, it fit with the track plus we got to watch live fight scenes happening about a foot away.
If you found $15,000 cash in a brown paper bag, how would you spend it?
Emma: I'd save it.
Russell: I'd give it away.
When was the last time you lost your temper, and what was it that made you angry?
Emma: I can't remember.
Russell: Yesterday…bad Wi-Fi when I was trying to call home.
When are you happiest?
Emma: Playing live music.
Russell: Making music.