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Monday 01 April 2019

Skunk Anansie Mark Twenty-Fifth Anniversary By Continuing To Fight The Good Fight @ The Brighton Centre

Skunk Anansie, who have announced a date at The Brighton Centre, in August, still play a unique genre of music, which slips between the confrontational and the tender, the politically charged and the nakedly emotional, the upfront and attention-grabbing and the quiet and restrained.

When the band emerged from the sweat-drenched backrooms of London in 1994, they sounded and looked like nothing that had come before them.

"Nobody in our manor had seen anything like us before", says singer Skin, who co-founded the band with bassist Cass and guitarist Ace. "We were an earthquake."

"London in the 1990s was a mish-mash of people, but bands weren't – it was always four blokes with identical haircuts. We were a band of people who were real. That's why we were radical."

The band have opted to mark their 25th anniversary with 25LIVE@25, a live album that brings together a selection of songs from the six studio albums they've made.

"We come alive onstage," says bassist Cass. "That's where we bare our teeth."

When Skunk Anansie formed in February 1994, with original drummer Robbie France, the clubs and bars of their native London were stirring with the first murmurings of Britpop – Skunk Anansie couldn't have been further away from that scene's homogenised approach. 

Their DNA was a mix of race, gender, sexuality, cultural and musical influences. 

"We were outsiders," says Skin. "We were proud that we were. We came along and showed you could be different."

Skunk's base of operation was The Splash Club, a cramped backroom in a ramshackle pub in King's Cross, one of North London"s sleazier neighbourhoods. 

As the Splash's founder and resident DJ, it made sense that Ace would debut the band he had put together with Skin and Cass there. 

And so it was, in early March 1994, a couple of hundred people packed into The
Splash Club got their first glimpse of Skunk Anansie. 


"It was super-hot and absolutely rammed," remembers Skin. 

"We all had a reputation – Cass was the best bass player, I was the best lead singer, 
Ace was the best guitarist, and it was his club. 

"Everybody was curious what it was going to be like, in a positive way. Like, 'This is going to be weird and different and special.'"

The band booked a second gig there a month later, with dozens of A&R reps from record labels, it was to be a pivotal occasion for two very reasons. 

Firstly, it was the day that Kurt Cobain died. And secondly, it was the night that Skunk Anansie got their record deal. 


"The A&R for One Little Indian was the biggest Kurt Cobain/Nirvana fan ever,"
says Ace. 

"He'd heard the news and wasn't going to go out. But he went to the gig and it was so mad it turned him around. 

"He said, "I have to sign this band – if anything can make me feel better after this, it must be amazing.""

Skunk Anansie have frequently been described as a political band. And they undeniably are – as their take-no-prisoners 1996 track Yes, It's Fucking
Political pointed out, 'Everything's political.' 

But politics are just one part of what they are: Skunk address love and rejection, anger and sadness, frustration and rage. The human emotions we all share.

"In rock music, it's really easy to talk about partying and shagging girls and all that kind of stuff," says Skin. 

"But for us, what we were singing about had to be deeper, it had to mean something. We had to talk about our experiences and what we were going through."

The new millennium brought new considerations. For Skunk Anansie, it meant embarking on a lengthy hiatus.

"Being away from each other made us appreciate what we had with the band even more," says Cass. 

"When we got back together, it was, like, "We've got unfinished business.""

When the four members reconvened in 2008, at Cass' Black Mushroom Studios, it was with renewed purpose. 

The first thing they did at their first rehearsal back together wasn't run through one of their old hits, it was write a brand new one. 

"We were, like, 'Shall we play something old to warm up,'" says Ace. 

"And Skin goes, 'Let's play something new." And we wrote 'Because Of You' in about ten minutes."

The break had made them realise just how the chemistry they had together was irreplaceable. 

"The weird thing about Skunk Anansie is when the four of us come together, something happens," says Mark. 

"It's the chemistry we have together, the sound and feel of the band, the energy. 

That"s never, ever changed. And it never will."

Since getting back together, they've swerved the nostalgia circuit to release three albums that showcase a band who remain as single-minded in their intent. 

Many of the issues they've confronted over the years haven't changed either, but Skunk Anansie are still fighting the good fight, taking no prisoners while they do it.

"Racism still exists, sexism still exists, homophobia still exists, and since Trump, it's just open warfare," says Skin.

 "Things have gone backwards, and we're not going to tolerate it."

"The more oppressive or fascist or repressive the regime is in the country, the more we bring out the opposing faction," says Cass of the band's lightningrod nature. 

"We get the rebels because we are the rebels."

Skunk Anansie will be appearing at The Brighton Centre on Monday 26th August 2019. Tickets go on general sale on Friday 29th March at 9am priced from £27.50 - 0844 8471515 / www.brightoncentre.co.uk

by: Mike Cobley




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