British Band Skinny Lister Started with the Singing of "Sea Shanties"

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If by some chance he happened to hear Forge And Flagon, the debut album from his namesake combo, he'd probably be flattered.

A stirring combination of edge, angst and insurgent attitude, all instilled with a genuine folk flourish, the album provides an ideal introduction for a young band that's already found a distinctive footing.

After working a series of major festivals in their native U.K. and the Vans Warped tour here in the U.S., the group -- which also includes guitarist Sam "Mule" Brace, bassist Michael Camino, and mandolin player Max Thomas -- is about to embark on an extended sojourn alongside headliners Flogging Molly for the annual Green 17 Tour. The band will play 19 dates, including a South Florida stop that will take them to Revolution on February 12, and eventually culminate with a St. Patrick's Day gig in Tempe Arizona.

New Times recently had an opportunity to chat with Thomas and ask her to share the skinny about Skinny Lister's MO.

New Times: Let's start at the beginning. How did you all meet and form the band? What was the original intent as far as the style and ambition?

Lorna Thomas: The band was started by Max and Dan playing traditional English folk tunes in pubs. Sam was singing sea shanties at a pub nearby. Dan recognized that these tunes had something very compelling about them, and so the guys started to mix them up with songs that Dan had written. I came along, as Max is my brother, and started singing and dancing with the band. We have recently been joined by Michael Camino, who we met on the Vans Warped tour this summer. He brings a great new rockabilly style to the music while giving it an energetic dimension!

Please give us an idea of your influences? Who helped shape your sound? Do you feel a kinship to bands like the Mollys, Black 47, Dropkick Murphys, etc.?

We're really excited to be supporting Flogging Molly on their Green 17 tour later this month. It's a great match for us. We've been listening to the Pogues for years, but also, growing up in folk clubs where everyone sits around and plays and joins into the party has almost definitely helped to create a Skinny Lister vibe. Although there are definite comparisons to the traditional Irish and Celtic sound, we've certainly got a very English slant on what we do, even incorporating very traditional English Morris tunes into our tracks.

How much of your sound is based on actual folk origins? How did you develop this affinity for your roots?

My dad, George Thomas, has been writing tunes for years. We even sing a couple of his on stage... We've sped them up and put musical accompaniment to them, but you can definitely still tell they're his. 

For years we tried to get away from the "traditional folk scene." I was listening to all sorts of pop music, and Max was into dance, but over time, Max and Dan realized that playing this music was fun and it almost always got people moving. It really felt like the right thing to incorporate that into modern tunes. We still enjoy showing up at our local folk clubs and chipping in tunes and songs, and we still enjoy the general sing-along vibe and tradition of these get-togethers. Long may they survive!

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Lee Zimmerman