The Coral’s drummer and songwriter Ian Skelly has dropped his captivating new solo album ‘Drifters Skyline’.
The album was put together over the course of one week in Berlin and has a fervent aura coupled with tranquil musicianship.
We picked up the phone and had a chat with Ian to find out more.
‘Drifters Skyline’ is the perfect album for these crazy times with its feel-good atmosphere. What was your mindset like when you were writing the album?
"When I recorded the album, it was before all of this happened. A mate of mine had heard my previous album Cut From A Star and suggested that we go over to Berlin and make a record. At the time it was very much just writing an album because I had been asked to do one and I didn’t want to waste the opportunity."
While the album is very much an up-beat record, the lyrics do talk about loss. Why was it important to you to put a positive spin on things?
"The previous record that I had done had quite a down feel to it and when I was listening to it at home it wasn’t doing anything for me. If anything, it was just making me sadder. So, this time around I made a decision to write more up-beat tunes to cheer myself up."
The album’s opening track ‘Captain Caveman‘ is a great way to kick things off. Was it always the intention for this song to lead the way?
"What happened was we had gone to Berlin to record the nine tracks and when I got home I realised that I didn’t have an opener. My mate Paul then sent me over a backing track of some stuff that he had done and at the time, I was thinking about stuff that had happened over the last twenty years and what it had meant, because it is coming up to the 20th anniversary of The Coral’s debut album, and so that was playing on my mind a lot. I came up with the first line in the song- “Morning comes. And I go tripping with my friends. It’s so easy to pretend. That this dream will never end”- and so that just hit the nail on the head. As soon as you hear that first riff it just sets the tone for the rest of the album."
We read that the album was put together over the course of one week.This seems like a short time. How did it all come about?
"There was one song that I had written years ago for The Coral called Thoughts Of You but we never got around to using it. The rest of the album was basically written the week before I left for the studio. I just think for myself as an artist that there has to be a reason for me to do it because I’ve done it for so long."
I guess it’s almost a live album.
"It kind of is in a way. There were only two musicians in the room and you basically had 15 minutes to get a part, record it and then that was it. All of my vocals on the album are first take. There is too much over-thinking in music nowadays. There are loads of bits on this album that are wrong, but at the same time they are right."
The record has a big Cali feel to it. Was this intentional?
"It was just instinct, really. We didn’t have enough time to sit down and go, ‘I want that track to have this kind of feel’. The studio in Berlin had amazing instruments and so we were like kids in a candy store. There wasn’t really much thought put into it but I think that kind of resonates with the old way of doing an album were you had two hours to knock out the entire thing. I think the whole time that we were in Berlin I got about eight hours kip, and even though the record is quite mellow, it’s still edgy to me, because it was real and it was lived. I’m probably more rock ‘n’ roll than most rock ‘n’ roll bands these days."
I think our favourite track on the album is ‘Spirit Plane’. It has these really good guitars riffs. What was the inspiration behind this one?
"Honestly, I think it was just the case that we needed a raw, rock ‘n’ roll track."
The psychedelic influence really comes through on ‘Laugh to Keep from Crying’. Talk us through the creative process on this one.
"That one just came completely out of the blue. The guy Paul who was doing the engineering and the keyboards took that one to a completely new level. I don’t like to stifle other musicians. I think it’s better to let everyone do their thing and then if it’s shite we’ll just take it off. He did his thing and smashed it out the park."
You are also a prolific artist and are responsible for your own album artwork and much of The Coral’s cover art as well. On the build up to the release, you posted animated versions of your work to coincide with each single release. How did this idea come about?
"When the lockdown first happened, I knew that I had to get the album out by the end of the summer. I knew that there wasn’t going to be much in the way of going on radio or on TV and so I was trying to come up some ideas to make it interesting. I knew I could do album covers and so I decided to do a piece of artwork for each track. It was that simple, really."
The album has made its way into the top 20 in the Breakthrough Indie Album Chart, Vinyl Chart and Indie Album Chart. How does that feel?
"Yeah, it was a great feeling. I’m still celebrating. I thought that the album would sort of go under the radar a bit. I mean, it’s a great album but times are what they are at the moment, so I was made up when I found out."
Are there any tour plans for next year?
"There are no plans just yet. I’m just waiting to see how the current situation ends up looking and then I will go from there. Even though I really want to get back out there and tour, I’m not really into doing gigs where the crowd are all a mile away and looking at you with masks on. We will just have to wait and see how things go."
Listen to 'Drifters Skyline' HERE
INTERVIEW BY ALISTER ROSS