Skids frontman Richard Jobson is still loving the aliens - and Bowie
Richard Jobson is a man of many talents. Musician, filmmaker, and now author. All at the same time – suggesting planning may be one of his lesser strengths.
He laughs. “If you spoke to me a year ago, yes, things weren’t that interesting, but now it’s been pretty incredible trying to keep my head from exploding.”
Firstly, The Skids – the punk band “occasionally brought out for a little dust down” got a “proper dust down” in 2017, recording their first album in 36 years. Last month, ‘Burning Cities’ hit #2 in the indie album chart (ahead of Noel Gallagher but pipped to the #1 by Leo Sayer in some sort of 70s flashback).
The band even revived their own ‘No Bad’ label – last used for 1978 debut single ‘Charles’.
“I’ve been trying to get back to those days, that DIY ethic,” says Jobson of the new release. “You can’t wait for something be handed to you, that’s not going to happen, so make it happen yourself.”
And thanks to prompting from producer Youth – “a massive Skids fan” – the band reconvened in the studio.
“People possibly expected us to deliver some sort of patchwork quilt of Skids cliches, whereas we tried to present something a little more contemporary and reflective of what’s going on in the world, a kind of political side to it.”
The impetus for the new record was partly from looking back – to the band’s 40th anniversary in 2017. And nostalgia is everywhere – with a new museum in Dunfermline planning to house an exhibition.
“It’s like an old salon with thousands of pictures on the walls,” Jobson reveals - “rather than a classic exhibition which wouldn’t suit the nature of punk, it’s much more like the art’s been vomited on the walls, a much more irreverent feel.”
It is apt that the museum is in the band’s hometown. “I feel very proud of my origins – the book is about that”.
However, talk of “the book” – ‘Into The Valley’, his autobiography – may be for another day (mid-March), as first in this pileup of events is ‘Speed of Life’ – “a homage to David Bowie’s album Low,” he explains, “about two aliens that come to earth looking for Bowie.
“At first they think humans are idiots, morons who want to kill each other and want to destroy the planet, and then they hear ‘Low’, and they go ‘wait a minute, they’ve got something else going on’.”
This sounds like a film in the making, especially for someone with several movies under his belt. And plans are already under way. However, the producer of ‘16 Years of Alcohol’ has reservations.
“I don’t think I will make that film,” he admits. “The book is very sweet and gentle but my work is dark and neolithic, so it should be done by someone with a softer touch than me – so I’m happy to hand them over.”
Jobson is in ebullient mood, having just received his first edition via the postie. And its jacket is very much a homage to Bowie’s album cover – again, in this age of downloads and streams, a rather retro concept.
“Our generation always coveted things like albums, and sleeves were a proper first introduction to art,” he says.
We wind up the conversation – after all, he’s got a rather chaotic few weeks ahead. “The idea that these things are all coming out at the same time is actually really exciting, ”he enthuses. “I’m still a bit of a punk rocker at heart.”
Speed of Life is out now. Into The Valley is published on March 16. A Skids convention takes place in Dunfermline on the weekend of May 19.