Belfast Telegraph

Q&A: Matt Hayward, drummer of rockers Band of Skulls

By Edwin Gilson

Matt Hayward is the drummer with the three-piece Southampton blues rock band, who'll be bringing their fearsome riffs to Belfast for Halloween.

Do you have fond memories of your last time playing Belfast?

Yeah! We had an amazing night out last time in Belfast; I can't remember a great deal of it! I think we just went to a bar next door to the venue we played and met loads of really great people. We ended up hanging out with most of the crowd that had been to our gig. The people over there are never afraid to come out and enjoy themselves, and we're really looking forward to coming back over.

Three albums in, and Band of Skulls are still sometimes accused of unoriginality. Does this bother you?

It doesn't bother me at all. We've been having these sort of things since we started and I think people just like to put you into a certain box. I don't really pay attention to it. We've been called loads of different things, with people saying we sound like this, this and this. We can quite honestly say that we don't sit around listening to records and thinking 'How do we replicate this?'.

Sometimes it can even be a compliment to be compared to great bands.

Upon meeting your future bandmates, did you instantly bond over music?

Mine and Russell's parents knew each other, and we'd both shown an interest in music, so it was a good way for our parents to keep us out of trouble. They'd just tell us to keep ourselves occupied by writing a song or something. I'm a little younger than the other two, so they'd have to sneak me into the venues we were playing as I was underage. Then I'd be knackered at school the next morning, falling asleep on my desk. My teachers were alarmed; they didn't know what on earth I'd been doing on a Wednesday night!

And your dad was quite an influence on the band in your early days ...

Yeah! When we were growing up, he wouldn't allow us to go and play a gig until we were really tight. He'd say 'No, you're not good enough yet; you need to work on this a bit more'. As a teenager I'd usually just say 'Get lost, dad,' but he was right. His advice has done us well.

Some of your early singles have become well-known outside of rock circles. Was this a surprise to you?

Well, it was quite funny because we were completely unknown when we made the first record, until iTunes did their first ever Single of the Week free download and chose our single (I Know What I Am) for it. It went online at midnight and I remember sitting in a hotel bar and thinking 'This is it, we've gone from being unknown to being displayed all around the world'.

It was pretty scary, but also a great platform. It launched us.

Have you been happy with the reaction to your third album, Himalaya, released this year?

We've been really happy. There's always an apprehension before the record is put out, but people have been singing along to the album tracks as well as the singles. As for critical reaction, I don't pay a lot of attention, to be honest. You can sit there and read every review if you want to, and that's fine. Everyone's entitled to their opinions. It doesn't really affect what we do anymore. As long as it's coming from an honest place on our behalf then it's all good. The important part of our music is the human element. Rule number one is no click-tracks!

Band of Skulls play The Limelight 2 on October 30. For details, visit www.limelightbelfast.com

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