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Skinny Hobos - INSIDE THE MUSIC: Skinny Hobos

11 Jul 2017 // An interview by Alex Moulton

In our latest episode of www.muzic.net.nz's Inside The Music we interview Alex and Sam of Skinny HobosFeaturing an exclusive acoustic performance of their latest single Suburban Living

Check out the video below:


Alex (Interviewer): Today we’ve got the Skinny Hobos, Alex and Sam, otherwise known as Elvis and Texas (respectively). How did you come up with these stage names?

Elvis (Guitars, Vocals): They are actually just old nicknames. Sam’s last name is Holdom, so Texas Holdom makes a lot of sense.

Texas (Drums, Backing Vocals): He was always a show-pony as a kid, getting up and dancing. So Elvis.

Elvis: It actually has nothing to do with that. Don’t know how deep we want to go into this, but it actually has to do with how I was conceived, and I’ve heard the story far too many times.

Alex: That is something nobody wants to think about their parents doing.

Elvis: Your parents are a man and a woman. You understand they must have had sex at least once because you were born, but you don’t really want to think about your parents having sex. So you try assuming that was the only time.

Texas: I know my parents have had sex three times. Once for me, once for my sister, and once when I walked in on them. That was weird. It still scars me. I hope they aren’t watching this interview.

Alex: Skinny Hobos are a two-piece. Was this planned? Did you ever consider bringing in more people for a full band?

Elvis: The idea of a full band has come up once or twice, but it never seemed necessary. We’ve jammed together, and it worked with just the two of us. I like that we are a two-piece, but it wasn’t sought after. It works for us.

Texas: When we first jammed it was just guitar and drums. It sounded thin, but we’ve worked on it. The idea has popped up, about adding another member, but maybe a different kind of instrumentation; brass, saxophone, keys. We’ve had a few jams with other people. But a two-piece just works. It’s much easier to manage, and much more fun.

Elvis: The more we’ve played together, the more I’ve created this style of playing where I treat us as a three-piece; I try to incorporate both bass and guitar in my playing. I’ve always been a fan of self-imposed limitations as they help get the creative juices flowing. It’s been a challenge that we’ve had to get past, and we’re pretty stoked with the results.

Alex: Skinny Hobos do have a lot of different sounds. How many effects pedals have you got?

Elvis: It constantly changes.

Texas: Last count was 20.

Elvis: That’s now, but it’s been more, and it’s been less.  It will change in the future, depending on my whims.

Texas: It’s grown and developed over the years. The first year was fun; every practice would be Elvis playing around with a new pedal for 20 minutes.

Elvis: I try to take care of that at home now, beforehand, so I don’t waste his time. But it still happens.

Texas: On a lazy Sunday practice, if we have a few hours to kill, no time limit, then we’ll play around and see “what does this button do?”

Elvis: “Here are seven new pedals! Let’s try them all at the same time!”

Alex: Do you use all the pedals every time?

Elvis: Generally. There are two pedals on the board specifically for when we tour, in case I don’t have my bass head. It’s a big part of my sound, so these two pedals combined can kind of recreate what I do with the bass head. Apart from that, everything gets used. That is the hard thing about changing things around is that I do use everything. I want to use everything, and I want to use more. But we have to think practically. My guitar pedalboard weighs exactly 23kg, which is what you can carry on Air New Zealand, so I can’t really get bigger than that if we want to sustainably tour. We still spend so much on baggage.

Texas: Each time we fly there is so much over-sized baggage. Jetstar’s recent change in baggage policy has kind of kicked us in the guts. When we went to Australia this year, we took nearly 115kg between us and our sound tech. Now it’s going to be a lot more expensive.

Elvis: It might seem like a little bit of overkill, but our thought process is that if we bring as much of our own gear as possible, then we can consistently give a good show, wherever we play. It’s a trade-off; we can go in and use less stuff, but you may not get as good of a result. We are all about the full Skinny Hobos experience.

Alex: Skinny Hobos have a unique look (shirtless with a tie). How many ties do you have?

Elvis: One.

Texas: Honestly, just the one. Okay, yeah I did get a new red tie recently, which is a godsend, because the first one was breaking.

Elvis: We had the idea that we would dress nice because it was counter-intuitive, based on what we are as a band. We aren’t very presentable, and we play in a band named after homeless people.

Texas: Formal is a better word.

Elvis:Exactly. We would be formal hobos. But Texas gets hot when he plays drums, so the shirt comes off.

Texas: The shirtlessness was definitely a practicality thing. I just can’t do that much washing. We don’t have a washing machine. Well, we have one, it just doesn’t work.

Alex: So you never toyed around with wearing different ties for different occasions? Wear an aussie flag when performing in Australia?

Texas: I’d never wear an aussie flag. I’m a patriotic New Zealander. Or as patriotic as we can get. Tall poppy syndrome is a thing.

Elvis:Unfortunately, I have a kangaroo on my guitar. A not to you kiwi builders out there, I will accept a free New Zealand guitar with a Southern Cross or kiwi. If you’re willing to do it, I’m willing to play it.

Texas: I play New Zealand-made snare drum with Australian-made drumsticks. We have this weird Australasian thing going.

Alex: How long have you guys been doing music? What got you into it?

Elvis: It’ll be different for us both, but it’s been a thing for me ever since I was born. I started as a drummer when I was about six years old, and started piano around the same time. So it’s always been about music for me.

Texas: I picked up a guitar before I picked up the drumsticks.

Elvis: We should trade places.

Texas: We’ve done that once or twice. It was quite fun. I played the guitar when I was six or seven years old, and I couldn’t fit my fingers on the fret board properly. But I used to always pick up pots and pan lids from my mum’s kitchen, and play kitchen cymbals. So one day my mum asked if I wanted to take drum lessons, and I thought “Yeah, sure. Sounds fun.” And here I am, nearly 20 years later, still playing. My dad had a huge part in just getting me playing, as he coached my bands in intermediate school. I auditioned for the school band, but I didn’t get into it, so my dad was like “F*ck it, I’ll find a band for you”. So we found a singer, and turned him into a bass player, found a guitarist and another singer. I think I was 12 years old then, and I’ve been playing in bands ever since.

Elvis: That is actually how we know each other. Back in high school, his band that had developed, and my band, used to play gigs together. We played Rockfest together, and did a few gigs. His dad Paul actually helped us out quite a bit as well.

Texas:Actually, we’re recording an album with the old man soon. He’s finally releasing an album. He used to be in bands back when he lived in Sydney.

Elvis: He’s punk rock as f*ck. Are we allowed to swear? Sh*t, P*ss, F*ck!

Texas: So he was a bassist in a punk rock band called the Four Skins (sp?). There were four of them and they were all dudes, so the name came naturally. But then they got a chick on the guitar, and there weren’t five of them anymore-

Elvis: So they became the Five Skins (laughs)

Texas:Yeah, so we’re going to a recording studio just outside of Taupiri, which has a brewery on site apparently. The drunker you get the better you get sometimes. Some people are like that; a guy I knew in Dunedin was like that. The drunker he got, the better he got. There was no end to it. He was a blues guitarist; he’d get sh*tfaced and put his guitar behind his head, or play with his teeth. The drunker he got, the more impressive and outlandish he got. It was quite incredible. And then he hated himself the next day. Every time.

Alex: Did your parents influence your music styles?

Texas: My old man would pump Bachman-Turner Overdrive through the walls when I was young. Always playing Deep Purple and Pink Floyd. So my dad was always playing the classic rock, like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and I never really listened to it myself until I got to my teenage years, and kind of rediscovered it all. When I was a kid, it was all Backstreet Boys, 5ive and Oasis. I was a pop kid.

Elvis:…Oasis isn’t terrible...I mean they aren’t good, but they aren’t as bad as the Backstreet Boys. Well, maybe they are…

Texas: It’s funny because I ended up studying the Backstreet Boys at University.

Elvis: You know Liam Gallagher released some music recently, and it’s pretty good. I’ve been digging it.

Texas: Your mum has been pretty cool with music though.

Elvis:Yeah, my mum is kinda parallelling with what I’m into, which is great. A lot of people tend to get set in their ways. My dad listened to music up until the 70’s and then just stopped caring. He still listens to Fleetwood Mac, and Led Zeppelin, which is great because it’s given me a love for that stuff too. But my mum is always moving on to the new thing, so whenever I got into something new, I’d be like “Check it out”. To a point; she doesn’t get into everything that I do, but her favourite bands are Radiohead and Incubus.

Alex: Let’s talk about your music. You’ve just released the third video in your music video adventures. You don’t see too many people making such an effort with their videos these days.

Elvis: It has become a part of the art for some people, like our influences Red Fang, they wouldn’t have been successful if it wasn’t for the music video for Prehistoric Dog going viral on YouTube, and it’s a great music video. Full of beer drinking and dudes with magic powers and people heads getting chopped off. It’s fantastic. There are quite a few other bands had done it, the obvious example being OK Go. They were a band long before that Here it Goes Again song with the treadmills that got them famous. It’s what made them successful, and it’s something you can’t really ignore in the music industry. You have to compete with every bit of music that has come out ever, because it’s all there on the internet at the touch of a button and available to see. Apart from that, I’ve always been a big fan of the inter-media aspect of it. So I like it when the visual side, the artistic side, the video side, and the music side, all work together. We’ve been really fortunate to know an artist and director since before the very beginning. So we’ve been able to develop that and keep a theme going. Which is interesting. At least for me. I don’t really care if other people don’t like it.

Texas: Tying in with that as well, YouTube is one of the biggest platforms for finding new music. So if you get an interesting video that can stand out, get attention, and catch people, that is where you are going to find some new listeners.

Elvis: I’m sick of the music video of just watching the band rock out. Just go to their show. I don’t want to see someone miming playing their song, no cables plugged in trying to look cool and sh*t. It doesn’t do anything for me. Our videos were fun to film. Which is better than standing in a room for seven hours playing the same song.

Texas: We did have to that once at the Ding Dong Lounge. We had to play Merchant of Venice six times.

Elvis: With all due respect to your opinions. And I do have no respect for your opinions (laughs) that was for like 30 seconds of video.

Texas: We played for like an hour and twenty, all for 30 seconds of video.

Elvis: To be fair, we did play a show, and everyone got to see it, and we got our friends Coridian on board to play afterwards, so we could make it fun for everybody.

Texas:Something else about music videos I’ve noticed recently that I want to touch on. YouTube has always been the go to place for music videos, but a lot of people are uploading videos to Facebook now.

Elvis:Yeah, every time someone has autoplay on, you scroll past it and it gets millions of views.

Texas: Alien Weaponry have just released their latest video. It’s a performance video, but it’s a very well done video, on a rocky outcrop at the beach. It’s pretty impressive. But that has racked up nearly 500,000 views. On Facebook. Which again, you scroll past it, it starts playing, and that’s a view. It’s been shared a lot, and I’m seeing it pop up every day.

Elvis: They are very young and talented. Maybe they are getting that power from sacrificing people to Satan. They’re in Metal after all, right? It’s a thing that happens.

Alex: You guys live together, play together, touring together. Do you not get sick of each other?

Texas:Incredibly, no. I haven’t.

Elvis: I’m sick of everybody. I don’t know how this band works.

Texas: When we’re at home, there’s no butting; we know each other’s limits and boundaries. We have to sit in a van together for eight hours from time to time.

Elvis: We only started living together recently, which was more of a practical decision, because of the amount of time that we tour, but we have been touring that much for the last two years, so we’ve had a lot of time to get to know each other before we started living together in the same house.

Texas: We’re also good at blocking out any sh*t. We’re both very good at finding our own space.

Elvis: We both have a lot of experience working in music shops. You always have that annoying kid coming out at nine in the morning smashing the sh*t out of the drums, terribly. You learn how to tune that stuff out. If you can tune that out, you can tune out just about anything.

Texas:Living in flat full of musicians, (we live with another guitarist) it’s all that we do. I get guitar from both sides. So much guitar. It’s not a bad thing at all. I quite like it.

Alex: You guys have done your own headlining tour?

Elvis:Yeah, that was great. We’ve done one or two smaller headline tours. Mostly with other bands as the drawcard. We’ve done shows with Brendon Thomas and the Vibes, who obviously have their own crowd. This was really the first tour where we haven’t lost any money; in fact we made some money. The turnouts were great at the shows. We’ve been around a bit longer now, so people knew the songs and sung along. The weirdest thing for me this time, it was the first time hearing people outside of Auckland singing along to songs we haven’t released yet. So that was pretty cool. And when it came to the songs that we have released, to have the crowd sing it back louder than I was, with a microphone. It was pretty magic.

Texas: The cool thing about this tour was learning more about the places we were playing in. Napier is slightly out of the way, but the Cabana is a great venue. The crowd would jump on stage and dance with us, then get off when the song finished. Next song starts, then jump back up again.

Elvis:Nobody stepped on my pedals. Somebody fell off the stage. I didn’t see it but I heard it. It was pretty funny.

Texas:Wellington has always been fun for us, and we’ve always gotten a good response down there, but the show we did down there in May, is probably one of the best we’ve put on.

Elvis:Valhalla is one of my favourite places to play. Ben, who owns and runs it, is one of the best New Zealanders ever. He looks after you, he’s really enthusiastic. It’s always a pleasure dealing with him.

Alex: You are heading out on tour again with Decades soon?

Elvis: Actually after own tour we did five dates as part of the Smokefree Rockquest finals in June. That’s not so much a tour, but it means we didn’t get much of a chance to take a break. But this tour is going to be great. We have Decades, Dead Favours, and Bakers Eddy. Our first national tour was with Bakers Eddy back in November 2015. We have such a great relationship with those boys as we’ve played heaps of gigs with them. Dead Favours, their drummer and guitar player have been friends of mine since I was 15, so lots of history with those boys, and they’ve played with us lots of times. It’s great to play with friends. Decades as well, we haven’t played with them before, but we got to know them pretty well at Homegrown, they’re all good people. The music level is pretty high on this tour, but we’re also just such good mates with everyone who is coming along, that it’s going to be good fun.

Texas: It’ll be good to get back to the south Island for the first time since October last year with Villainy. Getting back to the South Island, it’s a great place to play. I lived in Dunedin for three and a half years. We’ve only played down there a handful of times, so it’s always good to get back and experience something a little different.

Elvis: the crowds are always great down there. They are always enthusiastic, right into the shows. Will be good times.

Alex: And after all of that the Skinny Hobos will be back here for the Auckland City Rockfest!

Elvis: Yeah, at the Kings Arms, in case you don’t know where here is. With Dead Favours. Heaps of bands that we know, like Coridian, who we’ve mentioned before. And Dead Beat Boys, Armed in Advance

Texas:Setting Fire to Stacey are coming up from Christchurch

Elvis: Quinn the Human, who we’ve toured with heaps. Love that band. It’s a lot of people that we’ve played a lot of shows with, so it will be awesome to be a part of it.

Texas: It’s always good to play at the Kings Arms, especially since the news that it’s going to leave us, sadly.

Elvis:Before we came here today, I checked our history, and we’ve played at the Kings Arms 21 times since 2014. This is our home.

Alex: So you’ve had a busy year, and gone almost from obscurity, to mainstream in a very short period of time. What’s next?

Elvis: An album, coming out later this year. We’ve been saying that for the last two years, but it’s gotta be a definite, or people are going to stop paying attention. We’ll be touring for that again. We have a couple things lined up for the tail end of this year and early next year. But the big thing, is The Rock FM are bringing us to Fiji for the Jim Beam Rock Island which is going to be sic.

Texas: Jim Beam and 200 people. It will be intimate. I am going to sweat everything out. I’m going to lose 5kg.

Elvis: I nearly died in Australia, and it was a cold weekend for them.

Alex: A lot to look forward to then. You guys are going to do a performance for us today...


You can watch the acoustic performances of Suburban Living and Jokers and Fools below:



Credits:
Filmed by Chris Morgan and Gareth West
Audio by Francis Wheeler
Interviewed by Alex Moulton
Title Screen by Chris Morgan and Blake Jones

Filmed on location at Kings Arms Tavern, Auckland

 

About Skinny Hobos

Skinny Hobos are a 2-piece Alternative Rock band from Auckland, New Zealand who make far more noise than any two people should!

The Hobos have quickly earned a reputation for being the hardest working band in town. In 2015, they played more shows than there were weeks in the year, as well as recording their debut album at Neil Finn’s Roundhead Studios with engineer Nick Poortman (Ekko Park, Jason Kerrison).

They finished off the year with a very successful co-headlined North Island tour with Wellington band Bakers Eddy, and they were also featured in the December/January issue of NZ Musician Magazine.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Skinny Hobos

Releases

Skinny Hobos
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape

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