A special homecoming for The Skids

The Skids in 2018
The Skids in 2018

To paraphrase the title of one of their own classic singles – The Skids Are Coming.

The legendary Fife band are riding the crest of a wave with the success of a string of raucous gigs and brand new album ‘Burning Cities’ which not only received uniformly excellent reviews but also made the UK top 30.

The band back in their punk heyday (pic by Mike Laye)

The band back in their punk heyday (pic by Mike Laye)

Delighting long term fans, like fellow Fifer Ian Rankin, and gathering new ones, they got a thumbs up on Iggy Pop’s 6Music show. The revived interest in the reformed group has led to a major exhibition plus a convention weekend in Dunfermline where they originated.

The exhibition takes place in the town’s Carnegie Library and Galleries and the band’s frontman Richard Jobson said it is a building he knows only too well.

“For a long period of my life it was a second home,” he admitted, “I’ve got a really deep affection for the place.

“I went there straight after school most days of the week and at the weekend I would hang out there too.

The Skids (pic by Allan Ballard)

The Skids (pic by Allan Ballard)

“It was a place which had an immense collection of books which was available to me for free, and it was a place where I could get on and do my own thing quietly.

“I used to quite like sitting there with all the old guys who were in there for the warmth. They were amazing characters.

“Without the Carnegie Library I certainly wouldn’t have had the courage to write a lot of the genesis of what would become Skids songs.”

Jobson says he was approached with the idea by Fife Cultural Trust and he saw it as a chance to rewrite a historical wrong. “There’s been so many polls done in Scotland over the years about the best 50 bands or whatever and Skids have been completely erased from history almost.

“I’m not bitter, it’s just the way it is, but I was watching a documentary about Scottish music which said punk started with Orange Juice and Postcard Records, which is just insane, this rewriting of history.

“So it was put to me about celebrating this remarkable thing that happened – which didn’t happen in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Dundee, it happened in Dunfermline.

“The Skids recruited members from Fife mining communities. From Lochgelly, Ballingry, Cowdenbeath and Crossgates. It was a different mindset we had and I think that was one of the reasons that we were much more individualistic.

“We had that idiosyncratic sound through Stuart Adamson of course, which moved us away from city bands.

“City bands are so embroiled in trying to look cool. We never tried to be cool because it didn’t matter to us. What was relevant to us was us, the music and the people we were talking to about our music, and they were essentially working class people.

“We didn’t have that art school, more moulded sense of who we were, so I think we’ve just slipped of the radar.

For the record, the band, with the late Stuart Adamson who would go on to have huge success in Big Country, had five top 40 singles and four top 30 albums in just four years. None too shabby.

Jobson said: “The Skids squeezed a lot of music out and a lot of content but we didn’t last that long. So a lot of those kids then, who are adults now, maybe never go the chance to see us.

“It was a very hectic period full of life, energy, zest, ambition and creativity but a very short period. In those days you stuck out two albums a year.”

And now the band have been gigging heavily, with shows already lined up for 2019, giving them a chance to reconnect with their audience and Jobson describes it as “wonderful”

“We decided that when we were going to do it we would just go for it and leave our sense of the ridiculousness at the door. In many ways it is ridiculous at our age to be going out and playing gigs.

“We just went out and did it for the sense of adventure and that word which has disappeared from music – fun.

“For me personally the thing that I love most is interaction with people because I liked doing that when I was first in the Skids. The conversation you have with the audience, I really love that part of it.

“The age our audience is now, they all have a story to tell. It might not always be a story of success, it could be tragic and tough, but they do have a story to tell and that’s been really heartwarming.

“People stick with you. They become your friends. We might be the first record they ever bought like ‘Into The Valley’ or ‘Masquerade’ when they were 12 years old. That’s then same for me when I bought my first record which was The Sensational Alex Harvey Band.

“That becomes your band because you take ownership of them.”

As well as concentrating on the Skids the exhibition will feature some of Jobson’s own work outside of the band, as a writer and film maker.

“They’ve sort of put me at the heart of this exhibition, because they wanted to go beyond the band,” he said.

“So it’s not just The Skids and Big Country, the Trust was interested in some of the other work that I’ve been involved with because you should never just assume that people know what you’ve been doing.

“And the whole thing is building up to the release of a very short book about my time in The Skids and my early years in Fife. “It’s called ‘Into The Valley’ and comes out a couple of weeks after the exhibition opens.

“My first novel came out last week as well. It’s called ‘Speed Of Life’ about two aliens who come to Earth to search for David Bowie. So all these things are tied together. It’s a great way of celebrating the history of the band which was a pivotal moment in the history of Fife and for that area.”

Allied to the exhibition is a two-day convention centred around PJ Molloys, which will be an intimate affair.

“We wanted to play the whole Burning Cities album in an electric setting because we’ll probably never get a chance to do it again. Then the following day we’re going to be doing an acoustic session to launch my book.

“I’ve also got a little book called ‘No Bad Lyrics’ named after our record label, which prints all the lyrics with explanations at last for what I was going on about!

“We’re having a Skids gin bar in Dunfermline in my brother’s barber shop, and there’s the launch of the documentary which we made last year. Lots going on and it’s going to be great fun.”

For someone so firmly entrenched with Dunfermline it perhaps surprising to learn that Jobson hails from a different part of the Kingdom.

“I was born in Kirkcaldy. I always get associated with Dunfermline but actually as a kid I spent all my time in Kirkcaldy.

“So I’ve become an honorary son of Dunfermline but because of my formative years I had a great love for Kirkcaldy and still do.”