INTERNATIONAL FEATURE ARTIST: Skyeladder (UK)
When an online ad led to a marriage and subsequent band...that's the short story of folk-Americana-pop-rock quintet Skyeladder, a band hailing from Lancashire in the UK with a twinkle in their eye and a desire above all else to share their love of music.
Centred around husband and wife Paul and Janie Britton, Skyeladder have since evolved into a five-piece, recently hitting the studio for a brand new EP due out later this year. And while they may not always agree on everything (particularly if pineapple belongs on a pizza or not), the group took some time out for an in-depth chat about getting kicked out of libraries, finding a fill-in drummer in the audience and how kicking cancer's butt (twice) has strengthened an already stoic devotion to their craft. Interview below.
BAND NAME: Skyeladder
HOMETOWN: Lancashire, UK
BAND MEMBERS: Janie – Songwriter/Lead Singer/Rhythm Guitarist/Keyboard/ Percussion/Gets the gigs Paul – Songwriter/Backing Vocals/Rhythm Guitarist/Keys Bill – Lead Guitar Adam – Bass Nathan – Drums
HOW DID SKYELADDER GET STARTED? The band was initially formed via Janie and Paul Britton who met in 2001 after Paul advertised online for a singer ( which back then was extremely rare) , and they started going out, they later married Dec 5th, 2003. Janie: "It was actually love at first sight I think so I knew that we were not only going to make great music but also be life long soul mates” Janie sings lead vocals, plays keys , percussion and guitar and Paul plays rhythm guitar, keys and backing vocals. Both Paul and Janie are the song writers for the band. Paul: "Initially we played our songs acoustically, attending open mics to hone our craft and when we felt ready we decided to add a drummer, Lead Guitarist and Bass player to further expand the sound that you hear now” Janie and Paul at the start of 2016 added Nathan (Drums), Adam (Bass) and Ewan (Lead Guitar) to the band and more recently Bill who replaced Ewan as Lead Guitarist. Skyeladder have performed at some memorable places including Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall. The British musical Fireworks championships in front of 10,000 people. Darwen’s Library Theatre Auditorium stage at Darwen Live and Manchester’s O2 and also the Apollo Theatre. They have also appeared numerous times at Carfest North, organised by Chris Evans (Radio 2) the event sold 20,000 tickets, raising money for BBC Children in Need. Janie and Paul have also made numerous radio and TV appearances. Janie: "Unfortunately, Paul developed bowel cancer and had an operation in Sept 2016 meaning that we were off the gigging circuit for a while. Luckily, he recovered fully (thank goodness). But the following year November 2017 we were struck by another blow in that our dear friend and lead guitarist Ewan died in a very short period of time from bile duct cancer." We suffered yet another blow in January 2018 in that Paul (Janie's hubby and the rhythm guitarist and joint songwriter in the band was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, cancer again) But being the strong chap that he is Paul is determined to push through and continue with the music even whilst going through intense chemo.“ “ The band are great in that they are so supportive and are rallying around like real troopers. Paul: "Out of respect for Ewan, we only started to look for another Lead Guitarist recently and have only just added Bill to our line-up, he will be making his full rock debut at Darwen Live."
HOW LONG HAS SKYELADDER BEEN GOING FOR? We’ve been around since 2001 as an acoustic duo then formed the full band start of 2016.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR MUSICAL INFLUENCES? Paul: So how to describe the band well, it’s a fusion of Americana and Rock without being too heavily influenced by any genre or artist. Although people have likened us to Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, Crowded House and The Pretenders.
DESCRIBE SKYELADDER IN THREE WORDS: Paul: Ambitious, talented , unique...and: Always creative never-dull Jane: Determined, effervescent, forward-thinking. Techy Guy Steve P: Exciting to witness and inspiring musical experience.
'NEON SKYE' (SKYELADDER)
WHAT'S THE MOST MEMORABLE GIG YOU'VE PLAYED SO FAR AND WHY? Paul: I guess, though it's not really funny, the most surreal experience would be being evacuated from the Darwen Library Theatre. No, not for taking too loudly, it was actually due to a suspicious package being left in a weird place. The whole place was cleared and we had to hang around the street corner waiting for the police to give the all clear. We overheard a group of friends describing us as folk, so when we saw them in the audience we gave it a little extra push, made the songs just a tad heavier and their faces were a picture. Adam: Tough one. I think the most memorable for me was when our drummer went AWOL before a gig, so we plucked a drummer out of the audience to play with us - who ended up becoming a permanent part of the band. Otherwise it was hearing a loud crash on the stage and seeing the Ewans amp had toppled over and fallen off its stand, I couldn't stop laughing.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE SKYELADDER SONG AND WHY? Janie: I love singing 'Look Into My Eyes' it’s such a happy soulful song and it really makes me feel good. It’s one of those feel-good songs that seem to inject a bit of shine and happiness into the crowd as well. Paul: I have 2. 'Name Of The Game' because it's our opening number and means that the show is underway, plus it's a got a great driving beat. The other is 'Til You Spoke To Me', I love the guitar riff, the funkiness of the track, the lyrics - staying forever, yeah, those two for me, are very special. Adam: Probably 'Til You Spoke To Me', this is the song we usually end the sets with as it's usually the one with the most energy.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON RIGHT NOW? ANY NEW THINGS ON THE HORIZON? We have an EP coming out later in the year called “Life is for Living” and the first single “What in the World” will be out around August 2018 time. Check out Facebook group here for more details. However you can still buy our first album “Yeah Yeah Yeah” in our online store. We also have great exclusive merchandise for sale here. We also have a Rocket Fuel funding campaign here to raise money to finish the EP, mix, master and promote. We also currently have a mini tour touring around some of the festivals this May – August in order to promote our new EP and Single. We’ve called it the “Life is for Living Tour” - tour dates here.
IF YOU WEREN'T PLAYING MUSIC, WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU BE DOING? Paul: Listening to Skyeladder Janie: Well apart from what Paul said re: listening to Skyeladder as I love the songs so much lol. I’d do more modelling, blogging and photography
IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE OTHER BAND, WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE AND WHY? Paul: Ezio so I can learn more about their style of writing Janie: I’d probably go for a band that has some practical skills as well like being able to cook, build a fire and forage for food. So as long as they can do that they are welcome lol . Plus I need somebody to make my bed and take care of me :-) Nathan: Alestorm because they're pretty much pirates and probably have a bucket load of rum Adam: Modest Mouse so we could get all existential and pass the time until rescue a bit faster Bill: The B52's, can they bring their instruments? can they be 20 years younger? can I be 20 years younger?
PINEAPPLE ON A PIZZA, YES OR NO? Janie: Oh yes I love pineapple one of my fav fruits, need it in most meals to be honest Paul: YES! but as long as it's pizza, who cares? Nathan: No way it's an abomination and sacrilege Adam: No. Absolutely not. The only fruits that belong on a pizza are tomatoes in the form of a sauce. Bill: Yes, but not every single one.
CATS OR DOGS? Janie: Definitely dogs cats only care about themselves (sorry I just don’t like them and I’m allergic to them, but then again I’m also allergic to dogs ha ha), dogs, well they love you, protect the house, they are loyal and my pup Suzie cue bounces with excitement when she sees me coming in. She’s also very sensitive and knows when I’m upset and comes and physically gives me a hug and a kiss. Paul: DOGS, cats are selfish Nathan: Cats because they don't need lots of attention and will love you regardless. Cats need a lot more attention as kittens, but they make up for that by just being chill after. Adam: Dogs, cats just don't love you the same. Bill: Cats, I don't trust dogs, you know where you are with a cat...
WOULD SKYELADDER SURVIVE A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE? Paul: Yes, zombies don't exist, but if they did, I’m indestructible having survived three Pulmary Embolisms and Cancer twice the zombie apocalypse is not gonna get me Janie: We’d definitely survive (well, Paul and I would lol) Paul says he’s indestructible and I have inner strength so I’m told so, will find a way to move forward and survive. Plus, anyway I’m not sure I’d suit the whole dead eyed, skin shedding zombie look. I mean I’m a girly girl, I need to wash, zombies smell, I like my hair and makeup they obviously don’t, so the zombie look just won’t do it for me, plus just a thought - aren’t we there already with people wandering around dazed staring glazed eyes at their phones and also, in Manchester it’s been reported people are taking a certain type of drug that pretty much leaves them showing zombie like stances? Nathan: No way I'd accept my fate and become a zombie. It's gonna happen sometime Adam: Erm, I don't think any of us possess any fighting or survival skills and I'm pretty sure none of us could outrun the undead (if we're talking 28 days zombies). If we were already inside some form of bunker with many years of rations and water filtration then possibly. Bill: Yes, cos we started it...
AND FINALLY, WHAT'S THE GREATEST SONG OF ALL TIME AND WHY? Paul: It depends on my mood at the time - I might think song A is the greatest, next it could be song B. For now, I'm going to say that the greatest song ever written is One More Walk Round The Dancefloor by Ezio, it had me by the throat as soon as I heard it, one of the few songs that makes cry. Special lyrics that resonate with me, a melody that tugs at your heart strings and a beauty that few songs even get close to. Nathan: Marigold by mother falcon the multiple vocals and the minimal orchestra combined with the mandolin just creates a sound comparable to the wall of sound by Phil Spector. Janie: I love It Must Be Love by Labi Siffre, and covered by Madness. It’s all about love, being next to your soulmate (in my case its Paul loved him since the day I laid eyes on him lol) goodness, saying thank you and just being blessed for the time we have. I love to sing it and play on the piano, one of my all time favs, and it makes me happy Adam: That's reaaaaaaally difficult. The one that's constantly there for me though is "The Gunner's Dream" by Pink Floyd. I'm strongly of the opinion that great songs need solid messages at the forefront, subtle or not. The Gunner's Dream isn't exactly subtle but it's powerful. Though there are a bunch of others I like just as much, or maybe more depending on the day Bill: Can't pick a single tune, here's a bunch that mean something to me song "Floatin' Anarchy", from: "Floating Anarchy (Live 1977)", by: "Gong / Here & Now" I first got into "Floating Anarchy" in the early 80's when I was into my own version of psychodelik-punk-anarchy (yeah man property is theft 'innit)... I still had a bit of growing up to do back then. Nowadays it reminds me of who I was and how I got here... song: Steppenwolf, from: "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music", by: Hawkwind. I first got into "Astounding Sounds" in the late 70's and it was a firm favourite of mine over a decade. "Steppenwolf" helps me channel my inner wolf, for those times when you just need to rip out a throat or two. song: "Kadu Flyer", from: "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music", by: Hawkwind. I first got into "Astounding Sounds" in the late 70's and it was a firm favorite of mine over a decade. "Kadu Flyer" evokes feelings of lightness, if I close my eyes I'm hang-gliding around Everest.
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BY TIANA SPETER