SOURCE – How does it feel to be back in the running with Skyclad?
Steve Ramsey (guitar) – At our age, and after twenty seven years, I’m not so sure about ‘the running’ – maybe we just like to jog along at our own pace. But there seems to be more of an air of positivity about the band these days and we are very pleased indeed with the response to the new album and it’s good to be playing more shows. It’s also great to be working with Dave Pugh again, making us a six piece band, and getting Duncan Storr involved with the artwork once more was another welcome return.
SOURCE – Now the irresistible question: what can you tell me about the new album at this point in time?
Steve Ramsey (guitar) – I can tell you that we are really happy with the way the new album has turned out and that it seems to be getting a very positive reaction from fans and press alike. This includes the artwork, of course, and the overall impression seems to be that it has a ‘classic’ Skyclad feel, like one of our albums from the mid-nineties.
SOURCE – Can you explain a little bit about the subjects you’re dealing with on this record, and your sources of inspiration this time around?
Steve Ramsey (guitar) – Well the songs on ‘Forward Into The Past’ are broadly split into ‘big themes’ and ‘personal themes’. So the ‘big themes’ of politics (nationalism, protectionism and populism), climate change and pollution and the changing nature of the music business are all discussed in ‘State Of The Union Now’, ‘Change Is Coming’ and ‘Forward Into The Past’. While the more ‘personal themes’ of ‘Fate’ and how to respond to the world around you are discussed in ‘Starstruck?’, ‘The Measure’, ‘Words Fail Me’
and ‘Borderline’. Traditional folk song forms are employed for ‘A Heavy Price to Pay’ and ‘The Queen Of The Moors’, while ‘Last Summer’s Rain’ looks back to the youthful idealism end exuberance and asks ‘what happened?’ Fortunately for me, there was a lot of political upheaval in 2016 that I could use to help illustrate some of these ideas but the trick is not to make them too specific so that the songs are ‘out of date’ next year.
SOURCE – What are typical ingredients that have to be present in a Skyclad song before you decide to record it on an album?
Steve Ramsey (guitar) – There aren’t any ‘typical ingredients’ really, it just has to have good ideas, rhythmically and/or melodically. We use a wide range of instruments and can have tracks played by one person or by eighteen. One of the good things about writing with Skyclad is that the music has this variety and isn’t just the same format album after album.
SOURCE – What are your own expectations from this new album?
Steve Ramsey (guitar) – I suppose the main expectation for this album is to let everyone know that we are still very much together, releasing new material and aren’t content just to go on playing all the ‘classics’ – like a ‘legacy’ band. But, in a way, we are also considering this album as a ‘first album’ because we are back to being a six piece band and are really looking to the future.
SOURCE – What are some of the dreams that you and the band still have nowadays? Is there something that you didn’t accomplish yet that you would like to see happening in the (near) future?
Steve Ramsey (guitar) – We are really excited about the new album and the possibilities we have now, in terms of songwriting and instrumentation with Dave back in the band. I also feel that we have started on a new phase, or chapter, of Skyclad and we’ve only touched on these possibilities with this album. As a six piece band we also have options for live work, in terms of vocals and instrumentation and I am really looking forward to playing a lot
of the songs from Forward Into The Past live, hopefully to a much wider audience. This hopefully means travelling further afield for the band, to the US, Japan or, indeed, South America because we haven’t played in any of these places yet.
SOURCE – Do you have any plans of a South America and Brazil tour?
Steve Ramsey (guitar) – We are often asked about playing in Brazil and South America and, obviously, we would love to do it but it has never happened. This is due to the distance and logistics involved (i.e. the cost) but if someone wants to organise and promote such a trip, we are ready and willing.
SOURCE – So to end this interview. Is there a message or some words you want to share with our readers?
Steve Ramsey (guitar) – The two main things are, firstly, that we are sorry it took eight years to get a new album together and, secondly, that it is a pity we still haven’t been to Brazil. Hopefully, the next album will be done in a lot less time and we can get to tour further afield and meet some of you at one of our gigs in the not too distant future.