Thin-Skinned are an ambient Shoegaze band made up of 5 Manchester students. I’m not really sure where to even start with this interview, it was one of the most chilled, laid back interviews I have ever done and they were all eager to talk about the band and their music.
The band started in 2016 and have performed in major cities across the UK such as Leeds, York, London and Manchester with many more to come in the following year.
The band which consists of 5 students, James Johnston (bass), Gus Beveridge (vocals), Maria Rocha (Guitar), Rob Terry (Guitar) and Charlie Wolff (drums) four members of the band sat down with me to talk about what their band is all about.
Where and why did the band come together?
While 4 of them study at Bimm and Maria recently being accepted into royal northern college of music , they are all keen performers. In there first year at uni they studied a Live Performance workshop module which brought them together and the band has stuck since.
Gus: “since then it has been more and more gig. i joined a bit later (the band), i wasn’t the first singer. there has been a few, but it’s been cool”
The band laughed “cool aha, good.”
Where did the name ‘Thin-Skinned come from?
Some say a bands name can make or break a band, but for Thin-skinned they have something that everyone can relate to. I believe a bands name should have some meaning or a back story so that the listening can relate to them more, a good name can really create an identity for who the band are and what they wanna do.
James Johnston: “it came from me, its something of a self identity, if you want me to be a bit pretentious.”
“its something my dad would always have a go at me saying i was to sensitive, too thin-skinned when i was growing up. I’ve had a couple of band name in mind but thin-skinned was always one in the back of my mind which i considered but never used”
“I always wanted to use it and it was a good opportunity to use it for a new band and i think it stuck pretty well to be honest.”
So are you all best friends?
Replying in a jokey way they said:
Charlie: “i fucking hate these guys”
Gus: “I think we have bonded more over the years”
“We can tolerate bad jokes that me and James do a lot”
Charlie: “Just about”
What is your sound?
While indie, and rock are some of the most well known music genre around. Shoesgaze on the other hand is the type of genre which isn’t thrown around as much, when talking about it the band had a little laugh trying to describe what it was.
In the 80s and 90s shoe gaze was a type of music in which a band will use ethereal-sounding mixture of obscured vocals, guitar distortion and effects, feedback, and overwhelming volume
James: “its like Shoegaze, ambient indie folk and some say like post rock as well.”
“its using rock instruments in a not a very rocky setting”
Charlie “do these words matter we have guitar, drum, bass and vocals and that’s all that matters.”
Gus: “basically Pink Floyd but less bassy”
What is your greatest memory from being in the band?
Some bands love gigging and some just like the experience of actually being in a band but this band loves it when their bass player James Johnston starts talking on stage, saying “Absolutely nothing relevant.”
But for James his greatest memories come from just travelling with the band, he said: “ its when we get in the car, literally piling all 5 of us into this tiny fiat panda with all the gear in the back and then doing a long trip down to London is my favourite part”
Charlie: “thats your favourite part, thats straight up at the bottom of the list for me”
What was the worst moment for you as a band?
One moment that the band will always remember and will always mock their bass player for goes back to a gig in Leeds, in which Charlie described the atmosphere as “You could actually hear a pin drop”
James: “there was a nightmare moment at one gig, a LGBT gig like promoting the LGBT community.”
“They said if you wanna say a few words about the LGBT community you can and I didn’t really plan anything to say and i didn’t really know what to say and when we came to our last song…”
“The song is about Oscar Wilde, so i thought id go up on a limb about something like that.”
“So i looked out at this crowd where there were very few people, a lot were sat down on their phones and i just sort of looked out and was a bit like daunted by it all, and i stuttered into this clumsy sentence. Which was something along the lines of.”
“Well this last song is about Oscar Wilde who was er famously gay, where he for LGBT Q and there is a lot of homophobia around, which is bad but you know gigs like these, you know er are good”
“And I’ve been roasted for that since”
Where do you see your self in the future as a band?
Every band wants to make it big, imagine your music being played across the world through millions of peoples phone in multiple countries. In the past we have seen musicians literally make the whole world scream out their lyrics ‘If you look at bands like Queen’ but for this band they’re just exited to see where there music actually will take them and for now its just about “exposure.”
Gus: “it’s getting better every gig we do, like there is more people liking it and more people coming up to me at least. Going holy… that was really cool”
James: “I generally can see a scenario where, we keep at it for another couple of years and maybe get a deal with a minor record label and see where it goes from there. You can make a decent career and it doesn’t have to be for your whole life, 10 years, 20 years, 5 years like you can make a decent living from doing something you enjoy with enough people who listen to your music”
“That is whats exciting to me, the thought of the the realistic chance of actually keeping it going for a good amount of time”
What does the band mean to you all as individuals?
Gus: “i love it. It’s got such a good music scene in the city and it’s such a nice city that having gigs constantly is really cool and we also get the chance to go different places in the country and its awesome, our little road trips and we can see the cities and its all really cool and i’m enjoying it so far”
Rob: “For me personally it’s giving me a lot of performances skills, a lot more confidence on stage like obviously you get a bit nervous but the more you do something the more you’re comfortable you’ll be.”
James: “when i first started out i used to get really bad stage fright before i went on and now its only once in every few gigs i get it quite bad, but then most of the time its standard to be pretty excited more than anything for the gig.”
Charlie: “I still get really really nervous before we go on, for me in a city like this in Manchester where there are venues everywhere, its quite a decent education really in how to do it. I thought it was going to be a lot easier than it is but there is a lot of lugging equipment around and there is a lot of relentless rehearsal, you do have to put a lot more effort in than i had ever could have estimated.”
“I think Manchester is a great city to learn all that in comparison to where i’m from back home where the music scene is tiny.”
Whats the best place you have performed?
Rob: “the one we did in Leeds, to be honest the venue that we played in was so so small like you could probably fit about a maximum of 20 to 30 people in there but it was definitely the best gig we have played performance wise.”
“i love playing Jimmy’s and around Manchester, it really cool”
James: “The first one we did in London was probably my favourite as it was so exiting”
Gus: “The one where charlie got up and ran away at the end”
Charlie: “I threw up!! as soon as we finished i was like…. right see you in a bit”
“It was just the rush of finishing. I got well cocky at the end as well, like when i went for the final hit i stood up”
The band started mocking Charlie making sick noises.
James: “that sold out” x10
After hearing James repeat that the gig had sold out around 10 times Charlie began to mock him, saying: “can you say it one more time, i didn’t quite get that”
James replied saying: “so yeah it basically sold out”
“It was the Hope and Anchor and it’s a really famous venue, like U2 played there along with the Sex Pistols and Blondie. So it was so exiting for me to be down there performing”
Why are you different from any other band trying to make it in Manchester?
Manchester is one of the biggest cities in the UK for students, along with having one of the best music scenes across the country. With so many universities and colleges, the amount of students starting bands is extraordinary but for this band each member has a different music taste but for James, being a band in Manchester that doesn’t sound like the Courteeners already makes them quite different from everyone else.
Charlie laughing said: “we have a Portuguese member”
Gus: “you can get bands that kind of all revolve around the same, like style or genre of music”
“that adds a different layer. Like they’re pop, punky and id listen to more ambient, Pink Floyd, spacey dodgy stuff.”
Robs maybe more (Charlie “the sound of music”)
Rob: “anything really.”
“I wanna bring a lot more chord progressions, it makes it more interesting to listen to”
James: “it’s not the sort of thing you’d find in a band like Bon Iver or even someone like saint Vincent but charlie puts stuff in our music and it fits and it is cool”
“the difference about us in Manchester as well is that we are not trying to sound like the ‘Courteeners’ you get a lot of bands with two guitars, one bass, one drum and two vocalists.”
Charlie: “can you leave the Courteeners alone for 5 minutes”
James: “there is some really great diverse music and there is some really great hip hop as well. But there is a lot of the same stuff. stuck in its ways of the 80’s and 90’s Manchester music as well”