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Into the Valley – celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Skids

The Skids in 2017
The Skids in 2017

As The Skids mark their 40th anniversary with a UK-wide tour, the band’s front man Richard Jobson tells Michael Alexander why a new album means 2017 is not all about nostalgia.

It was August 1977 when The Skids played their first live gig in their hometown of Dunfermline.

The iconic post-punk band, founded by the late Stuart Adamson with Bill Simpson, Tam Kellichan and Richard Jobson, enjoyed their first big success with Into the Valley in 1979.

Other anthems included Working for the Yankee Dollar, Masquerade and The Saints are Coming which was given a new lease of life when U2 and Green Day released it as a charity single in 2006 to raise funds for Hurricane Katrina.

But as frontman Richard Jobson and the modern line-up of Bill Simpson, Mike Baillie, Bruce Watson and Jamie Watson launch a 40th anniversary UK tour with back-to-back homecoming gigs featuring the classics, Jobson explains that the band’s latest project is about far more than nostalgia.

This July will see the release of Burning Cities – the first album from The Skids in 35 years.

And he has been surprised at the level of interest.

“I didn’t expect it to become as big as it has,” the 56-year-old explains in an interview from London.

“We wanted the album to be relevant and pertinent to the world today and not just about nostalgia.

“I’m very aware of the interest in The Skids. That for many people we were part of their childhood with our anthemic big choruses. But at the same time we have to be relevant to now, because there’s so much going on in the world. I am not a juke box.”

Jobson, who reinvented himself as a poet, film critic and movie director after the band split when he was 21, has been involved in various reunion tours.

The band were recently approached by Jesus and Mary Chain producers Youth – who are “massive” Skids fans – to work on the new album.

They were also approached by David Mach, the Leven-based artist and fellow Skids fan, to do the sleeve.

“Having Skids fans come out of the hedgerow has been the nicest part of the process,” he adds.

Jobson, who has been living back in Dunfermline since January after years in Bedfordshire, describes The Skids as a “definitive part” of his early life.

The former miners’ son from Ballingry, who was a member of Dunfermline’s notorious Av Toi gang growing up, was just 15-years-old when he first met Adamson.

Describing The Skids era as a “brilliant adventure into the world of creativity and adulthood,” he recalls how Stuart brought the “structure, melody and confidence” to the band.

“My contribution was as front man,” he adds.

“When he met me I was 15, confident, but not really confident. I could do things he could not do like my dancing.

“We were very different people. I was very itinarent. He was a home boy. If he was away from Dunfermline for a week he’d be home sick.”

Jobson was as shocked as anyone when he heard that Adamson had committed suicide in Hawaii in December 2001, aged just 43.

But he says he wants to lay to rest “once and for all” speculation that he and Stuart didn’t get on.

“He was my friend as kids,” reflects Jobson. “We were very very close.

“I want to end the rumour that our split was acrimonious.

“We just wandered off in different directions. He did Big Country and I did my thing. There was no antipathy. I didn’t fit with what he was doing and he didn’t fit with what I was doing.

The Skids - 2017
The Skids – 2017

“I think the ghost of him is always there in the songs. And he is there in the new songs.

“We re-engineered stuff to bring in his sound. We are very careful to his legacy and very careful with the new songs. Stuart will always be with us.”

  • The Skids play PJ Molloys in Dunfermline on May 3 and May 4.