Posted April 21, 2013 by Jeff in Tunes

Lorna Thomas of Skinny Lister: Finding her voice in the company of men

Skinny Lister
Skinny Lister

Since issuing its full-length debut, Forge & Flagon, earlier this year, the UK punk band Skinny Lister has spent the better part of 2013 playing with Flogging Molly.  Both bands play Pogues-inspired pub rock, so it’s been a good match. But after being part of both Coachella weekends, the band is on a short headlining club tour before heading back to the UK to begin work on Forge & Flagon’s follow-up. We caught up with singer Lorna Thomas just as she was prepping for the overseas trip to the States. Here’s what she had to say about the tour and the album.

Band members come from all over England. How did you guys first get together?
We met in London. Me and Max [Thomas] are brother and sister. I came along and thought if they were going to have so much fun, I wanted to have some, too. We kidnapped Mike [Camino], who’s originally from Hawaii, on the Warped Tour. We’re all good friends.

What’s it like to be the only woman in the band?
I like it. Occasionally I get a little girl-sick and want to hang out with some girls for a bit, but I just cling on to them when they come by my pathway. I think I’m a bit of a bad influence on them, but we have a lot of fun.

How much experience did you have before joining the band?
Not really any. I’ve grown up in a very musical family with lots of family sing-a-longs. I’ve been singing since I came out, but only seriously with Skinny Lister.

I read that you recorded the Grand Union EP on a boat. How did that work?
It was amazing. The boat only goes four miles an hour maximum. Anything you do, you have to do slowly. We imagined it would be a breeze and we’d sit on the roof and play music together, but there’s work opening and shutting locks and things. We did squeeze in some time to record the EP. We had a double bass and six people crammed into a tiny space. We went out every night and played gigs and we had to get up early in the morning. It was great fun. It was like a holiday.

Did you record it in one take?
We would do a song a day. It was in the early days of Skinny Lister so we were just finding our way.

How’d you get the Warped Tour gig last year?
We played for [founder] Kevin Lyman in a parking lot and then we played in parking lots all summer. We hunted him down. We heard he was the man you wanted to know. It was at [the label] Side One Dummy’s lot. We had a contact and they told us to come down. We went to Hollywood; it was my first time there. Had a few beers and a great time. We had a party in the parking lot at 10 in the morning. It was the start of a budding new friendship. For us, it was amazing. We come from England and I didn’t know a great deal about the Van’s Warped Tour. We had no idea what we were in for. We wanted to get signed by Side One Dummy. It was scary but they made us feel comfortable. We thought we were auditioning for 2013. Kevin said, “We have to get you out all summer.” We were like, “Yeah.” We got signed by the label at that time, too so it was an amazing morning for us. We played on the main stage a lot and it’s always rewarding to play in front of that many people. Some of them are 16 and you just don’t know if they’ll like you. But when it goes off, it’s one of the best things in the world. It doesn’t matter how much work you put in, it’s really rewarding.

Talk about Forge and Flagon. It’s the band’s first full-length, isn’t it?
We’re really excited about it. It got released in January. We have had loads of great reviews. It’s a snapshot of songs we have sung.

So some of these songs are older ones?
We recorded the album a while back and released it in the UK last summer and recorded it the Christmas before. Some of them have been kicking around since I was born. “Forty Pound Wedding” was written by my dad in the early ’90s in a very different form. The traditional tunes have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. We’re working on new stuff. We’re always working on new stuff.

I often feel like Dan’s Heptinstall’s voice is higher in the mix than yours. Any plans to go solo?
Only when they kick me out of the band for being a nasty drunk. I have to sing a bit more on the next one. I didn’t really sing before this. It’s all a learning curve for me. Also, the songs are really macho. I sing them live, but when we put them down I sounded a bit like the Artful Dodger from Oliver. We’ll see what happens with the next album.

We’ve been described as the Pogues with good teeth.

Comparisons to the Pogues are inevitable, aren’t they?
We get it a bit. It’s definitely a comparison and we definitely listened to them and they’ve influenced our sound. We all bring in influences from different areas. Pogues is close to all of our hearts. I don’t think we’re exactly like the Pogues. We’ve been described as the Pogues with good teeth.

Do you connect to the folk rock revival?
Yeah, they’ve opened up the gateway for everyone to recognize that there are different types of music going on. We enjoyed hanging out with Frank Turner as well at South by Southwest. He’s an English lad and he’s doing that stuff and making a name for himself. There are quite few good bands like that.

Upcoming 2013 Tour Dates 

Thurs, April 18

Fri, April 19

Mon, April 22

Tues, April 23

Wed, April 24

Fri, April 26

Sat, April 27

San Francisco, CA – Café Du Nord

Indio, CA – Coachella

Boston, MA – The Middle East

New York, NY – Studio at Webster Hall

Philadelphia, PA – North Star Bar

Cleveland, OH – House of Blues

Detroit, MI – The Shelter


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].