Hi there Skilled Embryo! Great to have you guys on the website for an interview, please do us off by telling us a wee bit about the band then, since our regular readers may not yet know you. Just the usual wee history run through, like how long have you guys been together, how did you meet up, that kind of stuff.
Well we got together officially first around late 80’s - around 87’ I think, Gregor (Bass) and I (Mark – Guitar) were writing songs and jamming in my bedroom as teenagers just for fun and once we had a few tunes together decided to form a band – soon hooked up with Craig (Vox) who was a friend of ours – got ourselves a drummer (a crisp poke on a drum pad for a snare or drum machine was not cutting it any longer…!), rhythm guitarist and female backing vocals – the rhythm guitarist and female backing vocals did not last long before we ended up with just the original (and still) line-up of guitar, bass, drums and vox.
We sort of done the circuit around Central Scotland back then playing live and recording, but split up after @ 4 or 5 years.
Had a brief incarnation in January 2011 for a 25th anniversary session, then reformed again properly late 2015 in our original and current line-up.
You guys have been together in two incarnations now, in two very different timeline. Do you see a massive difference in the scene now as opposed to the scene back when you guys first started? What would you say in the main difference that you have noticed?
It’s been amazing to reform at this time and the music scene is so vibrant, and with social media platforms and ‘self-release’ being so easy it’s a massive difference from when we first formed.
Promotion for us back them was walking round the town under darkness pasting our home made photocopied posters to shop windows with wallpaper paste advertising our upcoming shows – now with a few clicks you can create ads and events that are professional and get to hundreds with a few clicks in no time.
There’s no lack of original talent out there, but seems to us the problem now is actually getting heard when there is so much out there, in a way some bands who were not signed back then did not put in the legwork so may have been a smaller pool of piers – but competing with the signed acts for shows was a no contest – I think a similarity that still exists today regardless is the need to build your local following as a springboard onto other things.
Back then we would be sending demo tapes (cassettes – ask your Dad…), letters and pictures to record companies, promoters and venues, and when we went into the studio recorded on an 8 track reel to reel on a 16 track desk, so you needed to be happy with your takes, as editing was so much more difficult.
That said – our backline sound is pretty much today, what it has always been – OK we maybe have better amplifiers etc but the same ethos applies to get our sound, and we still think playing live with our own sound is where it’s at..
You have hit the ground running recently, with teaser videos, radio play, tons of online promo and more… to be honest, I think some new bands could learn a bit about how to self-promote from you guys! What would you recommend other bands need to get better at with regards to getting their name out there? Obviously above and beyond the quality of the music that is!
Were no experts, but more than happy to share our views and learnings…
There’s a temptation to get yourself out there early, but I think the wise move is to get your songs organised, rehearsed to a level you are more than happy with before jumping on the promo bandwagon – have the basics ready as you never know when an opportunity may come along – and if you are promoted all over the place but need to turn down an opportunity because you are not ready – that opportunity will likely not return…
Treat it like a business, when we promoted our releases, we had a whole release plan with a timetable including gigs to promote, when we post our promo to social media – and before we even did any of that there was a whole load of work went into not just the recording but also the artwork and design of what you are trying to get out there – in effect you’re creating a ‘brand’ – so a bit of thought and organisation up front certainly helps, or at least give you the opportunity to be able to push things a bit further.
I know that does not sound very ‘Rock n Roll’ – but think about it – that’s what the promoters, Managers and record companies do….!
Oh yeah…and don’t get down if you receive a rejection – just get on with it and do your thing.
So what made you pick up instruments in the first place? What spurred you on to write and perform live music? Was it just the love of music, or was it s specific person or song that set you on your musical path?
It was the lure of drink, drug’s and women. (oh….and our love of music!)
Really…I suppose we have all had loads of influences separately that got us into music and playing instruments or singing, but the buzz is definitely coming together and playing our own stuff live – and if others like it all the better!
When we started it was the way out of the grey grind of the late 1980’s. It was Thatcher and strikes and the light at the end of the tunnel, the escape (no pun intended) was music.
It took you to the places that were grey and filthy, but these were places where the music mattered, you met other people who were like you and shared the same ideals.
It’s just amazing that a few years later we are living in a country where people realise that music is actually the sountrack of their lives, and it really does matter.
Tell us about gigs then, what’s the best gig you have played so far as skilled embryo, and to counter that, could you also tell us a bit about the worst?
We’re going to cop out and say that we have not played our best gig yet and try to continue to improve but there are a few stand out night’s we have had.
Being asked to do King Tuts twice now since we got back together is awesome – that place has always been iconic and it’s just one of those venues you want on your CV – to have it twice is a highlight for us, but at the same time our first gig after we reformed where we sold out our local venue was brilliant – place was packed with a great atmosphere and because we had not played for so long all the ‘old heads’ that used to come see us turned up, I think they enjoyed seeing each other again as much as Skilled Embryo but it was a brilliant night we won’t forget in a long time.
Worst…..hmmm – there was a night we played a venue in Falkirk where we were due to pay for the hall at the end of the night, there was so much dry ice at the end of the set by the time it cleared so had the band – along with some of the contents of the bar…nobody ever found out what happened to them…. (We were young…..! sorry Falkirk – good gig though).
Then another night in Edinburgh where Gregor decided to jam his hand in the van door as it closed – ever tried playing bass with a mangled hand, and I can’t even remember if that was the same night Craig decided he was not coming and we had to cover vocal duties…..that wasn’t pretty…
So tell us about the name then, how did that come about?
It’s been our name since day 1 – I think it came about after a few too many in the local – Skilled, because we think/though we were and Embryo because we were just starting out and still in the womb type of thing…..you needed to be there.
Although we did play under the guise of Indian Summer for a few gig’s but that’s a different story completely.
What would you say is your favourite song you’ve written so far? Why this one?
We’ve built a fair catalogue of songs over the years and it’s hard to pick a favourite – some songs are just good fun to play, others are more technical and some the audience just seem to like better, it’s good to have a mix.
‘Escape’ always seems to go down well live - is it our best, probably not, dunno? - but it is one of the releases this year, we probably all have different favourites in the band for different reasons.
The floor is now yours, what’s the rest of the plans for 2018? Do you have some gigs line up as well as new recordings in the pipeline
So 2018 for us…
We have finished recording 6 tracks for release, which will come out individually during the year on all the usual streaming and download platforms – and from there we will also be releasing an EP with 4 tracks which will be available on Vinyl and CD for order and as merch at gigs.
Escape – out now
Land Fit For Heroes – out now
Dead Society – Release TBC
Take You Home – Release TBC
Close Together – Release TBC
Sleep Beneath My Cold Hands – Release TBC
During the recording of these we laid down a further 5 tracks of drums which we intend to revisit to complete which gives us an 11 track LP we could release end of this year or start of next – we may even remix a ‘techno’ version of Escape for a special release.
We have finished our EPK, and are just about to send it out and arrange some show bookings to promote our releases.
We will continue with the current airplay of our releases – from 2 radio stations, but we are trying to expand on that.
Overall – it’s just bloody good to be playing again.
Teviot Underground (EUSU), Edinburgh – 19/4/18
Europa, Stirling - Record Store Day 2018 promotion – 21/4/18
Leith Depot, Edinburgh – 15/6/18
Once the EPK is out we will be adding to this and will keep NHC updated – our guitarist lives in North Lincs so we will be looking to play a bit further afield as part of our assault on everyone.
We just wanted to say also that NHC do an awesome job at promoting, helping and keeping real music and arts alive, and it’s a fantastic thing – we take our hat off to you….
……..now fuck off…………………! J
Sleep Beneath My Cold Hands
Take You Home
https://soundcloud.com/skilledembryo/take-you-home Close Together
https://soundcloud.com/skilledembryo/close-together-pre-release-draft Dead Society
https://soundcloud.com/skilledembryo/escape Land Fit For Heroes