Interview: Skunkhour

Skunkhour. Photo: Evan Malcolm

Hotel Great Northern | Saturday 18 August | 8.30pm | $50

Twenty-five years ago I was 25. And I was one of those hot and sweaty bodies dancing to Skunkhour. At the time their sound was a revelation. It was a never-before-heard fusion of styles and genre that just exploded on the dancefloor. Now 25 years on Skunkhour celebrate the release of that game-changing self-titled debut album with a three-date tour; we’re just lucky that one of those dates is in Byron.

Frontman Aya Larkin reflects on the story of this band that has meant so much to so many.

‘Musically it was so good,’ he says. ‘We had four albums during our time, so there’s a lot of material to go back to. We weren’t always mining the same vein. Del (Aya’s brother) was only with us for the first two albums; after that we morphed. Having four albums is like having a series of different children coming back to you after all these years. You have a different love for each!’

So how did it happen? How did Skunkhour stumble on such a unique fusion of sound all those years ago.

‘We were combining a few influences at that time but we were one of the few bands in the world that had a live band with an MC; it was interesting – there was a lot of great hip-hop but none of it was with live music.

‘It was a rare combination of talen,’ says Aya, ‘and hard work. But it brought us opportunity. We were lucky to have a crack. We got a gold album; we toured the world multiple times. You realise in retrospect how fortunate you were.’

Their first album was without a doubt transformative. ‘I had been trying to get a break in music,’ tells Aya. ‘I had dropped out of uni and had been looking for a break in the music industry for four years. I came together with the Sutherland brothers playing in a trio. We grafted together with my brother Del and it all happened so rapidly. They had all these killer pieces of music and a unique approach to grooves and I had been singing for years, so I was ready to go. I was really passionate and my brother Del had it in spades. He was only 19 but he was like the wunderkind. It just popped. After my flogging myself for years, it all came together and within months there was this insane catapult into this incredible scene. It was an exhilarating time. It was phenomenal how rapidly things can change. It’s like stepping on a moving train.’

Typically before a show the band meet up the day before to reacquaint themselves with the music.

‘A lot stays in there but when you do 24 songs over two sets and one album in its entirety from whoa to go, then there is a lot of material.’

Skunkhour is still attracting new fans, but it’s perhaps the older fans who get the biggest thrill. ‘The passage of time is so relative,’ says Aya. ‘In a blink you are in a different era. So to go back to those songs and that era is like living it again. That is what the crowd share with us. They aren’t just people getting off on the music. They are going back to who they were once and what their life was like then.

‘You’ll see me up the front. I’ll be 25 years younger and 25 kilos lighter. Well at least in my mind.

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