of all, thank
you very much Wayne for your attention and your answers. How do you feel when
someone, after so many years, approaches you regarding Skin-Deep?
I am amazed that
people are still interested in the band after all these years. When we started
the band we couldn’t imagine people would be interested 2 or 3 years ahead,
never mind 25 years ahead. I still get people asking if we are going to reform
and play a few gigs. We have even had teenagers get in touch who were not even
born when we split up and say how much they love the music. It is all very
How was growing up in
Doncaster in the 80’s? And how did you become a skinhead? Any fond memories of
those early days with a crop?
I think 99% of people
look back at their teen years with fondness. It was great, everything was new
and exciting. Discovering girls and Punk music messed up my school work but I
wouldn’t change a thing. I got into the Skinhead scene because the punk scene
was going all gothic and a bit trendy. The Skinhead scene was still working
class music for working class kids, or at least that is how I saw it. Even in
my earliest memories I was very rebellious. I have always been attracted to
rebellious things, attitudes, styles, ideas. I still am. To me the Punk scene
was no longer rebellious the way it was heading. We used to go to a gig at
least once a week, travelling to Sheffield, Leeds, London etc and saw most of the
punk bands of the time. We used to jump the trains (not pay for a ticket).
Which were the reasons to form Skin-Deep back
in 1985? Which were your musical inspirations, any band you wanted to sound
I can only really
speak for Myself, Mik and Andy as we formed the band and met the others later.
But we were into the punk scene and wanted to do something creative. We were
into SLF, Angelic Upstarts, PTTB, Cockney Rejects, Sex Pistols, UK Subs,
Chelsea, The Clash etc.
I think we were trying to have that kind of
sound in the beginning but then Mik got into effects pedals, Jud introduced us
to the Redskins and we started listening to bands like The Housemartins and
even The Smiths. We were still into the punk bands but had just widened our
musical taste. We also started to get back into Madness and The Specials.
You started with a
more punk/Oi! Sound, but I think that changed with the 'My Life's Fine' track,
and definitely with 'More Than Skin -Deep' LP. Why did you change your style?
Following what I said
in the last question, we just got better as musicians and song writers. Our
musical tastes became broader and this influenced our sound.
When I first listened
to 'More Than Skin -Deep' it was like a breath of fresh air, sussed skins
playing amazing music that reminded me of The Redskins or The Housemartins!
What do you think about the comparison? Did you like those bands? Did you have
the chance to watch them on stage?
Yes as I just
mentioned we loved those 2 bands and they obviously had a big influence on our
sound. When I first heard the Redskins I was unsure and thought they were a bit
too poppy. But after a few listens I was hooked. I never saw any of those bands
live. I wish I did. If they ever invent a time machine I know exactly where I
am going first, ha ha. Or maybe second, I will get the winning lottery numbers
We also wanted to try
to create a new sound. We had been listening to The Burial and loved the way
they added Ska influences in their punk/pop sound. The Skinhead scene had never
really had its own sound, its own bands. It was originally derived from
Jamaican Ska, then the Punk and 2 Tone scenes. We wanted to create a sound for
skinheads created by skinheads.
I guess you loved
early ska, skinhead reggae but also 2-Tone… Your cover of The Bleechers sound
to me really 2-Tonish and by the way, it makes people dance instantly when I
have the chance to Dj it! Any favourite bands or tunes? Guess Madness have
something to do also in your sound.
Yes of course. Mik was
really into the early Ska and skinhead reggae. I liked it but I was more into 2
tone. It was more my generation. I loved
Madness, even their later albums that people seem to forget about. I think they
are the most under rated song writers of all time.
Looking back, are you
happy with how 'More Than Skin -Deep' LP sounds? Anything you would have
Ha Ha, We all got ill
towards the end of the recording and this really caused the mixing to be
rushed. I think if we had maybe waited another 7 or 8 months to record it we
would have produced a much better record. We were also working on some new
songs which were moving towards a Redskins sound. As I remember they were
pretty good but unfortunately are now lost forever.
I think your voice
Wayne, was one of the main assets of Skin Deep, a really soulful voice, akin to
that of Paul Heaton. It gave Skin-Deep a warm, familiar feeling, augmented by
the chorus as in 'I Won’t Be Fooled', which made tunes even catchier. What do
Thanks for the
compliment. I always thought and still think I can’t sing, ha ha. But I have
never met a singer that likes their own voice. I have always tried to write
catchy tunes from the Skin-Deep days and with all the bands I have been in.
When I write a song I ask myself would I like it if it wasn’t mine. If the
answer is no, then I scrap it.
Besides your amazing
music, your lyrics put you also away from the stereotypical skinhead band of
the 80’s, shouting empty clichés about football agro. Who wrote the lyrics of
Skin Deep? What did you try to reflect in them?
Mik would record himself playing the guitar
chords on an old cassette recorder and give it to me. I would then write the
lyrics and vocal melody while listening to it. I just wrote about what I was
seeing around me and tried to be interesting in what I was writing.
Although they are not
political, I think there is a kind of social awareness in them. Were you
influenced by the social climate of the time, miner’s strike, Maggie’s policies
and so on…? Did you ever think about writing more overtly political lyrics at
Yes I think so.
Doncaster is right in the heart of the mining community I was actually a miner
for 18 months after I left school. The last track on the album ‘What else could
we do’ is about Thatcher’s government.
How was the skinhead
scene in the UK in the mid-late 80’s? Did you have any problem with boneheads?
By the late 80’s it
was coming to an end. We never really had any trouble with boneheads, they were
all talk. Some people have asked why we played gigs with some of the dodgy
bands that had right wing followings. Well it is easy to play to the converted.
It was much more productive playing gigs where there would be boneheads and
hopefully educating them. I remember at Leamington Spa one of our road crew
(Beck) arguing with a gang of right wing skinheads outside. He was actually
getting them to agree with him. A lot of people hid behind fanzines and spouted
their views. Nowadays people hide behind computers to do it. We went out and
took our message to the ‘enemy’. Skin-Deep faced them in the flesh.
Much water has passed
under the bridge since those days, but do you have any particular fond memory
of a gig, or any funny moments to remember?
Too many to mention but every gig was memorable
for a different reason. We used to have a lot of fun on stage and try to make
every gig enjoyable but travelling to and from the gigs was also a big part in
the enjoyment. We were kids so everything was new and a buzz. Just hanging
round with your mates in a skinhead ‘gang’ was good fun. My girlfriend at the
time used to get very jealous of the skinhead girls that would send us pics or
approach us at gigs and ask if we were single. Oh the perils of being a ‘rock
star’, ha ha.
One thing that amused us was when the UK’s
biggest newspaper reported that we were partly to blame for England football
fans rioting in Germany. They claimed we were the music of football hooligans
and followed by Leeds Utd service crew. News to us, ha ha.
did you split up?
Are you still in touch with the other members of the band?
That is a good
question. We fell out with Link records over the artwork for the album and
tried to stop the album being released. But we had basically signed our rights
away and could do nothing about it. We decided to split and form a new band
with new songs, but by mid to late 1989 we had started to drift apart
musically. It just ran its course I suppose.
I am still in touch
with Jud and Cal. Jud is a recording engineer in a local studio. Mik is now
playing with Pete Doherty’s Babyshambles and is not really in touch. We had a
‘fall out’ about Babyshambles using one of my songs and not crediting me. Last
I heard Stig was living in Japan. I have not heard from Andy for over 20 years
and Gav I have not seen for maybe 10 years. It is quite sad how you can lose
contact with people that were such good friends.
After the split, you
formed The Ferrymen, another superb band that I think followed the path already
drawn by Skin-Deep. In fact, I think the 'Northern Pop' tag could be perfectly
attached also to Skin-Deep. How did The Ferrymen fare? You even played in
Spain, what do you remember about that tour?
It was good fun but
not like the Skin-Deep days. We were really close mates in Skin-Deep, The
Ferrymen never really felt like that. In Skin-Deep you knew the guys had you
back if there was trouble but in The Ferrymen I felt like I was on my own. Even
The tour in Spain was
great fun. Very tiring and lots of travelling. The Tarragona gig was crazy. We
played on the street about 2 o’clock in the morning and the whole street was
bouncing. We felt like U2 up there on stage, ha ha.
Zaragoza was a great
night. I remember getting to the venue and they were playing the Skin-deep
album. The place was packed. We used to do an encore with bits from pop songs
for fun. To see a room full of skinheads singing along to songs from Grease and
the Spice Girls was very funny.
We always used to get
requests for Skin-Deep songs but we had never rehearsed any. The only time we
did one was when we jammed ‘The Sycamores’ in Madrid after it was requested
about 10 times.
One of the best things
about being in a band is all the new places you go and all the new people you
And how are you doing
nowadays? Any new musical projects or are family and kids too much to cope
Ha ha thanks for
reminding me. I have played in several bands since Skin-Deep. Obviously The
Ferrymen and then a band called Angry Dolphin which was more Britpop. I then
played in a band called Monte Carlo Safe Crackers which I wrote all the songs
for but just played guitar. I didn’t sing. We occasionally still play the odd
It will always be in
my blood to want to create music. I hope when my son is old enough he will want
to do the same.