British hard rocking quartet Skarlett Riot return with arguably their strongest release to date.

Following a new record deal with Despotz Record and changes with both their management and booking agent, it seems like a fresh start is on the cards for Skarlett Riot. Since the release of the band’s debut record, their sound has continued to evolve and develop. We got the inclination from the Sentience EP that a harder heavier sound was on the horizon, but with Regenerate it seems that the evolution of the band’s sound has come to its natural conclusion with the release of some of their heaviest material to date.

National Rock Review recently caught up with the band’s lead vocalist Skarlett to talk about their new album, their touring plans and the band’s hard-hitting new sound.

NRR: You’ve got a new album coming out very shortly it’s called Regenerate. Upon the first listen of the album, it sounds like even from your last EP your sound has got a little bit heavier with faster guitar riffs and most certainly it’s a lot heavier than your debut record. I was just wondering was that intentional with this record to take that a little bit further?
Skarlett: Yeah, I think so – I mean when we compare it to the first album we released I think we’ve just naturally got heavier and heavier as the years have gone on (laughing). I think the more that we’ve got comfortable and found our sound we’ve experimented a little bit more. I’d say it’s just naturally gone that way, but with this brand new album after releasing the Sentience EP last year we thought, we’ve found ourselves now that’s the kind of sound we want to go for, but we just want to develop it even further and make it a bit more extreme. There are a lot more guitar solos and heavier stuff going off instrumentally on the album, so yeah, I think it was a natural progression – but it’s definitely more extreme for this album.
NRR: So do you actually feel like now with that evolution of your sound it’s complete and this is the definitive sound for Skarlett Riot going forward?
Skarlett: I’d say so yeah, I mean we never pinpointed ourselves into a certain genre and a specific music type, we just kind of wrote what we enjoyed and let it come out basically. But we’ve matured together I suppose and found a style and an area that works for us. I think we are all kind of in agreement that that’s the way forward for us, I think that’s what we are all enjoying at the minute.
I think the heavier sound makes it a little more exciting because there’s no typical like screaming vocal, we don’t have any screamers in the band or anything it’s just my kind of clean voice (laughing). It’s the guys writing really heavy riffs and then you’ve got a Katy Perry voice over the top of it sort of thing (laughing). I guess it makes it interesting.
NRR: To be honest, a lot of the comments I’ve read about this album is that people have also noticed that your voice has matured quite a bit as well.
Skarlett: Yes.
NRR: So with this album, it also marks your first release with Despotz Records in Sweden. I was just wondering how did that relationship come about?
Skarlett: Basically, we kind of had a swap around – we started a new at the end of the year. We got TKO Booking Agency in place and we got new management – The Artery Foundation in America and they are looking after us now.
They said to us – right let’s look for a label, you’ve done everything DIY up until now and we were quite happy doing everything ourselves but, we thought it would be nice to have someone who believed in what we did as a band and just wanted to help us push ourselves in other countries, so we can get the name out worldwide basically rather than just the UK.
So they sent our music out to different labels and we got a few responses back but, we just really like the way that Despotz were with us. They said that they just wanted to support what we did. So they kind of fund the album and give us money for various aspects of the band just to push ourselves further but, they won’t have any input in our writing roles or any creative input. Because with a lot of labels they kind of tell you if they want you to change parts in your songs and for us we want to be able to have full creative control, we want to be able to write the songs and believe in what we do and not have someone else changing them and this label basically said they would do that.
They said they are going to give us the backing that we need to get our music out further because they believe in what we do and they absolutely loved the Sentience EP which is what we sent them at the time and they really dig that. They were like right yeah, we will put an album out with you and get something recorded and we will put it out for you.
So that’s pretty much how that came about and it all happened so quickly from like signing and getting in the studio, to pretty much now it’s just gone really really quickly. I just can’t wait to release the album and hear what everybody thinks of it. We’ve had a few reviews here and there and a few people listen to it and it’s all been really positive saying like it’s the best material we’ve released yet, which is definitely what we wanted to hear but, it would be great to hear what the fans think and everybody else.
NRR: Have you had much opportunity to perform many of these tracks live yet or is it all still completely under wraps?
Skarlett: We’ve played one live which is “Break” which is the single that’s out at the moment. But we head out on tour in November with Toseland and then we head out with Santa Cruz in December, so in November and December, we will be playing more of the new stuff. So once the album is out we will be supporting the tours with the new music.
NRR: You just mentioned “Break” which is the first single from Regenerate. Listening to that song it really sets the scene for the rest of the album, it’s such a great song and it really grabbed my attention as soon as I heard it. I was just wondering could you tell us a little bit about that song lyrically and the inspiration behind it?
Skarlett: Lyrically I wrote “Break” about being bullied at school when I was younger. So I wrote it as kind of a stand up for yourself thing, to tell people not to let anybody grind you down, don’t let anybody drag you down and to just be yourself and basically say you’ve made me stronger from the way that you treated me and I’m a better person for it and what are you doing now?
So it’s kind of an uplifting message to people to say basically you’ve been pulled to your lowest point and they were waiting for you to break and they were doing as much as they can to get you to the point where they think that you are going to crack but, you carry on and rise above it and you show them that you are a better person for it and they’ve made you a stronger person.

NRR: Obviously, that’s a very personal song for you lyrically. With your songwriting in general do you tend to put yourself in the songs; where do you find your songwriting inspiration – is it from friends and family or things that you hear or is it all deeply personal experiences?
Skarlett: It never used to be, I used to generally write music upon, like I’d watch a film and then I’d write a song about a film. It is a lot more personal now, I tend to write about experiences like anxiety, depression, emotions, rollercoasters. So it is a lot more personal to me now, but it means a lot when I’m singing the songs to have the crowd sing the words back to you which means so much to you.
NRR: I understand you are also soon to be releasing the second single from the album which is “Warrior”. I think that’s around the time of the album release. I understand you’ve also been working on a new video for the song – is that right?
Skarlett: Yeah, that’s right.
NRR: Can you share with us any details about the video, when we can expect it and the theme behind the song?
Skarlett: Basically we haven’t got a cut back from the video yet because we only filmed that not too long back. So we are still waiting eagerly to see how it looks. But yeah, we’ve written that with a little bit of acting in it, we are going to have like a warrior character so there will be somebody who you see throughout the video growing in strength.
Yeah, it’s another one a bit like “Break”. I mean lyrically it’s like stronger than before, I’m not afraid to face my enemies – I’m a warrior. You know face your fears, you are stronger than you were before. So it’s definitely going to be a really strong video, I think it’s going to have a lot of character and a little bit different to the other ones as well, it’s a little brighter.
NRR: Now the band has got a slightly more revised sound, I was just wondering if you decided upon the album title to kind of reflect that change within the group or was there another story behind it?
Skarlett: Yeah, pretty much. About a year or two ago we had a bit of a low point with the band – things didn’t go exactly how we planned. We wanted to kind of start it up again as a brand new start, a fresh start for us so that’s pretty much what Regenerate is about. It’s about being at your lowest point but turning things around too.
So a strength message basically to anyone who is struggling that it’s never too late to start again and change path or direction and be able to start a new future. We’ve all got the choice and abilities to shape our futures and become what we want to be as people, you can’t change the past but we can change and shape the way forward basically. So yeah that’s what we wrote it about. Kind of like a brand new start, but a message to everybody that it’s never too late to change your career path or whatever you want to do in the future.
NRR: You mentioned there earlier, you’ve got a couple of tours coming up. Firstly, with Toseland in November and then with Santa Cruz in December and I believe some of those shows go into Europe as well. Obviously, when you are going out on the road with those guys and you’ve got a slightly shorter set how do you go about picking a setlist for a show like that?
Skarlett: It is very difficult because we’ve all got different favourites as well, so being able to come to an agreement is hard but we basically with having a new album coming out we will put around four brand new songs in and then we’ll have a few from the Sentience EP. So we are going to keep it newer this time around because it’s going to be supporting the album.
NRR: With the heavier sound of the band, you must find it difficult now to incorporate your really early material into your live set?
Skarlett: Yeah, it’s hard because it’s so different from what we used to do. So if you put all of those songs together in a set it doesn’t sound like the same band (laughing), it’s quite different and there is a lot of people who come to the shows and they do like the earlier stuff as well as the new stuff but we kind of explain to them every now and again, we just have to take some of those out and put some new ones in to promote the new material. But yeah, in a headline set we tend to mix it up and try and vary it a little bit.
NRR: When you are not rocking out in the band it seems that you’ve also got a successful modelling career going on. I noticed you had been doing calendars and prints and stuff like that. I was just wondering how has that been going for you?
Skarlett: Yeah it’s been going good. I mean it’s something that I do alongside Skarlett Riot now, I do pet portraits that I draw and then I do my modelling alongside as well. Yeah, it’s going good, it earns me a little bit of money along the side and it’s flexible along with the band, so I can kind of run it at the same time and when I’m not out with the band I can be doing my modelling stuff, so it works quite nicely.
I’ve got some hardcore supporters as well who really do constantly buy my stuff and support me which is fantastic, because it allows me to be able to do more photo shoots and work with more people and collaborations as long as people are supporting me and buying my prints it gives me the flexibility to be able to carry it on and develop it further.
NRR: Obviously, we are approaching the end of the year, I was just wondering what have you got lined up for next year and going forward what’s on the cards for Skarlett Riot?
Skarlett: Well basically at the minute we haven’t got anything pencilled in for next year, but with having such a long run with Santa Cruz for about three weeks in December and we come back the day before Christmas. We’ll be having a break for Christmas but we will be looking at coming back out between February to May time, planning on as a support.
We’ve got a couple of things in mind but we will just have to see if they come off, but we will probably go out and do a little headline run around October to support the album and be able to put a proper longer set together for the fans and stuff. There’s obviously festival season, we will be looking to join a couple of festivals hopefully in the summer if the festivals dig what we do.

Regenerate by Skarlett Riot will be released via Despotz Records on Friday 27th October. The band will also be touring with both Santa Cruz and Toseland throughout October and November – for further details visit the band’s social media links below.

Skarlett Riot
Website | Facebook | Twitter


About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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