Skarlett Riot – I like writing about bad times, because they make good tunes


Skarlett Riot, an up and coming metal band that has a lot to say about their evolution, their music, the three albums they’ve released so far, their influences, their creativity, the lock downs, as well as the classic debate “Maiden Vs. Metallica”. Skarlett is pleasant to talk with answering every question honestly and with a smile. You can watch the interview in the video below and read the entire chat in the text below. Interview: Yiannis Dolas What’s the most difficult album to release? The debut, or a successful album after the debut?

Skarlett: I would say definitely releasing the second album. I think when you have a starting point you have something to try and better each time. So, for us every time we are releasing an album it feels harder and harder, because we want to push ourselves and to write something better on each release and keep the fans happy and make new fans and hope that people love the new release better than the old one and make sure that you are constantly progressing as a band. So, I definitely think that releasing your second album is much harder. Is there on the second album that you’d like to kick up a notch to make it even better, after you’ve listened to it so many times?

Skarlett: Yeah… I think after listening the album so many times you always start to think “oh, maybe I could have done this, or that”. For me and Victor, although it’s been out since May, still sounds fresh. So, we haven’t got to that point yet. But, on “Regenerate” we definitely had some songs where we definitely should have made more adventurous with another guitar solo, or add in a few more screams here and there.  Now, our bass player and me had started looking into harder growls and stuff. There were a few of those on “Regenerate” and sounded quite good on some of those songs. So, I think naturally you tend to go back. Even when we play songs live, like the songs from “Regenerate”, I think we are putting our own stamp on them, we play them slightly different than on the record. Just because you start to experiment with ideas. Your latest single was “Under Water”, it does give you a feeling of suffocating, entrapment. How did it come up? Did you write after a personal experience? What did you have in mind?

Skarlett: I pretty much wrote the lyrics of “Under Water” about fighting with demons in your own head, fighting mental health issues and depression. Generally, I’ve been through a bit of metal health myself over the last years, so it’s like an experience of how it feels when you are going through it. Like you’ve been suffocating as you say and you’ve been dragged under. You kind of feel that no one can save you, but you feel that the only one who can save you is you. But, that’s the hardest part, that they only one who can get you out of this mess is yourself. So, that was pretty much what it was written about. I also think that the video gives off that strong image of drowning and suffocating. Also, “Stronger”, which I think is one of the catchiest songs on the album, was it written based on a personal experience?

Skarlett: Actually, the lyrics to “Stronger” were written by our guitarist, Dan. It was the first song, which he actually wrote lyrics for. Which was quite cool, because usually I constantly writing the lyrics and re-writing, but it was nice that he wrote that one, both the guitar parts and lyrics as well. It was written – as far as I know- about past experiences in bands, keeping your head held high and not letting people dragging you down. Not necessarily a message of mental health, but more a message that if you are keeping strong and your head held high and not letting anyone belittle you either. Because, nobody is better than anyone else. We are all equal in this world, so just be kind to one another and don’t let anybody make you feel that you are inferior. How do you usually write your lyrics? Do you listen to the music and come up with ideas, do you have something already written?

Skarlett: Our guitarist will start with the first riffs and he will take them to our drummer, Luke, and they will play around a bit and get some ideas together. Lyrics and vocals go last, over the top of the rest of it when it’s all finished. I used to start writing little vocal parts while the guitars and the drums were being written, but I always found it was best to actually wait until the guys got an idea about where they wanted to go instrumentally and then listen back and get a vibe from the song and what I feel when I listen to the guys play it and how I connect to the song lyrically. So, my part goes on at the very end, when everybody else have played around with it. “Breaking The Habbit”, that’s another song I liked. Is there a habit that you cannot quit?

Skarlett: To start with I was listening to a lot Linkin Park, and obviously they have a song called “Breaking The Habbit”. It’s cool and that’s where my vibe comes from for it. A couple of years ago I suffered from a lot of anxiety. And it’s a bit like you are stuck in a circle and you go round and round. Like the only person that you can actually get out of your head is you. So, “Breaking The Habbit” was written about that, breaking the circle of anxiety and old bad habits, because it’s so easy to go round and get stuck in a loop than not changing anything. It’s about breaking up that cycle and changing for the better. What are your influences? The bands and artists that you grew up with?

Skarlett: Bullet For My Valentine were one of the first bands I’ve listened to in rock music. The “Poison” album and Linkin Park, In This Moment, Halestorm, Evanescence, Paparoach as well were big in my teens. I remember “Scars” coming out in the music channels, “Tears Don’t Fall” from Bullet For My Valentine, Evanescence “Bring Me To Life”. All those I remember quite clearly flicking through the music channels, and seeing the music videos. And I thought: “I really want to do this”, “I’d love being in a rock band and learn how to sing rock music”. Those bands really started off for me and made me actually do what I am doing now. Have you met any of them, got to know them? Maybe disappointed when meeting them in person?

Skarlett: I’ve met Jacoby from Paparoach and to be honest he was super cool. We listened to “Break”  and he put a couple of our songs on and took us backstage, he was a really nice human. We haven’t had the chance to meet anyone else unfortunately. I’d love to meet Bullet For My Valentine, that would be awesome, because they are in the UK also… it’d be nice to meet your heroes that you were kind of being brought up with them and hopefully not be disappointed. Were you disappointed by Bullet For My Valentine’s last album, “Gravity”? Because, I didn’t like it!

Skarlett: Oh, I liked it. I like every single album they’ve released, because it’s been quite different to the last one, they change style per album, but I think album-wise my favourite is still “Poison”. I even liked “Fever”, even though a lot of people didn’t like that as much, but I quite liked that one. It has some poppy, polished elements into it. I do like the latest album, but it wasn’t my favourite. How did you cope with Covid when you were in lock down? What did you do?

Skarlett: Yeah, it’s been very difficult. When the lock down first started in March 2020, literally on the first day we were recording with Victor and that was the first day we were getting in and we got kicked out of the studio and got told “we are locked down, you can’t record”. And we thought “oh, my God, we can’t record this album we’ve been working on for two years”. So we got called back into the studio in August, when things started to open up briefly. So we went in, but we weren’t allowed together. So, we went and recorded “Invicta” individually. And then we were locked back down again. So, we managed to actually get the songs done through lock down, so I suppose in comparison with other bands it wasn’t as bad as for some other people, because we had an album to concentrate on, so when we weren’t recording we were looking at getting the artwork ready, the track list, putting finishing touches to the songs. So, we were still quite busy and we had a lot of stuff behind the scenes and we managed to get into the recording luckily, so we still could release it before the lockdown and then we had all the promotion for the album. So, it hasn’t been too bad. Although, we obviously want to tour for the album, we want to get out and gig. We’ve missed that a lot. We’ve missed seeing people. The only thing we could really do is release singles, promo and sell merchandise, so it’s definitely been hard. It was freedom day for us yesterday, when everything opened up in the UK (July 20th), which is nice and we are lucky. Covid’s not gone anywhere, but it’s nice that everything is open and that the venues are going to start bringing bands back again… What are you going to do if we have another lockdown in a few months?

Skarlett: Oh, my Gosh! I hope not! I don’t know! I just keep thinking – I shouldn’t really, because who knows what’s going to happen- Oh, freedom day we are not going into lock down again, but there are so many invariants we just don’t know what’s gonna happen. We didn’t expect this, did we? The only thing that we’ve done is adapt to this situation the best way we could. It’s just out of your control and as much as it’s frustrating you have to try and make the best out of this situation. Fingers crosses we won’t (go into another lock down), but if we do, then we’ll figure it, I am sure. What’s the first thing you’re gonna do when you hit the stage for the first time?

Skarlett: Oh, my Gosh! I mean, it’s so nice to take in standing on that stage and see everyone again, just seeing faces and people all together. It will be so nice, even off the stage to actually be stood to the fans and speak to them and asking them how they’d been during lock down and generally talking to people. Having the social part of it, cause that’s something I miss so much. I feel that I am disconnected with everybody. What about creativity? Do you feel more creative when you are happy, when you are troubled, or sad?

Skarlett: I think if there is not a lot going on, then it’s not easy to be creative, because you don’t have a lot to write about. ‘Cause everything is too good! So, even though it’s great to be happy and stuff, I do find that when I write, I write the best lyrics when I am actually going through something, like an experience. Usually, I tend to write lyrics about my struggles and hard experiences and they make the best songs, but they are also rewarding. When you sing them on stage and the people is singing those lyrics back and also they are telling you how much they relate to those lyrics and how much they’ve helped them through a hard time, that’s quite rewarding, because you’ve gone through a hard time writing them, but you are helping somebody else through their hard times, because they’ve been listening to your lyrics.

For me, I like writing about bad times, because they make good tunes! What would you say that for a band like you is the roof? The biggest level of success that you can reach? I don’t know, I can’t label it. A lot of bands take off differently. I mean we’ve been together for ten years, we come from a little town nobody knew who we were and we’ve just fought our way up in little steps as much as we could. It’s a difficult road, where if don’t know anyone and you don’t have access there is a lot of knockbacks, setbacks and things and a lot of stuff behind the scenes. You will get people who like you, who don’t like you and you just have to believe in yourself and keep going and just know that it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not just one of those things which you will wake up one day and magically you are going to sold out venues and you’d become famous. It doesn’t work like that, unless you know somebody who is going to give you a step up.

The only advice I have is just be patient and keep going and set yourself goals and make sure you’ve got the right band members as well. And you are all on the same page. If you are passionate about it, then I believe that you will eventually go somewhere with it. But, don’t expect that it’s going to happen overnight. Definitely not! Do you have any crazy dreams, or ambitions about Skarlett Riot?

Skarlett: Yeah, we’d love to sell out and just go worldwide playing live. That is the dream for me. To do arenas, Wembley arena, to be able to tour comfortably like in America, UK, Germany and to kind of make a living out of it. So, we are making money back and we’ve been able to do the band without all the little side jobs you have to do to gain some income. Not having to do the day jobs and have the band as THE job, that’s really the dream. Back in the not so old days people used to have a debate: Beatles Vs. The Rolling Stones. Later is became “Maiden VS. Metallica”. What’s the debate of younger generations and bands? Slipknot VS. Avenged Sevenfold maybe?

Skarlett: It’s difficult isn’t it? There is a lot of variations in the music now, but for me – I love the new bands, don’t get me wrong – but I still think that today Iron Maiden still hold their own today, they are still selling out venues and I feel there is yet to be any of these legendary bands which compare to Guns’n’Roses, Iron Maiden, even Whitesnake and Def Leppard – I absolutely love them and have huge respect for all those bands and they are still here today selling out venues and holding their own. So, I would probably go back to these sort of bands and compare to them, because they are still legendary and I think there is still room for them. What do you think is going to happen when all those bands gradually step down and retire?

Skarlett: I don’t know, I’d like to think that newer bands of today will become legendary. That would be great. It will give room I suppose for these newer bands. It just feels to me that you don’t have what you used to have. It’s nothing against the bands, there is some amazing bands out there. I just think that the music scene back in the ‘80s and the ‘90s was different to today. We didn’t have the digital age, there was a lot of live music as well, so I think that they kind of hold their own probably with how the scene has changed, there is just thousands and thousands of bands now. What do you think about the people, or the press, trying to brand a band as something older? For example Greta Van Fleet are the next Led Zeppelin. Do you think that this is a mistake?

Skarlett: I suppose you can see it in two ways: I think that they are maybe labeled that way, because people wants something that sounds familiar… “ah, yeah I can hear that”. I think that when something is familiar is more likeable, because you can relate to it. So, I can kind of understand it, but for us I wouldn’t like it if people were going out saying… because we’ve had it before: “oh, they are just another Paramore”. Or “they are like Paramore, but a bit more metal”… even though Paramore are successful and great, I still can’t see that comparison. I don’t think we are like Paramore, just because she is a female and I am a female. So, I do prefer the fresh genre not to be compared to other people, but I do think as well, because everything is kind of being done. It’s natural to say “oh, they remind me of these…”, or “yeah, I like them, they are a bit like this…” I think we all do it with any band and it just makes it likeable. Have you ever felt, or experienced racism against you, because of your sex, because of the band that has a female lead singer and some may say “oh, they want to attract more attention”?

Skarlett: I’ve been quite lucky. I haven’t had a lot of it to a bad extent. We do get the odd comment where it’s kind of like: “I don’t like female bands”, “I don’t want to listen to this, because they have a female lead singer”, “I don’t like female singers”… and I think “well, you wouldn’t say that about a male-fronted band”! You wouldn’t say “I am not listening to them, because they have a male on the front” – I’ve never heard of that in my life. But, there are a lot of people who say that they don’t like female fronted bands, but it’s just a voice. It’s a little bit higher than a male’s voice sometimes. So, that’s the only thing that we’ve really had. We have been very lucky to not having too much negative comments like that, but I do tend to base my influences more around males, like Jacoby for example and Bullet For My Valentine. I think it can come across on stage. I am a bit more tomboyish, bouncing around the stage. But, it’s not something I’ve come across. I have seen comments and stuff for females in bands saying it’s been an issue to them and had all sorts of nasty things going on, but I am lucky that I haven’t experienced it. So, touch wood! It won’t happen.