Band of Skulls wraps up a trilogy of videos for its upcoming album Love Is All You Love with a clip for the title track, premiering exclusively below. And it doesn't seem to have a happy ending.
"It depends on where you see the end," the British duo's Russell Marsden tells Billboard. "There really isn't an end. It's just a loop." True enough, the video follows predecessors "Cool Your Battles" and "We're Alive" in tracking a cycle from violence to peace back to violence, repeating some motifs from the former — including followers turning on a guru-like character who's revealed as a fraud.
"The three singles are quite different," Marsden notes, "but Nate (Camponi, the director) came up with this idea, which really resonated with us. It's not necessarily what we intended in the songwriting; We were thinking about dancing gurus in the studio. But his directorial kind of style picked up on some things in the songs that tied together into this story that really resonated with us."
And rest assured Marsden and fellow Skull Emma Richardson are well aware the video concept taps into modern-day politics and concerns over cults of personality prevalent worldwide these days, from the Trump administration to Brexit and beyond. "We recognize what's going on in our country, and similar scenarios playing out in the world right now," Richardson acknowledges, to which Marsden adds that, "We were writing lyrics about some of the pressures that we feel, and perhaps our generation, some of our peers, are coming up against. That was definitely in our songwriting tool kit this time. Musically it’s a very uplifting record, but the lyrics are darker than we've used before."
The sound of Love Is All You Love, due out April 12, is indeed a bit lighter — and, as far as Marsden and Richardson are concerned, "a rebirth of the band." The 10-track set is the group's first as a duo, following the departure of drummer Matt Hayward in 2017. (Julian Dorio of the Whigs stepped into the breach.) "A little fear always helps," Richardson says. "We both knew we wanted to carry on working and recording and hopefully put out another record. We started writing, just the two of us, using different technology to make that happen." Marsden adds that "There was more fun, more challenges. As a duo we got to the crux of each song, each inspiration, a bit quicker. What could have been a negative turned into a real positive thing."
It also opened the group up to new collaborators — not only Dorio but also producer Richard X (Annie, Kelis), who brought in different sounds and electronic influences into Band of Skulls' sound. "We haven't done anything like this before, where the collaboration aspect is very open and free," Richardson notes. "We feel like it's something we want to continue, really." Band of Skulls is headed out on the road, kicking off April 11 in the U.K., though it only has New York (May 2) and Los Angeles (May 6) dates slated for the U.S. so far.
"(The album) was fun," Marsden says. "Sometimes a challenge can really bring out the best in you. This reminded me of why we’re in this and what we're about. This is our 10th studio album, which is an amazing thing to say, but I think at this point to repeat ourselves is pointless. Knowing different people and friends all around the world, we always say, 'Wouldn't it be great if we got together and made a record here?' After this we can look at just about any situation and go, 'Yeah, why not?'"