Skint & Demoralised (2007-2013) were a UK lyric-based alternative indie/pop act, fronted by 24-year-old lyricist Matt Abbott from Wakefield, West Yorkshire and produced by MiNI dOG from Sheffield, South Yorkshire.
Early years and formation
Skint & Demoralised began when Wakefield teenager Matt Abbott started doing stand-up performance poetry in late 2006. With comical themes such as tales from Seaside towns and tragic nights-out, he was often a hit with a pleasantly surprised audience. This was mainly in the West Yorkshire area, and included support slots for Reverend and the Makers, Last Gang and The Research. He also performed for Love Music Hate Racism and his unusual style soon earned him a name locally.
Abbott temporarily ceased to perform poetry when he was contacted on MySpace by MiNI dOG, with whom he began to write. MiNI dOG began to turn Abbott's poetry into songs by chopping them apart and laying them over backing tracks before the two had even met. However, after meeting the pair developed a strong songwriting partnership, with Abbott writing lyrics and MiNI dOG writing the music and producing the demos. His poetry soon evolved into a more lyrical style, although the spoken word delivery and also the style in which they are written remained very true to his poetic beginning.
After uploading demos onto MySpace, free download sites and also posting CDs out to DJs, the band were played and interviewed on various radio shows including Steve Lamacq on BBC Radio 1 and BBC 6 Music, Shamir Masri's 'Raw Talent' on BBC Radio Sheffield and on Yorkshire Radio. The band also received airplay on BBC Radio 1 from Colin Murray and Huw Stephens and played a Maida Vale live session for Steve Lamacq on 3 March 2008.
One of the most notable features of the band's initial success was the sheer volume of free downloads from their site. Demo recordings were uploaded as soon as they were finished and from June 2007 to March 2008 they had over 8600 downloads in total.
Having originally planned to release a limited edition single on Stiff Records, the band signed to Mercury Records on 18 March (part of the Universal Music Group). However, over the summer of 2010 the act parted company with the label.
With a live band of musicians from the Sheffield area, Skint & Demoralised only performed ten gigs before signing their record deal, all of which were in Sheffield and Wakefield.
Their first headline Tour was in February 2009 and included dates in Sheffield, Glasgow, Manchester, Oxford, Birmingham, Brighton, London, Leeds and finally Southampton. One particular feature of the live set included Matt Abbott's spoken word poems. During this Tour, he would perform the anti-racism poem "BNP: Nazis on the Doorstep" without a microphone and usually climbed on top of a nearby monitor or fixture to do so, thus raising him a few feet above the crowd.
He has supported and performed with Love Music Hate Racism since he very first began and has often spoken of his support for the organisation in interviews as well as in Blogs.
In March 2009 he supported one of his main idols - John Cooper Clarke - at The Duchess in York as part of a string of Spring dates before the next single campaign, including many headline shows across the North of England.
The band performed at several new music festivals in 2009 such as Camden Crawl in London and The Great Escape in Brighton as well as major festivals such as Glastonbury Festival, Wireless Festival in Hyde Park, London, Latitude Festival in Suffolk, Leeds and Reading Festival and Bestival on the Isle of Wight.
Over the summer of 2010, Abbott performed several Stand-up comedy gigs which included dates at Latitude Festival and Leeds Festival.
Debut album 'Love, And Other Catastrophes'
Skint & Demoralised began recording their debut album Love And Other Catastrophes in June 2008 with legendary Funk/Soul session band The Dap-Kings at The Daptone Studios in Brooklyn, New York. The Dap-Kings are most known in the UK for their work on Amy Winehouse's Back to Black album and Mark Ronson's Version.
The second half of the session was at RAK Studios in St John's Wood, London and the album's producer was MiNI dOG. MiNI dOG also mixed eight of the tracks, with the other four being mixed by Jeremy Wheatley.
However, the album was leaked online months before it was due to be released, which included full-length promotional copies being sold on eBay and large numbers of downloads through illegal file sharing. It was never officially released by Mercury Records, but was eventually released by indie label Heist Or Hit alongside the band's second album This Sporting Life in summer 2011.
The album was released on 12" vinyl, including exclusive bonus tracks, by German indie label Firestation Records in 2011.
Skint & Demoralised enjoyed critical acclaim from a very early stage in their career, and in particular it was the praise of BBC Radio 1/BBC Radio 2/BBC 6 Music DJ Steve Lamacq that led to them gaining attention from several major labels. They received national airplay from Lamacq as well as his fellow BBC Radio 1 DJs Huw Stephens and Colin Murray before they were signed and performed a live session for Lamacq at the Maida Vale Studios in March 2008.
Their first national acclaim in the press came in August 2008 as a "Next Big Thing" from Q Magazine; an accolade soon followed by Clash Magazine,The Independent,The Scottish Sun and The Sunday Times' Culture magazine before the end of 2008, as well as several online journals.
The Guardian also named them as their 'New Band of the Day' on 12 January 2009.
The infamous "3am Girls" in the Daily Mirror are also early supporters of the band, and when they released their first single they enjoyed many national radio plays on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, Xfm and Absolute Radio as well as being on the B-List at BBC 6 Music. DJs such as Sara Cox, Zane Lowe, Colin Murray, Huw Stephens, Steve Lamacq, Nick Grimshaw, Annie Mac, Dermot O'Leary, Janice Long, and Chris Moyles have expressed their support for the act.
As well as a TV appearance and performance on Loose Women, they enjoyed national airplay over the summer of 2009 with their single "Red Lipstick", spending several weeks on the BBC Radio 1 B-List and being chosen as the "Weekend Anthem" by Sara Cox.
Matt Abbott has been a keen supporter of the non-profit Love Music Hate Racism movement since performing spoken word at one of their gigs in April 2007. He performs a spoken word piece at every gig entitled 'Nazis on the Doorstep' which criticises the basis of the British National Party's policies and constantly speaks out against them in interviews and on his social network sites.
Through working with LMHR he has performed at and helped to organised gigs and carnivals nationwide, delivered workshops in schools across the Yorkshire area around election time and given talks at the Unite Against Fascism National Conferences in London.
He has also worked with trade unions such as GMB, particularly around the 2009 Leeds refuse workers strike. Despite being an active member of the Liberal Democrats at the age of 16 and strongly opposing the Iraq War, Abbott is now a committed voter for the Labour Party.
Reformation in 2010 and second album 'This Sporting Life'
On 21 September 2010, Abbott announced via his Twitter and Facebook pages that the band would be reforming, after it was initially announced over a year ago that they had split up in favour of a solo project from Abbott. A second album was written and recorded in the last few months of the year at MiNI dOG's home studio in Sheffield.
Videos were made for demo tracks from the second album, setting the songs to stills from Abbott's favourite films including A Taste of Honey, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, L'Appartement,Amélie and Trainspotting.
With a new band composed of Abbott's closest friends from Wakefield, live dates began to gather pace over spring 2011 and the band announced that they'd signed a deal with Indie label Heist Or Hit Records. Both the band's new album This Sporting Life and their previously unreleased debut Love And Other Catastrophes were released as a 2CD Bonus Edition on 2 August 2011.
The new album was named after the 1963 Wakefield based kitchen-sink drama of the same name, and was recorded at MiNI dOG's home studio between August and November 2010.
Third and final album 'The Bit Between The Teeth'
On 1 August 2012, Abbott again officially announced via his Twitter and Facebook feeds that the band was planning to release a third album. He then officially revealed the title of the album to be 'The Bit Between The Teeth' in an interview with a Canadian music site in August 2012.
An official announcement detailing the band's first single release was made on the record label's official website on 11 February 2013. In the same announcement, the release date for the album was given as 8 April 2013.
Early reaction to the single 'Breakfast at Sylvia's' was positive, including a review on indie music site AltSounds.com which praised Matt Abbott's lyrics as well as acclaim from Art Brut lyricist/frontman Eddie Argos. The band decided in July 2013 that this album would be their last as Skint & Demoralised.
- Love And Other Catastrophes (unofficial promo release 2009, full release 2 August 2011)
- This Sporting Life (initial release 2 August 2011, full release 12 March 2012)
- The Bit Between The Teeth (8 April 2013)
- "The Thrill of Thirty Seconds" (17 November 2008) - Limited release 500 copy 7" vinyl
- "This Song Is Definitely Not About You" (2 March 2009) - CD & 7" vinyl
- "Red Lipstick" (13 July 2009, UK #100) - Download only
- "The Lonely Hearts of England"/"43 Degrees" (4 July 2011) - Download only
- "All The Rest Is Propaganda" (5 March 2012) - Download only
- "Breakfast at Sylvia's" (scheduled for release 25 March 2013) - Download only
- "Plessey Road" (17th June 2013) - Download only
- YouTube channel