May/June 2022

by Koen Aldershof

Fresh Talent: Skram

by Koen Aldershof

Fresh Talent: Skram

Skram is a magnetic new pop group from Lower Hutt, with sing-and-laugh along videos and a firecracker stage presence. Henry Ashby on lead vocals and guitar, Felix Nesbitt on drums and vocals, and Lee Pryor on keyboards and bass form the core of the band, with multi-instrumentalists Tane Butler and Billy Miskimmin extending the three-piece when on the road. Koen Aldershof talked to Henry about the ideas behind their music.

The origin of the band’s name is a mystery, even to Skram themselves.

“It’s fun, the word is fun, that’s all it is. For us, the word ‘skram’ just sang to us,” explains frontman Henry Ashby.

And the fun is clear to see in Skram’s upbeat songs, although behind what might seem superficial at first glance lies a deeper ideology.

“We wrote a lot of songs on the road. We wrote Living Our Lives on the road after a gig. We were so excited and said to each other, ‘We have to get this feeling out there somehow. How do we show the world that life can be good regardless of everything that’s going on?’”

Across 6:25 minutes the funked up reggae of Living Our Lives bounces jauntily along towards a full on rock climax that comes right out of the Deep Purple playbook. A Tiki Taane remix was delivered mid-April. The band’s first music video was for Freaking Me Out! Directed and produced by Kyle J. Johnston, it immediately established that this team are as fun as they are creative, and subsequent videos have only reinforced their evident enthusiasm for life and laughter.

“The songs come from a place of making sure that we’re having a really good time, and form connections that you make with people, and what they mean. A lyric I often point to when I talk about this is from Walk Into The Sun, the title track of our upcoming album, which is, ‘I just want to walk into the sun with you there by my side’.

“And the metaphor is that no matter what you’re doing, or who you’re with, waking up in the morning and just thinking, ‘I’m going to take care of myself, and be really positive, and then I am going to take care of everybody else.’ And then we’re going to have a really positive journey throughout our lives, no matter what happens.”

This read-between-the-lines lyricism can be traced back to the band’s various musical influences.

“I think all of us, and this is why I love our music so much, all of us have different influences. My personal influences are Tash Sultana, Matt Corby, and Harry Styles, but that’s more than his amazing music but also his personality, attitude and care. Felix grew up listening to a lot of heavier music, but he also loves bands like Coldplay, actually me and Lee as well. Big epic sounding songs with true meaning and care put into them, and a lot of love, that’s really important. Soundwise, we’re more along the lines of Six60, LAB, Maroon 5, and Mako Road. We’re all over the show really.”

It seems their live performances match the ecstatic energy and carefree outlook on life that they have as a band, and having already opened for Sons of Zion, Skram are a shoo-in for more slots with those top-ranking Kiwi live acts.