August Wells Interview

The Irish pop genius behind Rollerskate Skinny is back with a new project that shows his determination to keep moving forward

The voice behind Rollerskate Skinny is back with a new project called August Wells. Ken Griffin left Dublin in the late ’90s for New York, where he formed Kid Silver and Favourite Sons. Griffin still calls NYC home. Indeed, the singer has just returned to a still scorching Big Apple, despite it being September, which is a shock to his system after a brief Irish tour that included a set on the Other Voices stage at Electric Picnic.

“For the very first time in twenty years it has really crossed my mind to move back to Ireland,” Griffin reveals. “There is something in the air and environment, which is now harmonious with who I am. I actually feel a little behind and I need to do some catching up. The Ireland of my mind doesn’t exist anymore.”

Griffin has been round the block with a major label deal, but is much happier with the more modern, independent and self-sufficient way of doing business. “I can play a show now and sell twenty albums directly to people,” he enthuses. “I understand there is less opportunity to make money, but there are communities making exciting things happen. In the late '80s and early '90s, anybody who had any integrity in music wanted the industry to die anyway. Who gives a fuck about the music industry? They never gave a fuck about me.”

Griffin is embracing these new opportunities wholeheartedly. “The power is back in the hands of the musicians,” he says. “I did Other Voices for TV and Electric Picnic. It was all arranged in about two or three direct emails. Before, you would have to go through such rigmarole. The next thing you know you’re being interviewed in Dingle by the guy who was in Game of Thrones.”

While he was home, Ken went into the studio with Girl Band to record a version of the old Rollerskate Skinny song ‘Bow Hitch Hiker’. “In the modern world your work lives forever,” he says. “It is incredible for me to play the Workman’s Club at the age of 45 and the crowd love it. The work is still being found by people.”

Despite Rollerskate Skinny being one of the most loved Irish alternative acts of the ’90s, there are no plans to reform or reprise the band. “I wouldn’t do it,” Griffin states. “I’m not a 23-year-old in a leather jacket jumping around a stage. I treat my music with dignity and it has given me most of my best experiences in life. I did ‘Speed To My Side’ with The Frames, which sounds like strange marriage but it really worked. The funny thing I was involved in that whole scene. I dropped off the earth, and then I came back, and they’re all cashing in as part of this kind of horrible indie rock nightmare.

“The way I look at it I could spend time doing Rollerskate Skinny, or try and write my best song. There was talk about doing stuff and to be honest I pulled back from it. I’d love the Kid Silver album to be released in Ireland, but I’m concentrating on the here and now. I have a bunch of unreleased stuff of Rollerskate Skinny, Kid Silver and Favourite Sons, and I'd like to just put them on a website where you can stream or buy them.

“When I was in Rollerskate Skinny, I was trying to escape and get away from myself. Authenticity just comes from being alive for a long period of time. You work more in abstractions when you’re younger. When I sing now, I just trust my voice and don’t push it. The irony is that it allows me to sing in a bigger way. We’re still doing this for the privilege and the pleasure. It is amazing to have an intense live experience for an hour or so.”

 

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