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Exclusive: The Skints' Marcia Richards on WWE, NXT, Riptide Wrestling & more 

EXPERT COLUMNIST
Exclusive
314   //    Timeless

The Skints / Photo: Tom Sykes
The Skints / Photo: Tom Sykes

London “tropical punk” four-piece The Skints released its highly-anticipated fourth album, Swimming Lessons, earlier this year.

Drawing on influences as sprawling as Bad Brains, Popcaan, No Doubt, Alton Ellis, Wiley and Weezer, Swimming Lessons deals with crushing heartbreak, the impending doom of Brexit, surviving as an independent musician and navigating the weird world of 2019.

Playing as much as 150 shows a year, The Skints have been described by Clash Magazine as “the torchbearers for modern British reggae music."

Along with sold-out shows across the UK, Europe and the U.S., the band has performed at some of the biggest festivals in the world, playing alongside the likes of NOFX, 311, Less Than Jake, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Mariachi El Bronx, You Me At Six, Sublime With Rome, and the Easy Star All Stars.

The Skints -- which is comprised of Marcia Richards, Joshua Waters Rudge, Jamie Kyriakides and Jonathan Doyle -- recently embarked on its first ever headline tour in the States. A full UK and Europe headline tour is currently slated for October and November; all Skints tour dates are up at www.theskints.com.

I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with singer and multi-instrumentalist Marcia Richards about her appreciation of professional wrestling in addition to what is coming up for The Skints. She was every bit as honest, fun and personable as I could have hoped her to be.

When in your life did you become a fan of wrestling? Was it because of a particular wrestler or storyline?

Marcia Richards: I didn’t properly get into wrestling until I was older really! I enjoyed bits of WWE that I experienced as a child, but I was a little young, really. My big brother loved it, I remember him quoting The Rock and practicing moves on me! I think a lot of people my age have stories like that.

When I was first living away from home, my housemates had Sky and my boyfriend at the time put WWE on sometimes. We just slipped into it, I think it was the the nostalgia mixed with genuine curiosity for how it had evolved.

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I’ve taken a slightly “smarky” -- smart mark -- angle on wrestling since the start, fascinated by how different wrestlers were being booked, pushed and changed but also enjoying the ride and falling for the faces, hating the heels.

I feel a connection to the wrestlers as our lives aren’t that different. They tour constantly all year, performing relentlessly. They give their whole lives to their craft ya know? It’s tough when the only way to make it in your profession is to put it above everything else in your life. I think it was about the time that Seth Rollins betrayed The Shield, if I remember correctly! I was new to wrestling and loved him.

I couldn’t understand how he made me hate his character so much when I loved him on-screen so much. The power of wrestling and its characters felt incredibly captivating for me.

I was fascinated by AJ Lee, Paige and the Bella Twins, too. Charlotte Flair was on NXT at the time. I’d only ever seen female wrestlers portrayed in ways that bummed me out before then. I remember wishing they weren’t called “Divas."

I was rooting for those women so much for this reason. I hoped so hard for them that one day they wouldn’t have to work in a world where men are automatically awarded a positive word like “Superstar” and women this word with such negative connotations.

I still get really emotional thinking how much women in wrestling have had to put up with before to finally being allowed to fly.

These days, do you have a favorite wrestling company?

Marcia Richards: I’ve had phases of watching different wrestling companies, but only ever known WWE and NXT deeply. My new favorite wrestling company however is Riptide Wrestling. It’s an independent wrestling promo based in Brighton, UK.

I knew immediately they’d started something special. As well as putting on these cinematic and captivating events, their wrestlers are properly supported, treated with respect and fairness, which I’m sure a lot of people in this business know is too rare.

They’re already selling out events ages in advance. I highly recommend supporting, subscribing and checking out the videos or going to a Riptide event if you can!

Who are some of your favorite wrestlers of the moment?

Marcia Richards: I’m really moved by the women in the WWE right now. I’m loving Alexa Bliss -- her physical acting, facial expressions and wrestling is incredible -- and Becky Lynch has been a favorite for a while, even during the steam punk phase. (laughs)

Charlotte Flair, Asuka, Bayley, they’re all killing it. And I’m really digging Lacey Evans right now. Her promos chill me to the bone! There are loads more I’ve forgotten to include, but I respect them all so much. The women’s division in my opinion is the most captivating thing about the WWE right now.

Otherwise I’ve loved Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura and Sami Zayn since NXT. Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns -- I've been on team Roman through it all. (laughs) I’ve loved seeing The New Day’s development, too. Their real characters shone through was what initially a pretty weak gimmick and turned it into something incredible.

As you can probably tell, I find it really hard to narrow it down! I’ve not even gone into classic wrestlers!

Is anyone else in The Skints a fan of wrestling?

Marcia Richards: They enjoy watching it when I have it on, for sure! I’m the only one that’s deeply-invested, but they all appreciate it loads.

Are there any other sports that you are a big fan of besides wrestling?

Marcia Richards: Wrestling is the only sport that I’m deep into. I like MMA though, and football. I support Arsenal, though I don’t follow the Premier League as closely as I did a few years ago.

Sports aside, I'm of course a fan of The Skints. You play a bunch of different instruments in the band. Which was your first instrument? 

Marcia Richards: Thanks very much! I actually started playing the piano and the flute at the same time, I took lessons at school when I was 5 or 6 years old. I studied piano and flute to grade 8 -- that’s the final grade, I don’t know what the equivalent is in America!

I picked up the other instruments as I developed as a musician in the band, really. Playing the piano is a fantastic way to develop your ear and give you an understanding of music that helps you pick up multiple instruments. These days I write most of my songs on guitar, or a cool little composing program I have on my old Gameboy.

I've heard The Skints described as "tropical punks." How do you like that description?

Marcia Richards: (laughs) I have a special place in my heart for that name. It was actually our producer Prince Fatty that came up with it. When he first heard “Learning To Swim” he leaned back in his chair, nodded and spoke the words “Tropical Punk." I’d not heard a more perfect -- albeit open to interpretation, we’ve found -- description of our band!

On a song like "Learning To Swim," you demonstrate multiple genres and extreme changes in dynamics. When the song was being written, did you have the orchestration in mind?

Marcia Richards: Yeah, pretty much. I tend to write all my songs top to bottom. I’ve always approached songwriting more from a producer or arrangers point of view -- I need to know and decide mostly how it’s going to sound before it’s recorded. I worked out the sections on an acoustic guitar in "drop D." It sounded good when I was playing alone, but didn’t know how to explain it to my band.

It took a while for us to work out how the hell we were going to make it happen seamlessly enough to feel like it all belongs in the same song! The guys killed it though, they were more than up for the challenge. I knew it made sense in my head but was worried for a while that everyone else would think it sounds like nonsense!

The song means a lot to me so that was a scary thought, but I was so touched by the response. People are so understanding and open minded when you give them the chance!

Your YouTube channel has a great cover of "Hope" by The Descendents, one of my favorite punk bands. When in your musical journey did you first discover The Descendents?

Marcia Richards: I first discovered The Descendents when I was around 18 and The Skints were first touring -- I only really knew Milo Goes To College. Then a few years ago on tour, Josh put on this documentary, Filmage: The Story Of The Descendents, and I realized how little I knew about them.

At some point Jamie started singing and playing “Hope” to himself all the time, backstage, in the van, in the dressing room, in this slow, somber way. It’s obviously such a desperate and sad song, but it brought out the meaning so much when he sang it like that. As always when one of us starts singing the rest join in and it turned into a full cover in three-part harmony.

I don’t know if it’ll ever be our most viewed cover, as that song might be a little obscure or off-topic for a lot of our fans, so I always love to hear that someone appreciates it!

What does the rest of 2019 look like for The Skints?

Marcia Richards: We’ve had such a great year so far! Released out fourth full-length studio album, embarked on our first ever headline tour in the U.S.! We’re heading straight back in festivals and will be performing on a full UK and Europe headline tour in October and November. I’m most comfortable when I’m on the road performing and it’s really exciting to be back doing it on our own side of the pond. All our tour dates are up on our website: www.theskints.com.

Is there something you wish more people knew about Marcia Richards?

Marcia Richards: I’m really shy. I think a lot of people see what I do on-stage, see the multiple instruments or whatever, and assume I’m this super-confident person. I’m actually the furthest thing from a showoff and hate attention! (laughs)

It takes a lot of concentration to do what I do on-stage and I’m thankful for that. I’m so busy trying to play everything I don’t have time to think about where I am or how many people are watching me! I’m still trying to get over the embarrassment when someone asks me how many instruments I play, and learn to take compliments better. I’m sure a lot of bands and musicians would say the same.

Finally, Marcia, any last words for the kids?

Marcia Richards: Be nice to each other! Support female wrestlers and female musicians, take them seriously. Also it was really hard to write these answers without using emojis. I’ve officially forgotten how to express myself without them. (laughs)

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