Mike Skinner burst onto the music scene with The Streets debut album Original Pirate Material back in 2002, narrowly missing out on the Mercury Music Prize. His next album (his fifth), Computer and Blues, will be his last as The Streets, so catch him touring Oz while you still can…
You’re touring Australia over the next month, but you’ve got a bit of a history Down Under haven’t you?
Yeah, I kind of lived in Sydney basically for 1999. It wasn’t really the backpacker thing although I did just get like a working visa type thing. I just kind of hung out in Sydney. I ended up there and I know it better than anywhere else in Australia. I’ve since been back a lot of times. I kind of know Melbourne a little bit now but I know Sydney really well. Australia, it’s warm, the people are nice, you know, so I mean you can’t really have much more. I’ve always really enjoyed it.
Ever worry about the snakes and sharks?
Nah, they’re not really what people die of are they?
There was a big reaction in the media to you announcing the next Streets album would be the last. Were you surprised?
I’m not surprised that type of comment makes people talk. I guess I’m more surprised that people are talking about me really. I’ve been doing it for so long now that you don’t expect people to still talk about you. But as far as story-telling goes, I’m very aware that that kind of finality is what makes things compelling. That’s not the reason I’m ending it, the reason I’m ending it is because I don’t want to repeat myself too much. The Streets doesn’t represent someone in their 30s you know, it represents someone in their 20s and the kind of journey that they take. So I think it’s time to end it and hopefully people can really appreciate those five albums.
So does that mean you’re too old for the drink and drugs lifestyle now?
My lifestyle hasn’t changed that much. My lifestyle was always making music, so that hasn’t really changed. I think you become a little wiser and start to just think about the bigger picture I guess. Apart from that, I’m still writing songs about the same sort of things now as I was eight years ago. As you get older I think you start to become a little more political. And I don’t mean giving Barack Obama lectures. You start to kind of develop politics and you start to realise that you’re playing a role in the world. When you’re 19 you might play a role in youth culture, you might be part of a scene, but when you’re 30 you start to think about the ways you affect the world, even if you go out and party all night.
I heard the final album will sound like Blade Runner?
Yeah a little bit more futuristic, very electronic.
And you’re moving into films?
We do this thing called Beat Stevie, which is like a TV show on the internet. We’re gonna do a thing for the BBC, hopefully.
You sounded unlike anyone else when you started out. Was it hard convincing people to give you a go?
How you see yourself and how the world sees yourself is always different.
The Streets are headlining Playground Weekender festival, Feb 6-8 (www.playgroundweekender.com.au), plus playing gigs in Sydney (Feb 5), Brisbane (Feb 6), Adelaide (Feb 9), Melbourne (Feb 10) and Perth (Feb 13).