They've rocked venues and festivals for over a decade but now Yorkshire punks Random Hand are saying farewell for now having made the decision to take a break from the band.
They cite external and internal difficulties as reasons for the break. Problems with bookings, financial pressures and the strain on their friendships all led to the extended, and open ended hiatus that will begin following their final gig on September 13.
But the Keighley four-piece are going out in style. In a typical atypical move, they are performing a string of shows before releasing a studio album as a parting gift for fans.
The album - as yet untitled - has been fan funded, reaching it's target in just six hours and currently standing at over 200% of it's goal. It's a sure reflection of the level of support felt for the band.
Their direct and punchy punk ska, gritty pertinent lyricism and dedication to frenetic and frenzied live performances has gathered a devoted following. We spoke to vocalist and trombonist Robin Leitch about leaving it all behind.
Hi Robin, how are you?
"My athlete's foot has been playing up a lot recently but I'm good ta."
First of all why the extended break for the band? What were the main reasons for the decision?
"We've been playing together for quite a long time now and it's always been a huge commitment for all of us, we've all got other things going on that we need to address, projects, personal stuff etc.
"We take a lot of pride in the band and we'd never want to do it half-arsed so we figured it'd be best to hammer the summer then have a proper break to focus on other stuff."
How are you all individually? Are your friendships surviving the strains that led to this?
"No, the other three are a set of bellends. The relationships have never been an issue it's just a question of our collective commitment, we're still close and I can't think of a better bunch of people to be stuck in a van with."
"It just naturally seemed like the right time, like i said we've all got stuff going and now seems like the right time to address that."
How long are you intending to be on hiatus?
"That's hard to say, a few years? It's not something that we've planned so we'll just wait and see what happens."
Is it really just a break or is it over for the band?
"It's a break, I think unless there's a serious breakdown in
relationships it's pretty hard for a band to call it a day for good.
"Unless one of us gets killed by a falling piano or something (touch wood) we'll definitely play again at some point, possibly even write and record, but I highly doubt this'll be the last time we go on stage as a band."
Was it a difficult decision to make?
"Absolutely, for some of us it's been the focus of our lives for thirteen years so it's going to be very daunting not playing for ages.
"Jumping in the van and playing shows is second nature so it's very hard to imagine not doing that, especially as we love it so much."
You are going to release your fourth studio album, what can you tell us about it?
"It's our first time writing with our current line up so it's been interesting seeing what people bring to the table. It's been a very smooth and fun process, we're all on the same page and we've enjoyed playing about with stuff.
"There's possibly been a little more experimentation with this one, both musically and lyrically, we've delved into various progressions and ideas that push the boat a little
bit and the lyrics follow a more of a collective theme than they have done in the past. I've tried to go a little further in terms of an imaginative approach with the lyrical content."
Any closer to a title?
"We've got a few potentials jotted down!"
Why have you decided to release it after the tour ends?
"We decided if we were having a break then we'd do it properly, we didn't want to just fizzle out or anything. We figured it'd be a positive note to leave on the release of new stuff.
"Plus there was the practicality, we're currently recording it in the middle of a bunch of shows so there was a time factor too!"
Has the decision to take a break had any influence on the feel or content of the album?
"Not at all, although there's a lot of post- apocalyptic/stuff being destroyed content in the lyrics and if I'm being honest I'm slightly worried people are going to misinterpret it!
"A lot of the ideas were there before we took the decision to have a break and the newer ones haven't been informed by the situation in the slightest, we're making
the same album we would have done if we'd have kept going."
How was it making the album, knowing it's the last for a while?
"We just wanted to make something solid that we could be proud of, but I guess any band could say that about any album!
"The process so far has been brilliant, we're in a great studio with a great producer and we're in a really good place in terms of material. Hopefully people
will like it but we really just want to document what the band are at the moment."
How do you feel about not touring the album?
"It's a weird one having an albums worth of new tunes but not really airing them live. If we come back and do shows down the line it's going to be interesting to see how the new stuff holds up against the older stuff! But we're very happy with what we've got and we're usually quite strict on material."
You had a huge, and immediate fan response to pledging for the album - how did that feel?
"It was bizarre and very moving. It really meant the world that everyone was so eager to help us out, it's moments like that that remind you why we do it in the first place."
Did it make you reflect at all about leaving when you have so much support?
"It didn't waver the decision but it really reinforced how lucky we are and what we'd be missing."
You're leaving on a high, how is the tour going?
"Great so far, we had four shows supporting Less Than Jake which was great, especially as they're one of the bands who made me pick up a trombone in the first place.
"We did a headline show the other week and I fell flat on my face during the last song, I haven't done that in a
while! The band fell apart laughing and tried to teabag me on stage."
How do you feel about leaving the punk scene at this point?
"To be honest I'm very out of the loop on the scene at the moment, we've played with some great bands but I've not really had the time to seek out what's going on in general at the moment. We'll still be getting down to shows and we've got a multitude of mates in bands so we'll still be involved."
What was it that drew you to punk and ska originally?
"For me I just loved how raw the whole thing was/is. There's no pretension or front and everyone's very honest.
"I love the freedom of being able to put my thoughts in a tune then talk shit on stage. I always just felt very at home amongst the music and people in the
scene, everyone's very welcoming and friendly, there's great camaraderie."
How do you see that scene progressing?
"The scene will always have a solid backbone and people willing to invest in it. Bands call it a day but there's always someone wanting to breath life into it.
"In terms of progression who knows, it may get
more commercialised, it might not. But people tend to be involved in this scene for the love of doing it more than anything else."
What will you miss most from that life?
"The people and the free food. Playing a punk show is a very specific feeling and it's something you can't find anywhere else. I've been on stages in various contexts but playing with a punk band has a genuine unpredictability and spark to it. I don't know what the crowd is going
to do, I don't know what the band is going to do, and quite often I don't even know what I'm going to do.
"It's a free-for-all and that's a great laugh. There's also a great dynamic just travelling around in the van, all the in-jokes and funny things that happen, I'll miss all that."
What is the band looking forward to in the immediate future?
"Washing our clothes, sleeping in, and I've got a few films sitting by my DVD player I need to get round to.
How do you feel about the future after Random Hand?
"We'll miss the band, there's no question but I think everyone's excited to get on with stuff they haven't had the chance to before."
Do you feel your friendships will contine?
"They were never strained so i don't think it'll make a difference. If anything, for me personally, I'm more concerned that I won't get to see people as much.
What are all your plans?
"I can't talk for everyone else but I've got a few small projects I need to crack on with!"
How would you describe your time in Random Hand to this point?
"Most of my life has formed around this band, people I've met and places I've been. It's been a genuine adventure and education and despite the lows I wouldn't have changed it for anything."
Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans, as a farewell for now?
"Thank you eternally for the constant support, it means a hell of a lot!"
Random Hand play Rebellion Festival Sunday August 9