Two years ago, Keighley-based skacore band Random Hand went on hiatus with a tour and a new album to mark their departure with a bang. Now they’re back and busy – but fortunately not too busy to give the Courier a quick interview. Shortly after their gig in Newcastle, I managed to talk to Robin Leitch (vocals/trombone) and Joe Tilston (vocals/bass).
It’s been around two years, but now you’re on tour again. How does it feel to be back?
JT: It’s good. We’ve already done three gigs, so we’re trying to find our stride. We don’t have a long-term plan or anything, but we and the fans missed it so it seemed like the right thing to do.
Did you know in advance how long you were going to be out?
JT: When we called the hiatus, we didn’t know how long it would be – it could have been two years, it could have been seven. We decided at least two years, then we’d come back and play together and see how we felt. Being in Random Hand was very disruptive on our lives, as a part-time band.
What did you do on hiatus?
JT: Got a job, started a podcast, finished a degree, and started a band called Traits.
RL: I have not kept in the scene – I forgot what music was. I’ve been writing plays and I own a theatre company now.
JT: His plays are good. I’ve been to more of his shows than he has been to my gigs.[pullquote]The world that we left [in 2016] is very different to what we’ve just started to tour in now[/pullquote]
Before you left, you released a new album, Hit Reset. What was the response like?
JT: We usually play a handful of tunes on tour before recording, but we didn’t have a chance that time. We knew we weren’t going to play for a while so we wanted to leave with something that we put our all into. Every other album we did had a press release to back it, but we crowdfunded this one, so it never really got out of the bubble of fans. But yeah, lots of them said that this was some of our best work. Also, our members have changed a few times so we wanted to record something with our current line-up, including our guitarist, Dan.
Any chance of a seventh album?
RL: Seventh? We usually count them as four.
JT: We are writing, but there is no agenda. We’re not going to say “2019 is going to be the next biggest thing in ska punk”.
RL: It’s a bit of a pain in the arse to write something, you need to put all these notes together.
So what is the story behind the name?
JT: Right, you’re not allowed to ask that question.
RL: It’s a fucking stupid reason, and that’s all we’re going to tell you. We were quite a bit younger when we came up with the name.
Your songs tend to be quite political, what are your general thoughts on the world at this time?
RL: That is a complex situation. The wider events that are happening are obviously very shit and horrific, but it’s in some way cyclical. Syria is almost like Vietnam in that it’s like a proxy war. Thing is though, if you listen to our songs it’s not really that political, it’s not the same sort of comments you find in most other bands. I will write a block of lyrics and pick word by word to get the right inference. I never want to fall into the trap of telling people what to think. It’s all about different ways of exploring things, but the last thing I want to do is preach. Talking to people can open up a new way of thinking.
JT: Robin’s lyrics are more of a conversation than a speech, many bands try to tell people what to think. The world that we left [in 2016] is very different to what we’ve just started to tour in now. Things were bad back then, but we feel that we were in some way privileged in our left wing ways. Brexit and all the xenophobia we have now has broken my heart.