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The Streets

October 2008

"I HEAR that there's a lot of girls in Nottingham," says Mike Skinner, opening the conversation in a rather chipper mood.
I explain the city's apparent swell of women harks back to when Nottingham was the centre of the lace industry.
"Nice, I like a bit of lace."
Are you wearing any at the moment?
"No. I'm never too far from it though."
Of course, Skinner is more likely to be wearing a tracksuit. He's been a poster boy for smart casual sportswear and geezer cool since the early noughties, when his debut album Original Pirate Material put UK garage in to the Top 10.
It was a collection of tales of suburbs, clubbing, drugs and boredom, delivered in his unique Birmingham-via-London accent.
Three albums on and he experienced his first backlash, criticised for appearing to moan about his lot on The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living.
"Politically it was just very dangerous water," he admits.
"I felt that it came across as negative."
For good reason. After his dad died, just before the release of A Grand Don't Come For Free in 2004, he went off the rails and headlong into a drink and drug binge, the result of which he documented candidly on The Hardest Way...
But with his latest, Everything Is Borrowed, he has aimed for a more positive vibe.
So, are all the demons at bay?
"I don't think I had that many demons before really but I just kind of talked about them a lot more then. I've not really changed much."
That said he's not written about the day-to-day this time and opted for wider subjects of environment, morality, history and religion.
"Well it's very autobiographical," he insists.
"But I think any story is as much about the bits you leave out than the bits that you put in. You can probably tell a lot about my mind state or who I thought was or who I wanted to be but it's all me really."
I'm not sure that makes sense but move on anyway.
Skinner still lives in London but has no wife or kids yet.
"I'm just kind of out and about really, you know," he says.
Has he considered the impact of turning 30 in November?
"I haven't really thought about it that much. If I was sitting in my bedroom smoking weed and hadn't done anything with my 20s then I might be a little worried about turning 30, but I think I've achieved a lot already."
He's also given little consideration to what happens after the fifth and – as he's previously stated – final Streets album.
"Whatever really. I haven't really thought about it. I just know that I'd like to change.
"I just don't want to be doing things by habit."

The Streets play Rock City on Saturday October 18.

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