The Skids recall ‘Into The Valley’: “There was never a plan”

Horrified by the Troubles but inspired by Tennyson, four Fife teens headed south to make a defining statement

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SIMPSON: Richard got a bit of stick for his lyrics sometimes, people thought he was pretentious, but for a 16-year-old to come up with these words… Obviously, he was very influenced by the imagery and themes of war and triumphalism.

JOBSON: “The Saints Are Coming” was about a similar subject, a friend of mine who was killed in Northern Ireland. I was writing about things that actually meant something to me, but trying to get beyond a first- person story in “Into The Valley”.

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SIMPSON: We’d rehearse in an old manor house’s former stables in Dunfermline. It was cold and damp, not the most inviting place! But we could really crank it up. Stuart would look at the lyrics Richard had written and build a song around them. Then we filled it in.

JOBSON: When we were working on an early session, I sat and played a melody on a piano and was singing the words [of “Into The Valley”]. Stuart heard that and picked up on it, and of course turned it into something much more structured and melodic, and with all the different components. The song was much more experimental at an early stage, it was actually a bit leftfield. so the name “Depersonalised” seemed to work very well with that.

SIMPSON: That’s one of the few songs where I took the initiative on the bass to kick it off. We wanted a powerful, energetic start. It was a fantastic sound I got from the bass I was using, a fairly cheap Jazz copy, by Gherson. I bought it in the mid-’70s when I played with stuart in a covers band we had before the skids. We also tuned our guitars down to D, a tone below standard. It suited Richard’s voice. The album [Scared To Dance] was recorded at Air Studios, and “Into The Valley” was also done there, I’d say.

MICK GLOSSOP: It was at Townhouse 2. as far as I can recall we did everything for the first album there, all the recording and mixing. We certainly used the sound of the room in the famous stone Room.

JOBSON: I think we recorded “Into The Valley” separately in Air, then went to Townhouse for the album. I hated recording studios – funnily enough, I love it now, modern technology suits me. I was a massive fan of the sensational Alex Harvey Band, and David Batchelor produced Alex Harvey, so working with him was a bit of a treat for me, because I got to ask him questions about Alex.

SIMPSON: We always liked to do a full track, bass, drums and rhythm guitar – we wanted to keep that symmetry, that feel we had when we played live. Then we filled it in.

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JOBSON: It only became “Into The Valley” when David Batchelor started to restructure the song so that “into the valley” became the hook. Believe it or not, it was still called “Depersonalised” at that point! I was quite intransigent about changing the title, but it was obvious from the way the recording had gone that the title should become “Into The Valley”. David was a very strong influence on the early part of our career, and he pushed us to learn about structure and not be so flagrantly leftfield.

GLOSSOP: How long did we spend on the album? A couple of months, probably. I imagine we would have got a couple of songs done in a day. Undeniably Stuart was the best musician, and always was, in every incarnation of The Skids.

JOBSON: I was never sold on the “la la la la” part, I found that kind of stupid. But of course, all these years later that’s a key part of the song. I think David sold it to us as being a punk version of “la la la”, rather than a pop version. I remember after we did the last of the vocals, I met up with Paul Cook from the Sex Pistols, and we went to the speakeasy just round the corner, and watched Johnny Thunders play with Peter Perrett from The Only Ones. It was pretty amazing! Cooky got up and had a jam with them that night, but I was so shit at playing any instrument so I just watched from the wings. I thought meeting Johnny was gonna be really exciting, but he was insanely off his face on heroin, so he was pretty hopeless.

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