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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GLOSSOP: It was common to double-track a lot of guitar parts. We did this with The Ruts as well. David was conscious that this was going to be the lead single from the LP and wanted to give it its best shot. I got the sense he was pushing them to a certain extent, but they went along with it.

SIMPSON: Stuart wanted to keep it more like how we’d play it live, and I think he thought things were going a wee bit too far into overdub-land. But we thought, “This sounds immense, bring it on!”

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JOBSON: David and Stuart had fall-outs during sessions, but I wasn’t there all the time, because I got so bored. I’d go and walk around Soho.

SIMPSON: [Eventually] Stuart threw a wobbly about the direction things were going in – much to our surprise, because we thought things were sounding fantastic. Stuart was prone to throwing the toys out of the pram a wee bit. So he left – we weren’t sure if he was coming back. We were kind of stuck, as there were a few guitar overdubs to do – “Into The Valley” had already been finished.

JOBSON: Stuart was strange in the studio sometimes, he’d do his stuff and then he got really homesick sometimes, and he’d vanish. You’d go, “Where is he?” and he’d already be back in Scotland. He did that throughout all of our time together in The Skids – in fact, through to the last days of his life. He was a guy with a dark side to his personality. I always understood why he was like he was, I never really questioned it.

GLOSSOP: David and I were sitting there, thinking, ‘What are we gonna do? We haven’t got a guitarist!’ and I said, ‘Well, [Townhouse chief maintenance engineer] Chris Jenkins plays guitar, shall I ask him if he wants to come and do it?’ Chris came and played, but the thing is Chris is a rock guitarist, so we had to get him to simplify his playing so he could play Stuart’s parts. “No, don’t use vibrato, Stuart wouldn’t have done that…” It was quite funny. so someone else played a lot of the guitar parts on there – he’s credited on the record, so it’s common knowledge.

JOBSON: We didn’t want to do Top Of The Pops, but Virgin said, “You have to do it.” We had met the BBC producers and the DJs, and it was quite creepy, you know? It’s amazing that all these things have come out since, but you could really feel it in the air, it was pretty unpleasant. Most of the other acts were pretty atrocious. so when we released “Into The Valley”, we spoke about it beforehand and Stuart felt the same as I did – “Why the fuck are we here? This is not why we want to be in a band.” I’m epileptic, and I wasn’t feeling so good before we did the performance. Stuart was aware of that, and he said, “Let’s go for it, we’ll just do one take.” So we only did one take – normally you do five. I felt really ill. It was a mental performance, by these young guys who obviously couldn’t give a fuck. I was wearing some big leopard-skin jacket.

SIMPSON: Richard took it by storm with his Jobbo jive, as we’d call it. It put the track into people’s minds and it crept up the charts.

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JOBSON: I was back in Scotland the day after the performance screened, and you could feel the difference. That weekend we were rehearsing and I noticed there were 20 or 30 local kids hanging about outside. I think we’d gone from being a cult band to something else, pretty much overnight. But I think it was difficult for Stuart for the rest of his time in The Skids, because he wanted to be home. He didn’t want to be on tour as much as we did. I guess the very thing that made us successful would be the very thing that finished it.

SIMPSON: Stuart was a huge talent, everyone knows the talent that he had, and it was a tragic waste [Adamson took his own life in 2001]. It’s still hard to take in.

JOBSON: I was recently asked to come on The One Show, so they could sit and have a laugh at the song’s expense, with various misinterpretations of the lyrics. I said, “You can have a laugh at my lyrics if you like, but that song was written about friends of mine who went to Northern Ireland, and it’s about something quite serious in the wider world. so why would I want to come and laugh at it?” They were shocked I wasn’t jumping up and down with excitement to come on some banal programme to take the piss out of my own work. But “Into The Valley” is quite a serious song, and if other people misinterpret the lyrics because of my odd use of phonetics or my accent, that’s not my problem. It’s a song and a lyric I’m very proud of.

SIMPSON: I don’t think we’d get off the stage if we didn’t do this one live! It’s sounding good. I don’t think anybody who ever came to any of our gigs ever went away saying, “That was crap.” They always had a fantastic time.

JOBSON: It’s a song that I don’t get bored singing. Presumably on the live dates, I’ll be getting a lot of help singing it. We’ve got to get close again to that feeling of every night being a one-off. singing “Into The Valley” on a Tuesday night in Cleethorpes, then singing it again the following night in Newcastle-under-Lyme, you did it as if it was the last time you’d ever sing it.

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