Mike Skinner has always told a pretty commanding story. Anyone who picked up a copy of the seminal â€˜Original Pirate Materialâ€™ would have been shocked (and impressed) by the garage come urban sensibility of the artistâ€™s debut album. It presented a melancholy, although at times uplifting account of life under a grey cloud. And it culminated in an anthem called â€˜Stay Positiveâ€™.
Yet Skinner has his own account of the album - one that despite its solid, if not unique, production and its exemplary lyrical prowess, feels like it was constructed on a Sunday afternoon down the pub.
â€œI have to say, it's the same as building anything, it happens very slowly. People get to know who you are really. The reality is that you build it up and work very hard. Definitely, it happened a lot slower than I think people think it did. When you're in the middle of something you don't really see the scale of it and experience the way other people experience it.
â€œWhile you write these songs very quickly it takes a long time to put the final product together. There was certainly something strange and isolated sounding about â€˜Original Pirate Materialâ€™. Whenever something is that big and you get a feel for the scale of it - and you're having conversations with people and your friends are saying it's really good - that's a really positive experience.
â€œBut yes, up to that point it was almost a seven-year project so it wasn't easy. I guess the vibe that was presented on that album was correct. There was a political side on that album and where I'd come from was not a very a musical place, so that's why it had that stripped down feel.â€
A later move to London has seen The Streets deliver a further four albums including his most recent, this yearâ€™s â€˜Computers And Bluesâ€™ which has an evolved, more thorough feel to it, with a focus on vocals, instrumentals and that typical streets vibe, pardon the pun.
So have things changed for Mike Skinner, the man who originally told a story of being short when he needed to pay his dealer?
â€œActually, my life hasn't changed that much. Most of my time is spent thinking about the next song. And there is nothing different about that now, in the beginning, or when I started being successful. It's when I started coming up with these crackpot ideas that people's perceptions of me changed. First I was the new guy; then I was the popstar; then I was the popstar who wasn't really a popstar and now I'm the 30-year-old who isn't a popstar!â€
A decade on and music remains Skinner's first love.
â€œI think because my first two albums were so different it kind of made people really sit up and take notice. I think about things a lot and what I end up with is a concept and so I see those albums as coming in different stages of my creativity; some of it works and some of it doesn't. It is always the same process in one sense but the ideas change from album to album.
â€œThe new album is the kind of work where I restrict myself to referencing my life - it has a spiritual feel and it was done totally live, so it has this smooth kind of disposition which in the end is just the culmination of a lot of ideas.â€
In turn, The Streets show is a sight to behold and a must for any fan of his material. And it is coming to Australia - for the final time next month.
â€œIt's a pretty crazy gig, I must say. I get people to do all sorts of weird things up there on the stage; we definitely like to stir things up a little bit! Ill be bringing my drummer, bass and keyboard players and of course me! Expect a few of the early classics as well as a lot of the newer material.â€
If nothing else, expect a unique spin on a live performance with tales of sadness and joy rolled into one.
The Streets play Parklife, at the Brisbane Riverstage & City Botanic Gardens, Saturday October 1. parklife.com.au