Everything you’d expect Mark Skinner to be is exactly who he is.

The frontman of the Streets and self-confessed geezer is precisely the straight-talking, no bulls... kind of guy he portrays in the Brit hip-hop music which made him famous in the early 2000s.

“Yeah, I’m really, really stubborn. I’m too stubborn really,” he says over a dodgy line from his tour bus which is “somewhere in Germany”.

“I have a very clear idea of what I’m doing or what I’m not doing and I have to fit that into the world. That’s what I’ve learned about myself.

“I have to go out into the world and make it work. I am trying to get people to like it but I’m just not capable at changing.”

Renowned for telling gritty tales of modern British life, Skinner first found his voice while backpacking in Australia in the late 1990s.

Mike Skinner says backpacking in Australia prompted him to start making hip-hop as the Streets.

“I went travelling and I was in Sydney learning how to make pasta,” he recalls.

“In all seriousness, it did really teach me what I was, or what people from where I’m from are because I think when you’re growing up in a place that you’ve never left before you can’t see it.

“I remember asking someone if they had ketchup in Australia and that just seems really silly now, but you don’t know that people don’t know.”

After releasing six albums, Skinner retired the Streets in 2011 having run out of things to say.

“You have to write about something, don’t you,” he says. “And I think you have to sort of come up with interesting stuff and I think it can become formulaic, so you need to have something to write about.”

Fortunately for fans of the Streets — best known for their hit Fit but You Know It — he decided to embark on a reunion tour in the UK last year.

“It’s more relaxed. This is definitely not work, this is fun.”
Mike Skinner

After being met with rapturous response, Skinner agreed to tour the world with his old outfit, including this year’s Splendour in the Grass and a series of sideshows which will see the Streets take to the stage at Perth’s Metro City on July 16.

It’s a miracle the 40-year-old agreed to such a rigorous touring schedule after his diagnosis of chronic fatigue which many believe is why he really pulled the pin on the Streets.

“I still don’t really know what it was and I don’t like to be too opinionated about stuff,” he says of his illness.

“I think I had what you would call exhaustion or something.

“It was debilitating but I don’t know what it was. All I do know is that I had to take some time off and luckily I got better.

“I think it was an adrenaline thing. I think when you’ve got too much adrenaline your body just goes, ‘no, I’m not having this’.”

Cheers, big ears: Mike Skinner is back playing live, including a Perth show. Picture: Supplied

It is widely reported that Skinner turned to alcohol and drugs after his father’s passing in 2004 left him devastated.

However, now a father himself after he and wife Claire Le Marquand welcomed their daughter Amelia in 2009, touring is a little different these days.

“It’s more relaxed,” he admits. “This is definitely not work, this is fun.”

Since pressing pause on the Streets eight years ago, Skinner has spent his time DJing and creating films.

In the next year or so, Skinner says fans can expect not only new music but also an album and feature film titled The Darker The Shadow, The Brighter The Light.

“I have been directing pretty constantly while I’ve been DJing after I stopped doing the Streets,” he says.

“Mainly videos but also I’ve been doing short films lately. It was all to get me to the point where I could make a feature film. Story has always been what I’ve done really.

“I’ve been doing stories in the music business which is kind fascinating,” Skinner adds. “Most people aren’t really thinking about story in music.

“In film, all anyone talks about is the story.”

The Streets play Metro City on July 16.