A POPULAR North-East ska band is gearing up to support two more music legends while celebrating the release of their new record reaching as far as South America.

Darlington ska band The Skapones have barely had a chance to wind down after supporting up The Specials on their 40th anniversary tour in May last year, then jetting off to America for a coast-to-coast tour and filming a documentary while there.

The Northern Echo:

Now the eight-member strong group – but "sometimes nine" – is gearing up to go again, bagging tours with more music legends.

They will join The Beat on their 40th anniversary tour next year, support Madness on their tour and once again head over to America.

Singer Paul Williams said: "The Specials are our heroes, and we're blown away that we'll be supporting more music legends.

The Northern Echo:

"It is mental to get to these big venues and play on these big stages. It's such an amazing experience.

"The tours were booked before coronavirus but have been moved to next year and we're so lucky they fell right back into place."

The band is looking to the future while celebrating the success of their first vinyl record.

The Northern Echo:

The 7 inch single was first released in the United States but has been picked up by Spinning Riot Records in Mexico, who will be releasing it in South America.

The 53-year-old, who runs a cleaning company with his wife, added: "It's just crazy for a little Darlington band. The idea was to just play in every Dog and Duck that would let us place but for some reason the really love us in America.

"Obviously that's still the idea, we will play anywhere that will have us, we'd never forget our roots, but to get to the same stage as The Specials. You have to pinch yourself."

Also hitting shelves is the documentary last year's tour, called Way Out West - An Offbeat Adventure.

Mr Williams said: "It's not a warts-and-all but very much gig, sleep, fly."

A UK tour is also on the cards, but dates are not yet been confirmed.

The Northern Echo:

"We had two or three gigs a weekend booked from January to September," the singer said."More needs to be to be done for the music industry. Current support from the Government is not a drop in the ocean in help they need.

"It's the little venues that will suffer – where legends start."