TBFM’s Dazzle Rebel stole a quick chat with Skindred before their headline set at Hard Rock Hell 7. All photography by seanlarkin.co.uk
You played Hammerfest before but how does Hard Rock Hell compare to it?
Arya: I actually like the accommodation here it’s really nice.
Have you managed to check any of the other bands out yet?
Arya: I saw Arthur Brown last night.
Mikeydemus: His face was painted bright green.
Arya: I wanna see Black Star Riders.
Dan: That’s gonna be awesome.
Arya: That’s gonna be our pre-show ritual, watching Black Star Riders, you don’t get to say that every day do you? We’re in good company this weekend aren’t we, it’s a good line up.
Your new album is called ‘Kill The Power’, what’s the message?
Benji: In all honesty bro ‘Kill The Power’ because of the first on the front people think like it’s a political thing but ‘Kill The Power’ is anything that’s in your fucking way man. It doesn’t matter what it is, it could be your mother saying you can’t go out to the disco or Obama doing shit in America. It’s a personal thing.
Arya: It’s open to interpretation.
Benji: Of course it is. It’s that David and Goliath story cus’ everybody in this room got stuff they’ve gotta deal with and that’s what it is you know?
It’s no secret that in the beginning you were compared to Bad Brains now…
Benji: You know what I don’t understand that at all. That’s just lazy journalism…
Dan: You know they’re an awesome band but it’s just like they were a hardcore punk band and they’d play a reggae song in their set and they didn’t totally fuse the two. But what they have got like we’ve got is that embracing the rebel music so reggae and rock are both very rebellious music forms… We’re getting too into this bro!
That’s just it but I struggle to find anyone who sounds like Skindred, who would you say your contemporaries are?
Benji: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Arya: Any bands that stand out on their own merit. I think with us we’re not really part of any scene or movement and we just sort of do our own thing.
Benji: Saying that though if I was on a train and an old lady asked us what kind of band you are I’d say we’re a rock band you know bro. I mean reggae, punk, rock all that bullshit if all bands were described as Skindred were described that would mean that Queen would be described as a jazz, folk orchestra, you know? It’s rock’n’roll man that’s what we play. It’s just rock’n’roll with a Jamaican accent.
You’ve been going since 1998 how has the music industry changed and have you had to change as well?
Benji: Everythings gotta change, you know with the internet and everything…
Arya: But we haven’t changed the industry changed. I think when music downloading first came along a lot of bands started freaking out you know, I think it’s harder to make a living out of it than it used to be.
Dan: But now in a lot of respects especially within the rock community I think it’s more real because what’s the point in making music and not doing something you love because you’re not going to make money from it necessarily, really what’s the point so in some respects it’s quite liberating that you can finally make art again rather than it be just commerce. Just think recorded music has only been around 100 years or so…
Arya: Part of the reason we’ve been around so long is we haven’t moved to anything we’re just staying true to what we enjoy and people have seemed to have come and joined the party year after year and that’s the best thing you know.
What advice would you guys give to bands just starting out in the industry?
Arya: Learn your craft.
Benji: Don’t chase the record deal. You know people who put their first gig on YouTube it’s bullshit, stay in your garage.
Arya: I think a good band gets hunted you know.
Benji: From my old band to this band I never hunted a record deal, maybe there were people out there trying to get me one but personally I think if you’re good people are gonna see that. I would say get your art right get your shit together in your rehearsal space. Don’t worry about going on YouTube and doing your thing learn your craft man.
Mikeydemus: I think if you start expecting things and build up your expectations like expecting it’s gonna pay your bills you’re looking to fail. If that comes then that’s great but don’t count on it.
You’re up to your 5th studio album now. Which has been the easiest to record, what’s been the hardest and what was the most pleasurable?
Mikeydemus: The last one was probably the hardest.
Arya: I remember the second record ‘Roots Rock Riot’ I think that was probably the most fun and pleasurable because it was the first proper one we did as this line up from start to finish and we’d written like forty songs to choose from. We started writing for that album in 2002 and didn’t record it until 2007 so we had that long period of time to really reflect. I think there are aspects of every album that are enjoyable but I think this [Fight The Power] was the hardest.
Benji: We fought more on this album. You know “You’re the wanker, no you’re the wanker” but that’s because it was passion, if you don’t fight you don’t love you know.
Benji, you mentioned in previous interviews that your favourite place to play is Fargo in Minnesota, have you seen the film Fargo and do they all talk like that?
Benji: Yeah of course! But they party harder than anyone else I got destroyed twice there and I mean destroyed!
Arya: But over here is enjoyable too. I think we struggled hard to get recognition here and now we finally have that every time we play a show now because we can headline over here and that makes a difference. Most of the places we go we’re either supporting or on a festival bill but we can do our own shows here which is wicked because you get to play for as long as you want.
I’ve got one more for you, are there any bands you could recommend to TBFM listeners to check out?
Dan: A band called The Smirk from America I think they’re talking about getting back together again. Awesome band I think they’re from the East Coast somewhere really, really rad band very soulful it’s like At The Drive In but with John Legend singing it’s pretty crazy.
Mikeydemus: Well being a big fan of the X-Factor, no I’m not really! I’m gonna say Carnival from Australia they are an amazing band check them out.
Arya: I would say Crossfaith from Japan we just toured with those guys a couple of weeks ago and a wicked band called Idiom I think they’re great.
Benji: I’d say there’s a band from South Wales called Revoker they’re having a bit of a shitty start but they’re a great live band and the songs a there.