Prior to their gig tonight at the Southampton 02 Guildhall, Skindred ‘s guitarist Mikey and drummer Arya came to chat with a packed out lecture theatre brimming with delighted, eager Solent students. It was a wise decision on the student’s behalf to attend the event, who sat before Mikey and Arya as the two answered extensive questioning from the panel and showed no lack of enthusiasm when passing on their years of experience.
For those left in the dark, Skindred are a successful self-made band, working hard and gigging anywhere they can, all the while maintaining an exceptional standard in their live performances. Their first gig in Southampton took place back in 2002 in a small indie nightclub called Nexus – a club that has since been developed into flats.
In the current musical atmosphere of mass-produced rehashes of clichéd pop tracks that we live in, Skindred are the anti-hero. They have done what they want, defying genre labelling and in some cases social pressure to create something ‘new and genuine’. An unorthodox blend of multi-genre loving musicians, mixing musical influences like The Clash, NIN, Korn and Lee Scratch Perry, the band have gained their reputation the ‘old fashioned’ way, recording, gigging and giving the best live shows irrespective of where they play, be it a small taco bar in Minnesota, or one of the biggest live music festivals in Europe.
An unorthodox blend of multi-genre loving musicians, mixing musical influences like The Clash, NIN, Korn (above) and Lee Scratch Perry (below)
Musically they have always been diverse and were the first band to breathe reggae and Ska elements into guitar metal. In fact, guitarist Mikey said that when they first arrived on the scene “nobody knew where to put them” and he explained how various industry producers and labels often had difficulty categorising the band due to their originality. With their new album Volume now in the Top 40 UK Albums chart, it’s clear that Napalm Records know how to deal with the Roots Rock Rebels.
The band’s new album Volume was released last month on the 30th October.
During the interview, a lot of questions came their way and both men were diligent in recalling their experiences for the best part of a one-hour interview, and both went the extra mile in giving their valued industry insight to anyone willing to listen. The crowd took advantage too, with many questions asked regarding numerous aspects of their music, including the industry itself, touring, how they write and record their songs, breaking the industry, musical influences and what up-and-coming bands they were fans of at the moment.
When asked about their biggest influences, guitarist Mikey piped up with… “Robocop”. However, when reconsidering the question in a musical context, he changed his answer to Hendrix, which he then likened his discovery of to “opening the box” [sic]. Arya’s answer was a bit more sensible, citing celebrated rock band Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor as his idol, appending Led Zeppelin’s Bonham too. Both good choices.
Arya made a nice point when he explained that it took Skindred 15 years to get to the Guildhall and that he didn’t trust bands who got there straight away. He then went on to say that the UK music scene gets dragged down when fashion outweighs the actual music.
The guys were dropping knowledge left right and centre and nobody in the audience was in disagreement with what they had to say. Some of the students asked about their recording styles and Arya said life was easier now they were a five piece, mainly due to the fact that when they proposed ideas to the other members of the band before, there was often an equal division between the foursome, yet now with fifth member Dan Sturgess, there is a deciding factor in such stalemates.
When the topic of touring came up the guys recalled fond memories of travelling with Reel Big Fish and Korn, and when asked what bands they liked most to tour with, their response was “bands that are nice to us”. When asked what bands they like that are doing new and interesting things at the moment, they spoke of a band called Marmozets (who I’ve seen and who are wicked live) as well as an upcoming Southampton based band called Creeper. One student even offered them a slot at their Joiners gig – A music management student I can only assume.
The atmosphere pleasant and the students were rightfully respectful. An interesting question came up about the lack of female front people in metal and the lack of cultural diversity, almost suggesting that metal subculture ‘predominantly white’. Mikey and Arya made assiduous efforts to answer the tough questions, but did they even have to?
I think Skindred were probably the wrong band to ask regarding such questions; having forged one of the most diverse musical bands in metal history with a back catalogue of songs that defy all genres available to them.
If there is a lack of cultural diversity in metal, then Skindred are undoubtedly the pioneers of a positive change being the first band to truly implement cultural variance in the genre, that’s for sure.