Interview: Skindred

Welsh metal band Skindred are back in Nottingham later this month, we caught up with guitarist Mickey Demus ahead of their sell-out Rock City show.
Hey guys how are you doing? 
Doing great thanks! Just finished the new record, getting ready to tour the UK so life is good! I’m really happy with how the record is shaping up, I can’t wait for people to hear it. 
You made your Bloodstock debut last year, what was it like being on stage at a prestigious festival? Will we see you return to Bloodstock?
Like coming home! It’s strange, I’m told we garnered a lot of negative attention on their forums when we were first  announced – I guess certain ticket buyers were not convinced that we were Bloodstock material.. I think a lot of people were pleasantly surprised and had their heads turned that day. The organisers took a chance on us and it all worked out, so maximum respect to Bloodstock for that! It’s one of the best organised festivals I’ve been to in the last few years so I’d love to go back there. 
It was a wild weekend for us because we’d just headlined the downtown stage at Boomtown festival the night before. That weekend was a real achievement for us, I can’t think of another band in the UK (or elsewhere) that could exist happily at an alternative bohemian apocalyptic funfair & a die-hard independent crushing metal festival, all in the same 48hrs.
You’re playing Nottingham again this year what is it about Rock city that you enjoy playing?
There’s such a legacy with Rock City, I love the fact that there’s lists backstage of who was playing there 5, 10, 15 years ago and so on. The building hasn’t stopped having rock music running through its veins in decades, and you can feel it when you walk onstage. The energy is incredible, the crowd are always brilliant and the house crew are badass! It’s a sold out show so it’s gonna be a real moment, I can’t wait. 
Do you get to see much of Nottingham when you are here?
I’ve been to Nottingham many times but I will hopefully manage to get a waltz around the city in the day. I know there was a great record shop nearby, can’t remember if it’s still there! It’s one of the highlights on the tour that’s for sure, it’s a great city. 
Your new album “BIG TINGS” is due for release on April 27th  what were your inspirations for the songs on the album?
Wait til you hear it, the name says it all – it’s full of Big Tings! Basically we wanted to make a record will some huge songs, big choruses and killer riffs. We wanted to try and do a varied record utilising all our influences, but without any departures from who we are at the core. Lyrically there’s a lot going on and musically we pushed our selves to make it as banging as we could muster. 
You recorded your new album at Peter Gabriel’s studio how did that come about?
Real World had always been a dream studio of ours to visit, so when we found out it had a window of availability around the time we wanted to record we jumped at the chance. Our managers had some connections with someone at Real World, and our producer James Loughrey had worked there before so it was the obvious choice. 
Real World is probably the most amazing studio I’ve ever been to. The whole facility is a dream location to work and create in. It was a really tight amount of time but we pulled off everything we wanted to do in 14 days. 
We also recorded all the vocals for the album at Rockfield in Monmouth, where Queen recorded Night At The Opera (Bohemian Rhapsody), Oasis’ What’s The Story Morning Glory and a ton of other records. 
Can you talk us through a typical day in the studio?
There’s a lot of talking, a lot of disagreement! This was one of those albums of ours where we went in with about 65% of knowing what it was going to sound like – we’ve done some records where you have all your shit dialled in beforehand, so you’re literally just tracking. And that’s a very different experience. Being in a studio environment such as Real World or Rockfield really gets creativity flowing, so that’s when songs come to life, change form and take shape. So there would be a lot of talking and decision making rather than just endless playing. You also get to hear things closer to how they’re gonna sound, which you don’t get in the rehearsal space before hand. So things happen quickly and songs can change quickly, more often for the better! It’s a democracy and we don’t always agree on everything. But I’m really stoked with how the record ended up. Both studios have insane consoles and speakers – and I come alive when the sun goes down, so there were a lot of late nights and a lot of listening to music very loud. I wanna do it again!
How would you describe the band’s sound to someone who has never heard of you?
“We’re great, why don’t you come see us live?!” Seriously though I like to think we’re a good time live and try to make tunes that are either conscious or bombastic. There’s rock, there’s punk, there’s dance, there’s reggae & ragga & dancehall or whatever you want to say there is going on. There’s a whole lot of influence which makes us hard to pin down, but it’s heavy and you can move to it. What’s not to like?
How do you guys chill when on the tour bus? 
There’s not much chilling really, it’s a non stop party! To be honest on a UK tour I try to be on the bus at little as possible in the daytime, it’s kinda claustrophobic and stinks of 12 men’s asses. It’s gross! But we have a lot of late nights on there and a lot of fun. There’s a lot of alcohol flowing around and always music playing. Believe it or not there are a lot of 80s parties on the Skindred bus. 
What is the story behind the famous “Newport Helicopter”?
Well we were told not to incite any violence (not that we ever really did that) at a certain festival, so when that kind of moment arose in the set where a crowd may or may not decide to kill each other (metaphorically speaking) benji had them do something he’d seen a long time ago at a hip-hop concert or something. Needless to say it took off and now we’re kinda known for it. It’s funny because it’s become our own thing even though, like most things are, it’s borrowed. But I see other bands try to do it and everyone makes comments how they’re stealing our shit, ha! I’ll take it!
How would you describe being in a band to a child?
Imagine getting to go around the world with your buddies, jump around on stage and make a living from it. It’s not like that for everyone but I’m super fortunate to be in that position. Imagine having to never really grow up and not have a real job! Because that’s what it feels like a lot of the time. 
What would the name of your autobiographies be?
I can’t speak for the other guys. I think I would call mine “Look But Don’t Touch”. Because people are always trying to touch my beard! Seriously they do it all the time – I fucking hate it! It would be the story of a kid who didn’t always have a beard, but then grew one and spent half his life telling people not to touch his beard. Haha. In all seriousness I have never really thought about an autobiography, but now I will. 
Finally, what piece of advice would you have for our readers?
Be true to yourself and if you’ve got a dream, hold onto it until your hands are bloody! Also, eat less cheese and drink more water. I read that graffiti’d on a toilet wall once and it is the best advice I ever got. 
Skindred play Rock City on 21 April 2018. For more information on the band check them out on Facebook
Interview by Geri Patterson

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