Latest release: The Future In Whose Eyes? (Millennium Night) Band site: www.facebook.com/sikthofficial
More than a decade on from their previous full-length (2006’s Death of a Dead Day), following a hiatus British tech-prog metal progenitors SikTh return with new platter The Future In Whose Eyes? The vocals were recorded at vocalist/lyricist Mikee W Goodman’s own studio and at Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith’s R&R Studios, the guitars and drums at the Monkey Puzzle House studios. This is also their first release featuring new co-vocalist Joe Rosser.
“Personally I feel this is our best album yet,” Goodman enthuses. “From my point I have written all vocals and lyrics. I have taken myself to some very dark places, commentated on this world as I see it. Also swimming into fictional worlds and dreamscapes. There are some beautiful moments. The band have made incredible music, brutal, technically warped mixed with some psychedelic moments. I think we’ve done something special here.”
Amid preparations for their upcoming Download appearance, Goodman spoke to Loud about the new record, their influence on a new generation of progressive metal acts and what he learned from collaborating with Adrian Smith.
Q: This is the band’s first full-length in more than a decade. Where do you feel it could “fit” within the heavy music landscape at the moment?
A: I think it will stand out. It’s definitely a progression for us I think in a lot of ways. I think it should stand out as a forward-thinking album in the current music scene… We’re in a technical metal kind of group of bands I guess, but we’ve definitely done something different and pioneering here.
Q: In what respects do you feel it’s forward-thinking and pioneering?
A: Well, the intricacy of the music and how I’ve written such hooks with all the vocals and the way it is, and spoken word parts. It’s hard to describe it really, but I think musically, I think if you hear it you kind of hear it taking things to the next level. I think that anyway.
Q: Do you feel the time apart – those years to grow and develop as musicians and songwriters – was crucial? Would you have been capable of making an album like this five or ten years ago?
A: Well, it didn’t take 11 years to write this album. It took only a few months because we only really started heavily writing in September. But yeah, throughout your life, creatively (you’re) always going to have a different take on things, and it’s taken until now, after I worked with Adrian Smith from Iron Maiden and that, my vocals became a lot more about… I put a lot more focus on melody and hooks after writing a lot with him and everything else.
A different part of your life you’ll do a different thing. In the early days if you give me music I’ll do something a lot more rhythmical and maybe not repeat the same thing again. It would be structured in a much more experimental way. But nowadays I like to structure things, bring hooks to the forefront and make it more memorable, and it’s just how I do things. And the musicians have become, they’re a lot more progressive than they used to be I guess.
Q: During the band’s absence, progressive heavy music headed in a variety of new directions, gained a whole new level of acceptance and even flirted with mainstream success at times. Do you still hear elements of SikTh’s music in bands today?
A: Yeah, some people listen to a lot of that and say that, ‘yeah, you’ve influenced us loads’. I think music guitar-wise and everything, yeah, maybe, maybe there’s a lot of that, a lot of influence there. Maybe in the melodic vocals, but I don’t really hear anyone who sounds like me. It definitely influenced a lot of people, because a lot of people have told us that we’ve influenced them, like Periphery and bands like that. It’s a good thing, man. I don’t know what else to say to that.
Q: Spencer Sotelo, singer of Periphery also appears on the new track “Cracks of Light”. It must be encouraging to know you’ve left such a sizeable impression on people, that they were inspired to write a riff or melody because of something the band created.
A: Yeah, of course it is. I find it quite hard, I don’t know why, but when you get given compliments like that, I just say, ‘thanks’ and then kind of carry on. Try not to think too much about it, and just kind of carry on with my business and try to create something else that’s new, you know what I mean?
Q: Indeed. Co-vocalist Justin Hill recently left the ranks, but what’s the relationship like between the members off-stage now? And in the studio?
A: I can’t really talk for how it is in the studio, because I wasn’t in the studio when they were recording drums and guitars. But I think it’s probably pretty intense there. I actually record in my own home studio; I write everything and record everything in there. And then I’m on my own. So then I just go to the studio with Dan Weller and Joe Rosser, and then Joe Rosser sings the lines that I’ve written. And it’s really quite easy to work with those two.
But yeah, the band’s intense and we’re all different characters. When we’re on tour we’re all very different to each other and it can be quite hard. But then it can also be a good laugh at moments too. It just depends; we’re a very awkward band.
Q: How so?
A: We’re kind of all so different to each other, it can be a bit… intense on tour some days. But it also can be good, can be really good. We’re just awkward, we’re so different to each other. That’s what I mean.
Q: Being older now though, are you able to better read each other nowadays?
A: Yeah, mostly that happens, but not always. It’s mostly better than it used to be. But having Joe Rosser in the band and on tour is a great thing, hopefully it’s a great thing, because he’s just a bit of a joker and doesn’t take himself seriously. He doesn’t mind the joke being on him. He’s that kind of person – he’s very loud and doesn’t stop talking. I didn’t get on with him at all in America, I thought I didn’t like him at all. But then when we went to Europe I started seeing the funny side of him and got on with him a bit better.
Q: Justin and yourself possessed a unique chemistry. Do you feel you’ve also established that with Joe?
A: Well, on-stage me and Joe are brilliant. I think that now, when we were on tour in Europe we were clicking really well together. The movement was great and we were on a great vibe. We’ve become a lot better now. But as a vocalist I’m still writing everything. He’s not a writing partner, he’s just a live singer kind of thing.
Q: Do you have plans to tour extensively in support of this album, or are the shows you’ll do likely to be more selective?
A: Probably more selective, but we really want to come to Australia. We also really want to go back to America, Canada, go back to Japan, and even Europe as well. Obviously we want to go to the UK too, that’s our home scene.
Q: I saw the band perform at the Graspop festival in Belgium last year and even though it was less than ideal circumstances – being about midday on a side stage – the band exuded this incredible energy. What’s the mindset when you go on-stage nowadays?
A: In the past, just kind of go on and get on with it. But in reality, we’re really going to have to like think about things a little more, and kind of prepare our set. We want to make it more of a whole production the whole way. Bring it to the next level, that’s what we want to do because so far it’s been more about raw energy. But we want to have that energy, but kind of structure our sets a little bit better. I want to also bring a lot of new songs into the set, ’cause I’m bored of playing the same… I don’t want to play the same set again and again. You want to play your new tunes. And I think we’ve got some really good new tunes on this new album, that will be real good live songs as well.
Q: You mentioned earlier working with Adrian Smith on the Primal Rock Rebellion project. What else do you learn from someone like that, who has enjoyed success over such a lengthy period?
A: Well, he’s just a very humble man, and me and him talk about football all day when we’re together. We just talk about that, we love a good cup of tea and yeah, he’s just a proper dude. He’s really down-to-earth and just a very nice man. He taught me loads of different things, like what keys are best for my voice, and a lot about shapes and sounds which flow best with certain types of melody. It was like, ‘wow, this is very interesting’. And also Adrian said I pulled him in different directions too, places he wouldn’t usually go to musically. So it was great. But I think I definitely learned a lot more, and I benefited a lot more out of the meeting (laughs). The meeting of minds. But I’d love to do more stuff with him, because it was the most enjoyable album I’ve ever done.
Q: Do you envision there being another Primal Rock Rebellion release?
A: I hope so, I really do hope so. But I think if there’s ever going to be anything else it’ll probably be an EP. So we’ll see.
Q: Do you have any other projects in the works?
A: I’m about to start on something really interesting, and I’m doing a lot of my spoken word. I’ll let people know that later in the year, or next year, but it’s going to be something psychedelic I think. And also I’m on a computer game called No Truce With The Furies, and that’s interesting because I’m playing the main character. I’m also directing a lot of other voiceovers, so it’s an interesting thing to do really. An interesting place to be.
Q: Any famous last words?
A: Just please spread the word in Australia, we can’t wait to come there. And tell everyone to flood the promoters with requests, ’cause we want to be in Australia as soon as we can.