Latest release: Kill the Power (Cooking Vinyl)
Welsh four-piece Skindred have developed one of the most unique and identifiable sounds in rock, combining metal, reggae, hip-hop and dubstep with a devastating live energy that casts them as one of the UK’s most exciting rock acts. Currently touring as part of the Soundwave juggernaut, Loud caught up with drummer Arya Goggin a few weeks back as he was travelling through Germany to chat about the band’s message, working with one of Britain’s greatest song writers and more.
Arya, Skindred will be down in Australia for Soundwave soon and you have a brand new album as well. How does Kill the Power compare with the rest of your albums so far?
This new record is the most accomplished stuff we’ve ever done. I know every band would say that, but with the last record we were hinting at where we were going. I think that, a lot of the time as well, you’re judged on your first record. When Babylon came out, both here and in America, ever since then we were judged on that non-stop, non-stop, and then I think when Union Black came out, people thought, ‘Well OK, they can deliver again!’ I think this record is the sum of all those parts. It’s the natural successor toUnion Black, but I think far superior.
Do you think that people will finally start to ‘get’ Skindred now?
Well they fucking should! They’ve been banging on about it for ages so I hope they do, yeah! I think the time is right for us now. There’s been enough groundwork and enough people talking about the band, it’s up to them if they like us or not. But we have a platform now and I think the most important thing for a musician is to have that platform to tour and be able to present your music, and we’ve got that opportunity now with this record being released worldwide. It’s our music and we’ve got our platform and if people like it, well that’s fantastic and that’s what you really want as a musician.
When a band like you comes along that can’t be easily put into a box, it does seem like it can take a while before people really get a handle on what you do.
It’s a double-edged sword. It’s our biggest plus but it’s also our biggest disadvantage. But I’ll take the advantage side of it any day.
It struck me that Kill the Power had a very strong pop sensibility running through a lot of the tracks.
A pop sensibility has always been in our hearts since day one. When you talk about accessibility, you’re talking about the ability to write a catchy tune. And I think that’s something that we’ve been doing for a long time. But I think on this record, though, we’ve just achieved it better than we ever have, and if we can get a few more people in that way, then so be it. I want to keep breaking out, breaking the rules. I wanna keep going up – because once you get there you can only go down, and I don’t want to think about that! I just want to think about going up.
Skindred is very much a band that likes to add something new to each album. So what is something new that you tried to do this time?
I think with this record it was really about honing the songwriting. With the other albums we would self-edit, we would bring in producer to help with a track. With this album, every word was questioned. Every drum beat, every guitar lick. It was all about, How can we take this apart? Let’s really focuse on how we can make this as strong we possibly can. So we wrote some tracks with a guy called Russ Ballard who did ‘God Gave Rock N Roll to You’ with Kiss, and wrote ‘Since You Been Gone’ for Rainbow. He came to the studio and wrote a couple of tracks with us, and just having him there was such a great learning experience. I keep saying it, but this album was all about song writing, and trying to make songs you can sing along to and dance along to. Hopefully this is an album you can listen to and when you come to a show you can sing the words along.
Aren’t you concerned that maybe some people out there will just think you’re ‘selling out’?
I don’t know! You know, life is about opportunity and you take each opportunity as it comes. If someone thinks you’ve sold out because you’ve enlisted Russ Ballard to help you write some songs, then they can just fuck off! I’m just not interested. When you’re learning the guitar or you’re playing drums in a band in your basement and Russ Ballard knocks on your door and says, ‘I want to write some songs with you,’ are you going to go, ‘Fuck off, man! I don’t want you write with you, you fucker!’? You know, I want to strive for, not perfection, but to be the best you can be, and we’d be fools to not take an opportunity like that. We want to spread the message in as many ways as we possibly can. We don’t want Skindred to be a secret. We want anybody to be able to come in and listen to us.
When you’re a band with a message, that sounds like a completely acceptable attitude. What do you see as the message behind Kill the Power?
Well it’s about personal struggle. It’s about what affects you – you need to kill the power. You need to kill it. The underdog inside you needs to overcome it, the inner struggle that’s day to day. That’s the message. There’s a positive message in there. You can be what you want to be, do what you want to do and no one can stop you. We all agree with Benji and his lyrics. We stand behind them 100%.
Finally, what are you looking forward to the most about playing at Soundwave?
It’s just the best line-up of any festival ever, really. It’s great to be included. I just want to be a part of it. I have too many friends do it before and they tell me it’s fantastic, it’s amazing. Last year, my friends tell me Metallica was headlining, and Metallica had a big barbecue the first night and invited everyone. It seems to me it’s a big party with all your favourite bands. I’m hoping to see Alice in Chains. I’m a big fan of them. Placebo, Biffy Clyro, Green Day, Avenged… so many bands. My friends Heaven’s Basement. It’s so good.
Catch Skindred at Soundwave:
28/2: Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne VIC
1/3: Boynthon Park, Adelaide SA
3/3: Arena Joondalup, Perth WA
And on their shows with Ill Nino:
24/2: Esplanade Hotel, Melbourne VIC
2/3: Capitol, Perth WA