A CHAT WITH: SKINDRED
aaamusic | On 27, Jan 2014
Dan Devour – of AAAmusic and Music Trepass – sat down to talk with drummer Arya Goggin and bassist Dan Pugsley of Skindred ahead of the release of their new album Kill the Power, released today (January 27).
Dan Devour: Was there a concept for the album?
Arya: Yeah, this is an album as a whole. I think we’ve written stuff before for other albums that’s been a bit bitty maybe not a complete package. This from start to finish tells a story, has a journey, I think that was the main thing; we thought about the track-list very carefully to make it like a journey for the listener really.
Dan Devour: Are they all new tracks or had some of them been sitting around for a while?
Arya: I’d say they were mainly new.
Dan: I think with any band you have ideas that float around for years and never quite solidify, and there are a couple of moments like that on the record but for the most part they were all written in the last year and a half.
Dan Devour: How did you go about recording the record? What was the Process and where did you go?
Arya: We went to a place outside Leeds, called Castleford; Cass-Vegas to the locals. We recorded on Gary Barlow’s desk [Laughs].
Dan Devour: Did you meet the man?
Arya: No, he sold the desk to the studio.
Dan: We really liked the studio, they had loads of vintage gear and we were sort of aiming this time round to make an album that was more of a live sounding record.
Arya: The live room was fantastic too. Especially for drums, guitars and bass, you know? You weren’t really mucking around too much with stuff either. It was literally a matter of setting up the touring kit that I use every day, putting some new heads on it and just going.
Dan: But that was partly to do with the writing process I think, because we were a lot more complete this time. A lot of the time we go into the studio and we kind of have a song about 80 percent finished and this time I feel like we had closer to 90% of the song finished.
Arya: You could play the songs from start to finish in rehearsals as opposed to sometimes playing a middle section, stopping and then just skipping to the end. We could bumble our way through the songs from start to finish where as this time all of the performances are live performances from start to finish.
Dan: Also it’s a lot less processed, it’s sounding really ballsy and big.
Arya: It’s a big sounding record, that’s the thing. I think compared to the other stuff it sounds really big and heavy… Like heavy sonically. It’s dense, big and expansive.
Dan Devour: Have you played any of the new songs live already?
Arya: No. I won’t play songs live [before they’re released] anymore because they’ll go on the internet. I don’t want people to see a work in progress anymore. Personally, we want to learn our mistakes in the room, we don’t want to learn them out in public testing stuff out which is a shame because we used to do that. We used to write songs play them live and see how the crowd would get, but it’s just a different game right now. I don’t want people to be hearing a song that I’m not necessarily happy with. And when you’re writing stuff to begin with you don’t have a choice, you have to do that, but we have a choice now though.
Dan Devour: Who did you work with to produce the record?
Dan: James Loughrey; the guy that did Union Black. Initially when we worked with him, he was based in the UK and he really got what we were trying to do. Because we had the perspective of that album we could say ‘this is what we did on that album how can we make THIS better in this setup?’
Arya: He came on board a lot earlier this time as well which was cool.
Dan Devour: I think that was one of your strongest records so far.
Arya: Yeah, I think we learned a lot from that record and when we were finding a new niche again I guess, doing the whole thing in England and with a British producer was a massive thing last time. We didn’t really dwell on that too much this time. We liked working with him and we were happy with the results and we were confident with the songs.
Dan Devour: I saw you playing bigger shows. You played some pretty big support slots. You recorded the new video in India, why did you decide to do that?
Arya: Why not? [Laughs] We had a show in India and were playing a festival over there. We just had five days and we needed a video.
Dan: It came about because we needed to make the video and because we were going to Japan and India we didn’t really have the time to do it so it was suggested that we maybe work with directors over there.
Arya: I think the Idea was if we did it in India you know what’s the worst that can happen? And if it’s shit we’ll just have to do something else. But why not and the worst that happened was that we were chased by the police, and getting bitten by bugs in the ghettos.
When you’re dealing with the green screens you know it’s a green screen. We were lucky that we could all be out there and have that [backdrop]. That was the way old video were done. If you wanted a cool location you had to go to that location… you couldn’t fake it.
Dan Devour: It’ quite hard to film on the street over there, you have to keep moving on…
Dan: Over there you’re meant to get these permits to do stuff because of the film industry there. The director was like ‘if you get the permits, you’re going to have to pay off the police anyway because they’re just going to ask you for money and there’s going to be gangs as well that you’re just going to have to pay off’. So instead we had people watching out for the police.
Dan Devour: Did you have to pay off any police?
Arya: Yeah! Loads of times I think, yeah. When Benji was doing the walk through thing, they were all filmed in different places. You literally see him looking over his shoulder and he wasn’t acting he’s going ‘Fuck… I’ve got to hurry up’ and there’s a couple of moments when Dan was editing you can see [Benji], rush the words out and it was hard to sync up, because he was getting nervous.
Dan Devour: On the track ‘Ninja’ you’ve got Arthur Brown doing the intro for it. Are you a fan? How did you get involved with Arthur?
Arya: Our manager. Benji, when he wrote the song had this speech at the beginning; this type of movie intro style thing. Benji wanted to do it himself but it [wasn’t working].
Dan: We sort of looked around, and our manager was like ‘I know who we should at least ask’, and [Arthur] was like ‘Yeah, let’s do it’.
Dan Devour: You sort of mix reggae with metal; is there any other acts at the moment you like that do the same?
Arya: Lots of bands are mixing pop, trance, eighties kind of stuff with metal, I think that’s kind of cool.
Dan: I don’t know necessarily about reggae.
Arya: There’s not that many bands that do that I mean there’s hip hop and reggae and hip hop and rock. We are a rock band and we just happen to like reggae and dance music I think.
Dan Devour: What is your commitment to the underground music scene? Because I know Benji is always on about supporting underground bands.
Dan: We all like going to shows I went to see Wounds, and Baby Godzilla the other night; just watching bands. We’re just music fans, you know? There’s a high consumption of music so you’re [always on the lookout] for new stuff.
Dan Devour: What is your process for choosing who support you on tour? You’ve had Maplerun on tour with you who are a new band from Greece; was that because you heard them live and you decided you wanted to bring them on tour with you?
Arya: It’s hard for us to pick bands that we like and also that would want to support us so you’re luck when you stumble across one that does, so you just pick them straight away, you know we have soil on tour with us next year.
Dan Devour: What do you think makes a good live band?
Arya: The players… the band. You know people say we’re a party band. I think all good bands are party bands. All your favourite bands you know, you walk away smiling when you see them.
Dan: When you go to see Slayer, you don’t walk away going ‘I’m so pissed off now, you walk away saying that was fucking awesome’.
Arya: We just love playing. I always say it’s an infectious energy. It’s Benji and his attitude and how he is on stage is infectious. When Dan is playing bass on stage, he’s connecting [with the audience] and he’s infectious. It’s an infectious energy and it’s fun.
Dan Devour: What records are you listening to at the moment?
Dan: I was listening to – because I went to see them the other night – a Baby Godzilla record. I bought this album by Omar Souleyman, which is Arabic music, likes really aggressive, thumpy Arabic music.
Arya: That was the last thing I was listening to, [takes out mp3 player] – Duran Duran Greatest hits.
Dan Devour: What have you got planned next?
Arya: Our album comes out. Our album comes out the 27th [of January]. We’re getting back to work, doing what we do, going on tour; we’ve got a UK run, into Europe, Australia, America, so a busy time… A good time to be in Skindred.
Authors: Dan Devour and Shane O’Neill
Pictures: Dan Devour