Skindred Interview

Interview with Daniel Pugsley from Skindred about the forthcoming tour.

Your latest UK tour starts soon. Are you looking forward to it?

I’m looking forward to it big time. Anyone that watches what we do, we don’t really stop. We’ve been doing festivals over the summer but that’s different to touring in support of a new album as headliners. I like getting my stuff, putting it on the bus, saying goodbye to my home for 2 months and you just get into the way of life of travelling from place to place. I love doing that, it’s really cool.

You’re playing 10 shows in all, are you visiting any places you haven’t played before?

No, I don’t think so. We’ve been a band for 17 years so we’ve been just about everywhere. I’d love someone to tell us somewhere we haven’t played yet. We’ve just played everywhere and it’s great as we have friends up and down the country that we get to see when we come out on tour.

How long ahead of the tour do you tend to get together to work on the set list and rehearse the show?

We’ve been talking about the set list for a couple of weeks. We take time with that. We’re really excited with our new album and we want to play as much of that as we can but people also want to hear certain songs. We now have 6 albums so it’s hard deciding what to play and what gets pushed out. Songs always come back if we haven’t played them for a while but it’s pretty tricky deciding what to play. We start rehearsing about a month before the tour starts and we start to decide what we want to do.

You’ve done a few interesting covers in the past from Jump Up by The House of Pain, Sad But True by Metallica to Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant. Have you been working on any covers for this tour?

What we liked to do is have that element of like a sound system, like a Reggae Sound System where you can drop songs in. We are talking about what we are going to do in terms of that. We might do some covers we might not. We have some cool ideas which are not entirely obvious so you’ll have to come to the show to see.

Do you tend to notice that as the tour progresses that more people become familiar with the new songs and the reception gets better with each show?

That’s definitely the case. We’ve done tours where we’ve played the first couple of dates before the album has come out and people are excited at hearing the new stuff which might be the first time they’ve actually heard it and they are just listening but when the older stuff is played they just get really into it but as the tour progresses and people get to know the new songs they really get into those too.

You’re joined on the tour by Crossfaith, (hed) p.e and Yashin. That’s a pretty formidable bill. Were you involved in putting that together?

Yes, as a band we spoke about it and different bands came up. We love the Crossfaith guys and have toured with them before. hed (p.e), we’ve known those guys for a long time and played the odd show together and for years we’ve said we should do a tour and finally our schedules are just right and it made sense for us to do a tour. I’ve been a fan of that band for a long time so to tour together will be great. The guys in Yashin are really good dudes and we’ve played with them before so it’s all going to make a great show for everyone.

Does having such a strong line up before you go on spur you on to up your game?

Yeah, I think it does but we typically take out only good bands anyway. We like everyone to have a party at our shows and I think that line up is a really good expression of that.

Your new album, Volume will be out very soon. This is your 6th album. How is this a progression since your last album, Kill The Power?

I really liked Kill The Power but it seemed to get a bit of a weird reception because we went down the classier path and we surprised people. There are some really heavy tracks on it but I think some of our fans were a bit taken aback by it. This time at no time did we gild the lily. All of the songs were written in the room altogether and we could play the songs from start to finish before we went into the studio and we haven’t worked like that since Roots Rock Riot. It’s more in line with the kind of songs we play live.

It’s only been a year or so since Kill The Power came out, following that up so quickly is quite unusual in this day and age. Are you on something of a creative surge at the moment?

All of the songs were totally new and written for this record. I don’t like the business side, I prefer the music side of things. We’d just left our previous label and joined a new one and we just decided to write a new album for our new label. We felt like we wanted to close that chapter and move on with a new label and a new album. Napalm Records are a Metal label and we’ve never been on a Metal label before. We’ve been on labels before with Christina Aguilera but Napalm Records said to us that they just wanted a Skindred record and hadn’t heard anything before we recorded it. They just trusted us to go and do it. That was really great.

On your last album you co-wrote a number of songs, We Live, Saturday and More Fire with Russ Ballard from Argent. How did you end up working with him?

That was in part the labels idea because they were talking about getting someone in to write with on a couple of tracks as an experiment. We had a connection to Russ through our management and I really enjoyed that experience. Me and Benji went to his house and jammed with him. He’s an interesting cat and a great songwriter.

What did you learn from working with Russ?

He had a kind of openness and was so encouraging at bringing our ideas out. He really helped us develop our ideas and create them into songs. Writing for KISS, Rainbow, Argent and Hot Chocolate is just so incredible. He was a cool guy.

Under Attack is a great way to open an album and the title says it all really. Are you going to open your show with this?

Maybe. You’ll have to wait and see. We have thought about it. There’s a strong possibility.

You have a film coming out Rude Boys For Life. Is that going to be available in the deluxe edition of your album?

The DVD will be included with certain versions of the album. There’s footage of me jamming with Benji when I was 18. Everything is on there. We filmed so much over the years and thought we should do something with it. Dan thought he could put together a film when we did Kill The Power as there was so much footage but the time just didn’t work out so we forgot about it. Six months ago Dan started pulling everything together to come up with this incredible documentary with interviews and live stuff. It’s been a very conscious decision for us that Benji is the centre of attention as you need a really strong frontman but there’s so much more to the band than just Benji and the fact we’ve been together for such a long time so we’ve tried to include all aspects of the band in the documentary.

It must have been surreal for you sitting back and watching your career flash by in a couple of hours?

I’ve watched it once and I just couldn’t take it as I don’t really like watching myself. It’s very emotional really as that film shows my entire adult life. It’s a bit of a trip.

You must be about the only band that has featured on Billboards Rock chart and Reggae chart. Do you think your ability to cross over genres has maybe exposed your fans to music that maybe they wouldn’t have usually listened to?

I think as we have elements of Reggae, Dub, Dance, Ragga Ska and Urban genres like Jungle and Grime in with the Metal it does bring different types of music to our fans who then go and discover those genres for themselves. I also know people that don’t like Metal at all but like our music because of those diverse elements within our music. I think it’s important for music to grow and evolve and now we have this cross pollination of music and I think it’s a really exciting time for music. I think people tend to look back and say that music was better in earlier decades but that music is still there to enjoy but now I think there’s the opportunity now every day for something new and awesome.

Your tour ends on 14th November at the Brixton Academy. Where do you head next?

We’re continuing over in Europe into early December and will be touring well into next year. We just want to keep on playing.

Skindred’s UK Tour starts in Southampton on 4th November and finishes on 14th November at London’s Brixton Academy. 


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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