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Skindred Interview

Mark Lloyd put down his camera just long enough to catch up with Benji Webbe and  Arya Goggin from Skindred…

Benji Webbe - Skindred

Mark: So, let’s just start off nice and casual guys, ‘cuz I did threaten to ask you about breakfast Benji….
BW: Yeah, what did I make?
ML: For those who don’t know, we met Benji in the Spar this morning buying his breakfast and I threatened to ask him what he cooked.
BW: Well, I’ll tell you what I cooked. Basically I got some eggs and I got beans and my father used to call it Akipatashy (?). I think he made that shit up but basically what you do is you get 6 eggs in the frying pan, bit of butter and you start making scrambled eggs. Then you add the beans. Mix that up, put the toast in the toaster, it pops out, you put it all on a plate and you got Akipatashy. I had one sachet of ketchup left from McDonalds yesterday so I had that on top and that was it. No salt and pepper though which I do enjoy and that’s Akipatashy.
ML: Have you copyrighted that?
BW: Not yet no, but it’s definitely the students meal of all! Forget the pot noodle shit
AG: All the food groups are there. It’s y’know, nourishing. Eggs for protein.
BW: yeah but I won’t be doin’ that for a while now. I live in a built up neighbourhood and I got different cafes I can pop to most mornings
AG: I had a heart attack sandwich this morning, sausages and bacon
BW: Woooo!
AG: Mikey cooked it. It was good!
ML: So basically the whole band do all their own cooking
BW: Let me tell you something. Dan Pugsey our bass player,he could have his own show! You name a spice and that fucker got it in his cupboard! Every spice on the planet and if there’s a spice he hasn’t got, he’ll go hunt for that shit. We went to India and he came back like this (hold arms out in front as far as he can)
AG: It’s his passion man, when its your passion you’re gonna do it aren’t you?
BW: What I’d like to do on our dvd is have Dan do a cooking thing on the extras. Cooking with Puggers!
AG: We already did a come dine with me didn’t we?
BW: Yeah and he should be actually on it and we could be the band that entertains.

ML: Seeing as you’ve mentioned India, what made you decide on Mumbai for the video shoot for Kill the Power?
BW: Cuz they gave us money! No, we needed a video to the single and we were gonna do it in the UK but the guy we wanted to use was just umming and aring and the time went past so we thought “fuck him then we’ll go and do it then” so we went to India for our show and talked to our manager. We thought making a video in India would be really different.
AG: While we were there we had five days off anyway so we thought if we could do it in India what’s that worst that could happen?
BW: Get arrested and killed by the Militia!
ML: Yeah we heard there were a few issues….
BW: We got chased by the police!
ML: Did they catch up?
BW: No way dude!
AG: How it worked was basically the director had a fist full of cash which was our budget and he’d basically pay off people as we went. You can’t actually film in India, it’s something to do with filming permits that are something like £15,000 or something and you have to pay everyone off.
BW: As well as paying the fifteen grand! You’ve still gotta pay people on the street so we did it guerrilla style.
AG: So we’d get the taxi driver to wait for us and give him a couple of quid. We drove his taxi round and paid for a guy to stand at the end of the street watching for police. Then the police turned up and we had to pay them.
BW: And we did it, I mean all the scenes in the video when I’m walking around looking over my shoulder I’m looking for police and stuff.
AG: It was all one take as well. It was like “quick, next one!”
BW: And we had to go to all different alleys and we had to drive all around Mumbai and I tell you what, that place is BIG!
AG: It’s huge. I mean we had the same guy that did the location stuff for Slumdog Millionaire so he was taking us to all the proper brutal spots.
BW: Its funny ‘cuz I look at all the pictures and it still looks romantic but when you’re there it’s like “fuck me this is disgusting!” Its all bugs and rats and shit! I went to the toilet when he (Arya) was doin’ his scene outside the temple. I went to the toilet round the back and the guy said “just go there” and I was like “no, no I’ll use the toilet”, so this fucking toilet was kegged with 2,000 years worth of piss and shit! And then Dan said to me “did you look up?” apparently there was spiders in the rafters this big (Holds his hand up) and I fuckin’ slipped when I went in there as well! But that’s the way they live you know. If I could do anything on this planet it would be to make the people living on the streets better. I mean you see these shacks and they’re not there by choice, it’s because that’s what they’re given. It’s what their parents had and their grandparents had. Fucking 25 generations all living in the same place. It’s heavy. If I could help in a real way like give them toilets, I would man.
ML: Were you advised for health reasons not to go out there?
AG: We had to have a whole load of jabs. And I had to wear a vest and I get bitten all the time.
BW: Dude we went through so much spray just caking ourselves in it! It’s heavy man. It’s a fun video but India is a heavy fucking place.
AG: It really suited the lyrics though and it’s different and stands out from a normal rock video and that makes us happy.

ML: All your songs have got a feel good factor to them but there’s always a serious theme
BW: Lyrically I’m always saying something you know. I’m always on about basically the story of David & Goliath cuz I know there’s always gonna be a giant in somebody’s way trying to push them down. Whether that be pizza, or the government. We got the fist on the front, but the fist for me is just unity and the basis of most of the lyrics on the album is about overcoming your fears, your monsters and your demons in life and becoming a better person. I’m not talking about being a better person than your neighbour who’s a wanker. I’m talking about being the best you because the best you is different from the best me. We can’t expect everyone to be the same. Skindred’s lyrics are always gonna be about that, taking over the bullshit in your life and controlling it you know? If you’re gonna leave a message you gotta leave a positive one.

ML: So this is your second time playing this kind of festival, first being Hammerfest and you ignited the crowd there are you hoping for the same tonight?
BW: I have a great time every time so I hope they do too.
AG: I think they’re ready for it
ML: How are you going to wind the energy back for the unplugged set later?
BW: We don’t wind it back bro! It’s what I do, get them all going, call them wankers! I love that shit! I can honestly say that we’re the first band to do a wall of death AND an acoustic session. A wall of death acoustic is something to watch. And the great thing about it is we make this shit up as we go along.

ML: Are you bringing the helicopter out tonight?
BW: It’s the crowd that brings the juice you see. If the crowd brings the gas and the petrol, I’m the catalyst.
AG: If they’re good they get the helicopter.
BW: They’re usually good.
AG: It’s like Christmas every day with us.
ML: So you never know from one show to another what’s going to happen?
BW: No not really
AG: It’s exhausting for me, I never know what he’s going to bloody do! I just try and keep it all together!
BW: Well, I’m not gonna jump into the crowd from fifty foot!
ML: Please do, I could get £250!
BW: Nah man, there’s plenty of that shit at home!

ML: Next year sees quite a big tour for you guys
AG: It’s to support the new record which comes out on the 27th January and we’re touring from the 22nd. We’re doing the UK, Europe, Australia, America so we’re going to be away for a while
BW: Because of what we do, we play some strange bills. The one year, we played with Pulp and Mastadon! We played one the other day with Ellie Goulding. It’s funny, no matter what audience they put us in front of, we work!

ML: I suppose the amount of musical influences you all have helps
BW: Well that’s it, people say to me they come for the drum ‘n bass or they come for the guitar. You get a room full of people that would never be in the same room normally but because of the music, they’re all dancing. You get the girls shaking their asses, the guys throwing up horns. It’s a beautiful thang!

ML: Obviously you’ve done some collaborations, with Jacoby (Papa Roach) for example. Is there anybody else you would like to do a collaboration with?
AG: Elton John!
BW: Yeah he’s an amazing song writer and he sounds good! Elton John & Skindred.
AG: I reckon that would be a good laugh actually.
BW: He’d have some badass tales.
ML: Imagine that interview!
BW: I like the way he used to dress in the old days when he used to go crazy. I thought that was amazing.

ML: Well, I won’t keep you guys any longer as you’ve got loads more people to speak to, so here’s a question I probably should have asked in the beginning. What question do you hate being asked?
BW: How long are your dreadlocks? AND how long have you been growing them. It’s fucking bullshit. Ooh anything you can find on wikipedia!
AG: Yeah that’s for lazy interviewers!
BW: So I say fuck you! Go on wikipedia! All you’re questions are rubbish!
AG: I don’t like “How did you get your band name”, “How do you mix the different styles of music” If I’m talking to someone, like we are now, its all about present stuff. Everything you’ve asked has been current. You haven’t asked about fifteen years ago. We’re talking about now and that’s what we want to talk about.
ML: Thank you so much for talking to us guys. Enjoy the acoustic set and looking forward to seeing you tonight
BW: Nice one man, thanks!

Interview and Photograph by Mark Lloyd (Amplified Gig Photography)

Mia Klose

Mia Klose  and Jon Evans were next up on Mark Lloyd’s ‘Must Interview’ list at Hard Rock Hell – take a read of their conversation….

Mia Close - Acoustic

ML: Hi guys, how are you?
MK: Really good thank you.

ML: I have to say, I liked the way you guys dealt with the power cut during the acoustic set earlier.
MK: We just played a bit louder and carried on. That’s all you can do in that kind of situation. There were so many people there that we didn’t expect. When we first saw the size of the room, we thought that it would be empty because we were on so early, but there were so many that came.

ML: We saw you earlier this year at HRH AOR in Rotherham and you got a crowd there.
MK: That room was too small.

ML: What made you decide to do an acoustic set here?
MK: They asked us if we’d like to do it and as we’d supported Mike Tramp a couple of months ago with an acoustic set so we already had that settled so thought it would be great to play it here. I guess you’d need to ask the organisers why they wanted to have us acoustic but maybe it was after seeing us at AOR they wanted something different I guess.

ML: are there any more plans for tours in the pipeline?
MK: At the moment we are going to take a little break from playing as we’re recording a new single in January and working on new songs for a second album so we’re concentrating on that for a couple of months but I’m sure after that there will be more gigs coming in the New Year. We have some great things lined up for the summer which we can’t say anything about at the moment, but it’s very exciting and I can’t wait to tell everybody.

ML: Can you tell us anything more about the single and the album?
MK: The single is going to begin recording asap along with a music video as well. That will be a taste of what the second album will sound like. We can’t say what it will be but we’ve played a couple of new ones in recent sets and one of them gets a really good response.

ML: As a band, do your musical influences differ?
MK: Yeah, I mean Jons favourite band is Misfits. I have many but I guess my favourite is Guns ‘n Roses.
JE: Yeah we all have different tastes but there are a few overlaps. I mean she likes Kiss and I don’t…we do have a few arguments about music though.
MK: We played at Sweden Rocks and we were watching Kiss and Jon was just standing with his arms folded all grumpy. I wanted to kick him.
JE: I think I was the only person there that didn’t like them.

ML: How does your home crowd differ from a British crowd?
MK: I think it’s different in that the further up north you go here, the more excited the crowd gets. The London crowds are so used to having bands play all the time, but I guess it’s different up north when there’s not as much going on.

ML: Was it a dream come true for you to play Sweden Rocks?
MK: Oh definitely a dream come true for me. It’s one of the milestones in my life and my career definitely.

ML: Are you hoping now that you’ve played it once, you can go back again?
MK: Now we’ve done that there are so many festivals we want to play. It’s like “What’s next on the list?” I do hope that they will ask us back sometime in the future though.

ML: If you had to pick a festival to play, which one would it be?
MK: I think I’d like to play Wacken festival.
JE: For me it would probably be Download. I’ve been myself so many times
MK: It’s like his Sweden Rocks. For me, that’s where I’ve been going since I was 16 years old.
JE: But having said that, anywhere in Europe is great for us. Every time I go out there it’s so exciting.
MK: Wacken would be good for us because we have so many fans in Germany, it would be really cool to actually go there. I think my debut album sold the most copies in Germany and I’ve never even played there but we will do it!

ML: What do you guys do for relaxation?
MK: I never get any free time.
JE: Mia pretty much works 24/7.
MK: If you’re a musician nowadays, you have to literally work all the time to get anywhere. It’s not just about rehearsing once or twice, it’s constant. We don’t earn anything so you need to be really passionate about what you’re doing that you can’t think that you’re going to do anything else. It has to be the one thing and because there is no money, you have to have a day job. I work at the day job a couple of days a week then full time with the music so I don’t have time for anything else.

ML: Is it difficult having a day job knowing that the music is what you really want to do?
MK: I try and take inspiration from every source that I can so you just make the best of it really.
JE: I think when you know that you’ll be spending the rest of the week doing what you love, I don’t think you really care that much.
MK: I do lots of different work too. Sometimes its acting as an extra, sometimes I work in a clothes shop so I just meet different people and think positive about everything.

ML: How does living in London compare to living in Sweden?
MK: It’s great. I wouldn’t want to move back to Sweden now as I really like the pace of life in London. It’s hard to be yourself in Sweden if you’re creative. In London, it’s easy to let your creativity out and express yourself in a way that you find suitable. I like London for that and I’m planning on staying a long time.

ML: Are you all based around London?
JE: Yeah we’re quite lucky really cuz we’re all in the same area which is quite rare in London. Usually people are dotted around all over the city so it makes our lives easier.
MK: Yeah I can just walk to Jon’s so it’s helpful for rehearsals.

ML: Are you staying here for the whole weekend?
MK: We’re here until tomorrow.

ML: are you hoping to catch any other bands while you’re here?
MK: I was hoping to catch Michael Monroe tomorrow but we’re leaving before he plays, but I hope I get to meet him.
JE: Think I’m going to try and get to see States of Panic.

ML: Thanks so much for talking to us guys. Good luck with the new album and single and look
forward to seeing you soon.
MK: Thank you
JE: Thanks

Interview and Photo by Mark Lloyd (Amplified Gig Photography)

The Treatment


And the interviews just keep coming! This time Mark Lloyd catches up with  Matt Jones & Dhanni Mansworth from The Treatment.

ML: Hi guys, thanks for talking to us today. How was the set?
MJ: It was really good man, we’re really happy. There was a really good turnout.
DM: It was full capacity for us especially at one o’clock.
MJ: Yeah we were expecting half full, maybe three quarters full, but it was packed. Couldn’t get any more people in.
ML: Ah well if you listen to the reaction when certain bands were mentioned, you guys were one of the ones to watch.
MJ: Really? Great stuff!
ML: Yeah we saw you guys open for Steel Panther a couple of years ago and for us, we had to find out who you guys were. It’s not very often a support group gets that much of reaction. You got everyone into it from the moment you walked on stage.
MJ: It was a really good tour for us actually

ML: To be fair, you’ve had some pretty epic tours so far. I mean Kiss, Motley Crue….
DM: That was amazing; we couldn’t believe how we got on that tour. Basically Nikki Sixx, God knows how, found our video for Drink, F*ck, Fight posted it on his Twitter and played the track on Sixx Sense. It got such a good reaction that they decided to put us on the tour with them & Kiss. That was literally how it happened.
MJ: The biggest fluke ever!
DM: We had no idea. We found out on Twitter! Nikki Sixx just announced “I’d just like to let everyone know that The Treatment will be joining us on tour”.
MJ: We were literally in the back of the van coming back from the Glasgow Steel Panther show and it was like “Are we seeing this, is this real”?! It was just unreal.

ML: How do the tours differ between the US and here?
DM: It’s unreal
MJ: It’s a different thing entirely.
DM: We had a full tour bus with eight bunks and we couldn’t believe it.
MJ: We were more comfortable on the bus than we are at home.
DM: We had the opportunity to sleep in hotels but none of us wanted to leave the bus.
MJ: I think we stayed in five hotels the whole time we were out there.
DM: We had a flat screen TV, Air conditioning, wifi, just everything you could possibly need. It was like a house.
MJ: We’re back in a transit now though

ML: Is there a broken wing mirror?
MJ: We’ve had to rent this one so it’s alright
DM: Our one’s a mess! We’ve had to have it gutted recently because the whole floors rotted through basically. The front passenger seat is so much lower than it should be!

ML: So how’s the tour with Airbourne?
MJ: We’ve done one date so far but it’s really really good! We’re not competitive but we’ve really got to keep up with them. We try and raise the bar that little bit more.

ML: What’s your funniest moment so far?
MJ: We had a funny moment with Joel before the tour. We supported Status Quo and on the last day, he and Ryan came to the show. They were buying T shirts and we were like “That’s Joel & Ryan from Airbourne, we should really get a picture for Facebook”. So we called them over, took the photo and started chatting and Joel, who’d clearly been drinking at this point. We said that they should join us for the party in the VIP bar afterwards. He said yeah, but then he & Ryan pretty much had a punch up in front of us.
DM: I think Ryan wanted to go back to the hotel but Joel wanted to carry on drinking. So we left them arguing and went over to the VIP bar and when we got there, Joel was already there!
MJ: He beat us to it! So the night carried on and we ended up taking him back to the hotel in our van singing ACDC songs. It was great.

ML: We were obviously going to move on to worst moments but I think with recent events you guys have had some pretty low moments
MJ: yeah the last couple of weeks have been hard
DM: We had two weeks to find a new guitarist and teach him the songs. It was a pretty savage time for us ‘cuz Ben had been with us for seven years, but his Dad became terminally ill so he decided that he wanted to spend the last few months with him.

ML: So has Jake (Pattinson) fitted in well already?
MJ: Yeah he’s slotted in really nicely. He’s a good player, he’s a good guy, he’s young so a similar age to us. Everything ended amicably with Ben.
DM: There’s no ill feeling it was just an awkward situation. The last thing we could have done at the point was to cancel the tour. It was just way too late in the day.
MJ: I was even trying to learn the guitar parts so we could carry on.
DM: There was even the suggestion that my Dad who plays guitar and produces us was going to stand at the side of the stage and play. Eventually though, we had to announce it so we wrote it on our facebook and within a day we had 150 guitar players say they wanted to do it. We saw Jake and he had the right image so we asked him.

ML: How did you narrow it down?
MJ: We asked for youtube videos of them playing. They needed to be a similar age, able to play, the right attitude. We had a couple of guys audition that were great players but they weren’t convincing. We wanted someone to come in and be like “let’s do this!” and that’s exactly what Jake did. He fits in, he’s got a warped sense of humour.

ML: Has he moved in yet?
MJ: Yeah pretty much
DM: He’s spent the last two weeks at our house

ML: Does it work all under the same roof?
DM: It’s the only way to do it. If you look at bands like ACDC, Metalica, Def Leppard, The Sex Pistols, they all lived together.
MJ: We’re all the best of friends and we gel together.
DM: We’re a family.

ML: Do you have moments where you want to kill each other?
MJ: Of course yeah! You can’t live together and not have arguments
DM: It’s like any family.
MJ: There’s a bit of arguing about the end of the toilet roll and who gets the next roll. There are a few people in our house that leave an empty roll! We need to catch them in the act and put a camera in the loo. No wait that’s a bit wrong!

ML: So for anyone who doesn’t know about you yet, how would you describe yourselves?
DM: A young energetic rock band.
MJ: We come from the old school like ACDC and that kind of stuff.
DM: The whole reason we do what we do is to go out and have fun. We hang out with our fans and stuff. There are people who have followed this band for the last four years and we just hang around and have a beer with them.
MJ: It’s like meeting up with old friends. We’re all in it because we like rock n roll music and the guys watching aren’t any different than the guys playing the music.
DM: It’s those people that are getting us where we are. Without people coming to see us and buying our merch, we wouldn’t get to the next show.
MJ: We want to show our appreciation for that.

ML: You guys seem to have skyrocketed out of nowhere really. Is that the reality?
MJ: Yeah pretty much. It’s gone crazy for us really.
DM: I think it will get a lot crazier when the second album comes out.
MJ: We’re so proud of it.
DM: If anyone liked the first album they’re gonna be amazed by the second one.
MJ: We don’t want to sound big headed, but we’re so, so proud of it
DM: When we recorded the first album I was 17. The difference between then and now going on tour with Alice Cooper, Kiss, Motley Crue, you’re just gonna improve without even realising. When we got into the studio the second time around it just came so much more naturally to us.

ML: Have you encountered any kid of negativity because of your ages?
DM: In the early days, no one took us seriously.
MJ: People saw us as more of a boy band cuz we were so young and fresh faced but we’ve all grown up now. I can grow a beard!
DM: Thing is, people say we’re young and we’re babies and stuff but there are people in their thirties that I can guarantee wouldn’t be able to handle being in a van with us. We don’t have regular sleep or eat properly. People criticise bands, but when people are doing it for the little money that there actually is now, it’s hard. So I think any band that’s out there at the moment deserves some respect.

ML: Have you guys got your eye on any up and coming bands that are around at the moment?
MJ: We’re on tour next February with Cage the Gods.
DM: The Jett Black boys are really good.
MJ: We’re on the same label so we know the guys really well. Four Wheel Drive are really good too and they’re a similar kind of thing.
DM: Buffalo Summer are always good too.
MJ: There are a few bands starting to do stuff now that are really good.
DM: There’s definitely more of a scene now.
MJ: It’ll only take one band to break through to carry the rest
DM: At the minute all the kids are just trying to be Asking Alexandria, which has its place, but when you see so many bands that have the same image you lose track of who’s who. Thing is with classic rock bands, everyone has a character. Like Black Spiders, you know every one of those guys. I just think that there just needs to be one of us to break through and the rest will surge through and the whole scene will just skyrocket! The whole kind of hardcore metal scene is so viral on the internet; the classic rock side just gets overlooked a lot.

ML: 2014 looks like a really busy year for you guys. Headline tour, new album and a new single. Any ideas which one you’re going to release first?
MJ: I think it’s going to be “I Bleed Rock n Roll” cuz we’ve just released the video for that, but then it could be “Emergency”. We haven’t decided for definite. The album should be out February time to coincide with the tour.
DM: Every song on the album is as strong as the next one

ML: Is the tour UK only or are you venturing over to Europe?
MJ: UK at the moment but we’re hoping to try Europe as well, but again we don’t know completely yet.
DM: The last headline show we did we had half of the crowd on the stage with us. They do get pretty messy. When we’re allowed to put on the full show we like to get the audience up but obviously when it’s someone else’s show you can’t really do that.
MJ: When it’s someone else’s show obviously the crowd are mainly there to see them, but on our own shows it literally goes crazy!

ML: Well we won’t hold you up any longer but thanks so much for talking to us and thanks for a great show.
MJ: Thanks for having us.
ML: We’re looking forward to seeing you in Birmingham next year.
MJ: Make sure you come and say hello, it’s been a pleasure.

The Treatment

Interview and Photograph by Mark Lloyd (Amplified Gig Photography)