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)