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Skindred Interview

Rock City Nottingham

2015 is looking set to end on a high for Skindred, as not only are they touring the UK and Europe but they’re also getting some well deserved chart attention following the release of their latest album ‘Volume’.

Jay Hawkins caught up with Benji Webbe ahead of Skindred’s gig at Rock City Nottingham – and this is how the interview went!

Interview by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Skindred

Rock City Nottingham 6.11.2015

With four bands on the bill, I knew it was gonna be early doors tonight so I managed to blag 10 minutes off work (cheers boss) to get here in time. All was going smoothly on my journey into Nottingham, until the last five miles of it that is, as some football match was being played at the City Ground – Forest V Derby no less, and as this was a local Derby match, traffic was absolute murder! Let’s just say the air was blue in my car! Incidentally Derby lost, bugger!

Although I was late, I was still able to get an interview with Benji which had been pre-arranged for 18.15. I got there at 18.30 and thankfully Benji was still hanging in the tour bus, so I got to meet the guy for the first time no less! Let’s just say, the last time I’d felt that excited, I still believed in Father Christmas!

And this was how the interview went!

After the interview, which was held on Skindred’s tour bus, upstairs in some gaming lounge area, I packing up my gear to try and catch (hed) PE, as sadly I knew I’d already missed Yashin’s set. As I tried to walk down the stairs of the tour bus (which were very steep), I fell down most of them and as there were two PR guys sat downstairs, I recomposed myself as well as I could, then struck up a conversation so as to not look a complete bell-end!

Although I managed to get in to see (hed) PE in time, I actually only managed to photograph one of their songs, but having seen these guys last year when they supported Soil, I wasn’t as disappointed as I was at missing Yashin. (hed) PE probably started around the same time as Skindred and although they are very different and continents apart, they are in fact very similar, as they too fuse a multitude of genres together. Primarily punk, metal and reggae, and these guys know how to get a crowd going!

Jahred - Hed PE

Tonight, in part, Jahred wore a Guy Fawkes mask on stage. This was either to show support for the fact Guy Fawkes Night was only 24 hours ago or as the Guy Fawkes mask is now used as a symbol of protest by certain groups made famous in the film V for Vendetta. Having studied (hed) PE’s lyrics, and subject matter in their songs, I believe it to be the latter! As I stated last time, these guys are very energetic on stage as well as being great entertainers! I love this band and I was extremely happy to see these guys on tonight’s bill supporting Skindred! I’ve also been told these guys like to party off stage as much as they do on it, so good luck for the rest of the tour guys! haha

Set List tonight; 1.No Turning 2.Bloodfire 3.One More Body 4.Whites/Blacks 5.Bartender 6.Renegade 7.Ghost Town 8.Peer

Now Crossfaith are a new band to me – I knew nothing about them coming into tonight’s show and quite frankly I’m glad I didn’t do too much research into these guys beforehand, as it meant I could appreciate these guys live much more than I probably would of done if I’d heard some of their earlier albums. I’m actually starting to prefer seeing a band live, then going to check out their material afterwards because you really can’t appreciate how good a band are until you see them live.

Kazuki Takemura - Crossfaith

The quintet (that’s five, just so we’re clear) originate from Japan and yet they are no strangers to these shores, I’ve since discovered! Nor are they strangers to Skindred, as I’ve noticed Benji has in fact lent his vocal skills to their track “Wildfire” on the bands new album, ‘Xeno’. These guys fuse some melodic synths with metal, over a hell of a lot of scream vocals, which sounds very much like the bands The Defiled and Black Veil Brides, which would of probably put me off, had I not seen tonight’s gig! It’s not often you see a crowd doing a circle pit in Rock City, let alone a wall of death but these guys got the crowd so pumped up, the band had them eating out of the palm of their hands and the crowd would have probably done anything they asked them to do, within reason! These guys are such a great live band, I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see them in a field, in these parts sometime next summer! This was such an amazing set – a full on octane fuelled rocket ride, straight to the pleasure senses! Take a bow Crossfaith, take a bow!

HIroki Ikegawa - Crossfaith

Set List Consisted of; 1.Xeno 2.Monolith 3.Countdown to Hell 4.Devil’s Party 5.Wildfire (Which featured Benji) 6.Omen

As stated earlier, we were gratefully allowed access to Skindred’s Benji for an interview – which was great! From that interview, we discovered that the band had just learnt their new album, ‘Volume’ had charted in this weeks album chart, going straight in at no. 29 and straight in at no. 2 on the UK Rock Album Chart, which is fantastic news for these guys and we’re well chuffed for them! I’m even more chuffed with the fact that Benji signed my vinyl copy of the album! Benji did also mention he has a new solo reggae album out, but I don’t seem to be able to find anymore on that!

Benji Webbe - Skindred.

Tonight’s show was epic, having been suitably warmed up by the amazing support bands, the crowd were in fine form for Skindred. As well as fighting for a space in which to shoot the band in, we also had to contend with crowd surfers and security guards rushing us to get to the people coming over the crowd! The massive stage production looked great and the stage lighting was also very vibrant indeed! As the band took to the stage with the backing track, a drum and bass version of the Imperial March, which is very topical with the release of the new Star Wars movie next month. I have a feeling the band are big fans of Star Wars, Benji even complimented me on my Star Wars t-shirt during our interview. I did have a Star Wars woolly hat too, but I had to ditch that, as the venue was hot tonight, hardly surprising really as it was a sell out! I’ll take that!

Mikey Demus - Skindred

F**k knows how Benji survived in his massive (fake) fur coat for three songs, but he did it! The band were all on fine form and gave everyone one hell of a show – the crowd loved it and so did I! These guys continue to tour the UK next week, with this being the longest run of UK dates, ever, I believe. Then onto Europe, so don’t miss your chance to see one of the best live acts around.

Skindred

Set list consisted of; 1.Under Attack 2.Roots Rock Riot 3.Stand for Something 4.Rat Race 5.Doom Riff 6.Ninja 7.Sound the Siren 8.Cause A Riot 9.Trouble 10.Volume 11.Pressure 12.Kill the Power 13.Nobody 14.Playing With the Devil 15.Warning

Interview, Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Skindred

Rock City Nottingham 24th January 2014.

Rock City bound tonight and strangely, I’ve missed this legendary place. I know it’s not been that long, but you get attached and in this case, for good reason. The gigs that are held here are always going to be special and tonight was no exception.

Since I last saw Skindred at Hard Rock Hell, their profile has exploded and they have been featured EVERYWHERE! You name it, they’re in it, why, because these veteran’s from South Wales have a new album out, called “Kill The Power”. I finally got my copy through the post this weekend (paid for) and it features some real classic Skindred gems. This, however is a live gig review and not an album review, so first support band tonight are Viza.

I first came into contact with Viza at Hammerfest V, in 2013, I’m starting to see a pattern emerging here, anyway, I digress. For me they were a real stand out act from that festival, simply for the fact that their sound was so fresh, flamboyant and energetic, but above all, their live show was so much fun. As stated then, Serj Tankian has also seen these qualities in the band and things have really picked up for these guys around 2011, but they have been around since 2006. Also with a new album, titled ARIA, on the horizon, available to “Pre-Order” now. Can I just say, I understand why bands need to offer their music up for pre-order, what with recording costs etc. but it really gets on my nerves, having to wait for new music.

Tonight’s set list was a 50/50 split between tracks off the new album, ‘Viktor Vangard’, ‘Vanished’, ‘Midnight Hour’, ‘Forward March’ and old favourites, ‘Mona Lisa’, ‘Trans-Siberian Standoff’, ‘Whiskey Bar’ and ‘In coins’. I personally loved tonight’s set and the guys on stage seemed to be in fine form, but for the majority of people that could get to the venue in time to see them perform, they were a relatively unheard of act. This, I’m sure will all change after this tour, as they are a great live act and I can confirm that by the end of tonight, everyone in attendance was pleasantly surprised.

Viza

Next up were a very well thought of and much loved act, SOIL. Hailing from Chicago City –USA, these guys optimise everything that is good in Hard Rock and Metal and are a true endorsement to the Genre. Tonight was my first time seeing the band live, it also transpired that lead singer Ryan McCombs hasn’t played a show in Nottingham in over 17 years, as he announced to the ever increasing crowd. Tonight’s set had everything, energy, emotion, power, showmanship and above all full throttle metal music.

SOIL

At one point, the crowd started to call out for one of this bands biggest hits ‘Halo’, but Ryan stated that if we do that song now, then they’d have to leave the stage and asked ‘Do you want that?’, “NO” was the crowds reply, so they continued. Set list consisted of ‘Loaded Gun’, ‘Breaking me Down’, ‘Shine On’, ‘Need to Feel’, ‘Redefine’, ‘Hate Sons’, ‘Unreal’, ‘Black Betty’ (A Ram Jam cover that only just got released in the UK, apparently) and finally ‘Halo’. Before the final track, McCombs addressed the crowd stating “The music starts with you, ends with you and is all possible because of you, so thank you” then got down off the stage, took a giant swig of beer and proceeded into the centre of the crowd, with his mic/staff held aloft so people could see where he was and much to the crowds delight, he joined the mosh pit whilst continuing to sing the song. SOIL also have a new album out, titled “Whole” which is now on my to purchase list!

SOIL,

SKINDRED……..I’m such a huge fan of this band, tonight and tonight I’m feeling very fortunate and grateful to be seeing them for the second time in less than 6months. People on the guest list got called cheap c**ts, which was fair hahaha, however now that the album “Kill the Power” has been officially released, I was intrigued to see how the set compared or differed from Hard Rock Hell. ‘Thunderstruck’ (AC/DC) got the crowd going and the ‘Imperial March’ was strangely the perfect walk on song. It was re-assuring to see Benji’s outfits haven’t calmed down, nor has his larger than life personality, and he is, without a doubt one of the best front men and voices on the planet! Tonight the pit was rammed, which was no surprise, as these guys are big news, but what was a surprise – we got to photograph four tracks, which has never happened to me a Rock City before, so this truly was a special night. There is no disputing Rock City’s legendary status, but the lighting at times is questionable, it seems Skindred weren’t going to take the risk and decided to bring their own lighting stands and strobes, strong enough to melt ya face off!

Skindred..

Throughout the set Benji interacted with the crowd in the only way he knows how to, he abuses them, yet the crowd love him for it. He told one quite beautiful girl to cheer up, you’ve got a face like a smacked arse, nobody is coming on after us, which cheered me up at least lol.

Skindred

Benji does have a very warmer side to him which he showed tonight, stating Skindred have played Nottingham many times over the years and see the City as a second home. Tonight really was a great night and the first show for many in 2014, and what a way to start off the year – we even had a crowd surfer! Everyman and his dog were in attendance and it made for an awesome show. Check out the remaining tour dates, as this truly is one tour not to be missed! A special “Happy Birthday” goes out to Skindred drummer, Arya Goggin, who’s birthday was on the Sunday, after tonight’s show.

Skindred.

Set list consisted of:  1.Rat Race  2.Stand for Something  3.Doom Riff  4.Ninja  5.State of Emergency  6.Selector  7.Cut Dem  8.Bruises  9.Babylon / Niggas in Paris/ Intergalactic/ Jump Around/ Don’t Stop Me Now/ Omen/ We Will Rock You  10.Kill the Power  11.Worlds on Fire  12.Trouble / Sad But True (cover) 13.Pressure  14.Saturday with “Take the Power Back” snippet by Rage Against the Machine and 15.Nobody. The Encore consisted of 1.We Live  2.Warning [With “Toxicity” snippet by System of a Down] and 3.Nobody Does It Better.

Words and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)