The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
SKINDRED-INTERVIEW-2015-Arya-Goggin

 

SKINDRED INTERVIEW 2015

Skindred's new album 'Volume' is just about to drop, and it could well be the closest the band has got yet to capturing their incendary live sound on record... We talk to skinsman Arya Goggin about picking the live set, the upcoming tour and mashing up Pantera with Spandau Ballet...

OCTOBER 2015

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If you haven’t heard Skindred yet then you are in for a treat, a band that merges Metal, Rock, Reggae and various other seemingly incompatible musical styles it shouldn’t work this damn well, but it does. And if you like what you hear on latest album ‘Volume’ their sixth outing, just wait till you see them live!  

Mark: Hi Arya, thank you so much for talking to The Rockpit. The new album ‘Volume’ is out later this month and you are just about to embark on a tour of the UK and Europe. It’s a great album, are you looking forward to getting out there on the road and testing the material live?


Arya: Do you know what I really am; I’m just leaving rehearsal right now so you’ve called me a great time, we’ve just been going through the set and working out which tracks we want to play, but there are so many tracks from this album that we can play and we know will translate well in the live arena, so it’s quite exciting going through them ad fighting over which ones we’re gonna pick!


Mark: It’s such a great album it must be hard, and you control the setlist I understand!


Arya: Yeah pretty much, we go through it as a band and we’re six albums deep now so to put together a set of only an hour fifteen, or an hour twenty minutes is getting more difficult, because you obviously want to play the songs everyone knows but you’re also excited about the new record and like I said these new songs will translate well in the live arena so you want to play as many as you can. And the you have to make sure you don’t lose anyone’s attention!


Mark: I’m sure that won’t be an issue with the new material.  I’ve been listening to the album a lot over the last few days and though I liked ‘Kill the Power’ (2014) very much I think I prefer ‘Volume’ – everything just seems bigger, brasher and bolder than ever before?


Arya: Thank you very much


Mark: The songs are that good it must be the hardest job in the world picking what to play?


Arya: It is! (laughs) it’s funny, lots of fighting, lots of looking at each other thinking ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about – I’m right’, But I’m usually right so it’s great (laughs).


Mark: After seeing you guys a couple of times now both in the US and down in Australia the one thing that always blows me away is the live show, which I’d recommend to anyone. When I then went back to the albums I always thought there was something missing, that extra you bring to live performances, but on ‘Volume’ I think this is a close as you’ve got to capturing that live feel?


Arya: That’s really good to hear, I think so too, I mean that was the idea when we started writing the new record. We wanted to feel that it was a band in a room and it was our first album again. Because on that first album you play the songs and that is all you have, so we were very conscious when we were writing the songs that any of them could and would be played live at some point. So having that mentality I’m sure helped with the energy and the vibe of the record.  


Mark: There’s a lot of interesting and very cool material on the album, but one of the things that most hit me was the interludes which I think helped that live feel, was that the intent?


Arya: Yeah, with Skindred the idea of the band is you go for it, you’re rocking out on a riff or a groove and you let Benji chat over it, and that again is going back to the live thing. In our live shows we would put these interludes between songs.  That’s something we first touched on on ‘Babylon’ and it’s been with us since. When you’re playing the record loud at your home, a house party or whatever you have these interactive moments that are like moments in the live set.


Mark: I’m glad you said that, that was our take on it. I’m normally a bit dubious about short musical noodlings, but they worked really well in the context of the album.


Arya: Yeah I mean the Beastie Boys were a big influence and that is the kind of thing they would do, that hip-hop kind of thing, but I know what you mean there was this period especially in Nu-Metal where bands like Incubus would do a few things like that, but that’s not what we were really going for. And I’m not digging at that band at all, cos I love them, but there were a few with the turntables like Linkin Park, but that wasn’t really our vibe at all, it was more original source really.
Mark: Of all the songs on the album I think ‘Hit The Ground’ had the biggest punch, it’s bursting with attitude and energy, surely that will play a big part in the new live set?


Arya: Yeah I hope so; it’s one of my favourites as well, so you know…

 


Mark: Did you approach the writing any differently this time, I know with ‘Kill the Power’ there was the unusual aspect of having Russ Ballard contributing?  


Arya: Well it was the first record we’ve written with Dan our DJ guy and as it’s the first time he’s been involved in the writing I think it gave us all a really fresh perspective. The rest of us know pretty much what each other is going to think and say, and also how to annoy and push each other’s buttons; but bringing Dan into the mix made it feel fresh and new again. It was a kick in the ass really, as we’re a democracy really and everyone has an equal stake, so when you’re writing songs people are disagreeing and when its two versus two you can get to a stalemate and it can get quite exhausting at times, but having an extra person in there made it easier. The other thing like I said was we got in a room again and got sweaty, playing and rocking out was just like the way we used to write in a small garage underneath a boxing club, the four of us. We’d look around the room after an idea, and if everyone was smiling it would go down on tape. That’s how we did it, we tried not to agonise over everything, when we did ‘Kill The Power’ it was different, we took it all apart, we were very meticulous, this was a lot more free.


Mark: It does sound just like that, a band in a room playing. Can you give us any idea what you will be taking on tour from the new album?


Arya: Well I’ll tell you what we did today that sounded amazing – it was ‘Sound the Siren’ that is sounding really, really huge. And Benji and Mike were also working on an acoustic version of ‘Saying It Now’ which is also on the record. They went to a radio station and played that today and it sounded great.   

Mark: I know we had a few questions in from readers about your acoustic set a few years back at Download are you going to be doing anything like that in the future?


Arya: I think so yes, definitely I mean it’s part of our sound, that sort of Roots Reggae is a big art of the band, I mean we’ve done it with the full band before but I think the soul and the heart of that is just the two of them. I think there’s something to be said about being able to play a song an acoustic guitar and being really effective, you can really touch people with that. Sometimes when there’s too much instrumentation it gets a bit convoluted. It’s definitely on the cards, and the guys are always doing bits for radio and TV and it’s a part of the band that really shine and it’s another emotion for the band too.

 


Mark: Creatively we’ve seen such a lot from Skindred recently, ‘Kill The Power’ just last year and already a new album, and all of it so good. Are you in the creative form of your lives at the moment?


Arya: I think so, it seems that way. It’s that old thing ‘If it feels good then do it’. I mean after ‘Kill The Power’ we separated from our label very quickly so we had zero pressure, we were still touring so we thought ‘Let’s just write’. We did the Summer Festivals but had no more touring booked in so we thought rather than sitting home getting fat why not get together and write, and that is pretty much how ‘Volume’ was born. I think if those sessions had gone badly then we’d be having a different conversation!


Mark: That leads nicely to our next question: after six albums do you feel it’s getting easier or harder as a band out there?
Arya: It really depends, I wouldn’t want to commit and says it gets easier because I don’t know how the next one is gonna be, but this one just came out so well. What gets hard is trying to be original and thinking too much about it. When every guy in the band is on the same page it just makes everything so much easier, and that doesn’t happen a lot so when it does it’s a magical moment like: ’thank God everyone is agreeing’. With Skindred the ideas and the options are limitless and just because we can doesn’t mean we should, and we throw that round the band room so many times. So for the next album I think if we have a clear cut idea of what we want to do and what we want to achieve then yeah it will be easier. But if we go in there not knowing what we want to do then it will get really hard. When we went in to do ‘Kill The Power’ we went in not really knowing what we wanted to achieve and that’s why we really toiled over it. It was a real ‘songs’ album if you know what I mean and we tried to draw from as many things as possible. With this album we’ve achieved what we set out to do.

   
Mark: For me the best thing about Skindred is that anyone is allowed to like you.


Arya: Do you know what, yes they are. We don’t discriminate! More people like us please!

 

Mark: I was thinking really of all the friends of mine who like the band, from Metalheads to Hard Rockers, people who like Reggae, and people who like various other forms of music. Skindred is just good music, no labels, how do you see yourselves?


Arya: Well we’re not in a scene. And if you try to describe the sound to someone who hasn’t heard your band sometimes they can get turned off straight away. I just tend to say we’re a rock band that likes all kinds of different music and we stick it all together. But I always say you’ll be surprised when you hear us!


Mark: As I think I was too when I first saw you I was expecting a Chilli Peppers meets Bad Brains kind of thing, not really my scene but I’m up for anything really with a  guitar and a decent pulse. But when you see Skindred it’s so much more.


Arya: Yeah we just want to smash down those boundaries I hate it when people come with preconceived ideas and think they’re not going to like it. You don’t know until you try. Listen to the music, come and see us and if you still don’t like it then, no worries


Mark: So as a drummer who were you inspired by?


Arya: My favourite band growing up was Queen, when I heard ‘We Will Rock You’ that was it. It was like this percussive heartbeat and when I heard it I just wanted to do the drums because it was the soul of the music from my perspective, it was what I was nodding my head to, a real primal thing. But Classic Rock bands was really where my heart was, and still is to be fair, that’s how I got into it I was just drawn to the drums.


Mark: It must be great to be in a band like Skindred with so much freedom to move as a drummer.


Arya: It’s great; I can do whatever I want! (laughs) There’s nothing really to stick to so it’s like here’s your BPM – Go!
Mark: Just time for a few quick questions.


Arya: No problem we’re stuck in traffic at the moment so it’s all good.


Mark: Normally we ask interviewees to name an album that they would have liked to have been a fly on the wall in the studio for, just to see how the magic happened and the musicians interacted…


Arya: Great question!


Mark: … but we thought that we’d change that slightly for Skindred and ask if you could mash up two classic albums what would they be?


Arya: That’s a good question too, I’ll answer both! Fly on the wall for ‘Appetite For Destruction’ I’d have loved to have seen that, and I’d loved to have seen ‘Night At The Opera’, probably ‘Night’ just shades it as at the time Queen was breaking boundaries with the production, all the little tricks they did with the harmonies and the vocals it was groundbreaking and I’d love to have seen that. I could mash those two together but it might sound like a bit of a car crash!  I’m trying to think what I’d mash up… Maybe Pantera with Spandau Ballet?


Mark: (laughs) I’d like to smash Spandau Ballet with Pantera, but that’s just me!


Arya: (laughing) There you go!

 


Mark: Great answer! What’s the best advice you’ve been given so far as a musician?


Arya: I think it was ‘Believe in yourself, and have confidence in yourself, not to the point where you get annoying, but be single minded, be driven to achieve your goals’. I think you need to put yourself out there and don’t think success is going to come to you. And also learn your craft first and foremost. I mean when I was at school I’d stay in and play my drums, all my friends would go out. But the best advice I would give is don’t rush you can only be new once in this business, take your time.


Mark: You’ve played with some great bands over the years, who so far has been the most inspiring either from a stagecraft perspective, or just from the sound they get live?


Arya: That’s a good question because we have toured with so many bands. It’s funny because you do end up supporting bands who you didn’t necessarily like their music before you played with them, but by the end of the tour you love it because you get that familiarity. Once you know the guys it’s different. When we toured with Papa Roach years ago they were such good people and such a great lesson in how to be ‘pro’. Jacoby the front-man never hit a bum note, every single night he was spot on, now that band doesn’t get enough credit for being a great band if you ask me. Not everyone’s cup of tea but I remember touring with them it was such a lesson in being slick! They were great. We’ve toured with so many great bands, Flogging Molly, Gogol Bordello, Korn, Disturbed, so many bands.  


Mark: Great bands, I love Flogging Molly; you didn’t ask Dave King about Katmandu did you?


Arya: No I didn’t what’s the story there?


Mark: Dave King was in a Hard Rock band that did one album in the late eighties after he left Fastway, he doesn’t talk about it, but they put out a gem of an album.


Arya: Wow, I knew he was in Fastway but I didn’t know he was in another band, Katmandu.


Mark: If you get a chance to grab a copy do, it’s great they did a U2 cover, there’s all sorts of great stuff on there.
Arya: I’m going to have a look for that, I’ll check that out.


Mark: And the final question, the easy one we ask everyone ‘What is the meaning of life?’


Arya: … Be happy. It’s all about being happy if you ask me, as happy as you can be. Don’t think about things too much that will eat you up. You probably get that answer quite a lot, but that’s the general sense of it.


Mark: And if people want to up their happiness levels the best way at the moment is to get out there and grab a copy of ‘Volume’.


Arya: You know what that’s a brilliant way to sign off! What is the meaning of life – Volume by Skindred, that you for that!


Mark: Thank you so much for taking the time Arya, have a great tour.


Arya: If we get down there come and find me, thanks very much man, pleasure. Cheers.   


    

 

Arya spoke to Mark Rockpit

 


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