We recently had chance to have a chat with Benji from Skindred during their show in Reading at Sub89, supported by Malefice, Forever Never and Revoker. Here’s what he had to say:
Rocksins: We had chance to catch you at your Woking show earlier this month, how did it go for you?
Benji: The energy was good though bro, i mean the energy was already in the place before we walked on stage which was good ya know. The crowd was fantastic, loved it. We’ve just done a B-market tour basically, and they said to us “where would you wanna go again. I’d love to go back there, and there, and definitely the gig we played last night in Carlisle. Some places are starved of a good rock show, so when they get it, they just give up so much, and we love it as much as they do
Rocksins: So hows the tour been so far, seeing as its mostly been small venues?
Benji: Well ya know…700 capacity venues – some of which have been sold out, the majority close to selling out. Skindred’s in a good place bro, we’re in a good place. I mean we ain’t following no mother fucker, we aren’t trying to be like anybody else, we just give what we give for long enough and loud enough.
Benji: We do what we do, we don’t try to say we’re best or anything like that, we do what we do and enjoy doing it – We’re in a really good place. The turnout and ticket sales show me that night after night after night.
Rocksins: Everyone we’ve spoken to so far love you guys
Benji: There’s something in the air for us. Ya know I just wanna be AC/DC. AC/DC which everybody loves, and knows they’re gonna have a rocking show. That’s all I wanna do.
Rocksins: How was the Hammerfest Show?
Benji: It’s funny ‘cos when I’m working..I don’t always know if what I’m doing is right. It’s a strange thing, and when I say working I mean when I’m out there doing my thing cos I’m like just singing the songs I’m pre-empting things as well while I’m on stage and thinking about what I’m gonna do next.
Benji: You know..I’m that kinda guy, I’m not just up there going “ok this song goes like this” and then sing it like that, there’s bits in between as well. That night I was working a lot. I call it work…I was working a lot because I know that I wasn’t preaching to the converted, and it’s easy to preach to the converted. When you get a church full of people all believing in Jesus, they’re gonna dig it. If you get a church full of people believing in jesus and you start telling them to believe in Mohammed – you got problems!. So ya know it was like we were preaching to the converted in Woking, which was amazing. But Hammerfest I had to work to get a response, but we got it, we won.
Rocksins: So any summer festivals for you guys this year?
Benji: Do you know what… I’m as pissed off as you are. I wanna play Download
Rocksins: And we definitely want to see you play it!
Benji: Well tell everybody on your site “Don’t be happy, boycott Download if Skindred don’t play”
Rocksins: I’m surprised you weren’t in the last line-up for Download which announced 22 bands. I thought you were going to be one of them.
Benji: I know! me too man! I wanna do Download, we haven’t done it for a couple of years now and I want it ya know. I think we can make it one of them nights.
Rocksins: So what’s the story behind covering Electric Avenue?
Benji: Ya know what bro, we wanted to do a cover and we wanted to do something which is not rocky or heavy at all – Which it’s fuckin’ not rocky or heavy, and we wanted to pick something which had good lyrics, the lyrics are strong ya know about not being able to afford anything but still partying. It had a bit of a reggae feel to it and we wanted to Skindred it up like.
Benji: I remember I was in a club in Reading and the sound system was amazing – I think the club name was Sakura?, the sound system was incredible! the most incredible award-winning sound system if I do say so myself. Sat in there having a few beers and just watching, cos I like to go to clubs but not dance, just to watch and feel the atmosphere. I’m not a dancer when it comes to clubs, unless of course I’m pissed out of my skull. I’m watching this club and they played everything from Songs by Slipknot, to Electric Avenue, and I was like wow…But yeah..the sound system was amazing!
Rocksins: A few people have asked us a couple of questions – one of which was: What’s the story behind the kids piano on stage? I remember seeing you with it the last time you played Download.
Benji: When I first started in my old band years ago I always used to get a bit paranoid about talking between numbers believe it or not, and so this keyboard had a couple of little samples on it and stuff, so I just use it, mostly just because I can now.
Rocksins: So are you one of those people with instruments? – pick it up, give it a try, and use it as much as you can?
Benji: I’ve never picked up any instrument…Never. Not even guitar, although funnily enough I’ll give this to you. I’ve never picked up an instrument but…I got my own picks! It’s a Benji pick, it’s got my face on the other side. I just felt left out when the other guys were getting their own picks. I said I want a fucking pick, and the guy said to me “but you don’t play guitar!” I don’t give a shit i still want a pick man!
Rocksins: What’s shark bites and dog fights been like then? how’s the reception been?
Benji: For me personally in this day and age where record sales are all weird and all the rest of it. I don’t care about that – I don’t care about record sales. For me an album, a Skindred album, our album is just like an audio flyer. That’s all it is, to make you go “what’s that?..ahh they’re playing down so and so” That’s what it is. I mean if i never make another fuckin’ penny from music I know that when people come to our show, they rock. Skindred gets on stage and do what it says on the tin – we rock out, and that’s it.
Rocksins: So you mentioned earlier that you don’t try to be like anybody, but have you found that anyone has influenced the band?
Benji: It’s not about trying to be like anyone else, we’re just not. You’ve got these fuckin’ welsh guys with all this Jamaican shit going on, but yet can growl like a monster and ya know we just aren’t following anybody – We never have. We do what we do and what we love.
Benji: Influences – I gotta go back to a different time and era for influences. I gotta go back to people like Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra. I know it sounds strange but they’re strong vocalists and amazing front men. Freddy mercury is someone I really love, Brian Johnson. ya know I really want flamboyance. I think Lady GaGa is a bit too much for me but I still appreciate the showmanship of her. Loud is best bro, the colour I want – Yellow as its striking, and if there’s an amp then I want it on 25.
Rocksins: We were loving your amps, with the shark bites and dog fights covers over them. It was a nice touch. So do you have any favourite bands at the moment?
Benji: I’m currently listening to Mastodon. They’ve got one song which sounds like Sabbath to me and I love it. So mastodon and heavy music, I’ve also just got Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jnr in concert which I’ve been listening to constantly. I’ve been listening to a lot of Michael Jackson, i’m a massive Michael Jackson fan. I’m sorry I can’t say the usual sort of thing, I can only say what I dig like.
Rocksins: Thats cool, Were were talking to Forever Never the other week and one of their bands currently on their Ipod is N-Dubz, so whatever floats your boat really!
Rocksins: We also have a few quick fire questions for you. Starting with: What’s your favourite venue of the tour so far?
Benji: Favourite venue I’d choose Woking. I did enjoy Woking, a hell of a surprise as it was such a shitty setup. All day it crazy, and we ended up in a hotel. But all the bullshit we had to go through during the day, and I was sick as well with a cough and cold, I had to go on stage so I think that because I got through it and because it worked well it felt like I won ya know.
Rocksins: Biggest show you’ve played so far?
Benji: One of those festivals, probably Download!. One thing about Download is that we were on 2nd on the Main stage and we were all like Ahh there won’t be anyone out there. But we went out there and it was packed. I was close to tears with the fact that I know those drunk fuckin’ heavy metal fans crawled out of their bunks that early in the morning, even setting an alarm to come and see us!, and I was like “I Salute you rock n’ roll”. It was rammed as far as the eye could see.
Rocksins: So who’s the unluckiest band member?
Benji: Dan. If there’s a cold Dan’s gonna get it. If someones gonna get an arse kicking by some weird fuckin’ chav it’s gonna be Dan.
Rocksins: I was going to say who’s the craziest band member, but it’s probably going to be yourself isn’t it?
Benji: I don’t think I am crazy. I do silly things, I do school boy things. I don’t act too crazy, I don’t think we’re like that.
Rocksins: We saw you on top of the amps at Woking at one stage
Benji: Yeah Thats my preaching spot!
Rocksins: Biggest show off?
Benji: I am. I’m definitely the ham, i’ll collect the ham trophy for that one!
Rocksins: One last question we like to ask everybody – What’s the most memorable moment been for you in this tour, or even in general?
Benji: One of the most memorable moments has to have been when I was asked to sing for Korn at download. Walking along talking to my friend Robert from Metallica, who’s been my friend since long before Metallica – We go way back. Then Fieldy came up and said “Jonathan’s sick, Do you wanna play a couple of songs with us?”. I’m like “Who..me?!” so he says “Yeah can you sing like a.d.i.d.a.s and something else?”. I felt like my mother was gonna say “Get up for school!”, it felt like a dream. I love Korn, I’ve got all their albums to date, and personally can’t wait to hear their new stuff.
Rocksins: Well I think that’s pretty much it! Thanks for your time!
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