Here at Soundspheremag, we’ve been long time fans of reggae metallers Skindred. Just as we move in to the New Year, we catch up with lead singer Benji Webbe as he talks to us about the highlights of 2012, and plans for the future.
We’re inside Skindred’s awesome tour bus. Benji, looking as cool as ever, is sat with his arms up rested on the leather sofa. Wearing a dark fur coat, shades and all, we can tell he is relaxed but excited, rather than nervous for the gig he is about to play. It’s not surprising nerves don’t get the better of him anymore, as this experienced rocker has been touring with Skindred for nearly 15 years, and has also played with bands previous to Skindred’s formation. We’re about to find out some of Benji’s highlights of 2012, exciting plans for the future – and we promise you they are ace (especially for Slipknot and Stone Sour fans…) – and what keeps bringing his unique band back to York.
We kick off by reflecting on some of the major tours that Skindred headlined in 2012. In 2010, the band was on the bill of the almighty Hammerfest, only to return in 2012 to headline it, “Every time we get the chance to play these great bills, I’m just blown away!” Benji explains what playing these festivals mean to him, “It’s just another chance for me to go and win fans, be them older or younger.”
Hammerfest isn’t the only bill that Skindred topped last year, as Benji displays his excitement at headlining the Jagermeister tour, which has previously been headlined by metal legends such as Disturbed, Korn, Stone Sour and Hatebreed, “Just to play it was an honour! I’ve always wanted to play them bigger venues round the country with our name at the top of the bill,” he adds, giving his compliments to the tour sponsor, “Jagermeister is a great drink, and they look after heavy metal.”
The lead singer also talks of how he was mega-chuffed to play on the bill above Therapy? who are of course rock legends in their own right, which leads him to reflect on his previous band, “The first band I was in was called Dub War, and when we got that big break in our home town, we supported Therapy?, and that was … incredible!” Benji is a man with modesty (which many might actually be surprised about), which we can tell as he explains, “I don’t do this kind of thinking, ‘we’re the best’, I think it’s art, and to play alongside bands like Therapy? and The Defiled is just an honour.”
Moving on, we talk to the reggae singer about Skindred’s latest releases. Though the band’s last studio album ‘Union Black’ was released back in 2011, the band released a deluxe version in 2012. As we ask Benji what the reasons for its release were, he replies with a sense of humour, “Well it [Union Black] didn’t sell enough, so it was a chance to sell more records!” On a more serious note, he explains, “If some kid is going to buy it because it’s got some videos on it, and bonus stuff, then that’s cool. I know I like deluxe versions of stuff from artists I listen to.” We also took the time to speak about some of the styles that were incorporated in to ‘Union Black’ such as dance and dubstep, and we wondered whether he planned on incorporating these sounds into future recordings, “Always! If we can get the people to move, that’s what it’s all about!”
After 15 years of touring with Skindred, as well as working on Dub War, and even playing alongside Korn at 2006’s Download Festival, we wondered whether this charismatic singer ever suffers from stage fright, “I don’t get nervous I get anxious, I just want to get on there and kick everyone’s teeth down their throat! I’m quite confident; I’ll play in front of anyone whether it be in Jamaica or Columbia, on any bill, even the Royal Variety Performance. I’m confident in the music, I’m confident in the message, and I love the people I‘m on stage with!”
Leading on nicely, we thought this would be the opportune time to ask Benji why his band Skindred keep on returning to York, when so many other bands of their recognition shy away, “I enjoy York, because people here are really into their heavy metal, as well as music in general”, he adds, “It’s a place that accepts us, we’ve been playing here for a long time – It’s a good place to play, a good scene”. Well York, aren’t we just delighted with that?
As we talk about Benji’s personal highlights of 2012, we get a delightful insight in to the future of Skindred, “Download 2012 was a big buzz, and another highlight for me personally was when I asked Corey Taylor if he would sing on Skindred’s next album, and he said if the timing’s right he’s in!” I’m sure we would all love to hear a collaboration between Skindred and Corey Taylor, “I want to get Corey Taylor and Flavor Flav on one song, that would be the sh*t!” Personally, we couldn’t agree more.
The front man also reveals that Skindred is currently working on their next album, and promises it’s one to look out for, “Some of the stuff we’ve been writing in the last couple of months …I can’t wait to get it out there!” Benji has also recorded some material aside from Skindred with friends, including a reggae and bluegrass record, which he hopes to get deals for in this new year, “I’m really excited, I’ve got some great things happening.” Good lad, Benji. Good lad.