Skindred came about as the result of a previous band going defunct, which depending who you ask isn’t a bad thing! Benji Webbe (Vocals) was originally in a band called Dub War who called it a day in 1999 after having issues with their record label at the time; after unsuccessfully trying to form another project with his fellow band members, Webbe thought it was time to look elsewhere. He teamed up with Daniel Pugsley (Bass/Backing Vocals/Programming) in 1998, before teaming up with Jeff Rose (Guitars) and Martyn “Ginge” Ford (Drums) in 2001. However both Rose and Ford left in 2002, being replaced by Michael Fry aka Mikey Demus (Guitar/Backing Vocals) and Arya Goggin (Drums) respectively!
Over their long career, Skindred have released six albums between 2002 and 2015, as well as played at numerous festivals and done numerous tours around the world! However, this upcoming tour that Skindred is undergoing might be one of the biggest in their careers yet; they are set to support Max and Iggor Cavelera on their upcoming Australian exclusive tour to celebrate twenty years of Roots where they play the album from start to finish!
OVERDRIVE had the opportunity to sit down with Webbe and speak to him about the upcoming supporting slot, as well as ask him a few questions about previous experiences Skindred have had whilst in Australia previously. The first question that Webbe had to face was what Skindred were expecting from the crowds in Australia and whether they are ready; Webbe was most energetic in his answer, which gave more feeling to the following words:
“Well we’re definitely ready for the energy the Australian crowds are going to bring; we have to bring our own energy to make sure we’re on the same level! (laughs) It’s going to be a rocking show, believe you me. I think the crowds are going to go insane, the Skindred brothers are going to go insane and the Roots brothers are going to go insane.”
After this interviewer mentioned that he was hoping to get to gig review the upcoming show in Melbourne on Saturday night, Webbe went on a small tangent about what the fans of Melbourne can expect at the show, explaining how “a friend of mine is staying in Melbourne at the moment; he’s the singer for a band called Ugly Kid Joe! He just fell in love with the place and won’t leave, so the night we play Melbourne I’m trying to get him up on stage to play a song with us. Whitfield Crane is living in fucking Melbourne; he fell in love in Melbourne and he plans to move there! Hopefully he will get to live in Melbourne before too long.”
This interviewer was curious to how Skindred were chosen to be the support band on this one in a lifetime tour; Webbe filled me in on the long-time history he shared with Max Cavelera:
“In all honestly, I’ve been friends with Max Cavelera for many years; he was a big fan of my early band Dub War originally. He came to see us a couple of times and actually got up on stage and sang one of his favourite song with us! We just remained friends ever since that; when the first Soulfly album was released, I got up on stage and sang a few songs with the boys as well. This tour is not world-wide, it’s just Australian; what I’m guessing is that whoever is putting the show on is also a fan of Skindred. Max didn’t choose us, so the promotors must be a fan of the two acts and thought ‘fuck it, why not get two acts for the price of one!’”
Webbe went on to then mention how “we’re really excited to get to Australia, as it’s been a while; the last time we came was with Soundwave!” before continuing to talk more about Skindred’s love for Australia, adding how “we met some beautiful people when we were over there and it ignited the flame, which has left us longing for more! Australia is a great place; I’ve had multiple friends move from Wales to Australia as well over the years, so it’s like a school reunion over the years. I wish we could stay longer but we have to move on so we can tour Japan!” Webbe then went on to explain how “each member of Skindred is a fan of rock ‘n’ rock; we love rock music we’re fans just like everyone in the audience, we’re just honoured to be up on stage! We’re most definitely honoured to get to be playing on the same line-up that we all have the album of.”
After finding out that Skindred are not trying to get Whitfield Crane up on stage to perform with them, but are also long-time fans of the Cavalera Brothers, this interviewer was curious what the chances of anyone from Skindred joining them on stage to sing their favourite song: Webbe mentioned “I’ve just been talking about how Max did an interview and he was said he was going to doing a couple of Soulfly songs; hopefully I can get up on stage and sing ‘Prejudice’ with those guys!”
What songs are Skindred most looking forward to getting to perform for their Australian fans on this one in a lifetime opportunity? Webbe was quick to clear the air, saying that “Mate, every one of our songs I love singing! There’s no song that’s in that set that I don’t feel proud of; every song has a strong message about people living together, loving each other and lifting the downtrodden. I know there’s a lot of downtrodden people in the world who want to be uplifted and I’m the man to do that job! I want to tell you something; sometimes I’m down as well. But you want to know the good thing about being down; you can always get back up my friend! I wish I could have had a couple of hours with Chester from Linkin Park recently before he passed away; everyone needs to have some words of love and encouragement bought into their life!”
Webbe went to then go on explain how this influences him when he writes lyrics:
“My opinion is this; what lifts me up is singing these songs! These same words that I write in the songs, I write for myself as well; I’m not just singing these songs from a point of having my life together. I’m writing and singing these songs from NOT having my fucking life together! If someone found a Skindred album in a drawer and there was no music, all they had was the inner sheet to read the lyrics; I want them to have their heart touched before you hear the lyrics or listen to the songs, that’s why I make these songs; to keep me blessed and me uplifted! You know, some people just don’t give a fuck; some bands just go on stage, sing their songs and they get off. I really believe as a human being, my job is to touch people’s lives and make people realise as much we’re different, we’re all the fucking same!”
Webbe then went on to talk about the recent time he made a Skindred fan eternally happy!
“The other day, we on tour and I was in a shopping centre. This lady was on an escalator; she was going up and I was going down. She passed me and she recognized me; so she stopped, came up and spoke to me. She said ‘I can’t get a babysitter tonight; I really wanted to come to the concert but I hope you have a great show!” I asked her what her favourite song was and she replied with ‘Nobody’; so you know what I did? I sang ‘Nobody’ to her right there and then! She started laughing, gave me a big hug and you know what; getting to make her day meant more to methan going out and playing a sold out show that night! I’m not all about just making money; if my life was just all about making money money money, what the fuck am I living for?!?”
Webbe then explained just how happy he is with the little things in life and how much they inspire him:
“Listen to this: I live in a neighbourhood that is the highest crime neighbourhood in my city! I’ve lived here for twenty-odd years and you know what? Down the street I’ve got heroin dealers; across the road I’ve got prostitutes, plus you throw in the madness and chaos that goes on outside my front door on a day to day basis. If I had the chance to move, I wouldn’t; I’m inspired by this fucking place and it’s what makes me write lyrics! It’s funny because I could live anywhere I want in this town; I could live in the nice part if I wanted. But if I run away, who’s going to be a light in this town? I sit with my heroin junkie friends and they look fucking rough as guts mate; it’s a sad state of affairs but you know what? They’re my friends and that’s the one thing I’ll never forget!
Using the previously mentioned crazy aspect about the neighbourhood that Webbe lives in, this interviewer thought it would be a perfect Segway into finding out what the craziest thing Skindred has either seen or done whilst on Australian shores. Webbe pulled no punches and laid it all out on the line from the get go, recalling how “we went to Hungry Jacks at 2 o’clock in the morning in Melbourne; that was pretty scary! I don’t what street it was, but I saw someone almost get killed there. It was pretty fucking gnarly! It’s pretty gnarly out there at 2 o’clock in the morning, I’ll tell you now. In regards to the craziest thing I’ve done, I don’t try to do anything too crazy; sometimes things just happen though. I’ve lived a life that is pretty fucking insane, but I couldn’t tell you what the craziest thing I’ve done is (laughs hard)”
MAKE SURE YOU PURCHASE TICKETS TO THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR SHOW OF ROOTS THAT KICKS OFF ON THURSDAY IN BRISBANE. TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE!