26 January 2014 (released)
26 January 2014
Several years ago, South Wales was a hot-bed for bands breaking out in the rock and metal world, with Funeral for a Friend, Bullet for my Valentine and Lostprophets leading the way and helping to put Wales and Britain on the map as a heavy musical force again. Another band that came out at the same time have arguably garnered more critical acclaim for both their recorded output and live shows, and yet, on the surface, have APPARENTLY been largely ignored by the mainstream. Skindred, formed ‘from the ashes of DubWar’, broke onto the scene in the late 90s, at the height of Nu-Metal, and have been described as ‘the best kept secret in metal’. I got the chance to speak to Dan Pugsley, bassist and programmer for the band about their new album ‘Kill the Power’, out on the 27th January and their upcoming UK tour.
Dan describes himself as a 90s kid, growing up with an array of bands and musical styles, and went into the recording of the album wanting to create a multi-style, diverse album, akin to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ in its broad scope and numerous influences. Of course, Skindred are a very different band altogether, and their inspiration comes less from the US West Coast sunny beaches and dark underbelly, and more the streets of Newport and Brixton. This gives the album a diverse mix of ‘Babylon’ (their debut album) era heaviness along with an electronic vibe and some of the band’s trademark reggae sound combining into what is essentially a dancehall/punk/metal crossover that Dan says should feel and sound like the best bits of Skindred in one coherent package.
One listen to the album, or any of Skindred’s previous releases, and you instantly hear what he’s talking about. He said the idea was to try and write a greatest hits package, but with entirely new songs and on that front, he’s spot on. All four of the bands previous albums, ‘Babylon’, ‘Roots Rock Riot’, ‘Shark Bites and Dog Fights’ and ‘Union Black’ have been excellent in their own ways, fusing all of the aforementioned elements. But Dan was quick to point out that for the first time, with Kill The Power, these elements and influences have been combined into songs, rather than sounds on songs. With the extra time the band had to write the album, the results give a more coherent and well-rounded feel, and something that Dan says may finally see the band break out into the mainstream.
Of course, the label of best kept secret in Metal is a complete misnomer. For as long as they’ve been touring, they’ve been one of the best received and best loved bands on the UK scene, picking up Metal Hammer and Kerrang! awards along the way. Anyone who’s seen the band play UK festivals, or support giants such as Soundgarden, or headline their own diverse shows, knows the power and joy felt from the experience. Dan said forming the band in the late 90s, when metal and rapping combined under the Nu Metal label, meant that Skindred were tarred with same brush (regardless of this was true or not). When the scene’s detractors starting outnumbering those that supported it, Skindred became ‘uncool’ to listen to, and the band feel that they were a little misunderstood at the time. The other problem they faced is that in actual fact they don’t really fit into any scene, so they’ve played with bands as diverse as Korn, Disturbed, Rob Zombie, HIM, Therapy? and Gogol Bordello. Thankfully, the younger fans today are exposed to so many different genres that they’ve been embraced by a whole new generation, and the older fans are beginning to follow suit, attracted in part by the power of the band’s shows and part due to the excellent musical output that many have dismissed previously, but that now won’t be ignored.
If you get the opportunity to see the band live on their current UK tour do it. And even better, make sure to get a copy of their new album ‘Kill The Power’. I personally guarantee you won’t be disappointed.