Alec Evans talks to Benji Webbe of Skindred ahead of their Newport Helicop-tour show at Newport Centre
Your last shows were part of the Soundwave Australian touring festival. How do Australian crowds compare to the UK, particularly Wales?
Benji Webbe: Yeah, that was good fun, that was real good fun. We played on a great stage with bands like Clutch and Chino from the Deftones’ new project (Crosses). Crowds were great, we were very jetlagged, it’s a long way to go. Very good.
Support this evening comes from The Blackout, Hacktivist, Feed The Rhino and Continents. What do you like about these bands that made you choose to take them out with you?
BW: I only know The Blackout and Feed the Rhino. I like the singer from Feed the Rhino, he’s cool, he’s from London, he’s very ‘London’ as well, sounds like a gangster film.
Tonight’s lineup is very rock & metal-orientated. With so many more aspects to your sound, could you see yourself playing shows with non-rock acts in future?
BW: Of course! We could play with anyone, we could play with Beyoncé. We’d just do, like, mash ups with her. And Rihanna as well.
Skindred have a very good live reputation. Who are some of your favourite live acts?
BW: I seen a band the other day called Mutemath, and I thought they were fantastic. The drummer was incredible and just blew me away, I said “that’s why I love rock and roll”. If we, as a band, Skindred, do that to people, make them feel like that, how that band made me feel in Australia, that’s our job done.
Your live show has recently been using a hip hop remix of John Williams’ Imperial March from Star Wars as the intro tape. What’s the story behind that?
BW: We’ve been doing it for years! Since I heard it in 2002 in Florida, it’s amazing. It just makes me hyped, I feel like I’m Mike Tyson in his early days, gonna knock a motherf*cker out.
The last two tracks on your new album ‘Kill the Power’ are ‘Proceed With Caution’, one of your heaviest songs and ‘More Fire’, one of your most chilled out. Is that something that went into your mind when you were choosing the track list for the album?
BW: I don’t choose the track list, I just write the songs… (But) we all got them two sides to us, right? Mellow side and the aggressive side.
The album draws from so many different influences.
BW: We just love music, you know? By any means necessary, I want the crowd to rock. I will use anything necessary, except for German techno.
Do you think music fans today are more accepting to your brand of musical fusion than they would have been back in the 80’s/90’s?
BW: Of course, it’s a different world that it used to be. With music being at the click of a space bar, anything from old to new, people are going to be more accepting to it.
One of your plans for this summer is playing UK rock festival Download in June alongside headliners Avenged Sevenfold, Linkin Park and Aerosmith. Also Rob Zombie, who you did some shows with in the UK a few years ago.
BW: We did some the other day in Australia, too.
The last time you played the main stage of Download (2011) was when the Newport Helicopter (crowd members remove one item of clothing and swing it in the air) was first invented. How do you plan to top that this year?
BW: I don’t plan on topping it, I just do what I do, bro. There’s no “ah, what are we going to do to this?” People love that stupid helicopter thing (picks up a Newport Helicop-tour flyer).
I brought a spare shirt…
BW: Exactly, people bring special shirts.
Why should Quench readers unfamiliar with your band be paying attention to Skindred in 2014?
BW: Because we’re doing what we want to do, and we’re not following no genres, we’re making our own way through this f*cking jungle. If you want to survive, be the hunter, not the hunted.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to the readers of Quench?
BW: I’d like to say, we’ve all stolen music over the years, a lot of us have stolen a lot of music. When bands come to your town and you know you’ve stolen their music, please go, buy tickets, buy merchandise, support the bands, because punk rock bands and reggae bands, it ain’t like in the old days, we don’t make money from record sales any more, we make money from merchandise, and if you want us to live and survive, you’ve got to support that.
I’d like to say, I’ve bought both the new album and tickets to the show.
BW: (Offers a handshake) I appreciate that, thank you, sir, you’ve done your job.