Words: Letty Sharp // Photos: Ian Mc Donnell
Skindred are a Welsh reggae band formed in Newport in 1998. The band
have released 7 studio albums, getting ready for the release of their 8 th ,
We caught up with lead singer Benji Webbe before their set in the
3Arena with Volbeat and Napalm Death.
LS- Hi Benji, how are you?
BW- You know Letty I’m good thank you very much. It’s nice be here,
hanging out with you, talking smack up.
LS- I would like to welcome back to Ireland last time you guys were
here was in 2010 at the Academy how does it feel to be back?
BW- I be honest with you I’m pretty pissed off to say the truth because I
thought Ireland loved Skindred I thought you know North, East South
and West love Skindred and if we ain’t been here since 2010 that’s pretty
poor so I’m calling out the promoters I’m calling on the promoters in
Ireland if you think we can just come here once and that’s enough we
wanna come back here we know we got fans we’ve got people who love
us in Ireland and it’s not fair so you saw your promotional and start
booking Skindred please because this this this gonna stop we wanna be
every year like we play every other country why so long in the gap it’s
not our fault so you people out there listening to me, now you get on the
promoters and you complain to them from the booking Skindred and I
much appreciate and I would like to be back here every year playing
some amazing shows and some amazing festivals so from others sort the
shit out come on.
LS- This is story with a lot of bands in Ireland, Evanescence have never
BW- Evanescence have never been? They sound more Irish than
Skindred [laughs] I know I’ve never been known since never been that’s
LS- A lot of them skip us and they just go right on to the UK.
BW- It’s not fair cause I mean like we, I mean Wales gets to say we
don’t get so much I’m from Wales as you know and we don’t get so many
bands they stop in Cardiff but you guys yeah you do and that’s not fair
so I’m calling out the Irish promoters so just shut down start booking all
these great bands because the beautiful Irish people need to see these
great bands you know what I mean like when we play Download and
festivals like that you know I say where’s the where’s the Welsh?
Where’s the Irish you know everyone you know so your part of the
island so let’s make it a regular thing man let’s stop it whoever the
promoters out there and kick them in the ass.
LS- Big Tings was released in 2018 how was it recording process for
BW- You know that was an album that really got us boxing gloves it
was a it was a fight it was a fight with a lot of people in the band who
wanted to lead on what they wanted to do and I think you know if you
listen to Skindred you’re where we are at dance band but we use
anything to make you move. We love rock music, we love reggae music.
all songs that’s exactly what it does this column flavours in there you
know. So, we call him big things what’s the struggle we had we had a lot
of fights during good times a lot of tears a lot of crying but we got
through it and now we’ve gone through that we have we’ve got four
years since that release and now it’s time to put out a new record all this
the 4th I believe, ‘Smile’, is going to be dropped the moment you go we
got boom going the radio coming up boom and that’s getting a lot of love
all over the world a lot of people thinking that song so I’m excited for
the future definitely yeah.
LS- I heard that song just on the way up it’s a great song you know it’s
really energized one.
BW- Yes definitely the Saturday night pump your fist on the dance floor
yeah that’s what we wanted to we wanted to come back with something
which made the ladies shake their booties and dirty wine and wanted to
the guys that throw up their horns and bang their heads and we definitely
accomplished that with them with them giving they’re from.
LS- you did for sure you started this tour with Volbeat and Bad Wolves
for Europe you know Germany and all that you’re now going with
Napalm Death you know how was it touring with all Volbeat and Bad
Wolves in the rest of Europe?
BW- I’ll be honest with you like normally when you going, you start the
tour everybody’s real like friendly and lovely but it didn’t start like that
of this toy it wasn’t like that we’ve all we’ve really had to earn our stripes
coming I mean I have we the toll was huge you gotta remember we’re
playing some 20,000 seat arenas around the around the world with this
party like you know and I think they were a bit like you know wow they
they’re doing something so huge that they’ve never done before so there
wasn’t up for like hey let’s all let’s all be friendly straight away so it’s
been it’s quite the testing tour I mean for me as a frontman I’m playing in
front of a lot of people I think every night when I’m on stage I have to
crowd of their you the Skindred and the beautiful thing about it not
many of them had so that that gives me hope and it gives me
encouragement to continue to do what I’m doing and when I asked the
question at the end of the show wouldn’t even want to see Skindred
again there’s a lot of hands went up you know what I mean so that was
something that was quite eye opening for me because I’m being you
know we don’t normally support you know what we normally do club
shows or whatever or festivals and those who are there in front of us and
they’ll know what we’re about they know what we’re capable of they
know the power of the dread so they know what we’re doing but these
guys like these audiences in Scandinavian places like that was quite a
shock it was quite it was a very challenging crowd I really had to
because I wasn’t going on stage till my a rapturous welcome you know I
was going on stage to like I’m on Skindred you know like okay you
know even though the big on this so we really have to end we have to be
that every cheer every T-shirt waving everything that I normally get for
quick when we play concerts it was definitely a testing tool it has been
LS- Well I’m fortunate enough to have heard you guys before you know
my favourite song being Ninja great song
BW- Great song yeah, I do enjoy Ninja that unfortunately will not be
played in the set tonight but when we return when the when the Irish
promoters put us back over here, we’ll definitely play Ninja for you OK
LS- And I’ll probably be there so the band formed in 1998 what do you
think has attributed to you guys being together for so long because you
see a lot of bands in the new scene you know four and five years you
know going on hiatus eventually break up.
BW- I think we’re just stupid you know I think we’re passionately stupid
about what the music that we make and that’s really helped I mean it’s
crazy because when I looked to the left and I see the guys been there 20
years and yeah I mean it was so such a blessing at the same time you
know we don’t get me wrong we don’t like more common wise we all
sleep in the same bed and all hang around all the time but I think when it
comes to the music and the mission for Skindred if that’s something that
the four members are definitely agreed upon that we want to want to
bring some light to people’s lives we want to uplift people you know I
mean we don’t make this kind of music just to make money and we’re
leaving behind we don’t make that much money you know so but we
really are on a mission to bring the world together as much when I say
the world I mean those who stood in front of me that’s the world you
know those who come out to watch the band play that’s the world and
you know I want to I want to make this sort of music that brings people
together I don’t just want to make I want music which encourage people
to love each other you know no matter what your religion your culture
yo I want people to be bound together by using the Skindred leaks and I
really have seen that over 20 years I’ve seen people come and watch
Skindred and just you know just let the music take them away and by
any means necessary I will rock that crowd and the boys in the panel do
the same so that’s definitely a special thing 20 years deep with the same
line-up 8 albums.
LS- that’s really special because I have seen a lot of other genres of
music sometimes the metal as well it’s like pick your side and like you’re
not allowed to cross the line
BW- That’s terrible you know that’s just that’s musical racism you see
I’m trying to say I don’t agree with that you know as a kid growing up I
had to take a lot of stick from white kids and I take a lot of sticks on
black kids I’m stuck in the middle I hate that you know I think it’s
important that people have their musical for you instead of having
musical fascism you know which is ridiculous and because you hate
somebody because I mean when I was a kid growing up you had the
punk scene and the scary scene and you know all these different and the
mods and yeah they would all like get at each other’s throats and I would
want to see the world that again I think we’re in this new page of
technology you can like what the hell you like you know and I don’t
matter it doesn’t matter what you look like you haven’t got a dress in a
certain way to dig a certain band you just dig it and you do and that’s all
I think that’s the beautiful thing about Skindred as we see a lot of
different kind of people coming to Skindred shows and I think that’s
what I feel that I’ve achieved something when I see a different I love
LS- that’s really enlightening to hear you know so do you have a
favourite album release of this year and if so who’s a by?
BW- I tell you what we have been playing in the dressing
room a lot and I’m digging quite a lot it’s a band called Piss Jeans they
got a couple of songs I think they’re American I’m not really sure but
they definitely got a good British punk energy there’s a punk energy to
them I mean there might be some Australia but they got that see I
personally don’t like no disrespect to anyone I cannot dig American
punk no disrespect for Green Day I you know I told you I appreciate
their musicianship but it just it doesn’t it says nothing to me it’s a process
for you it’s not for me and it’s nothing wrong you know I mean I’m the
judge and like if I dig it I dig and if I don’t I don’t but for me personally
I’ve always liked more like music that you know the whole punk thing
for me like I said it’s gotta be British and it’s gonna be like that and like I
said with his jeans and there’s another there’s a girl called what’s your
name something and the sniffers
LS- Amyl and sniffers?
BW- Yeah that’s cool shit that’s good I believe that I’ve watched her
Glastonbury you know I mean I thought you got something going on
that’s kind of punk rock listen to you like if you ask me if I viewed
anything new I listened to them I thought it was great security is a great
LS- very cool song.
BW- And you know that kind of stuff I as a kid growing up that’s what
the Sex Pistols sounded to me like that that kind of energy you know
what I mean.
LS- so it’s kind of the raw you know DIY or die do it yourself.
BW- that’s I love that stuff don’t get me wrong I love Beyoncé’s new
album as well I love that new album I think she should have great songs
but when it comes to love the raw garage punk rock stuff I just love it it’s
just says more than me you know what I mean it’s kind of like you can
tell like it’s been for a struggle you know like I like the struggle I mean I
thought I’d like to struggle but the public come punk rock from the states
you know I’m gonna piss off a lot of people like the blink 182 stuff I just
can’t there’s a black man I can’t connect with it there’s no guts in it for
me you know I mean if I if I was if I was living in the middle of
America and maybe you’d have a different element to me but I just can’t
think it I just can’t dig it but that that Piss Jeans and meal and the sniffers
is where I am as a punk rocker you know good scene good scene.
LS- if you could collaborate with any musician dead or alive who would
it be and why
BW-well I think I go for Flavor Flav and Billie Holiday I think
they’re old enough and bad enough for Flavor Flav but yeah but I think
I’d like to do something Skindred wise with them for them two artists.
LS- I can imagine Flavor Flav spitting a verse.
BW- Billie doing crooning on the chorus and then that metal thing going
on woo who needs evanescence baby that we don’t right yeah, every
little heavy like a like Slayer like a metal band turned my head around
and Slaughter To Prevail them the Russian like yeah, they’re pretty
insane in there I like that.
LS- I don’t know how he reaches those lows.
BW- it’s just like I don’t know even if it’s a machine involved IM not
saying nothing but he does sound cool as hell terrible as his name I think
LS- Alex the terrible.
BW- Alex the terrible what a beautiful name what a beautiful name
[laughs] they got me they got me good too so that’s the kind of stuff I
think it you know I mean I like Alex the terrible and slaughter goes
because even though it’s heavy and it’s like heavy but still melodic as
hell I love that I really do so that’s yeah so, I’d say Piss Jeans what’s it
called Amyl and the sniffers and there you go there’s three bands has
turned my head this year.
LS- that’s a good tough three so you’ve gearing up for, ‘Smile’, which is
released on August 4th next year what was the story behind, ‘Gimme
That Boom’, if there is one.
BW- There’s a little story but when we when we got in the studio we had
a lot of songs finished and Mikey the guitarist ginger guy with a beard
he said I got his chorus and I was like well we’ve got all the songs you
know what do we need another song and the producer said well guys let
him go so Mike starts doing this just give me and I remember like we
were working on it and I went to the store when I was at the at the at the
store buying some groceries I there was a couple of kids in there and a
couple of metal kind of look into it didn’t say hello to me when I walk
past them and I wasn’t really in the best headspace either right I wasn’t
like I didn’t have the Benji head on like you know and one of one of
them bumbling about come on do something look like there wasn’t
talking but there was like I couldn’t like I never had no headphones on so
why do you think I won’t hear that I could hear them anyway so they just
said like what do something what would you know and I thought how
rude how rude the world is when you think people gotta be on show all
the time for you yeah you know like you got your Instagram and you got
your Facebook and oh your content not everybody’s gonna be in the
zone feeding the algorithm yeah every not everybody’s in that zone all
the time and it’s quite I stood there when I hear them saying that I never
said that they never even said that they just wanted a picture of me you
know but instead of saying some kind of picture they just like was rude
about it and it just made me think imagine like I’m just in a band from
South Wales so imagine if you like someone who’s got millions and
millions of followers how much pressure they must be under so basically
just giving that boo is saying basically look you know I ain’t always got
it I don’t know I mean just give me that bum like you know if you can
always get it out of me as a human being you know and I think a lot of
the people who are involved in that kind of stuff but they’re fucking sick
to death of having to like put the front on as well like to show it all the
time you know what I mean and that’s what it is really just like kind of
leave me alone for 5 minutes just give me that boom yeah but that’s like
you still leave me alone 5 minutes oh come on give me that boom and
you know you look for your favourite artist what how much cool should
have they done today on there on your phone you know what I mean but
I just think that Gimme That boom as much as it’s like an uplifter it
makes you go hang on a minute yeah maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on all
these celebs and or whatever else they call the cops and all that stuff
because they’re only human like me.
LS- your flow of lyrics and style is very unique to the genre of metal do
you have any influences on that?
BW- I like the pope dress is really out the box and looking up like the
Pope he walks in the room you know he’s there you know from his
chains and his heart to his jewellery it’s like rapper you know I like that
kind of vibe like somebody walks in the room and you know that there
Michael Jackson came in the room bold Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga I
like people who we’ll take the entertainment and they want to give
people something a bit more you know and I do enjoy that I do enjoy
being that guy in the band that people go it’s gonna do today I was gonna
look today it’s like Wes Boreland and the guitarist for Limp Bizkit it’s
cool as hell like I think he brings something so cool to the game you
know I mean I mean you know I remember as being little kids singing in
the school in the school pantomime I love dressing pick the
entertainment and they want to give people something a bit more you
know and I do enjoy that I do enjoy being that guy in the band up people
go what you gonna do today I was gonna look today it’s like where’s ball
and the catalyst for who was hell I think he brings something so cool to
the game you know for that you know I mean so when I when I started
getting the idea to like go and get some weird clothing and get some you
know some sparkly stuff and you know it was really cool so I mean like
last what people want to see I think if you’re going to be in the pan if
you’re going to be doing this thing and you wanna be a rockstar you
want it to be like you want people to look at you wanna go wow that’s
cool I wanna be like that you know I mean you I want people to look at
me go that you don’t look like the guy list next door yeah you know
when I’m on stage I wanna be larger than life I think that’s what
rock’n’roll is about you know taking it to another level and that’s how we
gonna do it in order to get it with the goal mean these you come stay
with fire and this mean it’s cool but other feel good the roadshow which
is just playing you know it was.
LS- Wes Borland is very unique Limp Bizkit he’s probably one of the
best musicians in the band it was great and System Of A Down they
used to use a lot of face paint as well but don’t anymore.
BW- I mean people I mean you go for phrases look at David Bowie
even once he did as well you know people go for phrases and rock’n’roll
and it’s cool it’s cool you know what I mean yeah.
LS- do you have any advice for anyone wanting to start them in
BW- I just say you know before you go online and start any of that stuff
like that YouTube stuff I’d say just plainly craft I mean if he was a
bricklayer you’re gonna put your first of all online you’re not gonna you
know I’m gonna say yeah so if you’re when you’re doing something it’s
crap I think musician being a musician like crap so before you go out
there and show people how shit you can build a wall really nailed the
wall so as cool as hell you know I mean I think that’s what young up and
coming out just need to do is really stay focused on their instrumentation
and get that mastered and if they don’t play and they just say just get that
mastered I don’t think people should be like rushing to put their stuff on
the Internet massive first play some shows get it down get it strong get it
ready you know.
LS- I’ve been mastering my craft for seven years I’m a drummer myself.
BW- You’re a drummer? Aw killer that sounds great that damn yeah.
LS- Our last question the glasses we’ve seen lots of different phases of
what’s the story behind it.
BW- Do you know what I’ll be honest with you I it’s my little insecurity
I guess I’m insecure up there you know might seem very large in life
from my wings on and all that stuff I’m hiding behind my glasses you
know what I mean hiding behind my flag because I think as much as you
see that boisterous, strong front man I’m still a little girl hiding away you
know I mean I’m still like still like everybody else I still got my
insecurities and stuff so I think that originally hiding because I knew I
mean yeah I just I think I’m just hiding from the world the way I hide
LS- Benji thank you very much for your time hope you have a great
BW- Thank you very much.