Tapping firmly into their ragga-reggae-sunshine roots, Skindred bounce into the summer with their brand new single ‘L.O.V.E (Smile Please)’, a slice of uplifting positivity designed to get your feet moving and your face beaming with the biggest smile of the year!
A pop-rock smash featuring a skankin’ beat, parping horns, a singalong chorus and Caribbean-by-way-of-Newport vibes from irrepressible frontman Benji Webbe, ‘L.O.V.E (Smile Please)’ is the PERFECT soundtrack for party-lovers, festival-goers, gym-bunnies, beach-bums, tree-huggers, and all round feel-good-people having celebrations across the nations.
The video – directed by Steve Clarke – is a vibrant, puppet-filled extravaganza, with technicolour cartoon vibes, championing the diversity and inclusivity that sees EVERYONE as welcome and part of Skindred’s tribe.
Taken from the band’s forthcoming album Smile, ‘L.O.V.E (Smile Please)’ got its first public airing last summer via Skindred’s incredible main stage performance at 2022’s Download Festival. There, 60,000 rabid fans turned Donington’s metal fest into one big, happy dancefloor. “What a way for us to bring that song to the world for the first time,” beams Benji, “on a big stage, in front of a field of maniacs, doing what we do.”
And what Skindred have been doing for the past 25 years is make music unlike anyone else. The four-piece – completed by guitarist Mikey Demus, bassist Daniel Pugsley, and drummer Arya Goggin – channel a huge range of styles from reggae to metal, rock to pop, dub to electro, and on Smile have created the most mind-expanding and potent collection of songs they have delivered yet, designed to melt stereos around the world.
Recorded in the midst of the pandemic, Skindred worked with producer Julian Emery, whose work with Nothing But Thieves illustrated his adeptness with dynamics and melodies. “It had to be a British producer because we’re a British band,” explains Arya, mindful of the logistics of travelling to the US, or the possible challenges of having an American producer decamp to the UK in the age of COVID-19. “We also wanted someone with songwriting chops, to slot in with the melodic sound that we have, who didn’t just have an ear for the melodies, but could contribute suggestions too. Julian has all those skills.”
The songs released to date from Smile – ‘Gimme That Boom’, ‘Set Fazers’ and ‘If I Could’, along with the brand new single, and semi-title track ‘L.O.V.E (Smile Please)’ – demonstrate the breadth, range and fun to be had in the songs on the album. But this is an album dealing with big themes.
‘Addicted’, for instance, deals with the fact we all have compulsions in common, “whether that be the gym or the crack pipe,” says Benji. And on ‘Our Religion’ Skindred reflect on how they have traversed the highs and lows of being one of the UK’s most exciting and unique acts, the story of four men who went from playing pubs to getting the world’s biggest festival crowds swinging t-shirts over their heads.
“We do this 24/7 and we’re not doing it to get a couple of quid in the bank,” Benji says of the band he’s fronted since 1998. “‘Our Religion’ is setting out the stall of what we do as Skindred; this is our foundation. It’s our story too, about how long we’ve been doing this, and how it’s been a struggle over the years, having doors slammed in our faces on the road to where we are now. Listening to this track, the first thing I think about is being in Arya’s van in the early 2000s, being paid £50 and having to wait for the promoter to go to the cashpoint to get it. And we’re still here today, doing what we do, because we love it.”
Thematically, ‘Our Religion’ is complemented by another key album track, ‘Unstoppable’. While the former track distils the essence of what it is to be Skindred and the mutual reverence they share with their fans, the latter, a grooving juggernaut, attests to the enduring power of a band that delivers a good time, every time. “We keep going and we keep pushing forward,” says Benji, a man who’s no stranger to being unstoppable, having survived sepsis and having his throat slashed.
For him and for Skindred, it’s about enduring and it’s about legacy. “In life, it’s about hearing that our music has encouraged people and got them through dark times. But even when we’re done and gone, people will still be listening to this music. That thought makes me smile.”