Skindred on Touring, Labels and Sound Advice. (Oh, and the Sacrificial Goat)

Pic: The London Forum. Credit: Skindred Official Facebook.

Skindred are built for survival. The last 16 years have seen them stay true to their roots, keep their head well above the industry pit and stay connected to fans old and new. The friendships this band forge around the world are testament to the sincerity of their music. We catch up with bassist Daniel John Pugsley at home in the UK as he prepares for the European festival season.


How were Japan and Europe?

Those were actually a few weeks apart, we had a little time at home before we headed to Japan. The European tour was great, it's really satisfying after how long we've been together that we can still fill up those venues, we've tried our best to build our home crowd... I think probably the London show at the Forum was my favourite, not so much the hype around it being in London but I had family there, that was a buzz.

The Japan tour was awesome from start to finish. SIM, the band, are great and super humble, that tour really couldn't have happened without them flying the Skindred flag in Japan. While we were there, I went into mega tourist mode, I was waking up as early as I could to see as much as possible. That was our fourth time there, I want to go back already!


I remember getting on a coach from our hotel in Brisbane to the airport and seeing Phil Anselmo a few seats behind me, then Duff Mckagen a few seats behind that... while the coach driver was playing Madonna. Very surreal.


Thinking back, what were the highlights of the Soundwave festival tour?

Soundwave is pretty much out on its own, I've never been on a big tour or been in a festival situation where the bands hang out as much as they did there. I remember getting on a coach from our hotel in Brisbane to the airport and seeing Phil Anselmo a few seats behind me, then Duff Mckagen a few seats behind that... while the coach driver was playing Madonna. Very surreal. Getting to catch some bands is always fun for me too, I think I saw 30 or 40 by the end of the festival. Again, I want to go back already! 


How do you adjust when you come back from touring, do you get yourself back into a routine?

I think now I'm older, I've learnt I go to bed the first day I'm back. The next day, I get up as early as I can, attempt some kind of exercise, then do all the boring housework stuff. I just try and have as normal home life as possible. All pretty boring. Oh and sacrifice goats.


What are you working on now before the European festival season kicks off?

Because we're home we have to make use of the time. We're about to film a video for our next single. I can't reveal to much about that but it's going to be very punk rock. We're always writing so I've been working on a few ideas, recording some covers just for fun, that kind of thing. 


Are you excited about any show in particular over the coming months?

It's got to be Download festival. That's always a crazy time of year because UK rock press have a bunch of parties around that festival. You have a few days leading up to the thing itself, it's kind of like a heavy metal Christmas. Stoked to be where we are on the main stage... We're slowly creeping up! 


Your favourite track to play live is…

I really like all the big sing along songs, I think 'Pressure' used to be my favourite but nowadays I think it's 'Doomriff.' The chorus crowd vocals are so huge, when a whole venue or festival are singing back at you, it's wild.


Skindred music has always been a source of inspiration to stand up for yourself, get shit done, overcome fears and dance while you achieve it. Where did the message originate from? And how has the message developed over the years, particularly with Kill the Power?

I think that we were conscious of being a little bit negative at the start of the band, or at least the imagery surrounding us being that way. We love heavy music, but wanted to do something with a brighter outlook, I guess that's where the dancehall element in our music really comes in. Really, I think we wanted to be like The Specials. Kill The Power isn't like a political statement, it's about overcoming struggles in your life, whether they be mental, physical, a relationship, whatever, it's about digging deep and coming through the other side.


You’ve moved record labels a few times in the past. What makes you decide to sign with a particular label?

Skindred came about at a really funny time in the music industry, coupled with the fact that we do something so different people are sometimes a bit scared to take a chance with us. The band moving [labels] has always been about survival, we want to continue to make great music, so if there's a home for us where they back what we're doing and willing to let us take chances that's where we're going to be.


Do you ever take a step back to digest what’s been achieved over the last 16 years? What are the lessons learnt from your experience that you might like to share with other aspiring musicians?

Feels weird thinking about us being around so long ha! I think tenacity is up there, if you feel what you're playing, play it, it you don't, don't. Don't do something because you think there's a bag of money waiting for you, more oftentimes there's not, so just do what you love.


Any bands we should be listening to?

I listen to a lot of old stuff, but recently I've been listening to Kvelertak and Torche. I really dig what they're doing. I've been listening to the last Major Lazer record too, I'd love Skindred to collaborate with them.


When will you be back to Australia?

I'm not sure when we're back but it's not soon enough, I don't know if it works like this but ask Soundwave to have us back and we'll be there in a shot! 


Kenada Quinlan