With a year of festivals behind them and an impending date at London's Freeze Festival, we thought now was a good time to catch up with Skindred's Benji Webbe to chat about acid, playing Ibiza and the state of reggae today.
We all know about the diversity of Skindred’s sound – their mixture of punk-driven reggae and dancehall, shrouded by metal overtures makes them instantly recognisable from their contemporaries – but you just have to look at the shows they’re booked for to discover their broader appeal. Sure, the Downloads and Sonispheres are on there, but there are appearances at Lowlands, Sziget and even snow sports and music event, Freeze Festival 2010 to add to that as well.
In order to try and discover what makes them tick and, ultimately, what makes them so popular, we sent Janusz Jasinski to talk with Webbe. Here’s how he got on.
Virtual Festivals: You’ve played Download, Hard Rock Hell and Sonisphere, now you’ve got the upcoming Freeze Festival – how's that looking?
Benji Webbe: “As much as we love playing on the above events were really looking forward to playing such alternative shows as the Freeze Festival. Being on such an alternative bill quite excites us. As much as we love heavy music it’s good to be placed along such greats as Pendulum and Ronnie Size, to name a few, and it is truly a honour for Skindred and we hoped to play more alternative festivals as we did in the summer all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland alongside bands like Florence and the Machine, Marina and the Diamonds. We believe that Skindred's music can cross over to work to a far greater audience than just heavy heavy music lovers.”
VF: You obviously play a lot of the harder festivals, what to you think of the metal scene today?
BW: “It don't know much about scenes but I think it's as healthy as it ever was and is growing constantly.”
VF: What about the festivals? Do you ever visit the likes of Glastonbury or V Festival as an alternative? If not, do you ever fancy doing so?
BW: “I would love to and I went to Glastonbury as a kid a few times and have a shit load of memories of being a punter with no AAA pass, watching classic bands from The Smiths to Black Uhuru with Sly and Robbie – life changing stuff.”
VF: What’s the strangest thing to have happened to you at a festival?
BW: “I took some acid and couldn't find my tent for hours – that was pretty strange.”
VF: Your music also features plenty of reggae, who do you see as you main influences and what do you think about the state of contemporary reggae?
BW: “I'm not a massive fan of reggae in its present state, the dancehall thing seems to have lost direction. I'm inspired by reggae of the 80s and 90s. That's when it had a lot more passion and musicianship for me.”
VF: Which do you prefer playing: small club shows or large festivals?
BW: “As long as the place has a good energy I don't really mind.”
VF: You played Hard Rock Hell in Ibiza, how was it for you? Was it a welcome change from the UK weather?
BW: “We have spent a lot of time in Florida playing festivals in the heat of the day, so it wasn’t that strange playing in the heat of Ibiza. I loved that show though. I hope to do it again next year.”
VF: What bands should we be looking out for? Anyone worth keeping an eye on that we might not have heard about?
BW: “There's a band that I’m working with them and producing called Revoker from South Wales who just signed to Road Runner. They are young and I think they are going to catch people’s ears around the world. Metallica, Pantera, Black Sabbath, [Led] Zeppelin love their stuff, the singer Jamie Mathius is a star, just watch out for them.”
VF: Now for some quick questions from Twitter. Boobs or bums?
BW: “Either/or dude!”
VF: Favourite drink?
BW: "G and T.”
VF: Favourite festival?
VF: Favourite venue in the UK?
BW: “Northampton Roadmender.”
VF: Skindred or Slayer?
You can catch Skindred alongside Mark Ronson, Roni Size, a Pendulum DJ Set and many more when Freeze Festival 2010 takes place at Battersea Power Station, London from 29-31 October.
There are still tickets available priced at £86 for an adult weekend pass and £36 for children. There are also day tickets and special ‘After Work’ passes on sale for those wishing to head down on Friday evening.
Click here to buy Freeze Festival tickets.