Skindred: 'Supporting England in Brazil is like voting Lib Dems'

Skindred on football, fashion and Newport Helicopters

Skindred: 'Supporting England in Brazil is like voting Lib Dems'

Photographer: Sara BowreyAnna Hyams on 17 June 2014

Newport's best ragga-metal four-piece ‎Skindred have the kind of explosive energy that can bring a field full of sunbaked and booze addled catnappers to their feet with one chord, and Benji Webbe's enigmatic presence is once again holding court at Donington.

Dressed in a red waistcoat, emblazoned with the fist logo of new album 'Kill The Power', and a paintsplattered leather jacket, Webbe peers at the mainstage crowd through Geordie LaForge style sunglasses as the band launch into 'Doom Riff'.

As a fox crowd surfs across the front line, Skindred introduce 'Heavy metal's first ever Harlem Shake' with some dubious attempts at twerking, before busting out a rework of The Prodigy's 'Breathe' and follow seamlessly on to 'Warning'. Instructing the crowd to "Take your tops off", the Newport Helicopter sees a sea of swirling t-shirts and bra's take to the air. Webbe is joined in vocals by Crossfaith's lead vocalist Koie Kenta for a rowdy finale, screaming "Download, we love you" one last time.


VF's Anna Hyams caught up with frontman Benji Webbe and drummer Arya Goggin before their main stage performance for a chat about food, dance moves and fashion.

VF: Hi guys, great to catch you here at Download this morning, how are you doing?

Benji Webbe: Yeah let's chat, I'm feeling good, I had a burger for breakfast.

VF: Aww don't say that, I'm on a low carb diet - I can't have anything good

Benji: Yeah God's really funny like that isn't he, everything that is really really bad for you is the best, tastes the best

VF: I know right, chicken wings

Benji: Oh my goodddddd yes

Arya Goggin: They're not bad for you are they?

Benji: The way they're covered in all that shit, it's definitely bad for you. The chicken's good but everything else is naughty

VF: I don't know that it's that good after you fry it twice... but if it's not fried twice what's the point in eating it?

Benji: Amen sister.

Arya: I thought they were healthy, chicken wings

VF: You must live a really nice life thinking things like that are good for you

Benji: Chicken wings man, yum yum yum that's all I've gotta say.

VF: right I have actually got some questions for you, I promise.

Benji: Right 'how long's your dreadlocks, how long's the band been going' everything you can find on wikipedia, go on

VF: Actually, I was going to ask about the Newport Helicopter, that we saw from the last album, absolutely fantastic, everybody loved it, particularly this crowd at Download.

Benji: oh yeah they like it

VF: Yeah we love a bit of a chance to take our shirts off in this country. But you've got your new album out 'Kill The Power'

Benji: Yeah man

VF: Have you got any new dance moves?

Benji: Oh there's always dance moves

Arya: We've always got dance moves, but the Newport Helicopter will be our staple live thing though.


Benji: Yeah people love that, even when I didn't want to do it, people just kept telling me do it, do it, do it, so the people really love it

Arya: Yeah you know, people come to see it - it's like seeing your favourite film, you don't want the ending to change. You want it to be the same.

VF: Well, I dunno, there could maybe be a... take your pants off kind of move instead? Bra's off?

Arya: Take your pants off?

Benji: Bra's are part of the Newport Helicopter though, that's a beautiful woman thing

Arya: You can take your trousers off if you want to though, it's about having fun

Benji: Yeah you haven't got to take it off your top, you could take off your shoe and swing it round

VF: It might be a bit frowned upon, by our security here? I've seen some girls in some seriously massive boots with metal on this morning...

Arya: Oh those platform ones, Yeah, well that's just like, attacking someone then isn't it.

Benji: Murder boots. Muuurderrrr booooots!

VF: Not exactly in the 'mosh spirit' of things

Arya: Yeah, you pick someone back up when they fall down, not batter them to death with your shoes

VF: So we're here, Download 2014, it's your 5th/6th appearance?

Benji: Haha, haven't got a clue, you tell us

Arya: let's see, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012... 5th time

VF: So you're pretty much Download veterans now

Benji: Veteraaaaano

VF: What's your top tip for surviving this festival?

Benji: Well it depends what the weather is like

Arya: Pace yourself, it's all about pacing yourself

Benji: Yeah man, pace yourself (between drags of what is definitely weed) yeah the booze is there, the booze ain't running out so just pace yourself

Arya: Exactly, the booze isn't running out, and now people bring a load to the tent, nip back to the campsite and get loaded, come out here and drink, forget they've got the booze at the campsite, keep drinking beer, and you find them curled up on the floor listening to metallica

Benji: Yep, messy, very messy, pace yourself!

VF: We're doing alright with the weather this year, but if this is your fifth appearance you've probably seen a few wet Download's in your time?

Arya: D'ya know what, we had ONE really good Download, maybe 2011 I think, or 2006, the first one was really nice, we were in a tent, I'll be happy if it stays like this though, cool but not raining.

VF: Don't jinx it!! So, in terms of your outfits Benji, you're pretty well known for wearing something jazzy onstage, are we going to see something spectacular today?

Benji: What do you think honey? What do you think, come on, use that brain of yours hahaha, I'm not going out there looking like I'm going to the garage, wait and see.

VF: I wanna know what happened to that sequinned Union Jack jacket.

Benji: It's still in my wardrobe! I've worn it twice, if anyone wants to buy it for fifty... a thousand pounds...

VF: Nope, over my budget... but I would rock that.

Benji: You would.


VF: I have to ask you who you're supporting in the World Cup, as it started yesterday...

Benji: Brazil.

Arya: I'll support England, but... it's like voting lib-dem... it's never gonna happen

VF: will you be watching the first game on site tomorrow night?

Benji: Is Mike Tyson playing? If he is then I'm watching it.

Arya: Yeah I'll be around if they're showing it here somewhere, if I'm in the mood

VF: Are you guys hanging around the whole weekend then?

Arya: Yeah we go back on Sunday morning

VF: Will you be playing another acoustic set over the weekend at all?

Benji: No, I wanted to but...

VF: So you'll get to relax and watch some bands after this

Arya: Yeah, just gonna drag them in, get them to watch the main stage bit, that's what we're about this year. I think it's going to be quite cool, I've had a look backstage at all the props other bands have got, and yeah we stand up. We're gonna do alright.

VF: Are we going to see some type of Iron Maiden, Rammstein shit then, fire cannons and gangways, a stage set?

Benji: Haha no no no, we don't do fire. The only fire you're going to see from us is the power of the show.

Arya: ooh I like that, that's a sound bite!

VF: That is such a good clip. Thanks for talking to us today!

Skindred's fifth studio album, 'Kill The Power', is out now. The band continue their European festival tour through Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary, Belgium, Poland, Switzerland, Spain, Austria and Portugal this summer. In the UK, Skindred will play NASS Festival in Shepton Mallet, Somerset on July 13 and Redfest in Redhill, Surrey on July 25.

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