Kill the Power: Five Questions with Skindred Guitarist Mikey Demus
On February 18, tenacious U.K. rockers Skindred released a new album,
We recently tracked down Skindred guitarist Mikey Demus — just as he was gearing up for a tour with Seether and Black Stone Cherry — and subjected him to the "five questions" treatment. You can check out our full conversation below.
01. How does it feel for Skindred to be back? Why the long hiatus?
We are stoked to be heading back to the U.S. this year. We’ve never gone away; we've just been touring our asses off in Japan, Europe, Australia and the U.K. Due to some label issues beyond our control, we were unable to release our last album, Union Black, in the U.S. Now Kill The Power is out, and we’re coming to spread it around. I can’t wait!
02. Has it been tough as a heavy band with a reggae influence, or has it been a blessing, something that makes you stand apart from the crowd?
It’s more of a blessing. We’ve never wanted to be part of any scene. Standing apart has kept us going so we have no intention on changing what Skindred is about. I can’t stand going to a show when four bands are playing, all of whom sound exactly the same. How boring! We’ve got tons of influences in our music. It’s grown these days into something much grander than reggae/metal. The new album is varied and full of big tunes. We can’t wait for our fans in the U.S. to hear it.
03. On this record, you guys have tapped songwriting legend Russ Ballard. What was it like working with him? Why did you guys decide to go that route?
Working with Russ was a personal highlight. We've always been up for collaborating, but it’s hard to know who to go with. Luckily Russ was totally into the idea of working with us. We weren’t looking for help writing detuned metal riffs; it was always about writing better songs and bigger choruses. Russ brought insight and changed all our perspectives, furthered our horizons. We did "Saturday," "We Live" and "More Fire" with Russ. He' a wonderful guy, and I’d love to work with him again.
04. Your new music video was shot in the slums of India. What prompted this, and is there any special meaning you're trying to get across with this song?
It was kind of serendipitous. We had a U.K. shoot all planned and scheduled, but in classic last-minute style, it fell to pieces for one reason or another. We had impending touring commitments in India. I think Arya, our drummer, had a brainwave that we should try to make something happen while we were there. Within a few emails and phone calls, we had locked down a reputed director and full crew, including the location guy from Slumdog Millionaire. It was a surreal experience that worked out for the best.
We never really thought about it until afterwards, but it was a great document of a few days in our lives. We get to do all this incredible stuff — going to places like India, Russia, South America. We are constantly doing weird and wonderful stuff a lot of touring bands never get to do. It was beautiful to capture. The people of India are amazing. I can’t wait to go back.
05. What can the world expect from Skindred on this tour? And what's the main thing you want music fans to take away from the tour?
I wonder what people will think of the new songs. I know there’s stuff out there on the Internet, but we never released Union Black in the U.S. officially. We’re working on that now. It’s a big piece of the sonic pie and what we’re about these days.
I think the whole world has caught up to the idea of mixing genres. As a U.K. band, electronic/urban influences and U.K. subculture have crept into our music steadily over the last decade. I really feel we’ve nailed it more on the last two records than ever before, so I’m excited to see what the U.S. makes of it. It’s all a bit more realized these days; we have a firmer identity. Anything before now was a warmup. Get ready for the main event!
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