I’ve never been backstage for an interview before, adding to this I’ve never felt so welcomed either. Sitting down with Arya is an absolute pleasure, we’re left alone and even before the questions begin he drums up conversation on Guns N Roses and Queen with a disarming smile. In the knowledge that I had only ten minutes, I found myself whittling down the questions to the essential and the intriguing, covering his birthday, the early days in Skindred, festivals and their most recent album Volume. The gig was great as well – the review went up a short while ago.
[Laughs] Yeah, really fucking cool. How did you know it was my birthday?
There was a post on Skindred’s Facebook feed.
Oh nice, well I was on my honeymoon so I had those together which was fantastic. It was great, we were in the Maldives because I got married in September I think it was two days after Reading Festival and then we went to America for five weeks and then we went on tour straight after that so it was nice to have a break.
And now you’re here, sounds like a great few days!
Yeah man I’ve been rocking out!
How was the first show of the tour here? (Concorde 2 in Brighton)
It was awesome actually. Really, really good. Brighton’s always been a stronghold for us. I used to live here and Mikey still does so it’s sort of a hometown show with lots of family and friends. It was busy and bustling because management are from here too. It felt like a London show so it was really fun, everyone was hanging out and having some drinks so there’ll be more of that tonight, though I think tonight will be better because tonight was meant to be the first show. I’ve been told that it sold out in 5 minutes so that must mean people really wanna see it. That’s why I think it’ll be a bit more vibey tonight, obviously last night was awesome but I think tonight will just step it up a bit.
Do you think with the two nights here being sold out you’ll go up to a bigger venue next time?
I like to think so, yeah. What we usually do, and I hate calling it this but we’ll do an “A-market tour” where we’ll go to cities like London, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, Bristol, wherever and do those cities where you do the biggest venues you possibly can. Everywhere else we’ll try and do as many shows in as many provinces as possible. I think Brighton, now that we know we can do two nights here at a venue like this that totals about 1200 people which is pretty rad and respectable, we’ll probably push it up a bit and make it a main market for us which is awesome.
Brighton’s got a good metal scene as well so that helps.
Yeah, Brighton’s always been really supportive so it would be really nice to rise through the ranks here.
There’s no middle ground in Brighton though, it goes from here to The Dome which is a lot bigger.
Yeah, I went to see Royal Blood there a couple of years ago so that was the last time I was there and that was cool. I know they’ve got The Centre but that’s even bigger still, something like 3000. I’d be happy with The Dome (laughs).
Who made the decision to have Feed The Rhino and Raging Speedhorn as support on this tour?
That was me and management. We’ve known Feed The Rhino for a while now, same as Speedhorn. Speedhorn actually took Skindred out on their first ever tour with Will Haven which was about 2001 so we’ve known those guys for a long time and they’re old friends. We did a few shows with them last year which went so well so we said “Why don’t you just do the whole tour”. Both bands, Speedhorn and Rhino have just reformed too which is really weird. There was no thinking behind that, it just felt like the right time to get both bands together to get the crowd going pretty hard and bring up the energy. I hope everyone’s not worn out for us!
As a result of forming after of Benji’s old band Dub War, what was the feeling within Skindred in the early days? Was there a hostile, conquer-the-world feeling?
I’ll be honest with you, when I joined the band, I wanted to be in the biggest band in the world. All my favourite bands were these massive groups so I thought that was the norm. I thought “That’s what we’re going to aspire to”. I still think that way actually, I think you have to have the drive, passion and determination to do what you want to do and I still aspire to that. I don’t think that’s an arrogant way of looking at it. It’s positive and I think we all shared that. Maybe some of the guys didn’t think that was possible although I was always very much like, “Of course it is! We’re gonna get the band and we’re gonna get there!”. Every gig you’ve got to be thankful for and if you sell one out like tonight then that’s really fucking cool. People want to see us and I don’t want to take that for granted but I feel it was definitely like we were going out there to conquer. It’s just been a very slow climb for us.
It’s a climb nonetheless I suppose.
That’s the way I look at it, it’s a steady climb. There hasn’t been any of this… [weird arm movements] …it hasn’t been a roller-coaster ride, it’s been constant which is pretty grounding and pretty cool.
On those lines you’ve said you want Skindred to be a festival band.
Well yeah, I think we are a festival band. I want to get to headlining festivals and we’re starting to do that now in different places around the world which is similar to a band like Queen who were headlining festivals and huge shows abroad before they ever did in their own country. So, we’re victims of that which is awesome. When we’re coming to festivals we’re destroying it because we’ve already earned our stripes which is pretty cool.
You’ve done Reading and Download now and you’ve been announced for your first Bloodstock.
Yeah first ever time!
That’s a bit of a different crowd so how do you think that will be?
Everyone’s told me Bloodstock is awesome but I’ve never been. I know we’re on before Megadeth and I love Megadeth so it’s gonna be pretty cool. I met Dave Mustaine at the Metal Hammer Awards last year. I was talking to my mate and I saw him and said, “It’s fucking Dave Mustaine!”. He said he knew him because he interviewed him and he wanted to introduce us. I was like, “No, no, no, I’ll be shy.” but he introduced me and said “This is Arya, he drums for Skindred.” Dave said, “Oh I really like Skindred,” and I was blown away. I got a picture with him so I’m hoping he’ll remember that. I know he probably won’t but it would be quite nice.
He’ll go on stage with you and you can go onstage with him.
Yeah it’s like that film Rockstar isn’t it! The way I’m looking at it is Download’s our crowd. Download is our home and Bloodstock is an extension of Download.
Yeah it’s a bit more varied than with Bloodstock.
Yeah, Reading’s everything so we fit in there. Download’s rock and metal and Bloodstock I think is the heavier end, the more classic end so it’s nice to be thought of in a way where we can play all those festivals.
What does this mean for the band? It’s a step further I suppose.
Yeah! I mean we’re ticking them off the list. When you look at it, we’ve never played there before, maybe a lot of people have never seen us. I’m hoping they haven’t and I hope we can make new fans.
I’ve never seen you guys before.
Brilliant! That’s amazing. I did an interview a while back and he said that his friends in Canada had never heard of us and I thought, “Well that’s good right?”. If everyone had heard of us and we were still at this level then that would be pretty bad. If everyone’s heard of you then nothing can be done. But if you’re still getting there, and we’re still recruiting new fans, then that’s a good thing.
I’ve been following the announcements and when they did Skindred and Municipal Waste at the same time I was sold!
They’re fun aren’t they?
I’m aware we’re running out of time so I’ll wrap it up. How did you manage to get Volume out so quickly after Kill The Power?
Well it wasn’t that quick actually. What we did was: we started writing Kill The Power in 2012; we recorded it in 2013 and it came out in 2014 at the beginning of the year. Volume came out in the end of 2015. If it came out a month later it would’ve been two years so it didn’t feel rushed to us. Some other journalist slagged the record off which is fine but he said, “That’s what you get when you rush a record out.” and I tweeted to him saying, “Fuck you bro it wasn’t rushed you can just say it was crap!”. [Laughs]
Besides that guy, how do you feel the reception has been to Volume?
Well, when we played last night, we opened with “Under Attack”. Benji stopped singing and the crowd sung it. Tick.
That’s my favourite off the record actually.
Oh really! Well, we’re playing it tonight. We’ll open with it. With people singing it back, I think it’s a fan favourite record. Whilst Kill The Power was a broader record, Volume is a bit more to the point which is a good thing and we’ll see what the next one sounds like.
Skindred can be caught on the remaining dates of their Sound The Siren tour (see dates below). For tickets, see the Skindred website.
- February 7th – LIVERPOOL O2 Academy Liverpool
- February 8th – YORK Fibbers
- February 9th – HOLMFIRTH Picturedrome
- February 10th – BEDFORD Esquires