INTERVIEW: Skindred (14/02/21)

Credit: Promo

Welsh reggae and metal fusers Skindred are preparing for the upcoming re-issue of their 2007 full-length ‘Roots Rock Riot’ with some bonus tracks included.

The record has two extra tracks called ‘It’s A Crime’ and ‘Struggle’ along with an acoustic rendition of ‘Destroy The Dance Floor’. It will also be the first time that ‘Roots Rock Riot’ will be made available on vinyl.

We caught up drummer Arya Goggin who told us all about why they are re-releasing the record and what it has meant to the band over the years.

DP!: ‘Roots Rock Riot’ is being re-released! How did this come about?
Arya: It’s always been our goal to have all our albums become available on vinyl. At the original time of release very few artists had their albums pressed, and it seemed liked the industry had turned its back on Vinyl. Getting the rights back to the album has allowed us to be in control of the usage and future of ‘Roots Rock Riot’, and getting it out on vinyl was the first thing we wanted to do. Then the idea snowballed into re-releasing across all formats with bonus material. It’s really exciting for us personally. That new vinyl smell is the one!

DP!: Would you consider it to be your seminal/most important album?
Arya: I consider it to be a very important album, for sure. I think the album that made me feel a real change in the bands career was actually ‘Union Black’. I could tell things were different after that. With ‘RRR’ it was about cementing us as a real contender. I think that question is probably better answered by the people that like our band and that have been on the journey with us. Everyone in the band will have a different favourite just like every fan has their fav song / album. I loved the making of the album and I look back at that time with a massive grin on my face.

DP!: What has surprised you most about the record since it was released in 2007?
Arya: Now because of social media you get to see younger fans connecting with the album. Sharing their favourite songs etc. I love that ‘Rat Race’ is one of our best streamed songs across all platforms. It shows people are coming to it fresh and not just from a nostalgic point of view. Having longevity is something you can’t bottle and sell. We are so lucky that people are still enjoying our music and also wanting more. I believe records like ‘RRR’ allow that to happen.

DP!: You put out two singles from the release, ‘Rat Race’ and ‘Trouble’; Did you feel back then, and even now, that they accurately represented the record?
Arya: Well I know we wanted to release a few more at the time. I do however think they are good representations of the band we were at the time and where we were heading. The fact both those songs are a staple in the live show speak volumes. We did have conversations about releasing ‘Rude Boy For Life’ and ‘Killing Me’ and I feel if we had, you really would have got a full representation of the album. There are lots of different tracks on the record and we’ve never been a one trick pony.

DP!: You’ve just released ‘It’s a Crime’ from the Japanese version of ‘Roots Rock Riot’, why didn’t this make it onto the UK record?
Arya: The only reason it didn’t make the album was because of how the album track listing flowed from start to finish. We were so happy with how it progressed from the opening of chaos of ‘Roots Rock Riot’, to the epic ending of ‘Choices and Decisions’. We just didn’t want to crowbar another song in needlessly. It was a hard decision to leave it out but we are so happy it’s being included in the re-release. It was always a band and producer favourite.

DP!: Obviously, you must have a lot of pride and devotion for the record to celebrate it with this re-release. But, listening back, do you feel that any part of the release is at all dated or that you’re not overly fond of?
Arya: There are always things I would do differently on a past record. But those would be in details that I think would be lost on 99% of people. All musicians criticise their playing and performances and I think that’s what makes you improve. I’m talking about fills or licks. Small potatoes in the scheme of an album. Song wise it’s where we were at the time and that goes for production too. It’s how we wanted the album to sound. The best thing about Skindred is that we have never been fashionable so it’s easy not to be dated I guess.

DP!: If you could make any changes to the album now, what would you do?
Arya: I would have made sure Neville Staple got to appear on the record! We were going back and forth with Neville and his manager at the time and we just couldn’t make it happen. The idea was that the album would have the feel of a pirate radio show. In-between the songs a DJ would talk and we would have remixes going on in the background etc and we wanted the DJ to be Neville. Was a rad idea! Maybe on the next album!

DP!: Do you feel that the title ‘Roots Rock Riot’ accurately portrays the mood, message, and intent of the record? Were there many other titles floating around for the release?
Arya: I really do, yes. After ‘Babylon’ I felt we had a lot to prove as a band. We had been on the road for 5 years all over the world but especially in America. We hadn’t really focused on the UK at that point and we wanted to make a mark back home. The intent was full throttle, go for the jugular! The title at least to me says that! When the conversation came up about what we were going to call the album, Benji suggested the name ‘Roots Rock Riot’ and we all instantly agreed. We had already written the song and it said everything that we wanted to achieve as a band. It’s always been like that. Instant.

DP!: Would you say that the cover art also manages to do the same for the record?
Arya: I genuinely love the artwork for the album. As I said earlier we wanted the album to have this pirate radio station feel, and that’s represented in the artwork. We found an abandoned warehouse and filled it with a load of junk! It was exciting. We were there with the photographer throwing ideas back and forth. The front of the album shows the studio set and ready to go and the back of the album is the same space but with all the gear missing. In and out!

DP!: How do you think it would have been received if it was released in 2021 for the first time?
Arya: If we were to release it as a new band out of the blocks I think it would awesome. If it was album number 8 for Skindred I also think it would rage! I think the songs stand up. I really do. Lyrically something like ‘State of Emergency’ is probably more potent today than back in 2007. ‘Ease Up’ and ‘Killing Me’ all hit the mark politically and with something like ‘Alright’ there is a feel that everything is going to be ok. I want music to uplift me and make me feel. I think ‘RRR’ does that.

DP!: What does ‘Roots Rock Riot’ mean to you?
Arya: For me its a milestone in my musical journey. There were a lot of firsts on that album for me and the band. Working with Matt Squire was absolutely incredible and seeing him go on to work with everyone from HIM to Ariana Grande after working with us is nuts! He was a massive talent back then so seeing him succeed in this industry is awesome. We also had the album mixed by our dear friend Rick Will who actually sadly passed away a few weeks ago. There a quite a few people who helped make ‘RRR’ possible who aren’t here anymore so I look back at that time very fondly. ‘RRR’ cemented the band as real contenders and for that I’m forever grateful.

DP!: Are there any further plans to celebrate the record?
Arya: Not at the moment. I think if the world was in a different place we would be 100% doing a RRR tour and celebrating that way. I’ll probably stick it on when I get a copy of the vinyl and have a few beers! Basically, tour but without the show or people.

The band will re-release their second album, ‘Roots Rock Riot’, on April 23rd 2021. The re-issue of the album can be pre-ordered now from Bandcamp (here), and Banquet Records (here).