So for the latest Stencil Mag I was lucky enough to interview Arya Goggin the drummer from the biggest Reggae Metal band going, Skindred! This interview was done for and first featured in Issue 41 of Stencil Mag which can be seen in the magazine here:
Interview can be found here on page: https://issuu.com/stencilmag/docs/issue41/106
Interview with Arya Goggin - Skindred!
When did you first get into playing drums?
I think it was probably round about the age of six. I was really drawn to it. My parents were getting me lessons and had to stick with them for a year or so before they brought me a drum kit and that happened and here we are which is great.
What drummers have really influenced you over the years, and why?
My favourite drummer of all time is probably Roger Taylor from Queen – ‘We Will Rock You’ is one of the first drum things that I remember hearing and it was all drums and vocals and I have never heard anything like that before. I was like that is so cool. As I sort of got older I realised he was a song-writer as well and was always very musical he was, and still is a big influence. Stuart Copeland from The Police is a massive influence, especially with the reggae style thing…obviously Gun N Roses, Metallica. I was into like rock music straight out the bat really. And it’s just the big guys, the ones that ever says I guess, like Phil Collins, just sort of legendary drummers. I was always drawn to them to be sat behind the kit playing in front of hundreds of thousands of people and I would be like ‘wow that is rad’.
Can you tell us a bit about the formation of Skindred, and maybe how you found your sound?
With the band Benji was in a band called Dub War earlier on and they were mixing the sort of Jamaican sounds and more sort of indie rock stuff in the 90s and Skindred came about to be a bit more on the heavier side, so the influences were more like Helmet, The Ruts, more of an aggressive sort of sound and then it sort of turned into metal…I don’t know how the metal influence came, I guess it was touring with those sorts of bands, we were put on the road with lots of metal bands like Korn and Disturbed and Soulfly early on and I you could sort of feel the power of metal and we sort of got a bit heavier over the years, which has been great. I think with Benji you have a secret weapon because he can sing anything in any style so it’s very easier for us to provide a background thing for him to sing over. I guess with Skindred we are very lucky because we can do whatever we want musically and we can change things up, there’s not really a box that we have to sit in musically…funny enough it comes quite easy it’s not a real thought about we had to make it sound like this. The guys pick up their instruments that’s the kind of music we are initially draw to making.
Also, how did you get to the name Skindred, and what does it mean to you?
Well the name … our bass player came up with the name? It was using the reggae sound with the ‘dred’ you know the reggae element, with the heaviness of skin head, you know the punk skin head – skindred pop them together. As far as band names go I think we got a decent one there didn’t we!
When did you first realize that Skindred was going to be a life changing band?
I don’t want it to sound arrogant but I knew straight away. For me, the idea of playing music in front of as many people as you can to listen to it, and that’s still the goal of the band, to grow and spread the message, spread the different kind of sound we have to as many people as possible. I wouldn’t have been satisfied us just playing in the practice room all the time, it had to get bigger and it had to grow otherwise I don’t think we would be doing it for as long as we have. Yeah I guess when we joined there was a scope for it as I don’t really know any other bands that are doing it…maybe that’s a bad thing I don’t know (laughs)…I guess when you have a unique sound you want to push it out there as far as possible. I think System Of A Down are a good reference point for us, not in terms of the sound, but there’s no band on the planet that sounds like them and their a massive band everywhere they go and I think that was inspirational for us, as we were like okay they are a different sounding band and their massive…Faith No More, no one sounds like them, Chilli Peppers…those sort of bands that have gone into the mainstream by doing their own thing and I think that was sort of the influence for me anyway.
So, looking back on 'Volume', how happy have you been with the response to this album so far, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Skindred?
I think ‘Volume’ for me did what it said on the tin. We wanted to make an aggressive heavy album again and we wanted it to be concise and I think we did that. It’s been out for just over a year and the response from when we play songs from ‘Volume’ now is amazing. I think ‘Saying It Now’ is one of my favourite songs we have ever written and ‘Sound The Siren’ are songs that I think are great. I think ‘Volume’ is the first step in the new Skindred does that make sense? We want to continue with those ‘Saying It Now’ and ‘Sound The Siren’ type song…so you have got some really amazing lyrics from Benji and really touching subject matter and then you have the Skindred all right craziness of ‘Sound The Siren’ – I want to take that kind of sound to the next level. People seem to really dig ‘Volume’, I’m pretty proud of it. It’s good to do something quickly, we wrote and recorded it in three months which for us was really quick. It felt good though, I’m just a believer in don’t think about it too much – if it feels good do it. If it sounds good then everyone is happy, I don’t like fighting over songs which happens quite a lot of the time.
Which songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Volume' at the moment, and why?
I love playing ‘Sound The Siren’ because it fits in a pocket, do you know what I mean when I say a pocket?...it fits in a groove where a lot of Skindred stuff it jumps around, there’s lots of different feels in one song, there’s a metal bit, a rock bit, a reggae bit, the dance bit, and ‘Sound The Siren’ fits in a pocket of a whole song, it’s really comfortable and you can just see dancing and jumping around to it, like I say, going back to if it feels good – that song is a great example of that because it’s very simple and it’s got a great vocal line that Benji will do his acrobatics over it but the actual groove and the riff of the song is simple and it’s really satisfying for the band to play.
There was only just over a year between 'Volume' and 'Kill The Power', which marks the shortest time ever for a Skindred album coming together. So how come this record came to life so quickly?
It was funny because we recorded ‘Kill The Power’ in 2012 but it didn’t come out until 2014, so for us it felt like there had been a long gap, so it was written and recorded and then came out so didn’t feel long. I think when you look it says ‘Kill The Power’ 2014, ‘Volume’ 2015 so people assume it’s a year gap. When ‘Kill The Power’ came out in January 2014 then ‘Volume’ came out October 2015 so it was almost a two year gap anyway. Someone asked me about it in another interview so I think it’s just one of those things…you don’t want people to think that you rushed a record then it’s an easy way to strike it off if it’s crap you know…oh it’s a year between record’s they must have rushed that, but it wasn’t the case
How did you end up signing with Napalm Records, and what have you enjoyed the most about working with them?
Napalm tried to sign us probably about 5-6 years ago, they tried twice before and we went with other labels at the time as it didn’t seem it was the right home for us, but now we’ll see…I don’t want to be down about record labels but to me there just a necessary evil for us. We have been doing what we are doing for so long I would like to have longer relationships with labels but the problem with labels like anything is personnel change so quickly, so you have one guy who loves it, and in our case the guy did, as signed us but by the time the record came out he left the company so. It just seems very transient. If we ever do another record with Napalm that would be great, if we don’t that would be great. As long as we can make music I don’t really mind who puts it out.
How did the idea for the Newport Helicopter originally come about?
There was a point in set with ‘Warning’ where we would get people to do like a wall of death or jump around and go crazy like ‘ahhhh!’ you know and count to three and everyone would go mental ‘ahhh!’ (laughs) and we did it at Download Festival and before we went on the promoters said we don’t want anyone instigating a wall of death or anything violent, like proper moshing, circle pits as we have had injuries, then Benji had this idea that he had, and he hadn’t told us where he saw an old hip hop video where everyone took their t-shirts off from the 80s, and so we got to that bit he just starting telling everyone to take their shirts off and hadn’t told us and we’re all like ‘what the fuck is he doing’? and then everyone went mental, and that’s how it was born really, it was his brain child and he hadn’t thought about calling it the ‘Newport Helicopter’ it just came out – a little stroke of genius from Benji which was great. I think it’s bigger than the song…it’s my favourite part of the set to be honest because you know everyone is going to do it and at that one time everyone is unified. It’s really satisfying as when we play festivals other bands get the best view of the house with everyone doing it, they are like oh ‘we’re going to rip that off’.
Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2016, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road?
2016 everyone is going on about what a crap year it’s been but personally it’s been a great year, I got married, I’ve been on the road with the band, and the bands doing the best they have ever done if you ask me…we played some great festivals, we did Download and Reading, we played sold out shows in Europe, America, it’s been the year of Skindred. I haven’t got anything negative to say about 2016 apart from the obvious things that happened to the world, and everyone was a victim to that, not just one person or one type of person, everyone has been affected by the crap that has happened. But for me with the band it’s been great, I think just being able to do what we love as not a job, but a passion…you have to pinch yourself every day.
Arya Goggin Behind The Drums!
You guys played to over one million people at Polish Woodstock. So what was that whole experience like for you, and what do you remember the most from the set?
It was pretty remarkable, I think talking about pinching yourself to see if real, I mean I think that’s probably the best example of that…you can’t see where the people end, from the left to the right, to the back, it’s very weird. We were lucky to be one of the first, it was an incredible feeling, I can’t really describe it. We are used to playing in front of big crowds. The thing about Skindred is we play a big gig at Polish Woodstock, then in February we are going to small venues and playing to 250 people…I think it’s great, I think we lucky that we can still do that, it keeps you in check, it keeps you normal…if you were doing Wembley stadium every night I think it would probably be hard to keep your feet on the ground, I can understand why people get weird when they get big. It must be a strange feeling. I think for us we do a bit of everything which is great.
Talking of festivals, why haven't you guys headlined Download yet? Do you think that would ever be on the table or be a goal to aim for?
I think you should do a feature on that through the magazine and get a petition together and get Live Nation and Andy Copping to let us headline, that’s a great idea…you can take that idea for free. It would obviously be a massive honour, we would love to headline I mean I don’t know if we are there yet…I think it could happen we are still doing this for the band to grow and Download is our home town, it’s our market, we are like a house band so I like to think they would give us a shot one day…we would blow each other up with pyro, not knowing how to use it! (laughs)
The music you guys have created has always worked very well in a live atmosphere. So if you can, can you tell us how a song normally comes together for you guys?
It’s so sporadic, I mean Mikey (Guitar) will have ideas and some concepts he will bring to the band and Dan (Bass) will do the same, myself and Benji do it with everyone. Sometimes Dan will come with a whole song then sometimes Mike will come with riff ideas, but none of it comes complete until everyone has had their input on it. Sometimes Benji will send a vocal idea to play or sometimes I will send the grooves to someone as inspiration – there’s no right or wrong way to do it. I think if we found the perfect way, all the albums would start sounding the same I think. We will probably look at doing something different when it’s time to write the next one.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect?
I think like we were saying about playing small places, this is what we did in November and the just coming February as we are playing small clubs so we can get up close and personal with people and give an old school Skindred show…the production is very scaled back, it’s just the band on stage rocking out, really hot, really sweaty…talk about the Newport helicopter, you the Newport helicopter in a small club you’re going to feel that you know. That’s the idea, It’s time to get back and give the fans who have stuck with us a long time a chance to see us in a small venue again, because a year ago we were headlining Brixton Academy and now we are going back to playing Concorde (Brighton) all these small rooms, which I think is great as it shows you’re a band of the people, and that’s important to us.
How would you say the alternative rock world has changed/progressed since you guys first started out?
It’s weird because I feel two ways about it, you know they say ‘the cream always rises to the top’, like the good were out…I think there are so many bands that started out when we started out they are all gone. My one theory is because ‘the cream rises to the top’, the other theory is, that it’s really fucking hard, so I’m a bit in the middle with it, to be in a band for as long as we have you have to have the support of the fan base to continue to do it. If you don’t get that support you just physically can’t do it, financially, mentally, everything, so we are lucky that we have that. There is a lot of great bands that started out with us who had to pack it in because they just couldn’t make ends meet doing it. Real life gets in the way, so I think the metal scene has a big strong community out there, people are showing support…you know that thing that happened with Team Rock, and I think it was fantastic that big Just Giving page that Orange Goblin started, that’s just proof that the metal community is really strong. Anything I would say is just take a leaf out of their book, if you have got favourite bands support them, otherwise they won’t be your favourite band because they will have to stop.
What else can we expect to see from Skindred in 2017?
Well we just confirmed a couple of festivals, Bloodstock and the headline of Steelhouse Festival (Wales). I would like to think we are not going anywhere, we are around annoying people for as long as we possibly can. After the February tour we are going to go to Australia, then we are going to go back to America and I think back to Japan, I think the UK is just going to be festivals other than shows mentioned, not sure if doing anything else, but after that I think probably a little break before we do the new record. I would like to have a new record out in 2018, I don’t think it’s going to happen in 2017, I think 2018…I don’t want to leave it too long as people forget about you don’t they.
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