Interview: Mikey Demus / Skindred


Coconut with TNT stuffing. This is the feeling I experience when interacting with Skindred’s music. Lightness, fun and spontaneity, hand in hand with thrilling bursts of energy. Be it at a club or a big festival, playing to an audience of 400 or 400 000; whatever the place or numbers in attendance, this crew from Newport (England) has always performed fantastically energetic shows thrown in together with a great dose of humor and fun. This year they totally grooved it during the summer Polish Woodstock, then later once more in Warsaw and Poznan on two November gigs. Taking the opportunity of the band’s performance at Warsaw’s Stodola Club, we had the chance to hook up with Skindred’s guitarist – Mikey Demus. We asked him a few questions and he charmingly obliged us. It was fun, the sun was shining, warm breeze was blowing off our hair… Alright alright, there was no sun, it was pissing cold, but it was still fun. The whole chat turned out like this:

RockOko: Does shape or/and color of your guitar represent your character or you as person in any way?

Mikey: I think most guitarists (and musicians in general) are drawn towards instruments and gear which appeal to a part of their character in some way. I’m a big fan of strong, simple design and practicality, two must-have criteria with ‘workhorse’ gear; my stuff has to work every night as well as being aesthetically pleasing to me. I love Fender guitars, particularly the Telecaster. It’s humble yet versatile, uncomplicated, unchanged. Whilst I am completely drawn towards its sound, vibe and energy, I wouldn’t say this represents my character entirely. I’m probably more like my Orange Strat; a bit more of a show off and somewhat more complicated…

RockOko: Variety of genres and mixing of different styles is becoming more and more present within rock music. You also do that to great effect and some people say, that its future of rock. On the other hand, I’ve also heard an opinion, that nowadays its already a bit too much of it and bringing back the borders is actually needed for them to be crossed again in order to create something new and creative. How do you look at it?

Mikey: I think in a world of stock sounds, bands like ours are always going to draw attention for better or worse. We’ve done what we do for almost 10 years now; more & more people are gravitating to the sound so we must be doing something right. I think there will always be a place for straight up rock music as well as reggae, punk rock etc. I don’t think musical borders are a good thing, most of the problems our world faces are based on some sort of prejudice or segregation. Certain people need to be more open minded in life generally, in my opinion this includes their musical tastes.

RockOko: Benji [Sikndred’s vocalist] said at the gig in Warsaw, that playing at Polish Woodstock in front of 400 000 people was incredible and it was something you have never experienced before. How do you remember actually being there, I mean your time off the stage, before or after the show. Any story/ies to share?

Mikey: I remember watching the Donots have a fantastic show, also I chatted at length with a friend from Zebrahead about air miles. It was a great day which culminated in one of the most memorable performances of our career. Plus our dressing room portacabin had its own plumbed-in private bathroom! We loved the festival and would be honored to be invited back again. We love the Polish crowds, they are continually a fantastic audience to play for.

RockOko: Once again to refer to Benji’s words from stage I’d like to confirm: Yes, we do like to enjoy ourselves and have fun in Poland, just as much as I think you do, so let’s try to make this chat also a bit of fun. Here we go: One morning, if you were to wake up and find something nice in your beard, what would you like it to be?

Mikey: A big rolled up wad of £50 notes would be pretty good. I’m constantly finding myself without any of these so it would definitely come in handy.

RockOko: If you could pick one person in the world who’s ass you could slap without any repercussions, who would it be and why?

Mikey: My wife’s, of course. And trust me, there are always repercussions.

RockOko: The most kept secret from your band rider is?

Mikey: At one point we put red, yellow and green M&M’s on our rider as a joke, to see if anyone would actually provide them. After a few shows of them turning up, we realized people were having to separate the M&Ms with their hands which was a bit unhygienic. So they had to go. These days it’s pretty standard.

RockOko: Mr. C, where are youuu???*

Mikey: In the bottom of our drum hardware flight case most probably – he doesn’t really get out much these days. I guess you could say he’s ‘retired from active duty’.

RockOko: Is Tahoma font alright, Mikey?**

Mikey: Not really my cup of tea. Reminds me of an impertinent office memo trying to soften the blow of a new facetious rule. I’m a sucker for Helvetica, always have been.

(*) Mr. C is band’s mascot

(**) Mikey is into typography design

Questions: Chris Bienkiewicz

Special thanks to Seven Webster of 7pm Management for help in arranging the interview.

Check out Skindred madness at Polish Woodsotck (08.2011)




…and one more thing: believe or not – this festival is for free!

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