“We’re very different people,” smiles Mikey Demus discussing his Skindred band mates. “Believe me it can be difficult agreeing on a restaurant choice let alone a chorus or a riff in a song that you feel attached to.”
Yes, life in a band can sometimes require tricky decisions to be made. New Skindred record Volume represents one big, bold choice as the ragga metal crew opted against putting out a carbon copy of their well-received last record, Kill The Power.
“We didn’t want to pick up where we left off, we made a conscious decision to take a different approach,” Mikey explains.
“We wanted to focus on heavier stuff that we’d be more inclined to play live. On the last album we were under pressure to tick a lot of different boxes and a lot of things affected it musically. We wanted to do it our way this time around.”
It may not be Kill The Power II, but Volume, tracked at Strongroom Studios in London, was designed right from the start to be a total riff-fest.
Mikey tells us that he found himself re-embracing some of his early influences, such as Rage Against The Machine, System Of A Down and Soundgarden.
“There has been a calling from the fans for us to go back to our roots and play loud riff-y stuff, that was the manifesto. I wanted this to be a riff-y, guitar-heavy album and we have accomplished that.”
Lead single Under Attack certainly proves that, and it also showcases one of the few, what Mikey refers to as, ‘toys’ on the album - an MXR Talk Box.
“I had a lot of fun with that,” he laughs. “But, I used hardly any effects or pedals on this album. I was keen to keep it riff-y and not hide behind too many effects. I kept it simple. This record was more plug and play, that was hard for a gear-head like me but the album sounds better for it.”
He may have stripped back the pedals, but Mikey went to town in finding the perfect tone for the record as he indulged in every guitarist’s dream in seeking the right studio partner for his Tele.
“We bought in all kinds of amps and I spent a day having an amp shoot out. As a kid you dream about that, being in a world-class studio with a wall of amps and auditioning them one by one.
“We had an old Marshall JMP59 Super Lead head. It’s not a massively gain-y amp like the Rockerverbs I use live, and I used them a bunch too, but it offers a lot of power and a tight bottom end.”
As we come full circle back to the wisdom of tinkering with a tried-and-trusted formula, Mikey has no concerns for the reception that Volume will be greeted with.
“Just because we can write a convincing ballad or have a song with pop sensibilities that doesn’t mean we should be doing that. This time it’s riff-y and in your face. It’s a risk, but you have to take risks.”
Volume is released 30 October via Napalm Records