|THE ORGAN INTERVIEW... IN NOTTING HILL - AUTUMN 2002|
has always inspired us,” says guitarist Dan Weller, “things that really
get you pumping. We play extreme music, sure, but in the sense that we
go to all extremes. If something sounds good, then we’ll do it… and that
includes beautiful, melodic music, which we all love, too…”
Formed in March 2001, the first two years of Watford six-piece Sikth’s life have been rather exciting to say the least. Vocalists Mikee W. Goodman & Justin Hill, bassist James Leach, drummer Dan Foord and guitarists Pin and Dan W have been honing their craft and settling on a line-up comprising the cream of the musicians from their rather incredible local musical hotbed (when did Watford become the new Southend?).
Along the way, the band have played UK dates with a wide variety of tasty bands – bands such as Cardiacs, Mad Capsule Markets, American Head Charge and The Dillinger Escape Plan (they also had to suffered dates with those piss poor kids from fame called Kittie but we won’t mention that) They recorded a very impressive four-track session for Radio One (something to do with Mary Anne Hobbs falling in love with them after that track we put out on one of the ORGAN RADIO compilation CDs fell in to her life).
They’ve released two critically-lauded EPs ‘Let The Transmitting Begin…’ & ‘How May I Help You? (complete with cover of Nick Cave’s ‘Tupelo’ epic) - two EP’s that have helped position SikTh just far enough away from that festering nu-metal pack that they were in danger of being sucked in to for a minute or two back there in their very early days. Indeed they’ve created a darkly twisted humorous world that is very much of their own making… SikTh’s debut album, titled “THE TREES ARE DEAD AND DRIED OUT, WAIT FOR SOMETHING WILD”, is scheduled for release on Unparalleled Carousel/Gut in early 2003.
SikTh, for those still to catch them, are a band who will instantly appeal to those who like ripping up the rulebook; their music is intensely played, ambitiously conceived and produced to dent the body work, theirs is music that relishes the challenge of taking the tightest of turns at the most reckless of speeds… “But,” stresses guitarist Pin, “we’re always concerned with the quality of the tune; just writing crazy music isn’t enough, and I think that’s what makes us different from other bands who go really technical. We’re definitely writing songs…”
SIKTH: THE INTERVIEW – Marina goes Sikth hunting….….
The interview decision: before or after the show? Most bands are a little too quiet to really talk before an important gig and full of beans afterwards. But then most bands don't generate the kind of scenes witnessed at the end of Sikth's afternoon all ages Subverse gig over at Notting Hill's Subterrania - total stage invasion insanity. I cornered a slightly stunned Mikee down a horrible dark hole at the back of the venue, far too soon after a gig that will stick long in the memory of everyone who was lucky enough to be there...
ORGAN: So, what do you think of the show just now?
It was wicked.. I thought it was just mad! All-age gigs - you can just get everyone properly moving, into the music, because there's no egos at all, nobody seems to care about what they look like... Er... yeah! (laughs, a bit dazed)... And everyone just goes for it. Man, I really do appreciate playing all-age shows.
ORGAN: Is it like that at those home town Watford gigs we keep hearing about?
Yeah, it was very like that, it was mental - everyone just getting on the stage and diving all over the place, just going mad, doing whatever they want, going wherever the moment takes them...
ORGAN: Seemed to be more people on the stage that off at one point, even though there were a lot of people there..
Yeah, I was in the middle of this big crowd – I just grabbed the microphone and there were people screaming all around me... sorry, I'm just a bit fucked up after that gig, my mind might start working in a minute...
ORGAN: How did Sikth start up?
Dan and Pinney were in another band who needed a new singer, so they rang me up after seeing me play with my old band, Scoured Domain. Then after joining them I started thinking, I want to do something a little different, something more diverse - couldn't you do so much more with two voices? So I brought in Tristan, my mate, but that band started going in different musical directions. Eventually we got Justin in as replacement, and a different bassist and drummer. It was all through the Watford scene, people we knew.
ORGAN: The two voices work brilliantly - was that your idea or were you inspired by anyone else?
Cheers! - well, it was just that I would have these rhythms in my head, but it was really hard to pull off some of them, and it would be better if you could just... slam on two voices, slam on things, go in and out of things - that's what the old band used to do a lot of, too. We brought in Justin to do more of the melody - I'm also going to be doing melody, hopefully, on the album - a lot of proper 'singing' singing, nobody's heard me doing that before on our other stuff.
ORGAN: I get the impression that you're really into variety and innovation, rather than doing things because that's the rules of a scene....
As I see it, I'd rather invent something new than just do something that has already been done - there's no point in following the crowd, or just the tried and tested ways. Because... that's just like fast food music - just goes in and out, it just doesn't mean anything. If you're going to be in an original band, i.e. a band that isn't a covers band, than I think you should be trying to write new music, trying to be a pioneer in some way. I don't know if I'm making much sense, but...
ORGAN: No - I totally agree! It's nice to be part of a 'scene', but when that scene suddenly gets 'rules' that you have to stick to.. well, I find that weird...
Yeah - we just try not to have any boundaries to our music - if anything sounds good, do it! There are bands in this country who are doing MAD stuff, proper interesting music - bands like Cheese Cake Truck - which isn't on this whole nu-metal bandwagon thing, or this pant wetting stuff I hear... all this whining, I'm sick of it!
ORGAN: Doesn't it serve a purpose in that it's introducing people to more challenging stuff?
Yeah - It does introduce a lot people, gets them into it and then they go one way or the other – they either go heavier or more into that pop side of it. Because nu metal has become very poppy, hasn't it? - And I'm not wanting to be a part of that scene at all. I don't seriously want to be a part of any scene really, I just want to be writing new music...
ORGAN: So what inspires you musically at the moment?
Actually, in the last year or so I've really got into The Birthday Party - even though that was done twenty years ago! and obviously Nick Cave. Did you like the 'Tupelo' track? I'm well into that tune... I really wanted to do a Nick Cave thing... funny, some people said it sounded like a black metal band doing it! I didn't want to do vocals exactly like Nick Cave, so I had to bring a bit of my own thing in there, mix it with his ideas. I just think he makes such dark music, and all of his emotions seem so honest, you know? I won't name any names, but if you listen to a lot of bands being pushed at the moment, bands that do big singing choruses or verses and then the shouting thing in the other bit - no, it seems so false, done with millions of layers until it ends up sounding like a computer... just keep the emotion real, you know?
ORGAN: So who's an antidote to that?
Well... Phil Anselmo's always done it: you can hear the passion in his voice... Jim Morrison's got loads of passion, you want to hear his live recordings. I listen to a lot of Doors... newer stuff like Cheese Cake Truck - Mr Bungle, Fantomas, all Mike Patton stuff's amazing... who else..
ORGAN: Dillinger Escape Plan?
Funny enough, I'm not really that into Dillinger...
ORGAN: I've got the impression that you started doing your stuff before it was so easy to get hold of Dillinger Escape Plan records, anyway... a few people have thrown the 'they sound like Dillinger' thing at Sikth...
I think we were compared to the old Dillinger by people who just had a need to compare it to something – and that convenient comparison popped into their head because, you know: the time signatures, heavy music, a bit mad. But... the vocals are nothing at all like Dillinger, nothing...
And we're.... well, we’re trying to make new music. Dillinger Escape Plan say themselves we don't sound like them. When they toured the UK with System Of A Down all these kids were saying, have you heard Sikth, they sound just like you, and when they heard us they said no, you don't sound anything like us.
ORGAN: But do they like it?
Errm... I think they did... I don't know! I didn't get a chance to chat much to them on tour, but they seem cool.
ORGAN: So who or what are you influenced by then - what did you listen to growing up, and what inspires you? I've been trying to work out what you might have been into, by your vocals... any drum and bass or ragga for instance?
No, not at all man (laughs) - why do you say that?
ORGAN: Because when it's at its best, it’s about doing pretty inventive things with the voice...
I grew up listening to Guns N Roses, Metallica, like a lot of people did around that age... Slayer, Ozzy... Ozzy mainly, I like Black Sabbath, probably my favourite. But no, I’m just trying to go somewhere people haven't been already, doing stuff which hasn't been done. That's what really inspires me the most - just the idea of going somewhere new. For instance we've done an animated video for 'How May I Help You' ... it was awesome, we had to work out a whole script, storyboard, designed and ended up actually creating a whole little world. The vocals for that tune are very strange too, because there are loads of different characters I have to be in the song. They go one after the other, so I have to do these long parts with different techniques and no breath in between - I have to do them because only I knew how they have to sound... (there's a man standing in front of Mikee looking mournfully at him) That's our bassist... you want to join in, say a few words?
James - We all should be packing up... but...
Mikee - Hey, I'm minding band stuff here too! Classic. Yeah, I grew up listening to rock and metal... Cannibal Corpse...
ORGAN: So how the hell do you come up with this stuff? Watching you at the Uxfest earlier this year (where it really came together and went one step further than at any time before), and listening to the single, the complexity really stood out... who does the writing and working out?
Mikee: The sound was really good that day, it has to be really clear for us to really come across... I certainly think a song like 'How May I Help You' is complex, maybe the musicians wouldn't - Dan, how would you say a song like that comes together?
Dan (passing with an armful of Marshall): It comes together from loads of different people's ideas - I'll have an idea for a rhythm, someone else will have an idea for a riff, then someone will have an idea for an arrangement, then it all gets moved about -
ORGAN: And then you have to remember it...
D: Yeah! The first tour was like, how the f... but it soon becomes pretty ingrained in your mind...
...At which point
it I reckoned that Mikee ought to be let do some gear shifting if he wanted
anyone to speak to him for the rest of the night, Sikth being such a democratic
band... seriously, though, it was time to go off on tour, pausing only
to discuss the Aconite Thrill connection (James, the surprisingly surreal
bass player, felt he had to tell us that he once had a bird shit on his
head in Will's back garden... no, nobody else understood the significance
either, but it had something to do with being in a band together, called
One Iota), and to help the band, roadies and management savagely demolish
a chocolate cake baked by an extra devout fan (fears of bunny-boiling fanatic
laxative madness were quickly overcome by the deliciousness of the item.
Besides, they made manager Keith eat some first). We'll catch more
of Sikth in a quieter moment... if they ever have such a moment again...
from where we’re sitting it looks like the great Sikth adventure is only