Whilst at Download we had the opportunity to chat to quite a few bands, including the mighty Sikth after their dominating main stage performance. Following on from their new release The Future In Whose Eyes, we had the chance to chat with Dan about not only how the band started, but also how difficult it can be to develop such an intricate and left field sound like Sikth.
How was the set from the stage?
Dan: It was all kinda surreal, very strange. When you’re on stage playing guitars through these massive speakers it can be quite fun, living the dream almost. We’re early in the day so we’re not expecting fireworks or front to back crowd. Just expecting everyone to have some fun, have a beer.
How does it feel to return with this new album, The Future In Whose Eyes, to great applause?
Dan: Yeah its crazy, I never expected that kind of reaction…
Dan: Well because our music is a touch left field and not everyone’s cup of tea, and you know there is a part of me that just doesn’t give a fuck, if you like it you like it, but we’re not idiots. We understand that if people review it well that makes people want to go out and buy it, and its had nothing but rave reviews which is great.
You mentioned that Sikth’s music is a touch left field, how did creating music like that start originally?
Dan: It was a long time ago, me and Pin [Graham Pinney, Guitars] went to school together, we played guitar together and we had this vision of grooving and making everyone bounce but still with all those death metal influences we were listening to. We didn’t want death vocals and we didn’t wanna sing about garrotting children and disgusting stuff like that, we wanted it to be metal for the masses, but with an edge. I always said no band is gonna be great without a great frontman, and that was the mantra until we met Mikee [Goodman, vocals]. Mikee was playing with his band and he invited us down to watch the show, this was before he had dreadlocks, but he was just such a character, and everyone in the room was magnatised to him, so I said ‘that’s our man’. We got him in the band and we started this weird sound together and it all just sort kicked off. Back then it was before the internet too, which is hilarious, Radio 1 got on board and we just blew up.
Being in a band that is so left field, how difficult was it developing that sound over Sikth’s career?
Dan: It put huge amounts of pressure on us as song-writers. It’s not like we’re saving the world, so it’s not that much pressure, but when you’re known for being renegades or going on your own path, people expect that from you, but equally, we do that anyway. All bands care what people think, cause otherwise you’d be sat on your own playing to yourself, but we’ve always done our own thing and just never listened to a band and gone ‘we should put a riff like that in’, and not because we’re stubborn but it’s our band.
With the new album there are songs that feel far more toned down, was this a conscious decision?
Dan: I dunno man, some of it is really fucking intense and some of it is a bit more stripped back and simple…
What about the track Golden Cufflinks in todays set?
Dan: Ahh you see, that’s the one that’s polarised fans the most, because it is so basic. But part of the friction on our second album was pretty simple and we like that. Tasteful riffs done in a tasteful manner, with the right vocals, it’s not just mindless chugging for the sake of it. People don’t wanna hear chaos all the time, you need to give them something to bang their head to.
Is it difficult controlling all the creativity within Sikth?
Dan: Yeah, its really difficult because everyone has to be appeased, everyone has to be happy with the output. It’s just a case of harbouring it, so Dan the drummer will come up to us and be like ‘I’ve got these ideas’ and itll be a case of us writing riffs around his drums beats or he writes drums around the riffs. We find a way to manage that creativity.
How many slip ups do you have on stage?
Dan: Oh, so many. There a few today as well. We’re not like Meshuggah where it’s just a literal metronome, we like to get sweaty and be a bit more rough around the edges.
What advice would you give to aspiring tech metal musicians?
Dan: Think about the bigger picture, not just what’s happening now. We were’t interested in sounding like whats in Kerrang!, we were interested in making our own statement and standing the test of time. We got loads of bad reviews, people used to think we were fucking rubbish, and we were fine with that because we knew what we were doing. Then you get to 10 years later and people are starting to say that you helped invent a genre in the metal scene, which is what we seem to get all the time with this djent thing, we realised it was good to stick to our guns. So my advice would be don’t be distracted or deterred by what your mates doing, what the trends are, cause none of that shit matters, all that does matter is the bands that people are talking about 20 years down the line.