Skyclad interview (07/2004)
|With:||Kevin Ridley [Vocals, guitars]|
|Conducted by:||Demonic Tutor|
- You guys are around for more than 10 years and are recognized as being the folk metal fathers, however, could you introduce the band in a few words for some of our ignorant readers?
It would be nice to say that there was a big plan, or 'grand design' behind Skyclad and 'Folk-metal, but (as with most things) the bands style kind of evolved. Remember when the band started they were only a four piece that were based on 80's thrash metal stuff (i.e. Sabbat, Satan). Somewhere along the line some bright spark (forget who) had the idea of using a violin to play some riffs and we added a few keyboard whistles and flutes and off you go. So I suppose you could say the Skyclad is a blending of rock ('Blues') and metal elements with traditional instruments. This is, of course, embellished with a very particular lyrical style (again drawing on folk or 'storytelling' styles) that utilizes puns and word play to comment on various socio-political concerns, along with songs about beer, football and sex of course.
- Your latest album, "A Semblance Of Normality", has been postponed to September for some external reasons. Isn't it a little bit frustrating after working for a year and a half on it?
It is indeed, however, it would have been even more frustrating to release the album at the worst time of year (i.e. the summer) and not have a proper promotional campaign in place, just for the sake of putting it out. Having spent two years getting the album right we want to give it the best chance we can, so the release time has to be right and the autumn is traditionally a good time to tour etc.
- Let's remind our readers that even if the official release is due in September, they can buy the new album directly from your website as a "limited release", right?
Yes they can. Strange though it may sound, Demolition and Dreamcatcher decided to start putting the album out so that they could start getting feedback and orders for the official release (I think I've got that right). Their thinking is (I suppose) that Skyclad fans will buy it anyway, whatever the release date and the 'official' promotional stuff is for the wider public and, hopefully, lots of new people who are yet to share that 'Clad experience'.
- How would you describe "A Semblance Of Normality" compared to your previous effort?
I would like to say that with 'Semblance' that 'the heavy bits are really heavy and the folky bits are really folky'. This was the aim and we tried to achieve this by detuning, using new equipment and using session players (i.e. the RPO, pipes and percussion) to make everything as 'real' as possible. Needless to say, we are very pleased with the results.
- Despite the departure of original member Martin Walkyier in 2001, Skyclad is still a very popular band and not only in Britain. However, the band seems to have difficulties to score an important label deal. Your promotion is doing a great job though; do you expect your new album to reach the shores of North America? If so, do you have any details about who's going to distribute it?
Obviously, Martin's departure has caused the band problems in that no one yet really knows what to expect; so organizing tours etc is difficult. The aim of this album is to put that right. As it stands, Demolition/Dreamcather are, as you say, doing a great job and we actually have a good arrangement like this. There are definitely plans to release the album in the States and in Japan (Demolition recently opened an office there). Demolition have the details of all this so all you people in the States etc harass them.
- Skyclad originated in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England but nowadays the pool of bands that follows the folk metal inspiration [that you guys brought] are mostly not from the UK. Is it another proof of Skyclad being the kings of folk in Britain or how do you explain that?
Strangely enough I don't see much evidence of 'folkmetal' in Britain (awaits lots of flame-mail). England's 'to cool' and fashion conscious you see (really going to get it now). There are bands like the Levellers and New Model Army, of course, but they are not really metal are they. The English don't really go for the 'roots music' thing in the same way, as say, the Scandinavians. Strange that, but I suppose that is one of the reasons ASON looks at the notion of 'Englishness' - they say we are having an 'identity crises'.
- What are your best memories on tour? In which countries did you like playing best so far?
Well, I have to be diplomatic here; I have great memories of most of the countries we've visited - though it's the people that count not the places. Greece, Italy, Holland and, of course, Germany (our strongest territory) have all provided Skyclad with some truly remarkable gigs - Dynamo '95, Wacken '98 and 'Gods of Metal '99 to name just a few.
- Anything in particular you want to point out?
Just to say that we know it has taken two years to finish the album (we are probably a year behind now) but, hopefully, people will listen - without prejudice - and find that it has been worth the wait.
- I'm having a beer in your honor. Your last word is?
Let us see 'no daylights nor heeltaps', of course, and remember it is only 'a semblance of normality'. Cheers from Skyclad.
Thanks to the whole Skyclad clan, to Kevin for answering quickly and to Matze for making this interview possible.
Posted on 23.07.2004 by
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