Interview: The Download Tapes – Skindred (Mikey Demus)

They are the ultimate party band so who better to stand in at the last moment for an act forced to pull out than Skindred? The much adored Welsh maestros are having quite a purple patch at the moment even by their own heady standards. Guitarist Mikey Demus chatted to Devo’s Gary Trueman about stepping up at the last minute and the response of fans to their new material.

You’ve come to Download very late in the day this year stepping in for Five Finger Death Punch.  Who approached who?

“Well Benji may or may not have reached out to Andy Copping and said we’re having a great time on the Kiss Tour right now, it’s a shame we can’t make Download and we would have loved to have done it. One thing led to another, and here we are. We got the call and we were like – yes! We love the guys from Five Finger Death Punch, they’re friends of ours and we have nothing but respect for them. We hope they’re back on their feet soon. We’re honoured to step in for them.”

This is an important festival for you too isn’t it? It’s one of the origins of the Newport Helicopter and you’re kind of like the festival go to party band.

“I feel like people know they will have a good time with us. People know they’re in good hands watching Skindred at Download. It’s like being at home. We’re like a part of the furniture now.”

Are you going to have a chance to take in anything else today at all, any bands you want to catch?

“I’m hoping I’m going to catch Metallica immediately after we’re done. Other than that I don’t think so. We haven’t really stopped since we got here. We’ve been doing interviews and catching up with old friends. When I go over to that stage to play that’ll be the first time I’ll be hearing loud music today.”

We need to talk a little bit about the HMAs too because you won an award for best live band.

“It’s been a good week for Skindred. I’m not gonna lie, we’re on tour with Kiss right now, just done the first few shows with them. We’ve just won best live band at the HMAs. We’re at Download to headline the second stage. We have an album coming out on August 4th which everyone is really psyched about. It is a good time to be alive! Considering we were all sat on our behinds for two solid years, which is just a memory now.”


That new album, called ‘Smile’, the teaser singles you’ve been putting out have gone down a storm. How have you felt about the reaction to those?

“I feel like the campaign for the album has been really great for a band that’s been around for over 20 years. I cannot be happier, it’s fantastic the response we’ve had to the songs we’ve put out so far.”

You mentioned you’re headlining the second stage. That must be an amazing feeling to be out there as a headliner on one of the big stages?

“It’s a dream come true. We played this festival first I think in 2006 and we were on the smallest stage towards the end of the day. We’ve just climbed the ladder slowly over fifteen, twenty years, and here we are. We’re honoured to be considered worthy of headlining.”

Do you think one day you’ll headline main stage?

“Never say never baby!”

What are your tour plans for the album? You have a tour booked for the UK don’t you?

“Yes, we’re on tour in the UK in September and October and you can check for tickets in your local area.”

Festivals are notoriously mucky things. Download does have a bit of a reputation for rain and mud, although not so much in more recent times. Now it’s all about the dust and heat. Have you got a festival survival tip you’d like to put out there?

“For me being a ginge you can’t beat a bit of sun cream. Also keep hydrated. And hayfever medication, I’m all about that too. I have all the ailments, you don’t want me on your team in the zombie apocalypse haha!”

Skindred – Facebook

Interview and photos by Gary Trueman