These days, music is all about reinvention and fusion. Rock isn’t just rock, and rap is no longer simply rap. Two particular genres of music, reggae and metal, strike a surprisingly unique balance. There may not be many bands who employ such a fusion, but one successful venture into the reggae/metal scene is that of Skindred. And, like many fans of metal and reggae, the band is hugely appreciative of cannabis and what it can do both inside and out of musical creation. CULTURE spoke with guitarist Mikey Demus about the band’s path to musical success and how cannabis fits into the grand scheme of things.
How did you get started making music?
My dad put a guitar in my hands about age 11; I think he tried earlier but I wasn’t having it. Once I discovered girls and what was cool and what wasn’t I suddenly realized guitars were something I had to get involved in. I grew up in a house of music, rock and rock, punk rock and so on. It was sort of in my bones. I started a shitty band when I was about 16 years old; obviously we sucked and it just went from there.
How would you describe your sound?
I like songs and feel over speed or technicality, so that’s what comes out of me. I like warmth, light and shade, heaviness and softness in equal measure. I like tube distortion and mental effects. I am super fussy about metal and riffs in general. I’m a rock and roller, not a shredder. Take the blues, grind it into a tight bouncy space and add some dub delays and you’re halfway to me.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Hendrix started me off but I could never do that thing. I gave up trying really; he’s untouchable. I found solace with Kurt Cobain, Billie Joe Armstrong, Joe Strummer, Keith Richards, Malcolm Young. Guys with attitude who brought the sound and could write a killer part. I still had to learn my chops, but for me it’s all about the song more so than the solo.
How do you feel about your music scene locally and nationally?
I think the U.K. rock scene is incredible; we have a steady and loyal community of people who love rock music and what we do. Hell, even the people who hate what we do are still loyal and committed to their music! I applaud rock fans for that. They are lifers, and all of us in Skindred are the same way. It’s not a phase.
How has cannabis affected your life and/ or your creative process?
I’m not a habitual user, but its been there in milestones in my life, coming of age and creating music and so on. I have too much going on to smoke weed all the time; I just wouldn’t get anything done. I’m a parent and I spin a thousand plates for this band so I have to keep straight. I enjoy a recreational buzz for sure, and when I’m writing all the best wacky stuff comes out.
How do you feel about legalization so far? What could be done better or differently?
I think legalization is a must; we’ve seen the positive benefits it has on users, both recreational and medicinal, and the economy in certain States in the U.S. For me it’s a no-brainer. I hope the U.K .follows suit.
“I think [cannabis] legalization is a must; we’ve seen the positive benefits it has on users, both recreational and medicinal, and the economy in certain States in the U.S. For me it’s a no-brainer. I hope the U.K .follows suit.”
What is your favorite strain or cannabis product?
I like to occasionally smoke chilled hash or easygoing indica weed. I can’t handle anything super strong; I like to get a little buzz on and enjoy my night, not get paralyzed thinking the world is about to end. A little joint or two is all I need; I don’t really go in for anything more serious than that.
How can cannabis make a difference for people?
I think it’s obvious that cannabis has a million health benefits when used responsibly. There is so much evidence to support that. It might sound stuffy, but done right it can do so much for the economy, too.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks so much and I hope to see you guys in the crowd next time we’re in your area! Check out Big Tings and freak the fuck out!
Band Name: Skindred
Genre: Reggae and metal
Location: Newport, Wales
Most Recent Album: Big Tings