11.05.2009

SKINLAB: We always had to try harder than other bands


Seven years after their last real full-length Skinlab released a new album called “The Scars between Us” this September. Right after that the band was left by its guitarist Glenny Telford, who was later replaced, but the band still had to cancel their US tour due to vocalist Steev Esquivel’s throat infection. But then again there isn’t anything more metal than standing up to challenges against all odds, and as Steev tells me, this is exactly the band’s plan.

- You cancelled a whole tour due to your lung infection, so asking you how you are doing right now is as good of a start as any.
- I had this lung infection which is a first time for me. It really kicked my ass so we had to cancel the rest of the tour and go home. We were up there on the East Coast where it is much colder than what I’m used to so t really kicked my ass. But I am doing way better now so it’s back to work.

- Is it just me or Skinlab hasn’t had the best luck lately?
- Well, it’s the fuckin’ story of Skinlab’s career. I don’t know what it is but we have to fight for everything we get. But when we get it – it’s ours. So at the end of the day it’s good. We have always been a band that had to try harder than other bands. It’s OK. We love what we do and that’s the reason why we are doing it.

- OK, let’s talk the new album – it has been out for over a month now – any idea how it is selling?
- It is selling like shit actually, thanks to downloads and everything. Probably way more people downloaded it than they bought it. But we are not in this for the short run. Things that happen, don’t happen overnight. We are prepared to work hard in order to sell more records. Our fans are buying it now and it’s cool. It is just that we expected to be in the game with the bigger dogs and it just didn’t happen. So it’s back to the drawing board. We’re not young puppies in this game, so a lot of this stuff is not taking its toll on us as it would with a younger band. We gotta figure out our next step here. But we are planning tours for the beginning of next year. We are pretty pissed off, so we are ready to throwdown for sure. And a lot of people thought I was pretending to be sick as a publicity stunt just to sell more records. No, I am truly sick and this is the first tour I am cancelling. But, yeah – not everyone can be Five Finger Death Punch or Lamb of God. You have to go out, you have to do your best – nothing is a given.

- I remember in 2002 when “reVolting Room” came out, a lot of fans were saying it sounded overproduced and that they actually liked the demos of songs like “Purify” and “Slave the Way” better. So – did you consciously go for a more direct sound this time in contrast to the previous offering?
- No. We actually always want to overproduce our records. We try to make the best record that we can. I come from the school of Whitesnake and Metallica with loud guitars and thundering drums – this is the big thing about metal and rock’n roll. It is all about bombs and explosions and making shit sound fat. We never tried to underproduce anything we do. All that we do we try to produce to the best quality of sound. And sometimes you explore somewhere where the fans don’t want you to be, but well – we cannot make everyone happy. To be honest, I don’t think we did anything different than on “reVolting Room”. I guess that it is just because of the production that people get that idea. And back then all the media wanted it to be the big commercial success that it wasn’t. Sometimes a label can hype it up to more than it actually it is and make an album seem different than what it actually is. We’re proud of that album. It is just that the scene kind of went under our feet. Everything changed and we were kind of left standing alone.

- You were just recently joined by Brian Jackson who replaced Glenny Telford on guitars. How is he doing in the band?
- He kicks ass. Brian’s doing great. He’s a big metal motherfucker and always ready to throwdown!


Steev is not happy that his hands are stuck in his dreads, but honestly - who would?
Pic by Phill Mamula


- What happened to the “Bloodclot” EP? There were a couple of covers recorded for it - a Nailbomb and a Crowbar one, as far as I know. Will we be able to hear them anytime soon?
- We started doing it but the label that we were signed with at the time had their head up their ass and lied to us when we signed the contract. We went straight to the studio and started recording it. And once they came they were like “We never said we wanted that, we never agreed to that”. So we responded – “Talks to our lawyers from now on”. We didn’t want on that label, we didn’t want people lying to us and we like to do what we tell our fans we are going to do. It was basically a label fuck-up, I am not going to say which label, but everyone knows what label we signed in 2007 (Crash Music - the author). It was a horrible move for us. And then it took some time to find the right label for us. But it is all good now. We regret that we didn’t put out “Bloodclot” but at least we made it into a song. It has this fast drumwork that I figure our fans would like to hear from us. We recorded the Crowbar and Nailbomb covers but only that. We have them here, we’re just waiting to figure out ways to put them out.

- There was a bit of a hiatus for the band before the newest one came out. Was it because “reVolting Room” failed to meet expectations of being a huge success?
- It wasn’t really that “reVolting Room” didn’t do that well. It was just that the label didn’t treat us like a band that existed back then. We basically got a tour handed down to us by Slayer and Jägermeister and our label didn’t even want to give us 200 dollars a week to support us. So at this point we decided to just stop it, stop the bullshit. For that amount of money we couldn’t even eat, let alone pay for gas and stuff. Luckily Slayer and Jägermeister took us under their wing and gave us one more show. But in reality we didn’t have the money to make it to the next show. So we decided to just stop. And this kind of hurt us. But I’d rather hurt my band than my family.

- Now that Skinlab is reformed and fully active what happens to Re:Ignition?
- We’re doing each their own thing at the moment. Mark (Hernandez) is with Forbidden now, recording an album, which is really cool. Tim (Howell) is just having fun being a dad. And Dave (Moore), the singer, is really busy being a professional tattoo artist which he has always been. So at this time we’re on halt. But never say never. Now actually, after like April and May when Skinlab is done touring, I’d like to put out my new project that is like where I wanted Re:Ignition to go, the way I wanted it to. I wanted more like a Corrosion of Confirmity, kind of “Blind” meets “Deliverance” kind of stuff, some heavier AC/DC or Motorhead style stuff – a little bit more ugly. When Re:Ignition was formed Dave was such a great singer that everything kind of conformed to him.


Contrary to what Steev says, everyone is staring right at their shoes here.

- Defiance also had a new album released not long ago. Any more serious plans for that band? Touring and stuff?
- Well, I think it is safe to say, I don’t know if they have told everyone yet, but I quit the band. I was only committed to doing some recordings because that was what Doug Harrington had wanted before he died. But then we got offered a record deal and some people in the band wanted to do more than the other. Personally, I wanted to concentrate on Skinlab. It has always been my favorite. And after taking 15 years off Defiance the guys and me had separated so much it wasn’t really a band to me. It was kind of a pure thrash era thing and that is not what I want to do. I’d rather do what I love. But I did the record anyway and I think it is a great one. They actually have a new singer now.

- Back to Skinlab – now with your health issues and everything it is probably not the best time to ask, but do you have any plans for touring Europe and the UK?
- We’re waiting. We would probably want to re-release the album for Europe, because it never really got a proper release. It did in France but not in the other countries. We’re thinking of doing a cool cover song, maybe a couple of new tracks, and re-releasing the album for Europe with them included. We’re trying to do this now. But, we do love Europe. European metal fans are great metal fans. It has been too long since we last went there.

- Uh, last question. Fans of yours I was talking to were wondering about your past drug problems, and I guess you are not really comfortable talking about that…
- It’s an open book, man.

- So, is “Excellerate” about heroin abuse?
- No. That song is about doing something extreme to get your blood pumping. It is about tattoos and the rush you get when the needles go into your skin. But we do have songs about drugs. Like “Take as Needed” which is about pill consumption and it was about how I was taking a lot of pills while writing “reVolting Room” and I didn’t care if it was killing me or destroying my shows. I was having a good time in my head, while in reality I was probably a complete asshole and I sounded like shit. But if it is up to drugs – we at Skinlab are pretty much done with that. I actually quit drinking after that Slayer tour. After 28 days I came home and had gained 32 pounds from drinking Jägermeister every night so that scared the shit out of me and made me quit drinking. Every now and then I have a beer now but it is the new Skinlab – we come out on stage sober now and take pride in it. Our performance is definitely better. Maybe less wild, because we used to do wild shit like falling all over the place, hitting each other and doing stupid shit. Now it is much more about the music but we are not a band that plays staring at their shoes too.

- Another drug related question – rumor has it that during the filming of the “Second Skin” video Snake was high out of his mind. Was it so?
- No, it wasn’t us. Someone came to our tour bus and left a sugar cube of acid. While we were doing the video Snake’s wife offered to make him some coffees. So he did want some coffee. And she went on the bus and got what she thought were sugar cubes and was lysergic acid. He was in the middle of the video and he had his glasses on the whole time, and I was like asking him to take them off because no one else was wearing glasses. He was like really freaked out so we called a doctor and everything. Now it may look like a funny story, but it was scary. Snake is a small dude. Taking this much acid could have really hurt him. Especially when he didn’t expect it, it could have been devastating. And it was just before two shows with S.O.D.. I know it seems fun in the press and all “oh, look they take acid”. But this is so not the type of band that we are. You only take acid when you plan it. Thanks for asking that question, though. We’re not drug addicts. If anything – we hate people who are drug addicts.

The photos are taken from the band's MySpace page.

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