It was Saturday 24th in a backstage room of Patronaat, Haarlem. I met up with the guys in SikTh in order to do an interview with Dan Weller. According to him they were very excited and felt great, without quite knowing what to expect. ‘I hope people will enjoy the show, it could be great or not, we will see,‘ says Weller, which shows how down to earth the band actually is. While setting up for the interview, the band was in a rush; they arrived shortly before the time the interview was scheduled for, and were setting up their backstage room to prepare for the show. Weller told me that in England, the crowds are very different from town to town. He really likes the big appreciation for progressive music in mainland Europe, which for him is even greater than in the UK.
In the background, Mikee W. Goodman was setting up his laptop, as he wanted to see his team play. I asked the guys if they are big soccer fans, but it happens that only Dan and Mikee are into it, but try to catch all of their games. Mikee, a big fan of Watford, only supports Dan’s team (Liverpool) when there’s a profit for his own team, but now likes Liverpool even more because of Jürgen Klopp. Coincidence that Klopp is from my hometown Mainz, where Dan Weller once visited the Gutenberg Museum. The circle closes there, while the band’s tourmanager Melo asked ‘Hey guys, is this your tortilla chips?‘ as the beverages and foods were brought into the room. Dan told me that they even watched the Champions League final when recording Death Of A Dead Day in the states, and even Mikee was a Liverpool fan for said game. While other background noises and soccer-reactions interrupted the following, I was finally about to start talking about music. Don’t get me wrong, this was a fun introduction and totally made the band even more sympathetic for myself!
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It Djents: Dan, you played your record Death Of A Dead Day in full in London, how did it feel?
Dan Weller: We also played a couple of extra songs. It was quite difficult and stressful, because it’s really challenging. It took some time to get into it, but we were like “I can remember this now“. Sometimes if it’s not natural you have to make it comfortable. Often you can make mistakes and they can get more when you’re unsure about it.
Mikee in the background: ‘Watford is playing so aggressive!‘
ID: So tell me, how much time you took for preparing this set?
DW: Usually, due to our lifestyles, jobs and commitments we don’t spend as much time rehearsing as we should. I only had one rehearsal with the band. I was abroad, came home and played guitar to the record for 5 days before. We can get on our level really quickly, so it works!
ID: Was there a song that you didn’t want to play?
DW: “In This Light“ is maybe our least favour and also not a good live song too. We played it once, that was it. I love the song, as I wrote it and I love the solo, but it’s not of a SikTh song, it’s weird in detail somehow.
ID: On the contrary, are there songs you love?
DW: I always love “Bland Street Bloom“. It’s always loads of fun and good reaction. It’s one of our favourite songs, but it’s a challenge, as it’s pretty fast. To be honest, I enjoy playing the whole set and I wouldn’t do it if I wouldn’t!
ID: You are often named as an influential band to the modern progressive metal/djent scene. How does this feel for you?
DW: It feels flattering. It’s really hard, because we had really little recognition in the past. We had a few things going on when releasing our first album, but the second one is always hard. Even if the people have problemes with getting into it. We fehlt bumped about it. It makes me really happy that the album got more recognition and importance within the future. It feels like we did the right thing because we wanted to write an album for the future and considered to be an influence for other bands. So I feel really proud. Equally I don’t really listen to many bands in this genre, so I don’t know who is influenced and sounds like us. I see we got a little place in the era of music history and that’s good enough for me, because a lot of bands don’t have that!
ID: How would you describe SikTh’s music by your own?
DW: Progressive metal. But every tension possible on top of that. I always said when it comes to writing the music that a SikTh song is a collection of lots of tiny hooks that create a progressive song. Every single part has to be iconic. I consider to be really progressive and extreme but also melodic.
ID: What have been the influence back in the days?
DW: Classic Metallica, Pantera, Extreme, Sepultura, Botch and early Meshuggah. Chaosphere was a big influence for us and I still think it’s one of the greatest metal records of all time. The impact on metal they have created is insane. They created a new dialect in the language of metal. Slayer created this with Thras. Meshuggah created the multiple rhythmic aspect and Chaosphere is the best example for this, I love it!
ID: Do you think that metal music can be progressive in 2018?
DW: When people were less complaceable in writing, yes. I think a lot of bands are doing their music to get a record out and get on the road as soon as possible. And that’s not me being a dickhead. They don’t define by their riffs, they define by their followers on Facebook. We are very much about that we can’t defend our music, it has to stand on their own and be stable. But some bands are just living in the now, trying to catch the train. We don’t want this, we want our music to sound fresh whenever. So I think there are some great, progressive bands out their, but I can’t speak for all of them. Most metal bands that we hear in this era disappoint. I don’t see bands evolved, I kinda think it devolved. It peaked at some point and then it went down. People were ripping of those bands. Then it becomes this diluted sort of barrels. It’s a fact, I think. If you give me one of those records I can tell you where the riffs come from. We can all make a crowd headbang, but when you’re going to be a songwriter you have to do your own thing.
Its not my right to tell you what is wrong. From my perspective and I would say that I have a clue of metal, I can tell you that I’m hearing the same things over and over again. Often build on simple things. Most bands stick around one note, when you then steal other bands rhythms too, chances are that you are stealing their riffs. Most bands have this beatdown mentality, it’s been their since the 90s and it’s still their. Kids think it’s the heaviest thing ever, but it’s nothing new. Every genre of music that defines an era is gonna be laughed at because it dies really quickly. As you listen to the black album, this songs still stand now, 25 years later. It’s only the production that lacks. If you make it sound like every fucking djent band now, it would sound fresher and most of the bands come out and stand for this.
That’s a true point. For me as a journalist you almost hear the same sound over and over again.
DW: That must be tiring for you.
ID: It definitely is! It is repitition all over the scene…
DW: Well, everyone loves a fucking drop, ‘bum tschak’, it feels great. Same as house music, it’s a 3 over 4 and it makes people dance. Music is serving a purpose. I don’t want to say that this is bad. We are more interested in leaving a legacy. I want to be still wicked, which drives us as songwriters. There are better instrumentalists on every position of ours, but we want to be the best in our thing we’re creating. We still have that in our bellies. Without having it, it would be too stresful. We can’t go in a room and write a song. It takes weeks for us, because there are so many little notes, rhythms and ideas. You gotta be commited for writing an album.
ID: What changes with your latest album. How happy are you with the response?
DW: The reviews were the best ones we ever had on every record. We are really proud but set the bar very high about how difficult it will be to write and play. And the craziest is, the songs sound a lot more groovy and less technical but the most parts are really hard. We still see flaws in it and want to improve, but I think if a band doesn’t have this they end up with doing a bad record.
We wanted more groove, more bouncy songs. We collected something more hideous, something that is a texture. As much as we like listenable metal we like groove and tunefulness, abrasive and nasty metal. One thing was lacking was genuine aggression. Lots of screamers just do it for heaviness. I want a record that sounds pissed off and angry. Which is offensive to listen to. I got into metal because it got me angry, and I loved that reaction. Some bits on our record are quite polite, I want to remove those parts, I want it to be angry.
ID: So did you already start writing on new songs?
DW: No, to be honest. Once we decide to do it, it will be a rollercoast, mentaly quite dramatic. We always want to write the best thing we’ve ever written. We always want to be examing of what we do. A lot of bands have that, but it makes the thing a bit difficult.
ID: So do you feel under pressure?
DW: I feel every band has this; you want your fans to love it and to sit back and be proud of what you’ve achieved, and say “yeah, we nailed it!“. There’s a lot of pressure! You don’t want your time wasted, it should be worthwile. The place that SikTh holds now, with the reputation in prog metal… we can’t just steal peoples riffs or do shit. We have to properly create, which is more difficult.
ID: That’s a true point. At the end, is there anything you would like to add to this conversation?
DW: Just keep supporting forward thinking bands. And realize that it’s a difficult thing for them to make money. Show your friends about them, share their music, buy some merchandise, and get to the shows. Ignore the shit bands, they are only trying hard. Fuck them off! That’s my voice.
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Thanks again to Dan (and Mikee) for taking the time out of their busy schedule to do this interview! Make sure to follow SikTh on Facebook, and if you haven’t already, go check out their latest album The Future in Whose Eyes?, which came out in June of last year.