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INTERVIEW: Mikee Goodman – SikTh

Tech metal legends SIKTH are poised to release their upcoming album The Future In Whose Eyes? on the 2nd June which will feature the introduction of Joe Rosser of ALIASES fame to the fold, the band’s first album in a whopping eleven years. We caught up with frontman Mikee Goodman to get some insight on the new album, the current iteration of SIKTH and what he thinks the future will hold.

So last year Justin announced his departure from the band did this come as a shock or was it on the cards?

Mikee: Yeah, it was expected. He didn’t want to be in a band anymore and rarely wanted to play gigs. He would have to be really convinced to do tours and it just wasn’t for him and enough was enough. On the SLIPKNOT tour he wasn’t really feeling it and we had our doubts then and we were only out for five dates!

…at least it remained amicable and there were no hard feelings.

Mikee: We’ve stayed friends and everything, I got on really well with Justin when we reformed.

Was it an easy decision to recruit Joe? Was he your first port of call?

Mikee: Yeah it was easy really, because we decided to do it privately we only auditioned a few people. Joe is already in a band with Pin called ALIASES and Justin actually told us to get Joe Rosser because we knew he could it and we really needed someone who could do an American tour and within 2 hours he recorded an awesome version of Philistine Philisophies. The other two people we auditioned they weren’t what we were looking for at all. So we did the American tour and he sounds really good on the album!

Now you have Joe settled in your ranks and you don’t, in the politest way possible, have the hindrances that Justin brought to the table do you feel that SIKTH have a lot more opportunities available?

Mikee: Now we have Joe in the band, he wants to tour so now from a live perspective its easier, we can tour Europe now. From a creative standpoint I wrote all the lyrics/vocals, I wrote about 95% of them anyway so regarding the actual writing we didn’t lose any personnel.

..so Joe just came in and put his own stamp on it effectively?

Mikee: Joe just came in and sang what I told him to! [Laughs]. He sang all the melodies really well. We tried various different styles. We have so many different layers it is open to interpretation. In the studio Dan Weller is really good with harmonies and stuff like that, I’ve always been very particular and Justin never used to let me in the studio! So this time round it was good to be able to get involved. I’m a perfectionist which must be annoying for people!

Just touching on ALIASES, do you have any concerns with Pin and Joe’s time commitments to the band?

Mikee: Not really, if we have a tour that comes first. I’m in another band and do voice overs and make music videos, Dan Weller is a producer. We all have our own different things going on. SIKTH has to come first if you are dedicating yourself to a tour or something.

SIKTH have a new album coming out next month, The Future In Whose Eyes? Where did the title originate from? Are there any themes or concepts you wanted to get across?

Mikee: The title came from the lyrics of the song we have just released, Golden Cufflinks. It has a few meanings really. If you look at it metaphorically, in the song Golden Cufflinks I was saying who is deciding the way our cities are shaped, like the people with power or money and I ask the question the future in whose eyes? As we evolve as humans we are also de-evolving at the same point as we are all looking at our phones, our tablets and getting all this information blasted at us all at once… taking it all in but at the same time suppressing ourselves and taking away the natural authenticity.

..information overload in a sense?

Mikee: Yeah, that’s it and you can see by a lot of bands coming onto the scene which possess a lack of originality.

Yeah, it’s a sad state of events when some bands are quite happy in trying to ride the trend rather than try something different.

Mikee: Of course, because there is so much pressure on your social statistics and everything has to be immediate, so for young people these days its really hard because they have all these mad social pressures and it takes a very strong individual to say “I’m just going to stand on my own two feet and do my own thing” and try and create something new. Loads of great new bands came out in the old days and I mean like the 90’s, 80’s, 70’s etc but nowadays they just want to be on the front of a magazine there are very few free thinkers around.

Funny you should say that as a lot of bands I speak to are very focused on their social media hits, YouTube views etc rather than just focusing on their music.

Mikee: Exactly, they forget about it! The shame is the bands who are really really focused on their music usually never make it and that’s why I spoke about it on Philistine Philosophies and I also touch on it in our new song Century of the Narcissist and that’s all about how our minds are getting suppressed. There’s a lyric in that song.. “A million commentators trying to get you to listen”, “voice recognition and touch ID, another useless cunt, reality TV.” I’m just putting my thoughts out there and I’m asking people questions throughout the album.

I was glad to see that you have incorporated your spoken narratives similar to When Will The Forest Speak and Tokyo Lights in the new album.

Mikee: Thanks man, it was cool. I had three of them as Dan Weller had some backing music it would worth me trying something on and it kinda sounded like a film narration. It’s not really a concept album but it makes you think. I mean there is some kinda concepts like Vivid is about vivid dreams and The Aura is kind of a love song and like I said before about Golden Cufflinks.

Regarding Golden Cufflinks, I know it’s still very fresh but how do you feel the song has been received thus far as it’s obviously quite a restrained approach to what SIKTH fans are used to?

Mikee: It’s interesting actually as all I can really do is read peoples comments on YouTube and social media…and not everyone comments do they? I’ve never written a comment myself and some things I absolutely love. There are some bands I love and I haven’t liked them on Facebook.

Yeah, I guess there is so much music out there, so many media platforms and so many bands to keep tabs on its kind of impossible in a sense to remember them all!

Mikee: Yeah, that’s the thing! The only way you kind of realise is by just going to have a look. A lot of people liked it but a lot of people also said “Oh, where is the crazy SIKTH?” When we released Vivid is was the last song we did and the producer was like “Oh you have to release Vivid!” and when it’s your last song you’re still really buzzing about it.

..and you still have that kind of adrenaline rush still left in you.

Mikee: Exactly! I think Vivid‘s a good song but in hindsight I would have preferred to have gone with something like Centuries of the Narcissist or Weavers of Woe as they’re really in your face and aggressive, we haven’t put out the most crazy tracks yet. Like Riddles Of Humanity.

I recall when listening to the album it started to calm down in tempo and then you just got blasted by this chaotic set of riffs and instantly thought “This is the SIKTH that everyone knows and loves!”

Mikee: Yeah man! That would have been great to put out there, maybe I’ll put a little medley together or something! It might let people give the likes of Golden Cufflinks more of a chance when they know something like that is coming. Some people were posting ridiculous comments saying it was an overused lyrical theme and whatnot. Obviously there is a lot of music I’ve never heard but I’ve certainly not heard it being overused. Maybe its because I started it all off with Bland Street Bloom years ago!

I think a lot of people are too happy to sit behind their keyboard and make judgements..

Mikee: Man.. people just want to say something! I remember being sat in a hotel room reading the comments for Philistone Philosophies and people were saying I should quit the band! [Laughs]. I was like…”Wow…Thanks!”. It was only a few to be honest but it just made me think..what the hell is going on?!

Sadly there is a lot of people out there on social media who will post offensive comments just to try get a reaction.

Mikee: My manager warned me as he manages a lot of different bands and they all fall victim to internet trolls and so you get people who want the band to react to it, they want the attention. I used to block myself off from reading all that but I couldn’t help but read to see what was going on.

Stemming from that how difficult is it to evolve as a band but stick to SIKTH’s signature sound that everyone knows and is accustomed to?

Mikee: Personally I just do what I want to do, I kinda just do what the music tells me to do! We keep pushing ourselves as musicians to make sure we don’t sound like something else. I think one of the most important things is to find your own voice or your own way of playing and your own style and not trying to sound like anyone else. You hear a lot of people saying I want to mix this band and that band together and I just want to do my own thing. Some people love it and some people hate it! When we were in America I was approached by people who had no connection with social media at all and they were telling me I was their favourite vocalist! You don’t realise people are even there these days as bands heavily rely on what’s been said on the internet as they feel its the only way. But back in the day bands used to just to just do it the organic way and people would just come up to you and that was really cool.

Yeah exactly, before the internet existed I remember the old days of swapping tapes with your friends at school and just general word of mouth.

Mikee: Exactly, things like radio and magazines used to be so much more important. These days there is no real filtering and you get far too many bands that you can’t listen to them all! It just clogs your mind up. A lot of people are so scared of losing their jobs these days they will sign anyone they can that sounds like a popular band. It’s not giving the real originality a chance.

..and the bands that are flogging themselves travelling all over the country to play to a handful of people probably don’t even get noticed.

Mikee: No… they don’t. The support bands like you’ve touched on there.. there doesn’t seem to be much of an underground scene anymore.

I don’t know if bands just kind of lose hope, there is some opportunities though I guess. For example the Bloodstock Metal To The Masses qualifiers that run all over the country are a great way for unsigned bands to get some exposure.

Mikee: Yeah, Bloodstock is a great festival. I think that size of festival may be the future. I mean there is a lot of great things about those massive festivals but things seem to be splitting up into their own sub-genre’s these days.

Was there anything you approached differently in the studio this time round? How was it working with Nolly?

Mikee: Nolly was really cool man, we just kept in touch by phone/email during the mixing process but yeah it worked out really well. I just got into my own studio and did my own thing. Nothing was really different. I just improved my equipment. We made ourselves go a little bit mad, non-stop writing!

Do you guys get together and record in the same studio?

Mikee: We all just down our own thing, I could literally have the entire album sent to me by email and I could just go do it, I could be in another country!

[Laughs]. So you basically just tie it all up together put your vocals on it and job done?

Mikee: That’s it! We will go back and forth, send each other feedback and I’d go do my vocals, get Joe to sing his parts in another studio and that’s it. It’s easy man. Get yourself your own vocal set up, buy expensive equipment, make yourself skint!

[Laughs]. I guess it makes it more convenient for everyone as you don’t have to arrange a time to get everyone together, they can just do their own thing.

Mikee: The drums were recorded in a proper studio and the guitars were re-amped in another studio…that’s just the way it is with SIKTH, I would love it if we could all jam together. The first album and songs like Pussyfoot and Hold My Finger were just some cumbersome riffs and jamming them all out in a room which is cool and has its own merits but Death Of A Dead Day, Opacities were all written with groups of individuals. They’re both good and valid ways of writing.

How was the tour with PERIPHERY and finally getting your chance to tour America after all these years?

Mikee: The European tour was hard! Some places were really good and some places weren’t.. We had some great shows in Milan, Oslo, Marseille, Madrid…Copenhagen was really good. There were some cool shows some of them not so, the shows in Germany were really hard, but then again we are playing to TRIVIUM fans who are a lot different to our fans but with PERIPHERY our fans and their fans love each others music so it was great. The first show we played in America the whole place went off and it was like 90% of the crowd were jumping and getting involved the whole place was going crazy. It was absolutely amazing! We were like “Fuck! that’s awesome”. 23 out of 24 shows people were going crazy and the 24th show people were still coming up to us after and saying they really enjoyed it.

Fantastic. I saw you guys support TRIVIUM in Glasgow and when you were doing your spoken word segments I noticed a large portion of the crowd was kind of like “Erm..what’s going on?” [Laughs]

Mikee: [Laughs] Yeah! We got looked at like spacemen most places we went! I actually stopped doing the spoken word after a few gigs but yeah that was probably one of the best gigs on that TRIVIUM tour, but yeah the PERIPHERY tour was absolutely amazing, we all loved it so big shout out to PERIPHERY for having us and our friends from TOOTHGRINDER who we also shared the tour with. They’re up there with the best people I’ve ever toured with. We just all went tubing together and shit like that! We all hung out in New Jersey, they put us up, had a BBQ it was awesome. It’s a totally different vibe in America man from what I’ve experienced in England or in Europe.

Do you feel tech metal is more widely accepted as a genre than when SIKTH started out?

Mikee: [Laughs] Not in Germany! Yeah, I think there is a lot more bands playing that style of music, people have kind of grown into it, when we first started making music people didn’t really know what to make of it, it was all very new. There was only a few bands playing really ridiculously technical stuff..

Yeah like THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, ION DISSONANCE and the like..

Mikee: Yeah man, I’ve never really listened to THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN but the other guys in the band are big fans. Some of their songs on Calculating Infinity are insane. The musicians in our band are more technical metal fans and I was never really into it.. I mean we all love MESHUGGAH but I was never particularly into it. I was more into different styles of music like the vocal styles of FAITH NO MORE, Mike Patton and all the projects he has, SYSTEM OF A DOWN, KORN, OZZY, SABBATH and I really love THE DOORS and Jim Morrison. I love Leonard Cohen and he inspired me a lot, he is a genius and he humbles you. Actually, Cracks of Light was the only song I’ve ever written which was influenced by something else, another poem. “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”, talking about looking for hope and stuff like that and I actually did try to talk to a woman and she did say I had sad eyes and she did walk away! I did go to a country new to my eyes which was Germany and I did travel through the tunnel under the sea so I’m talking about real things but also about fantasy as well.

…Yeah just combine the best of both worlds!

Mikee: Yeah exactly, just talk about something in a poetic way which conjures different visions and imagery.

SIKTH have a few festival dates planned including playing the main stage of Download Festival which must feel great for you guys, do you have any plans for the rest of 2017?

Mikee: I think we might announce a UK tour towards the end…

Headlining tour?

Mikee: Yeah I think so… I’m hoping we will go back to America and Japan which will probably be next year. We will just have to see how it goes!

…Yeah, so just wait for the album to drop and go from there?

Mikee: Yeah that’s basically it, see what reactions come and we’ll go from there.

Considering your lengthy hiatus it must feel pretty motivating to hear a lot of new bands on the scene citing SIKTH as one of their big influences.

Mikee: Yeah, its really quite amazing, especially when we went to America and notice there was all the people that really loved the band. Which was great.. we just found everywhere we went they were going crazy. It was amazing dude, it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I felt really at home there.

Yeah it must be a totally different environment to what we are used to back in the UK.

Mikee: It’s weird as you can feel completely at home somewhere else… like I felt really at home in Japan, I got so used to living their lifestyle it kind of changes you. I just really loved the vibe in America man.. one time I stayed in Adrian Smith‘s house! Had my own floor to myself, it was like another world! There was two balconies, a sea view and everyone I got introduced to were like saying I was in a band with Adrian! We sat down and had dinner with John McEnroe and Dr Cox and Adrian knew them then we went to a huge party with a director of some big films and shit it was weird but I took it all in my stride! Having a few drinks and taking it all in.

[Laughs] That must have felt so surreal but why not! You may never get that chance again.

Mikee: Exactly! At one stage one of them was like “Hey Mikee you might have to stay more.” So I was like “oh yeah! I’ll stay as long as you want!” [Laughs]. So it was unbelievable.

What do you think the future holds for SIKTH?

Mikee: I really don’t know… SIKTH is a group of individuals who got together because of our talents. We weren’t all mates who grew up together or anything like that so we want to push it as far as we can and we love getting to tour all over the world and we really do appreciate that and we really appreciate making music with the other musicians in the band. They’re ridiculously gifted people. So we just have to see. We never plan too far ahead we just see how it unfolds.. We want to push the band in America, Japan, Australia and see if we feel inspired enough to get back in the studio again.

Thanks very much for your time Mikee, just one more question before I give you some peace! Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of Distorted Sound?

Mikee: Please check out our new album, keep your eyes and ears open to new music and sounds and thanks for supporting SIKTH! Thanks for the interview man, great questions.

The Future In Whose Eyes? is due for release on June 2nd via Millennium Night.

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Distorted Sound Issue 24 COVER