SikTh are back with their first full-length album since 2006. Packed with hypnotising rhythmic conflicts, melodic atmospheres and wild lyrics, The Future In Whose Eyes? will definitely not disappoint. I met up with vocalist Mikee W. Goodman ahead of the new albums release. Sitting on the edge of a golf course with the beautiful Hertfordshire forest surrounding us, we talked about SikTh and the highly anticipated new album.
Shockwave Magazine: SikTh are back with their first full album since Death of a Dead Day in 2006. How are you feeling about The Future In Whose Eyes?
Mikee: Yeah I think it’s good. It’s a positive album overall. I feel good about it. I’m quite excited now because we haven’t got long until it’s out. We will just see how it goes.
You’ve had a slight lineup change with Justin Hill leaving. Joe Rosser has stepped in as the new co-vocalist. How are things going?
Yeah, he is fine man. I mean I didn’t like him at first [both laughing] at all! I’ve kind of gotten used to him and he’s really quite funny now. He’s got a different voice and style than Justin. Even though I wrote all the lyrics and all the vocals, he just came in and sung stuff, so really the writing hasn’t changed so much but his voice is different, he’s got a lot of different styles and he’s also really versatile with rhythmical singing.
Was Joe your first choice when choosing Justin’s replacement?
He was the only person who was good enough so I guess he was our first choice. The first person who Justin told us to try out was Joe, and then we tried out a couple of others and they didn’t cut it. Eventually we asked Joe and within two hours he did a demo and it was really good.
You said that you wrote all the lyrics on the new album. Did you have to write differently to suit Joe’s voice?
I wrote a few things thinking of his voice, like “What were you hoping for” in “Golden Cufflinks.” Usually, if I wrote something for Justin, I would write it and then he would sing it in maybe a higher octave. Whereas Joe didn’t do as high as Justin but he did it in a different way, you know what I mean. He still got all the mid tones and everything. We added loads of harmonies and stuff in the studio.
On The Future In Whose Eyes?, I do actually find it quite difficult sometimes to tell who’s singing. With Justin, your voices were very different but with Joe, he sounds similar to you in some parts.
Joe’s a great impersonator so when I write entire vocals for a song I guess maybe he impersonates what I’m doing a bit too well [both laugh]. But also on the other side of it, he’s very versatile when it comes to heavy vocals. Justin was a lot better at melody than he was at heavy vocals. Joe let me in the studio and I was allowed to direct him through the whole of the album whereas I was never allowed to be in the same room as Justin in the studio.
Yeah, I was never allowed. In the earlier days it was because there was so much friction in the band but even on Opacities I was told to leave the studio and I was furious. But I can be very intense when it comes to perfection because I am a perfectionist when it comes to the lines, so I could understand. But when someone new comes in, they are going to have to have me in the studio, that’s going to be the deal. Joe did really well, but maybe like I said, maybe a bit too well if he sounds like me. It’s interesting you say that because a few others have said that and it’s something to think about.
Do you worry about how people will take the new line up? SikTh does sound a little different now.
I was at first a little bit worried but he sounds so similar when he sings his melodies.
Slipknot was hard, and also Trivium was hard [laughing]. The thing is, with SikTh, I thought we would go really well with Slipknot but we didn’t go so well with their fans. It took us a few gigs to get into it because we hadn’t supported a band in like nine years or something. And we had never done arenas. So it took us three or four gigs to get into the swing of things and then once we were, it was over. With Trivium, some of the shows were amazing. Like Milan, Copenhagen & Marseilles. But we were out on tour for six weeks. We had some really tough shows, like Sweden and Germany. It was really hard. We were playing to a very different fan base than we were used to, and who are used to hearing our music. Those fans are nothing like us. I did predict this [laughs].
It must have been hard to try and win them over.
Yes it was very hard. I did predict it all to begin with. If we got any new fans in, then great. I think a lot of people enjoyed our music. Hopefully they weren’t just enjoying it for the night and forgot about us. But yeah it was very hard playing with bands like that. We have always done really well with more experimental bands. I mean Slipknot were in their earlier days when their fans were younger, I think it would have been better for us to tour with them then. Now their fans are older, I think most of their fans only go to one or two gigs a year. It’s like Iron Maiden, they have their fan group and they only want to hear Iron Maiden.
I guess some people aren’t open to new sounds?
Yeah exactly, it’s really hard.
SikTh also joined Periphery on tour in the US…
Yeah that was amazing. Our first American tour.
Why did it take you so long to go on tour in America?
Management man. You have to have the right people in charge pulling the strings because otherwise nothing happens. I was asked to sing for Korn on stage once at Download 2006, but I didn’t get told until after!
That was the one where Jonathan Davis fell ill shortly before their set and instead of cancelling, they had other vocalists on the line up filling on different songs? I was there, that was an unforgettable set.
Yeah I got asked to sing but I didn’t get told until afterwards. I grew up loving Korn so that would have been incredible for me. Sorry I slipped that one in there because I said management, and that really pissed me off. So anyway, really you have to have the right team and we were on a big management company, the same one as Slipknot and Limp Bizkit and all those bands, so we’ve got a big team now, and they sorted it out. Simple as that really [laughing].
What was it like to support Periphery, a band that were originally inspired by SikTh?
It was great. They are such a friendly bunch. Everyone on that tour said it was the best tour they’ve ever done. 23 out of 24 crowds all went crazy. It was amazing. The first place we played was Raleigh and 90% of the crowd was jumping and moving the whole way through. It was crazy! We were just like “What the fuck is going on?” We loved it in America. Then you go to places like Munich (back on the Trivium tour) and it’s the opposite. People just scowling at you. I even said some things to take the piss, just jokingly, about my thing in Primal Rock Rebellion with Adrian Smith, nothing that was really offensive just like “I did sing on an album with Iron Maiden you know” because there were so many Iron Maiden shirts in the crowd. I was like, you don’t need to be so disrespectful, you don’t have to be so unfriendly. Because they were really unfriendly, I even tried to say something about Bayern Munich football team and they booed us. Not the whole way through but just at that point. In Madrid we had a great show but we had a load of people slagging us off because they said that we were disrespectful but we weren’t. It was a weird tour. But ten of those those shows, out of the 40 or so that we did, were pretty good. Some of them were really good.
Back to your US tour with Periphery, do you have any funny stories to tell? Any incidents that happened at a gas station?
[Laughing] Did you hear about that?
Yeah I was reading it as it happened on Facebook, I did laugh…
It was hilarious.
So what happened?
Basically it was a stop at a gas station. They all got out but I stayed in my bunk. I actually for once didn’t need to use the toilet. Afterwards, they all just got in and we went. I did think in my mind, they went pretty quick… anyways, they just assumed Dan Foord was in his bunk, but he wasn’t. Dan had left without his phone, without anything, so he had to talk to this old woman and ask her if he could use her phone but he didn’t remember any phone numbers. He had to go onto his email and email our manager. An hour later we then got an email to say Dan Foord is not on the bus, so we had to go back and get him. It was hilarious. I filmed it just so I could see his face. He is the one person that would freak out the most with that kind of thing.
Were you in the middle of nowhere?
Yeah we were in the desert in Arizona. It was hilarious. He thought it was a joke. Apparently he was running after the van. I would freak out. I think anyone would. You don’t have a phone, you’re in the middle of a desert. It was quite good improvisation.
So you’ve talked about some of your favourite shows from the recent tours. Have you got a show in particular that you will always remember?
The best show? I guess Download 2014 was an amazing show.
That was SikTh’s first show after you reformed?
Yeah that was our comeback show. It was really emotional. Koko, London 2014 when we did our headline show, that was also an amazing one. You were there right?
I was indeed! My favourite SikTh show has to be your secret homecoming gig at Watford Rugby Club in 2007.
Oh you went to that?
Yep I was there. That was a really fun and memorable show for me.
That was a good show. That was really good
I came out with a few bruises from that one!
Yeah that show was really passionate, I don’t think we had any lights did we?
No, and there was a football game being shown on the projector behind you!
Yeah that was mental.
So that was only a couple of days before your show at Carling Academy in London. That was yours and Justin’s last show before you both left?
Yeah and it turns out it was SikTh’s last show.
Were they going to try and carry on without you both?
Yeah they said they were going to carry on but they didn’t so really we ended in 2007.
What were your reasons for leaving SikTh at the time?
I didn’t enjoy being in the band with the people. We didn’t get on and it was really extreme. Everyone is so different in our band. Everyone’s pushing in different ways. Back then we didn’t have very good communication with each other at all. We didn’t really like being around each other. But now as we’re older, we’ve got better communication and it’s a lot better than it used to be. It grew and grew, and when things annoy you and you don’t deal with them, they just grow more and that’s what happened with SikTh and for everyone. I was very depressed to be honest, and you have to take action when something like that happens.
So you moved onto different things and that’s when you worked with Adrian Smith in Primal Rock Rebellion. You’ve mentioned previously that working with Adrian helped you melodically?
Yeah Adrian gave me loads of confidence melodically. What he did that no one else has ever done is that he listened to my voice and then he told me what keys were best and he wrote songs for my voice and all this kind of thing. He was on a different planet than anyone I’ve ever been with before. I mean I didn’t really write with anyone as much before. I just usually get in a room and do my own thing. But he was amazing. He gave me loads of confidence. He’s very knowledgeable and very calm, he doesn’t have a big ego or anything. He’s just really easy to be around. I respected him for what he had done before. It was easy to let him in and give me advise. I inspired him too so it worked two ways, I pulled him in different directions.
I want to ask you about you the lyrics you write in SikTh. Some of them are complicated and sometimes it’s hard to understand the meaning behind them. Do they help you to express your feelings?
Yeah I think so. I have a lot of things I’d like to say and get off my chest. Also for instance, on the Primal Rock Rebellion album, I did a song about a friend of mine. The brother of that friend said that it helped him a lot because it relieved trauma, so that’s a really good thing. That kind of thing is good communication, if you’re feeling something and you can kind of put it out there and someone can make it their own. But yeah you should ask me about lyrics if you don’t understand certain ones.
I personally like to visualise a song and make the lyrics relate to my own life and experiences. The last track on your new album is a short spoken piece that hit me quite hard.
“When it Rains?”
That’s it. It’s the first one to actually direct questions at the listener.
Yeah asking questions, about how you think.
For me, it really did make me stop and think. Just to set the scene in my head for this one… I’m on a beach in the dark with my toes just at the edge of the water and the moon is reflecting off the waves and I’m just standing there reflecting life as the instrumental parts carry on and fade out. Do you ever have that intention for a listener when you’re writing?
That’s good you did that because a lot of people say loads of different things about the lyrics on the new album.
[As we are talking, twigs start falling down on us from the big oak tree above. Must have been those pesky Hobbits, always causing trouble over here in the ‘shire]
“When it Rains” is good, I like it because I’m asking people about how they think and how they see the world. I kind of hint how I see the world but I ask people how deeply they see it.
With your other spoken word pieces do you have these different characters in your head that you bring out? Again, I don’t really understand it much.
[Laughs] Are you talking about “When Will The Forest Speak?” I just made up a fictional kind of story and I dunno man, those character voices just came out and they seemed like the right thing to do. I do voices for a video game called “No Truce With The Furies” and I do character voices there, you just get more into each character and you start doing them.
[Deep in conversation, we forgot we were sitting on the edge of a golf course green. We continue chatting but keep an eye on the golf balls being hit towards us].
We should be fine, they aren’t good enough to reach us. But anyways, no I don’t really have little characters in my head.
It’s different, and I guess that’s what makes SikTh what it is in a way.
Yeah I’m not a conventional vocalist, I just do my own thing. I don’t think it’s good to hold yourself back just because other people do something else. I always want to do something new, you know what I mean.
SikTh’s sound is very unique. Did you know what you wanted to create or did it just all come together?
We were a band for a year and we were very full on. Nu Metal cross with very energetic more Extreme Metal. It was a real mad band. But a year later we sacked three people in the band and we brought in Justin Hill, Dan Foord and James Leach. The two guitarists became very technical and Justin was very melodic so it just seemed to happen. We’ve always wanted to make our own music and something different.
So let’s talk a little more about the new album. You’ve already released “No Wishbones” and you’ve done a lyric video for “Vivid.” You said before the lyrics for “Vivid” were about a dream you had?
It was about a dream I was having again and again.
It talks about night terrors?
I just couldn’t find where I was and couldn’t snap out of it and I got really kind of traumatic about it. I’m watching these golf balls sorry…
[The golfers have now reached the putting green by us. We both watch them try to get their balls in the hole. They are failing miserably].
I play Foot Golf.
Yeah seriously it’s a thing [laughing]. Instead you just kick the ball. It’s much better than this.
SikTh have just recently released the music video for “Golden Cufflinks.” It has a mixture of these corporate world images mixed with scenes of demolition. You’ve mentioned it was inspired by the amount of venues closing and being demolished?
The whole thing with the faceless people, the masked men in business suits, these are the people we don’t see who’s making all these decisions for us. It seems that a lot of the rock scene is dying but we’ve still got some cool stuff, like Koko in London [a historical venue], but it happens all around the world. I’ve had interviews in Australia and America, and they say it’s happening there as well.
You have a bunch of intense songs on the new album but there doesn’t seem to be any slow songs like you had on the previous albums.
Yeah Justin had “In This Light” and “Peep Show,” I then had “Each Other In Ourselves” which wasn’t on the main album and then on the last EP I had “Days are Dreamed.” For me, “Days are Dreamed” is one of my favourite songs I’ve ever sung on for SikTh because I love that style. We did say we would do a slow song but it never happened. We will have to have one on the new one.
You’re releasing this new album though Millennium Nights?
Yeah it’s just a subsidiary, we made the label up on Snapper Music.
You released your last EP through a PledgeMusic campaign. Did you not want to go down that road again?
No, not in a hurry. I’d prefer to have a record company because it’s less work for us. Back when we did that for Opacities, we didn’t have anyone pulling strings for us. I felt it was far too much work for people in the band.
“Cracks of Light” features Spencer Sotelo from Periphery. How did that come about?
Yeah, we were talking about it on tour and he was saying how much of a fan he was. We liked his voice so we asked him and he was really up for it. I’m singing with them tonight apparently [Periphery are currently on tour in the UK and will be playing in London]. I need to learn the lyrics [laughing]. You’ll be surprised because I’m a singer and do so many songs but I am really bad at learning stuff. I have to listen to something again and again.
Do you ever forget your lyrics when you’re on stage?
Yeah! Now and again. Actually, me and Joe were forgetting each other’s lines and filling in the wrong ones. But we never missed a line; we just kept on swapping them about without knowing [laughing] we were telepathically fucking it up. Yeah I have forgotten the odd thing, but then there’s songs I haven’t done for 10 years and I’ll know it all. I fucked it all up at Download 2014, I fucked up my spoken word.
Oh no, did everyone notice?
Yeah everyone noticed. They were putting their phones up and recording it! It’s because people kept shouting out song names and they didn’t know what was going on and that threw me. When I do the Spoken Word I do it at quite a pace, I do it quicker now than I did on the album because I wanted it to be more climatic and things. So I have to remember the words and speak them all in different accents, switching from voice to voice and that takes a lot of concentration and energy. So the slightest thing can put you off.
So lastly, you have some festivals already line up but will you be doing a headline tour for this album?
Yeah at the end of the year I think.
Are you going back to the US?
I hope so!
The Future In Whose Eyes? is due to be released on 2nd June. Pre-order your copy here http://found.ee/The_Future_In_Whose_Eyes