Being ahead of your time can be both a blessing and a curse, but for UK metal beasts SikTh, their early days back in the generally cringe-worthy 2000s not only blessed the masses with their eviscerating and innovative brand of heavy tunes; their erratic rhythms, chugging riffs and general disregard for tradition also gave birth to a whole new wave of complex and brain-bending adventures in the music realm.
Perched alongside bands including the mighty Meshuggah, SikTh unwittingly sparked and crafted the brave new world of djent and tech-metal, but after critically acclaimed albums and beyond-capacity live shows, creative and personal differences saw the group splinter and split-up in 2008 at the top of their game.
The prog metal world flourished despite the band's ongoing hiatus, as did SikTh's popularity and legacy - so much so that the lads eventually reformed, and to this day they're still pummeling out polyrhythmic delights (with a brand new album out last year), and routinely tearing up stages alongside their peers and proteges - including their first ever Aussie appearances starting next week alongside fellow innovators The Contortionist.
Before this insanely epic tour roars to life next Wednesday, The Soundcheck gave vocalist and metal machine Mikee Goodman a ring during the week while he was getting up to typical British shenanigans (aka making a cup of tea) to chat tour plans, creativity, and the colossal journey from catching cassettes to playing alongside his musical icons. Interview below.
TIANA SPETER: Hey Mikee! Thanks heaps for chatting! And where am I talking to you today?
TIANA: Nice, I'm here in dark and cloudy Sydney, so it's nice to speak to you on the other side of the world!
TIANA: Yes speaking of that - we finally get to have SikTh come out to Australia for the first time ever! What are your thoughts on coming out here to play your first ever Aussie shows?
MIKEE: Yeah, it's pretty exciting. It's kind of like a dream, you know? Talking personally, I've always wanted to go to Australia and I'd never been. And we've heard the Australian crowds are the best! So we'll see about that.
TIANA: Well I know everyone's pretty damn excited over here, myself included. I have to put my hand up and get my confession out of the way, you guys are one of the bands that made me fall head over heels for heavier music, so thank you for my musical education, I owe you a lot.
TIANA: Since it is going to be the first time we get you guys over here, can you reveal anything about what we can expect from a SikTh live show?
MIKEE: Yeah, I think we're gonna play songs from all of the releases that we've done, and bring as much energy as we can. We're gonna play a long set, about an hour? I don't know what else I can say...(laughs).
TIANA: Your schedule looks pretty tight while you're here, but is there anything else you're hoping to do while you're over here?
TIANA: Fair warning, the worst hangovers I've ever had in my life have come from going to Frankie's...so just a heads up.
TIANA: Oh no, it's fantastic. But it can be a little too much fun.
TIANA: And as part of the tour SikTh are heading out here with The Contortionist, and you've also picked up Alithia from Melbourne, plus a whole heap of pretty awesome supports as well. How familiar were you with the other bands prior to jumping on board with them for this tour?
TIANA: Well you're in for a treat with the others, there's some epic bands along for the ride with you on this one! But with regards to SikTh specifically, you guys seem to have had a pretty busy 2018, and last year wasn't a quiet one either for the group, particularly with the release of 'The Future in Whose Eyes?' (which gave me whiplash in the best possible way because I was head-banging from start to finish). But I found it interesting how much yet how little has changed...the essential core of SikTh was still there, but with some fresh territory as well. Was there a different perspective, whether creatively or technically this time round for you guys given it was the first full-length since the hiatus?
MIKEE: We went for a bit more groove than usual, musically. And even though it doesn't sound as technical, it was actual very technical for the musicians. And when I was writing all the vocals, I went for full-on hooks for everything, and the lyrics are quite honed in on places, I did a lot of work on that. But everything was so intense, it was a very hard album to make! I think we did approach it differently just because we are different, you know? You evolve I guess, or de-volve (laughs). But I think we evolved in a lot of ways, and it was really cool, these massive hooks the whole way through it. But I think the next thing we would make, if we were gonna make a next thing would be a lot more extreme and kind of go a bit more far-out/experimental again. With this one, Joe (Rosser, new vocalist) wasn't involved in any of the writing, so nothing really changed with the vocals other than the fact that I took over everything...and that was it!
'NO WISHBONES' (SIKTH)
TIANA: It's no great secret, and I'm sure to some extent you're sick of hearing it, but SikTh are permanently on a pedestal for your efforts and effect on modern metal and the "djent" world...but in terms of those really, really early days, what was the driving musical idea behind the band? Was it a case of you guys setting out to just make music that you love and having no idea how much of an impact you would actually have?
MIKEE: At the start, yeah! But also in the mind-set that...if you sound like someone else, then change it. If a riff or a vocal line sounds like someone else - change it. It's very, very important, I've always been of the mindset that if you're going to create music, create it of your own. It has to be from you, not from someone else. You may as well be in a covers band if you're gonna just sound like some other band! And with that in mind, then just let yourself channel the energies and channel creativity until it happens. That's it! I think... (laughs).
TIANA: And for someone so heavily associated with such complex and avant-garde music, what type of music were you into when you were younger? Was it the typical story of a gateway heavy band that led you here?
MIKEE: When I was really young I was listening to very different stuff, but the first kind of "rock" band I got into was Guns N' Roses. And then, it's like a lot of people around my age, Guns N' Roses and Black Sabbath and Metallica, and then Pantera and Sepultura. I got a cassette tape of them given to me one day by this dude and I played both sides and one side was 'Chaos A.D' by Sepultura, and I was just like - "this is inSANE!". And from there I got into Cannibal Corpse and really, really heavy stuff...and then from there I personally then got into The Velvet Underground and The Doors, which was really different. I think it was after watching The Doors movie and I was like "woooah!". So I totally got into more psychedelic rock from there. But the band themselves, if there was one band that all of us have loved, from the old lineup this is, I don't know about Joe. But everyone loves Pantera, that's everyone's favourite metal band without doubt.
TIANA: A pretty solid one to agree on!
TIANA: And what about present day, in what I assume is your very rare downtime, what do you find yourself listening to these days?
MIKEE: I've been listening to Nick Cave recently quite a lot. A bit of Jeff Buckley....um...oh man! I went to see this artist called Bob Log III the other day, and that was amazing! He's really cool, a really different and extravagant dude. I listen to a lot of Primus and still The Doors. And I've been doing my new band Sad Season, and so I've been listening to a lot of that, surprisingly, because I've been doing those songs (laughs).
TIANA: SikTh have shared the stage with some insanely huge acts across the years...I can't even begin to rattle off the who and where you've played because we'd be here all night. But for you personally, what was the first gig you ever went along to see?
MIKEE: The first rock show I ever went to was Black Sabbath at the Hammersmith Apollo, and that was cool. And even though it wasn't Ozzy (Osbourne) singing, it was still cool! And then I think the first smaller show I went to see, which was awesome, was Obituary, Napalm Death, Pitchshifter and Atrocity, and I remember catching a Pitchshifter cassette tape and it was insane. I was like "woah this is so cool!" cos back then Pitchshifter were a totally different band, they were really industrial and really heavy, and the singing was a lot heavier. I totally got into them, we started going to see them heaps and I was a big fan of them. Then if you look years and years later, I'm touring with them, and I'm singing a song with them! They'd ask me to always come and sing songs with them, so that's pretty trippy isn't it? You never know what's going to happen.
TIANA: It's wild how many amazing things can be just around that next corner...
MIKEE: Yeah, exactly! When I think about that as well, one of the first CDs I ever bought was by Iron Maiden. And then if you look at that years later, me and my first band, we were all at Adrian Smith's house from Iron Maiden because funnily enough my friend was just walking along the road in a local town, and this lady bumped into him and says "oh, my son really likes this band" and she turns out to be Adrian's wife's friend. And then one thing led to another and our band was going round to see him. Then years later, SikTh went and played Adrian's son's birthday party and then I did an album with Adrian after that! It really is crazy, you never know what's going to happen next. You just gotta roll with it (laughs).
TIANA: Well we're all very glad you've rolled with it, and glad you're still doing your thing. Everyone over here are losing their minds to finally see you guys in action, and I hope the tour is spectacular for you. Thank you so much for your time, Mikee.
SIKTH WILL BE JUMPING UP ONSTAGE ALL OVER THE COUNTRY STARTING NEXT WEDNESDAY ALONGSIDE THE CONTORTIONIST, ALITHIA AND A WHOLE HEAP OF LOCAL LEGENDS!
(PLUS FOR SYDNEY-SIDERS, YOU MAY SPY MIKEE LURKING AT FRANKIE'S OVER THE WEEKEND)
TICKETING + MORE INFO HERE:
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BY TIANA SPETER