Kevin Ridley (SKYCLAD) on Rock Overdose: “The new album has a sort of ‘mid-nineties’ feel to it”

We are very honored to present you the interview that Kevin Ridley, SKYCLAD's lead singer, gave to Rock Overdose and to Konstantinos Sotirelis. Ridley talked about the band's new album, their shows in Greece, about folk metal and many more! Enjoy!



Rock Overdose: Hello Kevin, welcome to Rock Overdose.


Kevin: Hello and thank you for the interview.

Rock Overdose: How it’s going on the band’s side these days?


Kevin: Things are really picking up again, now that the new album is out and we have started to play more live shows. Everyone is really looking forward to the rest of 2017 and beyond.
Rock Overdose: You are coming in Greece in a few days where you’ll play in six different cities. How did you decide to play so many gigs in Greece?


Kevin: This came about after doing some shows in 2014. Basically, we have only ever played in Athens and Thessaloniki – thinking that was a Greek tour – but the promoters from the last show said we should play more places in Greece because not everyone could make it to those shows. So we said okay, if you can arrange it we’ll do it. And they did so here we go; our first proper tour of Greece.


Rock Overdose: What should we expect from your shows here?


Kevin: We try to make the shows a bit different each time we come, even though we know people expect to hear the ‘classic’ tracks. But for these shows there will be some songs from the new album, some of which we will play live for the first time.


Rock Overdose: What’s your opinion about the Greek fans?


Kevin: It odd how some bands seem to be more popular in some territories than they are in their own country. And for Skyclad Greece is one such territory. The people here seem to have taken to Skyclad back in the 1990s and, more importantly, have stuck with us over the years. Our Greek fans seem very passionate about our music and we always have a great party atmosphere here; till way past our bedtime.
Rock Overdose: On 28th of April you are going to release your 13th album. How do you feel?


Kevin: Excited and a bit relieved to be honest. Because for awhile it looked to me like there might not be another Skyclad album. Fortunately, after Dave Pugh re-joined the band and we had had a bit a break, there was a more positive air about the band and once we started working on the new album it was a pleasure to do and we are very pleased with the way it turned out.


Rock Overdose: Can you give us a few details about the album? What should the fans expect?


Kevin: Some of the comments that have been made about the album are interesting because they say that the new album has a sort of ‘mid-nineties’ feel to it and that it sounds ‘warm’ and ‘natural’ (as in not being over-processed or over-produced). Perhaps this is because we recorded the album in Newcastle with our own tried and tested (and old) equipment. It also seems to have something of a ‘punky’ edge to it for some songs. Anyway, I think there is some variety to the songs, in terms of style and subject matter (and no, it’s not all politics) and it sounds different to the last album – like all Skyclad albums should.
Rock Overdose: You have stated that the album describes some political, environmental and music business themes. Why did you decide to deal with these themes?


Kevin: When I started planning the new album I wanted to use a sort of ‘Decameron’ approach, where each song would have a ‘theme’ or topic. For these themes I looked back at song from the late 80s and early 90s and though about bringing them up to date. So there would be ten songs plus an intro, an outro and a short instrumental break in the middle. So some of the themes had to be politics, the environment, the music business and so on but I also wanted to have some lighter topics such as ‘bawdy’ or drinking songs, songs with a traditional flavour and songs of a more personal nature to give the album some variety.
Rock Overdose: Do you think that it is important for musicians and for artists in general, to touch upon subjects like these?


Kevin: I think it is up to individual artists/bands to decide about how much they want to engage with politics or the business side of things. Some people see themselves more as entertainers and don’t want to ‘preach’ to their audience; which is fine of course. Furthermore, I think it could be rather dull and gloomy if everybody sang about the same subjects but I think the subjects we deal with on the new album are endemic to metal.
Rock Overdose: The album cover is very interesting. Can you give us a few details about its meaning?


Kevin: Well as the album is called ‘Forward Into The Past’, it seemed appropriate to get Duncan Storr involved again. Duncan’s artwork has always seemed like a natural ‘fit’ with Skyclad’s music and so it proved again. We were really lucky in that he sent us a few images through and we were spoilt for choice. However, once we had decided on one image to use, he went one step further and produced the ‘Storyteller’ image and a few more supporting images that we instantly liked and so we were able to put together a great package of images that really work well together and work with the album’s concept. The ‘storyteller’ image is a very traditional sort of ‘green man’ image linking man to nature and goes well with the idea of telling different stories on the album, such as ‘Change Is Coming’, ‘A heavy Price To Pay’ and ‘The Queen Of The Moors’.

Rock Overdose: After 12 albums, is it easy for you to write new material?


Kevin: The answer is, of course, that it is never ‘easy’ to write new material. For me, it is very much a case of 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. But the important point is whether or not it is still enjoyable to write new material after 12 albums and I have to say that I was worried when we started work for this new album (back in 2011) that I would find it very difficult but once we decided to go for it again in 2016 it came together really quickly and easily. It’s to do with your state of mind I guess.


Rock Overdose: In 2014, Dave Pugh returned to the band. How did the fans react and how do you feel about having him back to Skyclad?


Kevin: We were doing a lot of ‘anniversary’ type of gigs and Steve asked Dave to play with us at one of these shows as a ‘surprise guest’. Needless to say that we all had a great time and we asked Dave if he wanted to be part of things again; he agreed and I think everyone is happy about it.
Rock Overdose: Despite the fact that you are the band’s vocalist for 15 years, I think that there were a lot of people that were questioning you. What’s your opinion and what do you say to them?


Kevin: Well I have been involved with the recording of every original Skyclad album and there is only Steve Ramsey, Graeme English and myself who can say that. On top of that I have been playing live with Skyclad for nearly twenty years now and I have been singing lead for the band for the past seventeen years. So I think I have served my time. But, actually, the most important thing is that the band line-up is the most stable it has ever been and we all still enjoy writing, recording and playing live together. Instead of dredging up the past - which gets rather tedious - I prefer to enjoy what we are doing now and look to the future.


Rock Overdose: How do you feel about being one of the pioneers of the folk metal?


Kevin: When we recorded the first album people didn’t talk about ‘folk-metal’, we just made the record as interesting as we could using some folk influences and instruments. Later the term ‘folk-metal appeared and we are said to have help pioneer this ‘sub-genre’. Obviously, for the band this is very gratifying and it’s great when people from all over come up and say that you were a big influence on them or part of the reason they got into music or whatever. It still happens to this day with younger bands and it’s good to see people doing their own take ‘folk-metal’.

Rock Overdose: Thank you very much for this interview, the last words are yours.


Kevin: Firstly, sorry that it took eight years to produce a new album but a few things came up (good and bad) that got in the way and, secondly, we are really looking forward to playing the new songs live as we see this as a new chapter in the Skyclad story.