Skindred biography


Last updated: 18 November 2008

A crazed mash-up of reggae, ragga, metal and punk, Skindred are one of the world's most inventive rock bands, an unsurprising fact given lead man Benji's personal history.

Benji Webbe is a native of Newport and a veteran of the rock explosion of the mid-90s which led to Spin magazine dubbing the town 'The New Seattle'.

From 1993 to 1999 he was in Dub War, the ragga-rock band signed to Earache who despite being up against the likes of Menswear, Sleeper, Echobelly and a myriad of other dull Britpop bands, still managed to infiltrate the charts and rock festival crowds worldwide.

But by 1999 Dub War split as their second album didn't meet expectations and the band entered into a dispute with Earache. It wasn't long, however, until Benji and his cohorts Jeff Rose and Ginge Ford returned as Skindred. The new outfit signed with major label RCA, and their debut album, Babylon, saw the light of day in 2000.

Unfortunately, despite the support of some of the major players in metal crossover such as ex-Sepultura man Max Cavalera, cracks began to show in the band as another dispute soured the relationship between Skindred and RCA.

It all proved too much for Jeff and Ginge and they issued a statement detailing the reasons behind their decision to leave the band in 2002. The pair now run Nottin Pill studios in Newport, producing local bands, and are working on a project called Raw Bud.

Babylon found a new home on WEA, and the support of a new label plus a new line-up seemed to galvanise the entire Skindred cause. The album was re-recorded and re-formatted and the band set out on another huge round of American touring.

This time round, American audiences as well as influential figures in the rock scene took to their hotpot of musical styles in their droves. At the moment, over 200,000 have crossed the counter and the UK has picked up on the Skindred grooves.

In 2007, the band released their follow-up, Roots Rock Riot.

Dub War never fulfilled their potential, but Skindred prove there's a market for music not easily pigeonholed in the safe genres that American radio and the media demand.

The success of Babylon has been a success for broad-mindedness and a defeat for conservatism. They're a little piece of Newport's multi-racial musical heritage impacting on the worldwide music scene.

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