INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Since their first formation seventeen years ago, London six-piece SikTh have gained much respect for their diverse style, encompassing the metal genre, and they are seen as one of the pioneers of djent.
Splitting up in 2007, they shocked the crowd at the 2014 Download Festival by reuniting live on stage.
They have had a brilliant summer touring all across the USA, and there are rumours a new full-length studio album, their first in almost a decade, is on the cards.
I sat down and chatted with bassist James Leach just before they played a headline set at the Macmillan Fest in Nottingham.
How was the band formed initially?
Dan and Pin were, before SikTh, in a band called Malpractice, and that came to an end.
The two of them decided that they wanted to carry on, I think they saw Mikee playing with his old band, and they realised he had a thing about him, so they asked Mikee if he wanted to join their new band.
The three of them got together, and I think they originally had a bassist and drummer as well, one of them was called Jamie, the other Ali, and they also had a vocalist named Tristan, and the band formed in late 1999, early 2000.
Things didn’t work out with some of the members, so they reformed with a new line-up, and that’s where me and Dan Foord came in, and that was in 2001, when the band as we know it really began.
How did the name SikTh come about?
I think they wanted a name that wasn’t really anything, you know what I mean?
They decided to take the word “Sixth” and changed the “x” to a “k”, and obviously, when you Google our name, it’s the only thing that comes up.
You’ve recently been on tour in the USA with Periphery. How did that go?
It was incredible, one of the best experiences we’ve ever had as a band.
Before we went out there, we weren’t really sure how it would go, because we hadn’t really played in the States before, but we were completely blown away from the responses we got from the crowds every night, how enthusiastic and passionate they were about our music, it was a real nice surprise.
Do you think that there’s a difference between American and British crowds at all?
Not really, a mad crowd’s a mad crowd, whether you’re playing in Glasgow, Manchester or New York City.
You know, people are the same the world over.
You surprisingly reunited at Download a few years back. How did that come about?
We split in 2007, mainly because we wanted to pursue other things.
The year before the reunion, me and Dan Foord were playing together at Download, and it was there we bumped in Dan Weller and Mikee.
It was the first time four of us had been in the same room together for what must have been around six, seven years, and we were remembering the old times we’d had when the band had played Download, and someone suggested “Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that again?”
So that was when the plan was hatched, and we played Download the following year with the sort of surprise comeback.
It’s been almost a decade since your last full studio album. Are there any plans at the moment for a new one at all?
Yeah, as soon as we play here, we all have a week off, and then we’ll all start writing the songs for our third full studio album.
Hopefully, we’ll be recording that before or during Christmas, so the idea is to get it out some time next year.
What’s your opinion of the current state of the British music industry?
I think it’s okay, people don’t buy records any more, so you can’t make money in the same way you could have done in the past.
Now, you’ve got to diversify and look at other ways of maintaining an income, such as through live shows and merchandise.
Some people are down about it, but I don’t think it’s that bad, because as long as you’re prepared to adapt, you will be okay.
The band has been around for a while now, and you’ve achieved a lot. Is there anything you would like to do that you haven’t managed to yet?
I mean, we’ve just returned from our US tour, and that was a landmark for us, because it was something that we’ve always wanted to do.
I guess what I would like to do, at least at one time in my life, is to do a real world tour, that would be incredible.
We have achieved a lot, not that we’ve rested on our laurels, but we would love to do more shows, play live as much as we can, because when I get old and grey, I don’t want to think “we should have played live more often”, so that’s the aim.
Have you got anything lined up in the near future at all?
SikTh wise, like I said earlier, we’ll be working on a new album as soon as we’ve had our week’s break.
We’ve got touring plans for next year, we would like to go back to the States and Europe, and play countries we haven’t played yet, like Australia, but nothing’s for definite at the moment, so I can’t really go into great detail.
What advice would you give to a band that is just starting out?
Play as much as you can, play live as much as you can.
Obviously, there’s a lot of bands out there that don’t get out as much as they ought to, because they have more of an online presence.
Accept as many offers as you can, because you may turn down something that might be really good, and take every opportunity that comes your way.
When you first joined the band, did you ever think SikTh would have become as successful as they are now?
Not really, when me and Dan Foord joined, we rehearsed in a small basement studio in Watford, and I think the idea was initially to get out there and do some gigs, hoping somebody would at least turn up.
To achieved what we have achieved, it’s pretty unbelievable.