If you know anything about progressive/tech metal, then you should be well aware who the godfathers of the genre are. SikTh! The UK’s very own prog metal pioneers. SikTh put on an absolutely spectacular performance and pretty much destroyed the Showbox, (no, seriously…as I was shooting them during the song “Part of the Friction”, the entire floor of the venue was moving and swaying up and down as if it were a rolling earthquake) in downtown Seattle during their first ever U.S. tour. Now that is a very special sentence on its own, considering this outstanding band has been around since 1999. As many of you may have felt the same, I was devastated to learn about SikTh’s breakup back in 2008.
Fast forward to December 2015, and you will find that SikTh was not only back together, but have also released the 5 song EP entitled “Opacities”. It is absolutely crushing. You owe it to yourself to go buy it right now, if you haven’t already. Shortly thereafter, SikTh was on their way to the U.S. on an amazing bill with Periphery, who was headlining, Chon, which is an absolutely amazing band from San Diego, and Toothgrinder to start the show off. Absolutely ecstatic, I contacted the SikTh guys to solidify being able to shoot their performance as well as have the opportunity for an interview. I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down with Mikee Goodman, the genuine, humble poet with the unmistakable voice, who has written most of the lyrics and vocal patterns/structures, and who has fronted SikTh since the beginning. We got to talking about how their first U.S. tour was going, the replacement of one of their members, and also (potentially) a full length album with all new music and more touring! Very exciting times when you hear there may be new music from Sikh on the horizon.
Below, you can enjoy the full interview with Mikee and SiK Imagery, as well as a few shots from the show.
J - I'm here with the amazing vocalist for SikTh, Mikee Goodman! Such a pleasure. How does it feel to finally be touring in the U.S.?
Mikee - It feels amazing. I didn’t expect all the people to know our music, man.
J - Really?
Mikee - No, not at all. I didn’t expect, when I’m walking around, people to recognize me and stuff. That’s weird. I mean, that’s good, because we didn’t think we were anything in America at all.
J - That’s pretty crazy to me considering how many people I know, who know of you guys.
Mikee - Yeah, we didn’t realize...and people are going crazy, and they’re really passionate. They’re more passionate than the European, well, English [people]. And there are a lot of crowds that are about lyrics and stuff like that, it seems. Americans...so far, what I’ve seen is the American crowds seem to look further within music, and they look further within the lyrics, and they dont just go “here are some tunes” and nod their head and go “ yeah, that’s cool”...they really look into it. So that’s refreshing, for me, to know that people still do that. Because music has become so easily consumed over the years..you know? But the people in America ask me about poetry and stuff...that’s great!
J - That’s awesome! I know a lot of people would hear “When Will the Forest Speak” or “Mermaid Slur” or “Tokyo Lights”, from the new one, and be able to recite them word for word, to a “T”.
Mikee - Really?? That’s great!
J - Yeah man! Oh I’ll be out there saying it too! (laughing) It’s funny, I used to have “The yeti is waiting” [a line from “When Will the Forest Speak”] as my text tone on my phone.
Mikee - Oh really?? Shiiit! (laughing) There ya go!
J - It’s just great that people are into that [poetry] with you.
Mikee - Yeah, I did some Instagram thing earlier on and I said one line of “Tokyo Lights” [a spoken word/poetry piece on SikTh’s latest EP “Opacities”], I said “and all the colors have changed”, and then like, people started reciting other lines...so that’s good! It’s refreshing, it’s good that...I was thinking that in some stages in life, I do all this, and I’m really proud of my lyrics, but no one seems to read them at all to take them in. But now, a lot of people are. So I’m pleased with that.
J - That’s awesome. That just made me think of one of the things I loved about the song that you did vocals for, for me on my metal project “Animus Rising”. You wrote the song [lyrics] for “Vultures in Suits” [by Animus Rising] about all these corrupt politicians sitting in their offices only carrying about the money they make (Mikee -yeah!) and we’re just trying to live and be good people and care about what’s really important...which was pretty much the premise of that song. The lyrical content and metaphors are just much deeper than the norm. And you kind of already touched on the second aspect of the two-part question I had, which was “how has the response been?”...
Mikee - The response has been amazing...like, the passion of the crowds, we didn’t expect. We didn’t expect the energy and the passion. Because we’ve heard from other bands, who I wont mention their names; “it’s really hard...people don’t move as much...blah blah blah”. People have been going crazy almost every night for us. Pretty much every night we have the place going like we do in England. So yeah, it’s really really good. It’s a buzz. We didn’t realize it, man.
J - Very cool. I’m happy to hear that. So, how is it with Joe [Joe Rosser, a new member of the band on vocals for SikTh) filling in for Justin? Is he filling in for good....or...
Mikee - I think so. I think so. Justin is not going to be in the band anymore. He’s quit the band. He’s retired...or something. (laughs) No, he’s quit. So, yeah, you know...I mean, it’s strange, isn’t it? Like, this dude comes from nowhere...I don’t really know him, and then he comes on tour...yeah, it’s alright. We’re going.
J - So that’s working out?
Mikee - I’m very different...me and him, we’re like opposites.
J - He’s a real quirky, goofy guy. (everyone laughs)
Mikee - Goofy! (laughing)
J - I mean that in a good way! But yeah, I love Joe. Been following him on social media since the Aliases guys brought him on to replace the singer that they had.
Mikee - Ah yeah! ok!
J - So, he’s been getting a good response from the crowds, because clearly everyone here [in the states] knows you guys, knows the lyrics...certainly know that it’s a new singer.
Mikee - Some people do and some people dont actually...and it’s because we’re a band who didn’t really have so many photos and stuff like that. But yeah. He’s 23 years old and he just got the chance to come sing in a band that he was a fan of since he was in his mid-teens...so it must be a big buzz for him, you know? But me and him are like opposites. I think deeply about poetry and want to go and wander off, you know, do my thing...but you know, the thing is, about Justin leaving, I wrote all the words, and I wrote more or less most of the vocals. The vocal structures are all me. So, we haven’t lost our writer, we’ve just lost a good voice and a friend. [talking lyrical content] (Joe) asked me about “on top of the world in a plastic ashtray”, and he thought it meant that exact thing...like i was just talking shit, and I wasn’t. It’s like, when you think everything’s going well and you’re in a really really positive place, but you know that it [the plastic ashtray] could melt through very easily. You’re so fragile, and could easily fall to the bottom.
J - That’s a lot deeper than what some people would probably think.
Mikee - Maybe, yeah, but there’s still things like that...someone might go “well this means that” or “this sounds stupid” or something like that...like when I was talking about crocodiles on the first album. I’m not talking about actual crocodiles, I’m talking in a metaphor, man. For instance, it’s the same metaphor as people talking about wolves...or sharks...it’s the same thing, you know? Or when you talk about like, “vultures in suits”...or whatever...it could be like...society. That’s the way it’s become, hasn’t it? There’s too much pressure on people now-a-days...and that’s another reason why music has gone the way it’s gone...because people are too desperate to be famous...too many shortcuts...and they ignore what’s the best thing about being a musician...finding something new in your own.
J - That’s a good point.
Mikee - Making your own signature, man. That’s the most important. I was reading some famous quote on a magnet the other day, by Kurt Cobain, who sat here and said “I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not”. That’s good. He was a very real person. Craftsmanship has just taken a really weird route, man, in music now-a-days. But there’s still light. You can still find it.
J - Speaking of which, can we expect a new, full length SikTh album?
Mikee - Yeah....I hope so.
J - THAT is the answer I wanted to hear.
Mikee - Yeah! And we’re aiming to get it out in the spring. If we could do that, then we’d love to come back to America. But, yeah, we want to come back to America as soon as we can, really. We’d rather be in that [points to Periphery’s tour bus], than this. This is a fuckin’ tiny little van.
J - And there’s 6 of you guys in here?
Mikee - 7!
J - Wow! Well, that’s great news about the full length SikTh album. So have you guys already started writing stuff? I’m sure you, being a poet, you’ve got to have a lot of lyrics.
Mikee - I’ve got lyrics, man. I’ve got lyrics. I’d rather be writing more. I was just talking to the Periphery singer about this...when you’re claustrophobic, it’s not really -a great place for writing. Like me, he often wanders off on his own and does his own thing. And yeah, so, I’m not writing in America as much as I should be, but I’ve got loads...I’ve had loads before. I’m always writing. Even if you’re not physically writing...you’re taking an experience...you’re absorbing it. I find, if you’re clear in your head what your concept is, and you have as much inspiration, then the lyrics should just flow. SikTh lyrics are really hard to write because the parts are really really fast and you have to make it all mean something...and then choruses...everything having to have certain lettering...certain tones. It’s not like a poem...it’s not like a pure form...
J - It’s more structured
Mikee - ahhh it’s a lot more craft.
J - So, you’ll be writing the new album, and then will you be hoping to get a headlining tour out here?
Mikee - Maybe, yeah. We would go for a headline or a support [act]...we don’t mind. We just really appreciate Periphery, doing what they’ve done for us. Because, we’ve skipped a lot of steps that bands have to do usually.
J - Right on! Well, I’ve just got one more question for ya. So what’s on the agenda for SikTh after this tour, when you guys get home?
Mikee - Writing, straight away. Recording the album...and then...I dont know. Personally, I’m going to be doing voice overs for a computer game as well.
J - oh nice!
Mikee - I do shitloads, man. I make music videos and all that. I basically was trying not to work so much, and then it got ridiculous...and I dont stop working. I’ve been working, maybe 16 hour days in music...editing music videos, editing documentaries....I’d rather take a breather and have my poetry able to breathe, because, you need to breathe. You need to let your mind breathe if you’re going to get the best out of yourself.
J - Well hopefully you can do just that when you get back, after you write the SikTh album.(Everyone laughing)
Mikee - I’ve got people I’ve got to do stuff for....so...yeah. (laughing)
J - Well hopefully you get a break at some point.
Mikee - Yeah yeah yeah, I would love to. (laughing) I’m gonna get the whip cracked. (laughing) “alright, ok, I’ll do it”. I want to work so I can do nothing but write music, and then you end up working so much and then you’re not doing what you want. But at the end of the day, we should be back, we should be in the studio...we should be finished in the studio by about November maybe...hopefully. We’ll have to see.
J - Hell yeah! All new material, too?
Mikee - Yeah! Everything new. Everything new...from the start. With Joe Rosser, our vocalist. But you know, I’m still the writer. I’m open to other things...melodies...stuff like that. But essentially it’s always me. Because you know, you’ve got a formula, man...you’ve got to keep to it. The thing is about Joe, he can nail everything. He came in...pretty much didn’t have long to do, and he came in and he nailed it really quickly. That’s pretty incredible. He’s got talent, definitely. So yeah. Good for him.
J - Well cool man, thank you so much for your time. It’s very much appreciated.
Mikee - Thank you very much! Thank you!
If you would like to hear a demo version of the song that Mikee did for my metal project "Animus Rising", click here:"Vultures in Suits"