With the release of ‘The Future In Whose Eyes?’ this week, England’s SikTh are marking their full return to the recorded metal world with a bold statement; one that begun with 2015’s ‘Opacities’ EP but will now be fully realised with this new full-length. Recently, lyricist/co-vocalist Mikee Goodman opened up about the backlash to the lyrics on ‘Vivid’, his history with traumatic dreaming, the posed question of this album’s title, the various themes said record deals in, 2006’s ‘Death Of A Dead Day’, and collaborating with members of Periphery.
Mikee, are you and the band bracing for this new record’s wide and near-unending comparisons to ‘Death Of A Dead Day’ by fans and critics?
Yeah, I mean, you’re always going to be compared to your last album. I think we went a bit more progressive with this record and it’s more… instant as well. Vocally, it’s catchier all-around, as that’s the way I wrote the vocals. It’s more instantly satisfying than ‘Death Of A Dead Day’. I do think if we had released this album back in the day, it would have been greatly received. I do hope that this new album is given a good chance by people, as some records just fall into the digital black hole. So we hope as many fans and people listen to it as possible.
For sure, and I think many people will. On the vocals, yourself and Joe [Rosser] really nailed the hooks and vocal interplay here, much like the SikTh of old.
Thanks, man! It’s because the music is so complex that I wanted to challenge myself to write really good hooks the whole way through. Often when I read reviews or such, and while I don’t take it all to heart, a lot of people have this perception that I’m just some strange dude who makes weird noises and does strange accents. I wanted to now say, “Well, actually I write all the vocals and do a lot of the melodies”. But in the past, that was always given to this high-mid voice, which was, of course, Justin. Here we have this mid-range clean voice which is Joe and then I even do a few myself. It was also to help out the songs, but it doesn’t hurt in having more strings to your bow, ain’t it?
It definitely doesn’t hurt! And it also keeps things interesting and the vocals on this record add even more layers to the already layered SikTh sound.
That’s it! As I have my own studio, I record all the vocals, and then I divide them up on Pro Tools over a bunch of tracks. I get Joe to sing the parts, play around with them and work out how the crossovers could work, and he nails it all really quickly too. He doesn’t even learn most of it prior. Which is surprising, as you have to be very talented to do that; a few go’s and he’s right there.
Well, I suppose that helps to keep the tracking process quick?
Yeah man, it does. I mean, he doesn’t learn or write any lyrics or vocals, and he comes in and nails it? That’s a strong talent there in of itself. [Laughs]. And you know, good on for Joe for coming in on this album too. The real shame is that Justin and I got along really well in his last few years of SikTh. I was just with him and his at Periphery the other day, they both came out to the show and it was great to hang out. And hey, Joe’s hilarious and great too. It’s actually very different for us to have someone like him around…
Are you all much more straight-faced and reserved than he is?
Yeah, we’re pretty intense people when it comes to the band, especially the writing. As well as that, we’re all at least ten years older than Joe, and we’ve been around the block a bit [laughs]. Even though we don’t really look it. Put Joe and me next to each other, and we don’t look that much older.
With the question posed in the album’s title – ‘The Future in Whose Eyes?’ – I get this ‘Us Vs Them’ mentality; of the common folks pitted against the elite of society with this all being a very critical take on our current world. Am I at all right in that analysis or is it more nuanced than that for you?
Yeah, I am indeed talking about the richest and poorest, and I am asking a lot of questions – from the common folk; to the rich, to everyone. For instance, ‘Century Of The Narcissist?’ talks about how our minds are being suppressed by social media and all of these new devices. New technology can be used for such good and can connect us in such great ways, like how I in America is talking to you right now in Australia. But it can also be used for bad ways, with people’s privacy and safety. I really do think that so much technology these days holds us back. I mean, I can do amazing things in my home studio, which I do love, but at the same time, so many bands create their albums from the very start and they never actually jam together in a room. ‘Century Of The Narcissist?’ is about people being on the front covers than making truly inspirational music and finding themselves through music. So I just think that people miss out on the authenticity of it.
With the title, whose future is it really? Who decides that? I’m asking these questions about how people think. I’m questioning all these things as I like for people to make their own conclusions and think for themselves. And every interviewer says something slightly different about the title’s name, which is great to see, as it’s what they think it means.
I think that the metaphor and the fact that every interviewer has said something different about the title is a great sign for the music’s longevity. As well as the lyrical complexity then helps the complex music. Very cool duality there. And on the lyrics, though, I want to ask about the first single and opening track, ‘Vivid’. The press release mentioned how it was inspired by traumatic dreams. So, as you wrote the lyrics for this album, is that song based on merely your interest in such concepts or because this song is actually about your own traumatic dreams?
Yes, it was something I experienced myself because I was having these constant dreams that I couldn’t snap out of. I was in a hotel with my old band called Outside The Coma – which is quite a crazy name for this topic, actually – and I was trapped in this dream state. My mate just watched me the whole time. To me, I was walking through this whole hotel, going through the rooms, opening doors, going up and down the elevator, but I was actually just standing and walking in one spot, pressing the elevator buttons but not getting on. This went on for so long. It was a horrible place to be in. Another friend had to stop me from walking out in the street in my underwear when I was stuck in the dream once in Brighton one night. That was pretty crazy. So yes, ‘Vivid’ was written about those experiences…
But no one really got that. I did look at the feedback from YouTube and Facebook comments and it was quite bad. People were saying how these were just stupid lyrics, and I’m like [in his deep, SikTh spoken word voice] “They’re not stupid lyrics”.
Wow, that’s hectic. Thanks for the explanation on that. I feel for you there about the inspiration for ‘Vivid’; that’s very interesting but also kind of scary as well.
It was. You know, I do wish that I put out ‘Century Of The Narcissist?’, as it’s so much more in your face, right then and there and say “Here ya go, fuckers”. We were on tour when that all happened. When I write my lyrics, I always base it off my own experiences. To be honest with you, ‘Vivid’ is probably the weakest track, poetically speaking. As for one, it was the last track written so there was less time in the album’s process for me to write the lyrics, but it was also kind of jokey. As we thought the early fans would love it. But when you do something last, you think that it’s great; that it’s amazing and you really vibe off it. It was an awesome track, no doubt, but lyrically I’d have liked to do a “posher” lyric video, really explaining what was going on, as it has seemed a bit much for some.
For sure, and I imagine that much have been incredibly discouraging for you; to talk about something rather personal and then have heaps of people write it off as lyrical wank?
It really was. I have never experienced that before, honestly. I had my ex-label and my ex-manager saying that my songs would be perfect for lyric videos. I’m not a usual writer of a metal band. I really, really care about the lyrics. So it was discouraging and I was quite gutted about it. But my manager told me that there will always be trolls for these things and that the other single, ‘No Wishbones’, didn’t get much negativity at all. It came down to ‘Vivid’ or ‘Century…’ and it shouldn’t have been ‘Vivid’ I guess.
Well, hindsight’s 20/20. You may have also antagonised just as many people with the lyrics to ‘Century Of The Narcissist?’ anyway!
But I’d have liked that a lot more with that song, actually! We might try and do that song in a lyric video one-day. I made the visuals to ‘Vivid’ in a day and a half. I also did our ‘Philistine Philosophies’ video and the ‘Golden Cufflink’ clip as well. Oh, we are making another SikTh music video with Spencer from Periphery for ‘Cracks Of Light’.
Oh, sick! Correct me if I’m wrong, that must be really handy, having someone who’s good with directing and setting up lyric video visuals and actual music videos?
Well, yeah, you’d think so! [Laughs]. When you make a music video for band members and trying to direct other band members, it can be very hard. Not all of them, just some of them.
[Laughs]. I most certainly did think it’d be easy. Also, with Periphery as you just mentioned before. Did Nolly’s mixing duties for this record come from you and the band meeting up Periphery back in 2016, similar to how Spencer’s guest spot on ‘Cracks Of Light’ came about?
Well, no, as Nolly wasn’t on that tour as he hasn’t been in that band for a while. But we had loads of different mixers lined up for this record, and the band voted for Nolly, as they love what he did with Devin Townsend. He did a good job, I think.
He really did. Nolly helped make each aspect of SikTh’s sound “shine”, is how I’d put it. Finally, Mikee, as an obligatory question to wrap up…. Australian tour when?
Soon, as we really hope to get there mate! Our manager says that he’s aiming for us to come over to Australia early next year. I really want to, as it’s actually at the top of my priorities for SikTh.
Glad to hear it mate. Seeing SikTh live is also at the top of my priorities too. With that Mikee, we’ll leave our chat right there as I know you a few more people waiting to talk with you. Thank you for your time and congrats on the new record!
Oh, cheers for this mate! Hopefully, we’ll see you in Australia sometime soon!
‘The Future In Whose Eyes?’ is out this Friday, June 2nd.