Interview: Martin Walkyier & Dave Pugh, Skyclad


The grey, wind-soaked hills of the Monmouth countryside are an ideal setting for Skyclad and their Pagan, folk-instilled thrash. The band were ensconced in the Welsh foothills, mixing their latest and most prolific album Jonah's Ark.

Escaping the dinosaur-toting kids into the sanctuary of a side enclave of their cottage, I put it to vocalist Martin Walkyier and guitarist Dave Pugh whether Jonah's Ark is a conscious decision to escape the Thrash tag into more song-orientated territory.

"Yeah, we've shortened them 'cos we found we had eight songs lasting 45 minutes, which led to reduced quality," answers Dave.

"We're trying to blend other ideas," Martin adds. "I think that the thing people like about Skyclad is that we're different"

Fritha Jenkins, whose violin/ mandolin work has added the extra dimension, has become even more pivotal on Ark as Dave explains.

"The first LP was mainly Thrash. Last year we blended the violin and keyboards into Metal. This time we've taken a bit of the metal out."

"We've tried to keep it heavy and stick to our roots," emphasizes Walkyier. "But I'm trying to use my voice in a few different ways, and with using the mandolin and keyboards you have to slow things down to allow the tunes the room to breathe."

Dave then simplifies matters.

"We're developing our own style but still taking our roots with us. There's a couple of really folky tunes and even one that's Spanish styled."

The recording process has also been a lot quicker for the band, two-and-a-half weeks recording and then straight down to Wales fro the mixing.

"There was no time to go round in circles trying to make things spot on, which is great 'cos in doing that you tend to lose the feel of the song," reasons Martin.

"We didn't worry about whether or not it was too wacky or whether it would fit in. We just did it," points out Dave.

Mr Walkyier has a reputation for being rather offbeat, and with song titles as fantastic as Earth Mother The Sun And The Furious Host he would seem to be living on that reputation.

"A lot are based on environmental images again," he begins, sticking to his Pagan ideals. "Plus there's a few departures 'cos I felt like doing things differently, but those are still done in a Skyclad way. I don't want to go on about the lyrics. I'd sooner let people listen to them and find their own meanings."

Skyclad may inadvertently raise a few chuckles, but there’s no denying that in a musical genre largely devoid of ingenuity Skyclad blow a breath of fresh air.

Joe Mackett
Riff Raff
August 1993
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