Matt Hensch of Thrashpit.com: I really appreciate the opportunity to conduct an interview with the band. In what way has The Scars Between Us altered the ever-growing biography of Skinlab's crusade against the masses?
Steev Esquivel (vocals/bass): Well we feel it's one of our strongest recordings to date. We put a lot of hard work into this album and it's probably the most personal too. It was mostly self-produced with Snake handing about 80% of all the engineering, which has not been the case in the past. We've always worked with outside producers, so it's nice to get a grasp on everything.
Thrashpit.com: The band was inactive for seven years before the new album. What changed among Skinlab within that time-frame?
Esquivel: Not much really, we're a bit older (laughs). But for the most part we had been together as friends and jamming every now and then. We never really broke up; we just went on to other things for a bit and basically concentrated on life for a change. When we decided to get back and start writing in 2006-2007 everything came back as if we had never taking a break. That is why the album sounds the way it does ...true to form.
Thrashpit.com: How does The Scars Between Us represent Skinlab in 2009, as opposed to the band's previous works?
Esquivel: It's a much heavier album then the last album. We took the same approach as always, but we felt we had a bit more aggression pent up since the break, and I think it shows for itself. It is probably the heaviest Skinlab album yet.
Thrashpit.com: The band signed to Stand and Deliver Records to release the new album. Why that label as opposed to others offering Skinlab a spot on their roster?
Esquivel: We had been talking with a few labels over the course of 2008 and 2009. We really felt we needed a fresh start with a new label and someone who is going to take Skinlab for what we are now, not for what we were or how many records we sold on our last album. We still have a lot to prove and a lot of work ahead of us. Stand and Deliver also had a good track record of taking care of their bands.
Thrashpit.com: How has your health been since the illness that caused Skinlab to cancel their US tour was discovered?
Esquivel: My lungs are back to normal and ready to rock. We've played a few shows since then. I just need to take care of myself better on the road, between climate changes and temperature changes, second hand smoke...all that sh*t matters. After not touring for a few years, since the ban of smoking in most clubs, it really took the life out of me when we got to the Midwest or back east where chain smoking if off the hook. I never noticed it before as much as the last run we did. Cigarette smoke is f*cking brutal (laughs), and it was tuff watching the guys get to party it up while I'm barely able to breathe. For the most part I'm ready and the boys are ready – we just need to set up a solid tour!
Thrashpit.com: Are there any tour plans in the works following the latest tour's cancellation?
Esquivel: Yes! We're trying to get on a couple tours right now, but it is hard man. There are a lot of killer new bands out there and a lot of tours going. We're hoping to be back out in March or Aril and hopefully get out to Europe this year. We have a tour being set up in South America for June, after our last South American tour was washed; we are looking forward to that shit. South America is going to crush.
Thrashpit.com: Will Skinlab participate in any contests in the future? It seems there were some pretty interesting giveaways listed on the band's Myspace page.
Esquivel: Stand and Deliver Records is always thinking of new ways to keep us active and come up with new contests. We'll be doing some really cool shit in the near future. For now we're just brainstorming and thinking of the next move.
We just recently gave away a Jackson bass guitar in a contest that "Revolver Magazine" hosted for us, which was killer. I know we will be giving away another Jackson Guitar here in the near future, so keep your eyes open for that. We did just became part of the Jackson family and will be having sick new Custom Baritones made for us and designed by Snake.
I'm sure we'll be doing some kind of contest giveaways with those customs guitars, being the great company Jackson is and the promotion they are looking to do with us. It is always cool sh*t!
Thrashpit.com: What are your views on today's metal scene?
Esquivel: I think there are a lot of killer new bands out there and I'm a fan of a lot of it. I tend to stay true to the classic metal more so than the newer stuff, although I have been pleasantly surprised by bands like Bury your Dead, All That Remains, Black Dahlia Murder, Bleeding Through. I'm really digging them.
Snake and I are producing a new band out of San Jose Ca called A Thousand Kingdoms; those guys are going to do really well. They are the most professional band I have come across in a long time. I'm excited for what the future hold for metal!
Thrashpit.com: Skinlab's story throughout the years has always been followed by strong, sometimes harsh criticism. With the new album out and the reviews posted, how has the album been received by most publications, and is it important to get a "gut-check" every now and then from negative comments relating to Skinlab's material?
Esquivel: Yeah we haven't been getting the red carpet treatment lately (laughs). That's all good – we're not looking for hand-outs from people. If you like our music that's killer, if you don't, try listening to something else. There are tons of fucking bands out there. Skinlab are not a band out to kiss ass and change every time the scene changes. Put us on any stage with any band and we will f*cking crush. There are no doubts about it the same people talking sh*t are the same people buying us beers after our set. Skinlab will throw the f*ck down, no matter where we are or who were opening for.
Thrashpit.com: How has the age of illegal downloading damaged Skinlab's record sales, especially with the release of the new album?
Esquivel: We've been hit hard by the illegal downloads. I think we heard that on one site alone our album was downloaded 6k, which is pretty lame. I know I have been pretty outspoken about the lack of sales of the new album, it's been a struggle without touring. I'm glad to say that sales are starting to pick up and nice to see Stand & Deliver Records and Sony Red are getting it in more stores. We actually have a large in-store promotion going on right now with all the Hastings Music Stores; everyone should go check it out! We'll be back out in the states March/April supporting it with a new video and single, so we're looking forward to that.
Thrashpit.com: Will Skinlab's long-awaited DVD finally see a release in 2010?
Esquivel: Yup! We've been working on it for years it seems like haha. We're looking to shoot an upcoming show with the new line-up and then will begin adding stuff from then on; hopefully by the end of the year we'll be ready with more than enough footage.
Thrashpit.com: Skinlab has been around for fifteen years. Having experienced the ups and downs of a long-running band, what would Skinlab change about itself if the entity was given an opportunity to alter its past in any fashion?
Esquivel: You know it's been a learning experience from day one when we got signed; it wasn't for a big deal or anything. We have been through a lot as Skinlab over the years. I think it's made the core members closer and stronger. We still have the rage inside us; I wouldn't change anything if I could. We've had a hell of a rid and we are looking forward to what the future holds.
If anyone would like to win a Skinlab shirt and CD run over to our myspace page and enter our current contest! Check our blogs for details.
Thank you for the support!