Skunk Anansie - Skin-less
Donnacha DeLong spoke to Ace and Cass from Skunk Anansie while lead singer Skin was excluded from the room.
Skunk Anansie are a band whose fame has brought a number of problems.
The constant media attention received almost exclusively by the black
pan-sexual lesbian singer Skin has brought out the green-eyed monster in
the rest of the band.
"We're all incredibly jealous," said guitarist Ace. "Any time we do an
interview now, we don't let her come in. We don't let her do any of the
interviews and we stand at the front in photos."
In reality, the rest of the band are glad Skin gets all the attention.
Drummer Mark is happy that he can go out shopping and not get hassled,
while Ace views it as a symbol of their success.
"It all depends on degrees of fame. If we weren't famous, you would see
all the band. As you get bigger and bigger, they always focus on the
singer. Eddie Vedder is always the poster in Kerrang and Kurt Kobain is
always on the front page of the magazine."
Skunk Anansie were formed two and a half years ago when two bands who
used play in London packed it in and Skin, Cass and Ace decided to get
together. They had a drummer at the time, but within six months, he was
gone and Mark joined after meeting them at a party.
They made their name in the British Heavy Metal scene and were
proclaimed as one of the best Brit-Rock bands by various metal mags. A
few years ago it would have been difficult for a band with such a strong
female lead to make it in the metal scene which has a reputation for
sexism. Ace, however, explained how the scene has changed.
"Grunge and all that changed it. With grunge, it meant it was cool to
play really heavy music and you could be into Black Sabbath and all that
type of thing. But you weren't the chick-grabbing whatever, your rocket
motorbike is on fire on Jupiter with a dragon kind of band. We're like
a new breed of band that are really heavy, but we're not really heavy
Their music isn't really heavy metal either. The band have mixed metal
influences with punk, soul and funk elements to create the sound that is
Skunk Anansie. According to Ace, this is due to the people who make up
"If you look at the people, you know that we've all grown up completely
different and all of your influences obviously came through our growing
up. We've just had bizarre different life-styles."
Their music has changed between their first album, Paranoid and
Sunburnt, and their latest, Stoosh. Ace just puts it down to evolution.
"We've been together for a few years, touring constantly. So,
obviously, we're better players, we know each other better and we play
Skunk Anansie are renowned as being a band with something to say.
However, they have no wish to be categorised as just a 'political' band.
Ace said that the band have no political leanings. "We're not into
smashing the state or the law and all that. We are singing about what's
around us at the moment. I suppose if that's classed as political,
that's what we are."
Mark said that they just want people to know that they take notice of
things that go on. "We're not completely ignorant about racism and the
political stupidness that's been going on for the last fucking god knows
how long. But, we're not saying 'listen to us and then do what we say.'
It's more on a personal level. Like saying 'Who put a little baby
swastika on the wall' rather than saying 'Don't you dare indoctrinate
your little children with racism so they go around writing swastikas on
Skunk Anansie have found that their media success is a double-edged
sword. On one hand, Mark said it has helped the band reach a larger
"It's definitely made us bigger internationally. That side of things is
essential if you are going to get bigger and every time you go out you
play the next sized venue."
On the other hand, the constant slant of the media attention Skin has
recieved is not something they are very happy about. Ace said it has
always been the same.
"Right from the start it's always been the bald black lesbian amazonian
six-foot tall whatever woman, and, you know, it's boring. If you sing a
song does it really matter? People don't go 'Oh, look at him, he does
that when he's alone. You're just like 'Oh right yeah' and fall asleep."
Skunk Anansie are a band who seem to have everything well thought out.
But, there is still the danger that their new-found success may alienate
their long-time fans leaving them adrift in the fickle sea of pop music.
Time will tell.
by Donnacha DeLong