LEGENDARY Newport metal band Skindred have had a massive week - winning best alternative act at the MOBO awards.

The band beat out five other acts to win the award, which is in its second year as a category, giving a well-deserved nod to the breadth and depth of music of black origin.

The Argus met up with Skindred frontman Benji Webbe to discuss the MOBO awards, their upcoming tour and what changes he would like to see in the world in 2024.

Music fusion and evolution

Skindred straddles the line between genres such as reggae, dancehall, and metal. When asked how the fusion happened, Mr Webbe said: “I grew up with reggae music and R’n’B, my household was full of that.

"At the same time, on the radio was David Bowie, T-Rex, Slade and all these great British rock stars. And I loved it.

“Being a black kid in a black household, my father would have preferred me to dig what’s being played in the house rather than what was on the radio.

“But when I reached around 13 or 14, music started to really change, like bands like the Sex Pistols who were playing this aggressive but liberating, it felt like they were talking to me as a kid.

"Bands like The Specials and The Clash, one thing about them and their music is they took genres I loved, they took elements of reggae music, elements of punk rock.”

Fusion of two seemingly opposite genres of music is no easy task. Reggae is chilled and laid back, while music sung by Johnny Rotten was more hardcore.

South Wales Argus: Benji Webbe of Skindred in Le Pub in Newport, where Skindred signed their record deal.Benji Webbe of Skindred in Le Pub in Newport, where Skindred signed their record deal. (Image: Newsquest)

However, Mr Webbe said: "I always loved the crossover genre, I always thought about the sound of James Brown singing with Pink Floyd."

Mr Webbe said he never chased fame and upped sticks to move to London, believing that "if you're good at what you do, opportunity comes [knock-knock] knocking".

And Skindred always bring a little taste of home to their shows, with the iconic 'Newport Helicopter - when fans spin their shirts over their heads like the blades of a helicopter - always a highlight of their live performances.

Performing for more than 30 years with various bands such as reggae band Bismillah, Dub War, Soul Fly, and Mass Mental, Webbe formed Skindred in with bassist Daniel Pugsley 23 years ago (approximately, 2001).

MOBO award winners

South Wales Argus: Skindred at the MOBO Awards 2024 earlier this week after winning the award for 'Best Alternative Act'.Skindred at the MOBO Awards 2024 earlier this week after winning the award for 'Best Alternative Act'. (Image: Danny Lawson | PA Wire)

On their victory at the MOBOs, Mr Webbe said: "We were up against some really good bands and I was thinking 'we're old, they're going to give it to the younguns'.

"In all that time preparing, I really thought 'I wanna get this, I wanna bring it home to Newport and I want Skindred to have this in their arsenal'.

"We brought the MOBO to Wales. It felt good."

The jacket Mr Webbe wore to the awards, a striped fur coat with an eye-catching purple and pink collar, was from Red Brick indoor market in Liverpool which houses 50 independent businesses under one roof.

Reflecting on the more than two decades he has spent with Skindred, Mr Webbe said: “You don’t always get things straight away and that’s something about art, whether it's music or whether it's drawing, you don’t always get what you want.

"Sometimes it just, you know, it takes time and I’m glad, really.

"When things take time, you get time to develop and master the art. And I think that’s what I’ve done with Skindred."

Upcoming tour

Skindred are set to go on tour in the UK and abroad from March, playing in London's Wembley OVO Arena, Manchester and Birmingham as well as Las Vegas.

“I always said ‘man, I wanna make music and when I do, I wanna make music with a message that brings people together with unity and love’," said Mr Webbe. "I always wanted to do that. That’s what people needed to hear.”

South Wales Argus: Webbe in Le Pub, which he credits as the venue where the band signed their record deal.Webbe in Le Pub, which he credits as the venue where the band signed their record deal. (Image: Newsquest)

Ahead of the tour, the band also released a single entitled If I Could earlier this week. Inspired by world events and centred around the theme of 'if I could change things, I would change 2020'.

The biggest change that Mr Webbe would like to see in 2024 is "peace, man". 

"There's too much war, too much destruction and too much hate and I really mean that, it's getting crazy out of hand", said Mr Webbe.

Mr Webbe said: "If there's one place you need to see Skindred, it's going to be at London's Wembley OVO Arena in March".

Favourite place in Gwent

As a Newport man, Mr Webbe said his favourite place in Gwent is Twmbarlwm, which is to the northeast of Risca in South Wales.

South Wales Argus: Twmbarlwm, northeast of Risca in Gwent.Twmbarlwm, northeast of Risca in Gwent. (Image: Newsquest)

He said "I enjoy, every three or four years, going to a place called Twmbarlwm and just chilling at the top of the mountain and looking down. I think that's the most chilled, relaxing place. It's a beautiful place up in the hills".

Tickets are still available for a handful of Skindred shows, including a huge gig at Wembley OVO Arena in London on March 15 which has a 10,000 person capacity.

Their latest album, Smile, is out now via Earache Records.