RoomThirteen caught up with Sikth at the Manchester Academy, down in the back of their tour bus. After a few beers and lots of Pro-Evo football, R13 spoke with James Leach and Dan Weller who were more than happy to talk about Download, Right Said Fred, and gas that turns zombies into money.

R13:How long have you been playing your instruments?
J: I been playin' 13 years
D: I've been playing 10 years. Loord's been playing 13 years and Pin's been playing, 15, 16 years.

R13: The new album seems more polished that the first. Was that intentional?
D: I think we just played better.
J: It's a natural progression. In a way, the production is probably less polished that the first album, its more raw.
D: It's just the execution is better.
R13: The actual singing part, the vocals, they sound more...
J: They've just come on with their vocals in the last three years. It's a natural progression. We've all got a bit better.
D: A lot more work went into the vocal writing on this album as well and the actual takes on this album. Focused on the quality a lot more, because we are more experienced.

R13: Your songs are so complex. How long does it take to put them together. Is there any standard you use to write them?
J: Thing is, we don't notice when a song becomes a song. How long does it take? We're not sure.
D: There's never a defined moment when we say, yeah that's it. It's normally when it's recorded although having said that we don't go into the studio improvising. The structure is always there, dead-set. It takes a lot of time, put it that way.The longest period is not actually collating the material, its the actual collation of the material: conceiving the riffs, conceiving the beats, conceiving the ideas like what sort of thing can we do that hasn't already been done, or we haven't got in our set already. More thrash beats, more solos, more blast beats, more dynamics, more tapping. It takes quite a long time from that, to the completion of a song.

R13: It seems like there's so much going on in the music, that coming from one riff to the finished product seems inconceivable?
J: It is what it's like really
D: Even for us, it's hard to conceive.
J: Dan will come up with a riff, we'll jam it, Dan Foord will come up with a beat for it and then, it like, gets spruced up along the way little bits, all the time, right up to the very last moment and then it's something completely different
D: It's as if the secret is gathering information, gathering the parts, the ideas and then, "What have we got here?", "How many songs can be made from this?". "Have we got a songs worth of riffs there?" "Will that riff go with that riff?" Although you've been writing parts, Dan's been writing rhythms, on different days, weeks, months, after a while you've got a lot of stuff to put together and you can start by making a song. That riff goes with that, that with that and you can put them in an order that sounds fairly musical and then start working on it as song - start demo-ing it, listening to it. Living with material is the most important thing. Which is the important stuff, which stuff you get bored of, which stuff you like listening to. It is a long winded process. It's not easy. It's not as hard as most other bands. The parts that they play are not necessarily as diverse all the time, not necessarily challenging. We are trying to set a standard with our songs so it always takes longer than anyone else.

R13: I thought, in this light was an interesting track because it sounds like nothing you've done before. How did that come about?
D: I borrowed a 12 string guitar basically and was just, jamming the riff and the chorus, and I wrote some vocal lines and I showed 'em to Justin and then he loved it. Then the drum loop came and 'erm, just basically Justin sung all these melodies, mowed up some that just came together and for ages that song was in demo form, in very basic form. And then I sent it to our label boss in America and that really inspired me to work on it even more. The structure came together over a long long period. In fact, when we were in America, we were kinda agreeing on it with our drummer, Dan, me and James worked on the middle bit together, the interlude as it were, the cheesy solo for a laugh, that everyone seemed to like, but it wasn't meant to be the love ballad on the album or anything like that. It had a really nice feel to it. It would have been a shame to make it abrasive in a way. It stayed quite calm, quite soothing, melodic and it never changed really. I'm quite glad of that.
J: There's still some bite to it though. It's not a walk over that song.
R13: Well none of your songs are.
D: To us, we hear that as a kind of a very very accessible song. But I love that song, I really do.

R13: Did you all have a good time at Download? Did you see anyone good?
J: No..... I saw Coheed's set. It wasn't quite them what with the drummer and the bass player not being there. Seemed like they were flying by the seat of their pants a little. and definitely one of the best, tightest bands at download. Some of the bands on the main stage were shit.
D: Yeah, generally the standard of popular alternative music, be it metal or rock or whatever, the general standard of musicianship...i mean, were not being snobs but....
J: You saw Dredg, you liked Dredg.
D: I loved Dredg.
J: I didn't see them. I don't remember seeing anyone else that didn't look like a stock, metal festival, not very good, sounds a bit shit, posers.
D: Metal and festivals have become a pastiche now, a parody of themselves. I mean, who are we to say that that we're not under that blanket but im confident the work we put in to creating our music is kind of paying us back now because we are a band that doesn't really sound like anyone else, you go to one of these festivals and for me, we just stand there thinking 'this is just bollocks'. They're not thinking for themselves. All the bands kinda sound like each other. Even Metallica, they played puppets brilliantly and obviously, one of the greatest bands of all time.
J: That new song...
D: That new song was awful!
J: That new song, it came in with a riff and sounded, really comical.
D: We all laughed.
J: That's the thing, Metallica don't do comical. System of a Down do comical. In the past, we've done comical, but Metallica are not a comical band.
R13: I thought he looked like the lead singer of ZZ top with his grey beard.
J: Well he is getting on a bit
D: But to be honest, they've done so much good for metal...
J: they could be forgiven for anything.
D: Cos they've achieved....the songwriters... not so much the band, but Hetfield and Ulrich, they are what all great songwriter should aspire to. You know, incredible, consistent song-writing.
J: Hammet's had his moments, he did come up with the greatest, most memorable metal riff ever: Enter Sandman. I mean I know it's cliché and every-time it comes on you're like 'Nah! I'll skip that one' 'cos I hear it all the time but, it's a classic riff. It's the new 'Smoke on the Water'.
D: Having said that, Enter Sandman, whenever you hear it live, whenever you see footage of metallica jamming it in the studio, it's a terrible riff and a terribly executed riff. It's only with great great production, and played well in a studio that actually does it justice. That's one of these riffs that was only made great by great great production.

R13: Were you jealous that the Dillinger Escape Plan got to work with Mike Patton and is there anyone you'd like to work with?
J: We weren't jealous. I thought it was cool.
D: Dillinger aren't a bad that have had any impact on us, creatively. It's kind of an in-joke now; a joke that's gone years ago. But they are just a good band, good musicians and good friends.
R13: Is there anyone you'd like to work with?
D: Nuno Bettencourt, me and James....
J: I'd like to work with him. I'd like to work with David Coverdale although I'm not sure how that would turn out. Or Glen Hughes but he plays bass so there'd be two bass players...

R13: I thought that your cover of 'Tupelo' was great. An interesting artist to cover, Nick Cave. How did that come about?
J: Mikey's really into Nick Cave. And at first I was like 'Oh shall we do that? Maybe that's a bit too out there' then I think we all came round to it; this could be so different and something no other metal band does and that's always been our ethos - to try and do something original. Although I think My Ruin covered a Nick Cave song.
D: It suited Mikey down to the ground, he's quite dark and mysterious. It was good for that album.
J: It's quite different 'cos the bass and drums are on loop for like, 7 minutes.
D: You didn't have to do much did you?

We are interrupted at this point by cheers from the front of the bus....

D: Mikey scored! Well done boy!
J: This is serious stuff. Semi-Finals.
D: we are gonna have to speed this up. need to be there for the second half. Nah, only joking!
J: We are probably gonna do the final on stage.

R13: I think your spoken word stuff is interesting. Are you into poetry?
D: That's all Mikey's stuff.
J: He does it completely on his own and then just brings it to the table and says 'I've been working on this, I'd like to include it on the album' and we'd say, ok.
D: It's his thing on his own, we respect him for it and he's got a talent for it.

R13: I wondered, doing a BBC session before you were signed, was that nerve wracking at all?
D: It's hard to remember it to be honest. We've just done a Radio 1 show... our second.
J: I remember I really couldn't play Pussyfoot that well when we recorded it. When you listen to the first few notes you can't hear any bass 'cos I left my tuner on. Something I always do and it's a habit I can't seem to break. Or step on the tuner when I'm on stage. That's always a good one.
D: It was amazing, a very special time for us 'cos you know, we were a young band, you're about to play live on Radio 1 whereas you've had all your friends, your parents doubting you. To do something like that means you can say 'I am playing on Radio 1'
J: Yeah, to say to your parents you are playing the Mean Fiddler or the Astoria, they kinda know the relevance but to say 'Radio 1', you can say that to anyone in the country. It's a universally respected thing in the UK.

R13: Who are your favourite comedians?
J: Probably Julian Barrett or Phil King. It's really sad, I just can't stop watching him all the time. I really loved 'Spaced', that was amazing....Steve Coogan and Saxondale. Saxondale struck a chord with us 'cos its a bit 'Spinal-Tap'. Anything generally with musical references.

R13: I wonder if it's intimidating to be on the same label that 'Right Said Fred' used to be on?
D: Well we aren't anymore! We split with them to go with a subsidiary of Warner Brothers in America. It wasn't intimidating at all, no. It was more a funny thing to tell your mates at the pub, the funny thing abut 'Right Said Fred' is that they'd left Gut before we'd signed anyway, and their parting gesture to the label was to desecrate his Ferrari with a bottle of acid, so we should have seen that as an omen for what a complete cunt the boss of Gut was.
J: You could be with Roadrunner and be on the same label as an embarrassing metal band... same thing.
D: There's probably a lot more embarrassing metal bands than there are pop bands.

R13: Has being in a successful band been what you expected it to be?
D: Not really. The one thing you don't realise when you are growing up with a dream is that there isn't a point where you get a medal or a pat on the back, 'cos when you actually tick off the dreams you've achieved and you go home the next day and feel no different. It's actually quite soul destroying because you realise it's all about living for the moment. When it's happening, it's incredible but when it's over, nothing has changed. You've still got no money, still arguing with your girlfriend, or whatever. The one thing that would change things now would be to make some decent money out of it.
J: We've never done this for the money. It's always been because.... we always wanted to be in a metal band. That's all it's ever been about. But when you've done that for 6 years, you think 'I've taken a lot of time out to do this band. It'd be nice to earn a little bit of money'.
D: To be able to take your parents out for a meal to pay them back for all the help they gave us when we were younger. To not be the tight git at the pub. You wanna be able to play that rock-star card sometime. But everyone suffers this. As soon as you get bitten by that bug, that's when the creativity stops being the priority and it should always been the priority.
J: I think a lot of bands broke up at this point cos of the money.
D: We are no fools. There are far easier ways in the music industry to make a buck than being in a band like Sikth. We've weighed that up a million times. The reason we haven't 'Sold-Out' is that you should take the advantage of being alive. You should leave your mark on something. If you make money in the short term, making marketable records, you make money, get your face on the posters, but when you are dead and gone, no-one remembers you. The only people who are memorable are these who make an impact. That, for us, is way more important than being able to buy a round of drinks. We are just gonna keep building and building it how we want it till we can sell lots of records... like Tool have done it. I think Tool are a great band who have succeeded in a world of marketing. They've never cut corners. I'm not a big Tool fan but I've got massive respect for them.
J: It was not until Aenima until they started breaking through. Lateralus was number 1 in America. That was there breakthrough album.

R13: Zombies have taken over the earth. What's the one weapon you would use?
J: I would say something like a Chainsaw, or a lawnmower but in close combat, it's hard to wield. Have to go with a compact weapon.
D: I reckon a gas that when let into the air, all zombies die instantly. That'd save you the bother.
J: Personally, I'd go for a very sharp samurai sword.
D: The lazy option is the gas. I'd choose that. And it would also bring you eternal good luck.
J: And it also made loads of money. turned zombies into huge piles of cash.

Ben Blundell would like to thank Chris Hobson for helping with this interview and making it what it is.