INTERVIEW WITH XSKULL8
By Stephanie Stevens
Rockers XSKULL8 have just unveiled the newest collection of songs in their arsenal with new album “FROM SIN TO SINNERS”. The band hails from Slovenia, and though they are overseas, these dudes have a pure American sound to them. Edgy guitars, gritty melodic vocals and a rhythm section that will get your ass up and moving! You’re going to fall in love with this sensational bunch of musicians.
The band took a lot of time constructing and finding the right elements of songwriting before hitting the studio and all the focus time paid off intensely on the new album. One listen to ‘A MINUTE 4 TOMORROW’ and you hear the growl of heavy and aggressive, locked into a flow of melodic rock that makes it a standout of the album. ‘LEAVES ARE FALLING’ was the bands single which got the ball rolling with some remarkably good vibes from the music community and why wouldn’t it as the song bleeds with emotion, takes on a darker and beautiful tone but still stays in the radio friendly rock n roll lane. ‘LITTLE MISS PERFECT’ infects ya with sass and energy.
The band members really explored all avenues of rock n roll and lyrically brings to life, life experiences through music. So, get on board with XSKULL8 and take the journey FROM SIN TO SINNERS.
I had the pleasure of chatting with singer/guitarist Rokk about how the band name came about, working with Producer Matej Pecaver, tackling some of my favourite tracks off the album and how they came to be and so much more.
Q: Can you give us a little background on your music career and what you play in this band Xskull8?
A: I’m primarily a singer in XS8, but I also play rhythm guitar. I’ve been playing instruments since I was a little kid, but I’d have to say that my real music career started with a metal band I was in, where we finally did our own, original songs. I think that was about 13 years ago…It’s funny how your wishes get bigger and bigger through the years. Back then, we were just happy to make songs, and wished to record them. Later we wanted to do live shows, even small ones. Now, we want to travel the world and stand on the biggest stages in the world. The bar just gets higher and higher every year. That’s why we’re so happy Curtain Call Records decided to work with us, and help us to promote our music, even in the US. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing you soon on a tour or something 😊
Q: You guys are from Slovenia, how is the world over there and how did the last year or so impact you and your music community?
A: We’re waiting for the next lockdown now…We haven’t performed since March 2020 and yes, we miss our fans, our friends and the stage. But we used that time to learn new stuff, made a lot of covers with Johnny for Rock With Rokk YouTube channel and are already making new original XS8 songs. So, I guess that year didn’t go completely to waste.
Q: Tell me about the band name and what does it means to you and your music?
A: I have a tattoo on my back with a skull with an 8 carved into it, ace of spades for eyes and red stripes that make a letter X behind it. I call it my RnR tattoo. This design was used for our logo before when we were called Captain Morgan’s Revenge and when we were looking for a new name, we just looked at the logo. X, Skull and 8. It sounds a lot like escalate, and since we as a band and our music escalated, improved, the name stuck with us.
Q: Another intriguing aspect is the name of the album “FROM SIN TO SINNERS”? Have you all turned into sinners? Or is there more to the title than you’re letting on?
A: That happened way before the album 😀 hahaha. No. Not really. It’s more of a concept. Like now…2 years ago you were freely walking around the store, without a mask, you could hang out with friends as much as you wanted and so on, but when all of this shit happened, all of those things became illegal. So, the point is, that first there had to be a sin, for you to be convinced you are a sinner. And it works in any aspect. If they don’t tell you what you are doing is wrong, you just do what feels right, and you don’t know you’re not supposed to.
Q: Musically your band has a very American sound to it. Are you all originally from there and or have you visited the States a lot?
A: Well, thank you 😊. hehe. I think Johnny is the only guy that visited the States before, but all he saw was his room and a lecture room where he took lectures from Tom Hess. Otherwise, I think the sound and the vibe just came from listening to other bands that we like, talking to people from the States and just trying to get that feeling and sound to it.
Q: Was this the first time in your music career that you had a lot of time to work and craft the songs out, like you really wanted them, before hitting the studio? If so, how did you feel about it? Was it a better creative process or did you feel you were overthinking at times?
A: We always take time with our music. That’s why we’re already working on our new songs, even though this album just came out. I hate to rush when it comes to music. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right. We really want to put out the best possible versions we can do. Some songs are on point from the beginning, but some need more work to really project the right sense of the story behind it. And the whole process is usually fun.
Q: You have been releasing singles to give fans hints of what is coming with the first album for this band entitled “FROM SIN TO SINNERS”. How does it feel doing a lot of single releases instead of just releasing the album and how did you guys go about picking an order and what tracks to release?
A: We like our fans so much that we just have to give them a little something now and then. The songs are chosen by the vibe. We try to make it interesting. One more rock-ish song, then one more metal, then a soft one, and so on. It’s really a rollercoaster. 😊
Q: With the release of the album coming soon did you do anything extra special since a lot of the songs were singles already? And if the album has been released at the time you’re doing this interview how has the overall feel of feedback been from songs you were holding onto till this day?
A: Not really. We just kept some songs until the album release. We did a little teaser of unheard songs before the release, that was it. Some of them are known by our older fans, and were upgraded to fit the XS8 album. That was probably the main surprise. The feedback is amazing. I love when people say, “this is my favourite song from XS8”, and when we release a new song, or they hear it on the album they get another favourite song. It’s just amazing how our fans respond to every new release we do. I mean, there’s not a lot of fans for now, but the ones that are with us, are the best fans a band could have.
Q: ‘LEAVES ARE FALLING’ was a single that caught on to the listener’s ears. What, about that song, do you think was so appealing to the listener and did you catch that feeling once the song was done as well?
A: Probably the same thing that got me the first time Johnny showed me the demo. It’s the melody…That simple yet effective melody that you just feel. It was easy for me to write lyrics to that song, and this is probably the song that I’m the most proud of. It’s soft and pleasing, but still very energetic and…I don’t know…It just gives you hope. It’s about not being alone, and that there are people that got your back, that you can talk to and trust.
Q: What were the top three best things about working with Producer Matej Pecaver and the best advice he gave to you?
1. His enthusiasm: When I met Matej he told me that he wanted to work with us since the first day he heard one of our songs and that he’s been waiting for such a band to make music with him. That shows in every aspect of the process. From early demos, recording, mixing, and mastering. He is all in…Not because he’s getting paid, but because he wants to be.
2. Great motivator: Even if you have a bad day, the guy just knows how to lift you up. He’s such a positive person, that even when talking about world problems, you feel calm…If you think that you’re not good enough, he proves you wrong. And if the take is not the best one, he won’t push it, and tell you it’s shit. He’ll help you get into the right state of mind to get the best out of you.
3. Results: Even when we weren’t recording, he’s been working on our sound, Trying out different sounds, different guitars, microphones, checking out new gear that could help us to get the best results, spending a lot of time and effort. He’ll do everything in his power to be satisfied with the end result.
Advice? I don’t know if it’s advice, but I’ll never forget when we recorded some vocals, and he was like: “dude. That’s the best. It’s awesome. In tune, powerful and all…BUT…I know you…That’s not you…You can do better…I want to hear YOU.”
Q: ‘A MINUTE 4 TOMORROW’ is my favourite off the disc. Tell me how that sound came to be and if you could pick a moment in the song that really gets you going, what would it be?
A: It’s one of our favourites too 😊. The sound? Nobody knows. This song just came together by itself. The guitars, drums, vocals, sound…I don’t know…I don’t think we had to brainstorm much about it. The best part? I’d say the last two choruses. When everything just builds up.
Q: Lyrically give me a little insight on the song ‘WET BED’, got to say that was an eye catcher for a song title?
A: It’s exactly what it is. Haha. That was one of our earliest songs. And as I mentioned before, through the album, you can sense the state of mind we/I was in writing it. That song was written a long time ago, when I was freshly single, so…Things were happening 😊
Q: How does it feel being on the roster of the label CURTAIN CALL RECORDS and what sold you on partnering with them?
A: It’s still kind of soon to say, but we’re very pleased with how things are going. Before we signed, we talked a lot about the contract and what is what. The main reason we signed with CCR is that they don’t dictate, but support the band. We can still be the band/artists we are and doin’ it the way we did it until now, but with a great support and guidance from the Curtain Call team.
Q: Any words of advice to your fans or the music community around the world?
A: Yes. Learn to enjoy little things, take time for yourself, for a walk, or listen to your favourite music. Support your community and the community will support you. Support your favourite artists, especially those that did not make it yet and need your help so they/we can make more music for you. Turn off the news and just breathe.
Q: Anything else I missed asking that you guys are gearing up for, for the rest of 2021?
A: We’ll be focusing on improving ourselves and making new music for our fans to enjoy. Thank you for a great interview.
CONNECT WITH THE BAND:
‘Leaves Are Falling’ (Official Video)
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Stephanie Stevens and East Coast Romper, and has been released to Ever Metal on this basis. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.