I happened to have the pleasure to speak with guitarist & vocalist Giuseppe Sbrana and drummer Alessandra Sbrana from the band Skinflint. This trio (with bassist Kebonye Nkolosot rounds out the band) are the premiere African Heavy Metal Band hailing from Gaborone, Botswana. They have landed in the U.S. to embark on a West Coast Tour and while in NYC for the briefest-of-stopovers, I corralled the duo for their impressions on the city, what they had planned and to explain their unique sound, which you can find on theirÂ their new self-titled album. Songs like the kentic high-tremble flip of the wonderful “Birds And Milk, Bloody Milk,” sees the mix of great rolling metal riffing, thrumming drums, and wild lyrics marking the bandâ€™s unique background. The video (see here) even incorporates traditional African dance.
So, whatâ€™s your impressions of New York City so far?
Giuseppe: We really like New York City.
Is it your first time in New York?
Alessandra: Itâ€™s our first time in America.
You are flying off right away to the west coast for your shows though, right?
Giuseppe: Yes, we fly to Washington, tomorrow.
Then where do you go?
Alessandra: We go to Colorado Springs, Grand Junction, into Washington for two shows. Seattle, Oregon.
Living in the U.S. we certainly are not so very aware of the metal scene in Botswana, can you tell me about it, what the heavy music scene is like back where you come from?
Giuseppe: Botswana has a small yet strong dedicated base of metal fans. Itâ€™s mostly underground, but the fans run the gambit in their cowboy boots, biker jackets, a whole bunch of looks and influences. We have a very distinct sound in that we mix in elements from traditional African music, warrior dance, clapping and chanting, that expresses our particular culture.
And what kind of music other than African music influenced you?
Giuseppe: Growing up, blues music was something I listened to. Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, then later I got into Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden.
Alessandra: As a teenager, punk rock was something I got into, then older classical heavy metal bands like Black Sabbath and Metallica.
Can you speak a bit to the lyrical content of your songs?
Giuseppe: Lots of our lyrics are based in African mythology, folk stories. We bring lots of that particular tradition into our songs, things that have never really been explored before in this way.
Do you find any particular advantage or maybe even disadvantage to being a trio?
Alessandra: Luckily we understand each other, we know how we think, so there is not a lot of confusion in creating the songs. As a trio we are like a small unit, a team. And with only three instruments there is a lot of space to the music, not too many layers to get confused with.
Giuseppe: The music comes natural to us, we are more open I feel as a small unit; there are no disadvantages really to being just a trio. The dynamic to the music works in that, I can take a solo over the drums and bass, kind of like the classic Hendrix-like trio had it set up, and there are times that the bass and drums can shine as well. We pride ourselves on being raw, not over produced. The stuff breathes.
Alessandra: If you come to a gig or listen to the album, you are going to hear the music pretty much the same.
So what are your plans into 2019, past this west coast American jaunt?
Alessandra: Right now, thereâ€™s nothing solid lined up. There will be more shows, hopefully in the UK where we have never been, more throughout Europe we hope.
Will you be back, coming to the east coast?
Giuseppe: We certainly hope to. Yes.
To learn more about Skinflint go here:Â https://www.skinflintmetal.com