WHEN four boys decide to form a band, that’s a pretty good start, but as they start discussing what style of music they want to play a potential problem emerges, all four musicians have very different influences – rock, hip hop, reggae and funk.

At this point, most bands would give up and go their separate ways.

But you could always persevere, mix it up and create something pretty unique, which is just what ultimate fusion band Skindred did.

HELEN BRADLEY OWERS caught up with Skindred’s Dan Pugsley via a very dodgy phone connection on a tour bus somewhere in London (with a lot of tunnels) to ask him about their current tour and how they make their unique sound ahead the forthcoming return to his home town Southampton on Thursday.

Skindred are still described as a “Welsh” band even though now three quarters of them are English – founder member bass player Dan having grown up in Shirley – and only front man Benji still flying the Red Dragon for Wales.

Influential Skindred’s distinctive sound successfully appeals to both rock fans and reggae fans alike.

Dan told me: “Growing up in Southampton I used to go to DJ Hammy nights, listening to bands like the Beastie Boys, and that was so influential, listening to alternate, metal, funk, hip hop, hardcore punk, reggae. Those bands are a real inspiration for what we do now.”

This sidetracks into a discussion about the availability of music in Southampton and which venues are still here.

Having established that Rhino, Talking Heads, the Cellar and The Joiners were all still going, Dan continued: “I lived in a place where I could go to those venues.

“I grew up in a time where I had the opportunity and lived in a place where there was an opportunity to see a really broad spectrum of music.

“Everyone in the band has a similar story.”

So what can fans of Skindred expect from the new album Kill the Power which is released on January 27?

“We’ve really gone back to our first album, the Babylon era for the reggae and metal sound that we are known for, but some of the songs have incorporated an electronic sound and some are just more mature tunes.”

If you’ve never seen or heard Skindred, you may be a little confused as to what you might expect if you go to see them live, but they manage to appeal to impossibly different audiences, from hardcore reggae, through drum ’n’ bass to heavy metal.

Frontman Benji is truly larger than life and can effortlessly draw an audience into the show.

Dan adds: “It’s what Skindred are known for, our live shows are something else.”

n If you want to experience ‘the ‘Dred’ you can catch them at the Mo Club on Thursday.