The Musician’s Tribune Vol. 6: “Interests, Hobbies, and Metal in the Dark Continent” by Giuseppe Sbrana of Skinflint

Editor’s Note:  Skinflint is not just any metal band.  They are a band out of Botswana.  Skinflint has incorporated elements of African culture with heavy metal music, and their previous album releases have all paid homage to their heritage while incorporating some insane amounts of heavy metal.  They have shared the stage with ex-Nightwish frontwoman Tarja Turunen and have played shows in Europe and Africa.  Fans can find Skinflint at the following locations:

www.facebook.com/SKINFLINTMETAL

www.skinflintmetal.com

“Interests, Hobbies, and Metal in the Dark Continent” by Giuseppe Sbrana

Growing up in Botswana, my interest were music, travelling, reading and video games. I started playing guitar when I was 12 years old. My late uncle Ray Sbrana was an excellent blues guitarist and he borrowed me some of his Jimi Hendrix tapes and various other blues artists. I remember wearing a towel on my head to imitate long hair and trying to play the intro riff to Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix on an acoustic guitar. At the time, I was staying in the sweltering countryside of a small village called Mokolodi. There was only one shop, a grocery store and not much one could do in terms of entertainment. Yet, storytelling, superstitions and myths were in abundance. These tales greatly interested me, and would later find their way into the music of Skinflint. Fast forward to 2006 and I founded Skinflint in that same place. On drums my cousin Alessandra Sbrana joined me and then later in 2007 a good friend of mine Kebonye Nkoloso took on the bass.

The idea behind the band is to mix elements from African culture with Heavy Metal. Storytelling, oral tradition and myths are a strong aspect of African culture, most of which is unexplored by mainstream media. I wanted to bring these tales, and myths into the bands lyrics. To write songs from a different perspective. This gave us new topics to explore and also inspired the music to take a direction more fitting to the atmosphere generated by these tales. As a band we worked hard together to capture the essence of what makes these myths special and create a sound for it that is Metal but at the same time distinctively African.

Being a Metal band in Botswana has not been without its challenges. The conditions you have to play in are difficult.  There is a lack of venues and promoters willing to work with Heavy Metal. Distances are far apart and travel expenses are high for a band touring in Africa. But the positives far outweigh the negatives. Despite the challenges we still manage to set up our own shows and are proud of our scene here. Botswana has come to have a strong and vibrant metal scene.  The impact of Skinflint was not immediately felt, it took us many years. But that makes the success we have had feel more fulfilling and allows us to appreciate our vision for African Metal.

–  Giuseppe Sbrana

Last month, Skinflint released their music video for “Birds and Milk Bloody Milk”.  Check it out below!

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