THE VICE INTERVIEW:
Talking robot apocalypses, Beatles sing-a-longs and expensive speakers with The Streets frontman.
This article was originally published in VICE.
Fourteen years on from the release of The Streets' Original Pirate Material and Mike Skinner's hedonistic days are behind him. The Birmingham-born musician has swapped acerbic lad-rap and debauchery for fatherhood and high-profile DJ sets at Tonga, the night he hosts with the Murkage crew. This is a man with some stories to tell, and luckily, he's willing to share a few.
VICE: Why did you break-up with your first girlfriend?
Mike Skinner: Well, for most of the first half of my life I didn't do the breaking up. Surprise, surprise. I remember my dad saying to me, "When you're a teenager, girls just get to do whatever they want and you just have to let them."
What was your worst phase?
I think probably 28. It's a bit of a cliché and it obviously coincided with a pretty mad sorta thing that I was involved in. I think there is something about it, like you're basically still kind of a juvenile, but you're seeing the end of it really. You're knocking on 30 and I think it makes you quite reckless. Yeah, definitely pretty bonkers that year. If I was gonna cark it [die] or anything, it would have probably been in that year.
How many people have been in love with you?
I'm gonna say, like, seven. It's more than five, but less than 10. What's the average? Are you doing an average? No one is gonna say, like, 15, are they? I think I might just say 15, actually. The scumbag answer.
What conspiracy theory do you believe?
I really sneer at conspiracy theories in general, but I actually think I'm kind of a conspiracy theorist – but in denial. Obviously I don't believe that they faked the NASA moon landing. I don't believe that. I do think 9/11 was dodgy. I think it was demolished, because the way it went down.
When in your life have you been truly overcome with fear?
I used to want to be a DJ when I was a kid and I did a gig with my friend from college in a pub, and it was full of everyone from my school. I think we were about 16 or 17. It was the first time I had ever DJed, you know, not in my bedroom. It was loads of people from school, just going, "What the hell do you think you are?" sort of thing. I couldn't control my fear. My hands were shaking so much. Luckily I did it with my mate. He was able to play. Mark Kinchin, if you're reading, thank you for saving me with your 90-minute house music set. What scares me is driving down the motorway, to be honest. I don't drive, but I just think, 'How can you drive down a motorway and not be terrified?' You actually could die.
In the past month, what is the latest you've slept in?
That's the challenge of my life at the moment. At the weekend, because I DJ, and you go on at one or two in the morning, I often get home at seven o'clock. I don't really sleep in, to be honest. Sometimes I sleep in the afternoon.
What is the nicest thing you own?
I've got a set of ATC speakers. Kind of geeky, right? Over the years I amassed quite a lot of studio stuff, and about a year ago I pretty much got rid of all of it and swapped it for the best set of speakers I can imagine. They are a delight.
What would be your last meal?
Would you have sex with a robot?
Yeah. Robots are going to take over, right? They'll probably kill us. Forget climate change. It's robots. Robots are going to wipe us out.
If you were a wrestler, what song would you come into the ring to?
Johnny Cash, "Hurt".
What's the grossest injury or illness you've ever had.
I broke both my arms once. In quick succession. Yeah, that was the end of a career in skateboarding. I took up guitar, actually, after that.
Do you think drugs can make you happy?
No. I think that it's a pendulum, and I think it's funny, very funny, but I don't mean funny-weird. I mean it's funny-haha. I think if you're feeling unhappy, I think you should be trying to get the pendulum to swing in a less extreme way, and rather boringly that comes down to, like, doing exercise and not eating sugar, and definitely not getting mashed.
What film or TV show makes you cry?
I got quite emotional at the end of Breaking Bad. I'd been watching Walter for so long at that point that I really wanted him to just mash everyone up.
If you had to give up sex or kissing, which would it be?
I would probably give up the former. It's a tough choice, but I've had two wonderful children, so…
What memory from school stands out to you stronger than any other?
When I was really young, it was my brother's show and they were singing "Yellow Submarine" and everyone was singing, "We all live in a yellow submarine," and I was singing along, feeling really proud of myself that I knew the words. The song ended and I carried on at the top of my voice. It was the most embarrassing moment of my life. From them on, like a scorned evil villain, I never misjudged the amount of choruses at the end of a song ever again.