Watch Skindred perform ragga metal banger Nobody on Conan O’Brien in 2004 – almost 20 years before it went viral on Tiktok

Benji Webbe of Skindred performing live in 2004
(Image credit: Harold Cook/FilmMagic)

Skindred are living proof that the saying, ‘Good things come to those who wait,’ is actually true. The ragga metal pioneers formed back in 1998, then gradually built an armada of formidable, reggae-tinged anthems until they earnt a spot as heavy metal’s go-to party band. They carved a decent niche for themselves with late-afternoon slots at the likes of Download and Reading And Leeds, getting festivalgoers limber – but then Tiktok took notice of them.

In 2023, as part of a viral dance trend, Skindred went supernova, their song Nobody being heard by millions of new ears. The momentum helped thrust that year’s album, Smile, to number two in the UK charts, then get the band a coveted headline spot at Wembley Arena last week. After 25 years of graft, Newport’s heroes are finally a bona fide sensation.

There were attempts to make Skindred a household name early in their career, however. For debut album Babylon, the Welshmen signed to major label RCA and were produced by arena rock star-maker Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, In Flames, Halestorm). Attempts to make the band, powered by singer Benji Webbe’s impressive charisma and diverse delivery, the next Limp Bizkit fell flat, and guitarist Jim Rose and drummer Martyn Ford left the band due to alleged mistreatment from their label.

Nonetheless, in 2004, Skindred were broadcast into living rooms across America when they performed Nobody on Late Night for noted heavy metal champion Conan O’Brien. Conan had previously broadcast performances by the likes of Slipknot and Linkin Park when they were on the cusp of megastardom, so the ambition for Benji and the boys was plainly the same. Even though it would take [checks notes] two decades for such success to come for them, the ’Dred still proved their worth with a confident and technically spotless showcase.

Benji is characteristically energetic and dynamic, hopping between rapping, snarling and singing with enough grace to make it look easy. Plus, all the while, the frontman is exploring every inch of the stage, even climbing up boxes piled next to then-new drummer Arya Goggin’s kit. Guitarist Mikey Demus and bass player Daniel Pugsley then help drive home that invigorating hook, “Nobody! Nobody gets out alive!”, with some all-consuming backing vocals, and they too spend every second not at the mic in motion across the stage.

Ultimately, despite the excellence of this short performance, 2004 wasn’t quite Skindred’s time for breakout success. 19 more years of show-stealing was required before this band blew up, but at least they’re now finally reaping the rewards of all their toil. Enjoy it lads, you’ve clearly been earning it and deserving of it for a very, very long time.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.