Sherwood Webber on Denver Black Sky: "We don't want to become this gigantic metal fest"
Sherwood Webber (second from right) of Skinless is the architect of Denver Black Sky.
If you're a metal fan, clear your calendar, because Denver Black Sky is a must-see. A brutal "boutique" metal fest at the Gothic Theatre this Saturday, December 14, it's made up of killer death metal, thrash and grindcore bands, easily one of the best lineups in recent memory. Easy to see why: It's being curated by lauded metal man Sherwood Webber, who is reconvening with his old band, Skinless, specifically for the occasion. Skinless, the brutal New York gore-metal favorite hasn't taken the stage since 2011 or released an album since the 2006 classic Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead. We spoke with Webber recently about the show and Skinless's reunion.
Westword: How did Black Sky come together? As I understand it, this was mostly your idea.
Sherwood Webber: Yeah it was my idea. Danny Sax from the AEG office has helped a lot. I kind of selected the bands, and I work for AEG, but I'm a production guy. I do Red Rocks stuff and arena stuff, all kinds of multi-level production stuff. I'm not a booker, but I do have a pulse on the underground scene, so I wanted to use my resources with AEG and Danny Sax and our office to pull this together and present a metal show like it hasn't been presented before.
I grew with up with Skinless playing metal fests, and they were the most horribly produced things on the fucking planet. Any band from the Milwaukee Metal Fest era will tell you that you'd get there, and it was just a horrible-sounding, large, crappy room that wasn't meant for production, let alone metal. So this is my way to take my production knowledge from my day job and give it back to the metal community and say, "This is going to be well-produced. We're going to have a great time and have a real party."
Is this going to be a one-off, or are you going to try to do this every year?
The goal right now is to do one in the winter around this time every year, and then I want to do two dates in the summer, consecutively, like a weekend. So, really, we don't want to become this gigantic metal fest and start booking acts that we don't care about. It's more of a boutique thing, and it has to remain special, and it's never going to make money. It's just about underground camaraderie, working with bands that we like and producing it well. That's what I care about. I want to bring those bands that you're not going to see here -- that's the bottom line. There's going to be some struggles, but it's worth it.
Denver isn't exactly thought of as one of the Great Metal Meccas of America.
Well, I think there are a couple reasons for that. Geography plays a big factor when you're a metal band here. You can go to Albuquerque, you can go to Kansas, or you can go to Wyoming, but it's not like being on the East Coast, where Skinless came up. We could play Boston, we could play Philly, we could play Montreal, we could play New York City.
Bands here don't really have that luxury. You have to be really motivated to make it work here. It just doesn't fall upon you. That makes it a little stronger, too. The basis of this show is to take a look at that and say, yeah, we get tours here, but at the same time, nobody has been super creative in pulling in these acts and taking the risk. We had to fly Dying Fetus in. It's a little harder than just saying, "Hey do you wanna play a show in December?" There's a lot of preparation. A lot of production work to be done to really make it happen.