Simon Hinkler Interview
Interviewer : Phill Bruce
Simon Hinkler is one of the legendary people on the alternative scene, having played with Pulp, Artery, Spear Of Destiny, Flight Commander and Mindfeel. He was one of the creators of The Mission as well. Currently back with The Mission, Simon is also heading his solo project, Lose The Faith. I got chance to catch up with Simon and ask him all about Lose The Faith and here’s how it went.
Phill – Firstly I would like to thank you Simon for giving Grave Concerns Ezine this interview. Can you tell us where in this wonderful world you reside these days?
Simon – Thanks Phill. Right now I’m living in Devon, UK. I love it here, and plan to stay for the foreseeable future.
Phill – What are the origins of the name Lose The Faith?
Simon – It was soon after 9/11 and I’d moved to New York. I was in an intensely anti-religious state of mind, not only aimed at the ‘ignorants’ who committed that subhuman act, but in fact all religions, for the stranglehold they have on the world. In addition, I was going through distressing times in my family. Further, there was a sort of catchphrase The Mission used; “keep the faith” so I thought “Lose The Faith” would certainly make people take notice.
Phill – Your first album with Lose The Faith took three years to complete, why so long?
Simon – I had a full time job in NYC and spent 2 hours a day on the train. We had a 2 year old son with serious health issues. This left me just parts of evenings and weekends to work on music. It was all very intense and stressful. There were periods when I left it alone to break the routine.
Phill – There is so much anger and pain about the world within your first Lose The Faith album, what was it that made you encapsulate all your anger about the world in that album?
Simon – Often when you hear an album or even just a song that’s written on a personal level, it makes it special; takes it to another plain. Knowing this to be true, and knowing I had things to say, and going into this having never written and sung before, I decided not to hold back, but to just let it all out. With hindsight I can see how my life and the songs I was writing were intertwined. I think that’s what makes it good.
Phill – How would you say your music in Lose The Faith differs from the music for which you are well known like The Mission?
Simon – I think you can hear some similarity on some of the guitar playing on some of the songs, but that’s just because it’s me. I was only a guitarist in The Mission, but writing and singing your own material is something else. I really do enjoy working alone, and on Lose The Faith I did absolutely everything myself.
Phill – When you came back to the UK in 2009 soon after you started playing a solo acoustic set, what made you decide to go it on your own?
Simon – My initial intention was to get a band together and start by playing tracks from LTF, then move on to writing new material. I tried out two separate groups of people in two different cities, and neither worked out. I had been booked to play a festival but didn’t have a band. It was agreed I could just do a few songs solo acoustic. It was my first time doing so, and it was nerve wracking, but I got through it and decided I quite liked it. I still have an itch to form a band because it would be great to do it big and loud, but then when I consider all the logistical and emotional headaches that go with it, I err on the side of staying solo.
Phill – Do you currently have any ideas for Lose The Faith, maybe an album in the pipeline?
Simon – I continue to work on new songs, which I’m arranging for drums, bass, guitars etc., and also have arrangements with strings, piano and such. All the time I make sure the song itself comes first as a solo piece…something I’ve known the importance of for many years, but only more recently been fully implementing.
Phill – I hear you are involved in The Eden House, what is your role and contribution to The Eden House?
Simon – Nope, I’m not actually WITH them, I just did some guest support slots with them recently. I’d contribute if I was asked, because I think they’re a class act…and great people.
Phill – When was it in your life that you realised you were going to become a musician?
Simon – I became aware that music was of special relevance to me in early teens, when I started playing bits on the family piano, then at 15 when I got my first guitar for £5. However it wasn’t until about 18 that I began doing my own thing and playing in bands. Then it became everything.
Phill – Through various bands you have been a part of you have covered a couple different genres, but what is your favourite genre of music?
Simon – I don’t really think in terms of genre, because I like things from all over the whole gamut. To me, there’s either good or bad. When it’s good it makes me shiver, when it’s bad it’s like nails on a chalkboard. Seems to me the bad kind occupies about 95% of the spectrum.
Phill – Why did you move to America in 1996 and what was it that brought you back in 2009?
Simon – My wife’s American, we married in England and decided to make a new life in the states. I was there for 14 years and very much liked it. We lived in New Mexico, then Seattle, then NY, then back to New Mexico. We’d still be there but for some really bad circumstances. We lost a lawsuit we brought against the town council, and left virtually penniless. It’s a touchy subject.
Phill – What’s it like being back with The Mission again?
Simon – It’s good being back in touch and having something big to work towards. We haven’t played together yet, but it won’t be long before we start knuckling down to rehearsing the old songs. Looking forward to it.
Phill – Going back to when you first started in a band what were your musical influences and how do they differ from your influences today?
Simon – I grew up on the early 70’s glam period. I realised pretty quickly that David Bowie was in a league of his own, and from there I searched around the music of the time and of the 60’s and discovered that I liked stuff with depth and intelligence. When I started playing in bands it was the end of the 70’s and New Wave had happened, which opened the floodgates for anything and everything. It was a very exciting time; lots of bands trying lots of different things and being committed to it; living it. Today I don’t have any new influences. I have a fairly good (if untrained) musical brain and I just work on the premise of pulling ideas out of ‘the ether’ and working on them to make it sound good to my ears / sensibility. The whole point, surely, is that the artist lays out the piece of work the way he sees it, and the audience decide whether or not it does anything for them. I have no intention of making it sound like anything other than itself.
Phill – What are your views on the current alternative scene? Do you feel it has improved over the years?
Simon – Presumably it will always be there. I can’t say that I know that much about it because ‘the scene’ (let’s face it) belongs to the 18 – 30 generation, and always did. I know from what I hear that there’s always good and bad. In that respect nothing much changes. I just despair a little that the proportion of young people drawn by fame and fortune, rather than driven to create, has grown so big, and that the substance is harder to find amongst all the crap.
Phill – Where can you see yourself in the next few years and what are your plans for the future for Lose The Faith?
Simon – I’ll keep writing as long as I have things to say. I don’t write reams and reams of songs, just concentrate on quality and substance rather than volume. I’ll play occasionally if people want to see me. I’d like to do some more instrumental material too…haven’t done that for a while. As long as I’m being creative I’m happy.
Phill – What’s the best and worse memory you have from your musical career?
Simon – Worst: I was sacked by The Mission at the end of the first tour, all of us having not slept for 4 days. I went home on the train to a freezing cold apartment. (We made-up a few days later.) Best: There are too many to choose from. Some of the summer festivals were great, and a massively good time afterwards.
Phill – What’s your most annoying habit?
Simon – Correcting people.
Phill – How do you tackle stress and what stresses you the most?
Simon – Thinking too much stresses me enormously. I never used to be the type to stress – was always laid back, but life’s been hard going the last 10 years. As I mentioned before, the way I keep on top of it is to keep being creative. When I’m creating, my mind is focussed and I don’t dwell on all the crap. The other way is to drink pretty heavily – which I know doesn’t help in the long term, but it sure feels good in the short term.
Phill – What do you most commonly eat for breakfast?
Simon – eggs etc. done in different styles…English, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Mexican…and a big mug of tea.
Phill – What do you think was the best thing before sliced bread?
Simon – The wheel I suppose. Probably invented by an autistic...or so it’s reckoned.
Phill – Thank you so much for giving Grave Concerns this interview Simon, is there anything you would like to add?
Simon – Not really Phill. Thanks ever so much for having me along. Cheers!
Good luck with Lose The Faith and for the future Simon, thanks again.
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