Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
S: I would reluctantly call us an alternative-rock band. Maybe because that’s quite a subjective genre and gives us some wiggle room. I think it’s difficult for any artist to associate them-selfs with a specific genre, but the truth is we’re all constantly evolving and striving for new sounds. That’s possibly a fucking portentous answer and one that I would cringe at if I read it elsewhere. But truthfully, I find it easier to define our sound by our influences.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
S: Hector and I met at the University of Westminster in London. We hit it off both musically and personally right from the get-go. We spent the next three years playing in a band called ‘Gutshot for Broadway’ together. I believe that these three years were integral to our development. We tried, failed, learned, and eventually played sold-out shows at ‘The Borderline’, ‘The Bar Fly’, and more. We were also played on Radio X and became championed by Libertine, Gary Powell. After three years, I decided to leave London and ‘Gutshot for Broadway’. After spending some time in New York, I eventually ran out of money. I got a job as a porter in an auction house, then a health care assistant at an old people’s home. After a couple of years, and armed with some songs, I felt ready to head back to London to start a new band. The first thing Hector and I did was to busk our way around Europe, from London to Dubrovnik. Honing our craft and testing all our material to countless audiences in eleven different countries. We joined forces with Declan, who we’d known and loved for many years as a friend, and SUNKIN was born. We worked hard on our live set and in early 2020 we manage to play three shows, including ‘Omeara London’, before Covid-19 brought the world to an abrupt halt.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
S: We have a plethora of musical influences that span right through the genres, from rock to classical. Hector’s heroes and biggest influences are John Bonham and Mitch Mitchell, while Declan is heavily influenced by rock and grunge from the early 90s, like Pearl Jam and Sound Garden. At age thirteen, I was inspired to pick up a guitar after seeing Slash play a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Hey Jo’ at The Rock Hall of Fame. A couple of years later after listening to Oasis’s ‘Morning Glory’ album, I was inspired to start singing and writing. Over the years I’ve indulged in love affairs with many different artists. But, I would say, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and Jeff Buckley have been the biggest and most consistent influences on my songwriting. My biggest non-musical influences are photographers, Robert Cappa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Ralph Gibson. Artists, Lucie Rie, Barbara Hepworth, Alberto Giacometti, and Egon Schiele. Architects and designers, Le Corbusier, Tapio Wirrkala, and Alvar Aalto. Actors and directors, James Dean, Marlon Brando (big fanboy) Alfred Hitchcock, and Orson Welles. I could go on and on with my different interests!
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
S: Honestly, it’s pretty simple. To earn a modest living doing what we love, which is playing live music, writing, recording, and everything that goes with it; to live and breathe music. Our general career goals are to record albums, tour, and meet/work with lots of fucking amazing people. Also to defy the current ways of the industry by monetising our music. HOPEFULLY, one day, being able to put a deposit down on a house.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
S: I (Joe) am the predominant songwriter in SUNKIN. I will usually write the song stripped back on an acoustic guitar, then take it to the boys. We then start to decorate the canvas and make a tune out of it. With their musical wizardry, Hector and Declan help structure and arrange the songs. I would describe my lyrics as melancholic stories with flickers of hope. But it’s the hope in them that I want the listener to take away. Most of my songs are about past relationships, my experience with mental health conditions, sometimes social or political issues but always with an emotionally provocative stance.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
S: We’re active on all the socials, such as Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. We’ve also just set up a mailing list, so subscribe to it for regular updates on shows and new releases! http://eepurl.com/huC3yv
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
S: I remember at music college a lecturer proclaimed that “Spotify is the last dying fart of the music industry”. But frankly, I think anyone who says that is all fart and no shit. Change is inevitable in any industry and it is essential to move with the times. Of course, I’d love to spend less time on my laptop and more time playing music. And of course, I’d love for people to feel our music in the form of a vinyl disc; not an abstract mp3 file floating around the internet. But the reality is truth and truth is all we want. Every so often I find myself fantasising about a world where music is still disputed in physical copies, but I force myself back to reality and remind myself of the benefits of the internet. The globalised aspect of the internet and its ability to allow the artist, whoever you might be, to reach listeners in every corner of the world. Obviously, this comes at a price as the market becomes more saturated, but I believe the attitude has to be one of adaptation and creative thinking in order to carve your own path.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
S: Man, this is such a hard question. After giving this a lot of thought, I’m going to go with Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’. Buckley had a rare ability to take many different genres of music and incorporating them into one piece of music. Yet still making each song sound so distinctively Jeff Buckley. On top of this, his lyrics for ‘Grace’ are thought-provoking and beautiful. Nothing has ever inspired me as much as Buckley’s songs have.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
S: As a fairly intolerant person, I’ll restrain myself from writing an essay here and TRY to present a more laidback version of myself. Right off the bat; listening to your music through speakers, on the tube is not okay. Nor is eating crisps (especially cheese and onion) under my nose on any form of public transport. A plate is not an ashtray and should not be used as such; ashtrays are used as ashtrays. Clapping at the end of a flight – did they not expect the pilot to land? I’d love to carry on and put the world to rights, but I doubt it makes for great reading.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
S: Personally, my proudest moment was after we’d finished recording our first single ‘The Pond’. Taking a step back and reminding myself what it meant to me after all the hard work. The journey to that point was long and hard at times. Overcoming self-doubt, illness, and circumstantial turmoil, to get to the position where I was able to tell that story. Before the pandemic to make ends meet, I sang Frank Sinatra and other classics to residents in care homes. I got a sense of pride from seeing the therapeutic elements that these performances bought.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
S: We have just released our second single, ‘Short and Sweet’ which tells a heartfelt story of a past relationship. In keeping with the transatlantic theme of our first single ‘The Pond’, ‘Short and Sweet’ retrospectively describes the emotional trials and tribulations of attempting to hold the relationship together. Originally written as a love letter, it was reluctantly made into a song. Having found that it connected to our live audiences, the decision was made to release it as our second single. We’re always working on new material and can not wait to get back in the studio.
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
S: We have released our debut single ‘The Pond’ and our new single ‘Short and Sweet’. We are on all the major streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Deezer, and YouTube music. If you want to check out our video for ‘The Pond’ and a few live performances, our YouTube channel is called ‘SUNKIN MUSIC’.