Celebrating a career that far exceeds the longevity of most bands today, The Mission’s guitarist and self respected solo artist, Simon Hinkler took some time out of the his preperations for what will be the band’s longest run of dates in many year’s to talk with Overdrive about the new album which is due for release tomorrow (Friday September 30th) and his plans for the future!
OD – Another Fall from Grace will be released on September 30th and is the first album in three years. Let’s start by talking about how the album came together with regards to writing. Was it a collective thing or did you take that initial lion’s share of the writing?
SIMON – It was quite a different approach to this album actually. Previously on other album’s we were all heavily involved and at some point collectively got together for the writing process. It’s been a little difficult as we all live in different parts of the world with members living in Brasil, Sheffield, Brighton and America, so the last album we all came together but this time was the very first time that we have ever created an album in a remote situation, so we never actually were physically present in a room putting it together.
It’s been quite a different experience to be honest and one that makes the whole process move along at a much slower pace. Obviously, if you’re in the same room with a group of musicians, someone will have an idea and then we all contribute with ideas and if something needs to be fixed, that can be done right then and there in just a minute.
The way that we were putting this album together was pretty much along the lines of each of us coming up with ideas in our own home studios and sharing those ideas with everyone else and then ultimately, they would end up in Brazil, where Wayne (Hussey – vocals) is living and we would just have to wait until the next day when he would email us back with his thoughts. So as you can imagine, the whole process was very slow indeed.
Wayne was actually putting the songs together for Another Fall From Grace at the end of 2015 and then he went through a period of recording everything at home and by the time that the rest of us started laying down the material, all the components for the songs were there already. I was presented with a series of recordings with gaps that I was to fill with my guitar parts and then there were other parts, where I re-recorded his original ideas, so there was a lot of backwards and forwards to enable us to get the true essence of what we really felt worked for each song on the album.
Although this process went on for months, it really didn’t seem like a long time for me as I’m much older now and as we all know, time just flys when you get older (laughing).
OD – Moving forward from The Brightest Light’s touring schedule, was there any hesitation to call it a day; or did you know then that there would be another album?
SIMON – Not really, as we didn’t really plan that far ahead. It’s all been a kind of “make it up as we go along” kind of situation. The band was supposed to call it a day back in 2008 and then the 25th anniversary came along and we thought to ourselves “let’s try and get the original line-up back together” just to do some shows, which went down really well.
After we completed those anniversary shows, we all had such a good time and the chemistry was still there between us all, so we decided to carry on for a bit and it’s just slowly carried on ever since. When we finished The Brightest Light, it was a case of “should we do another album?” and then we decided to go for it and once that was done and dusted; we found ourselves moving onto Another Fall From Grace and considering it’s been three years, the time has just flown by.
OD – With Wayne taking on the role as co-producer, do you think that added to the pressure?
SIMON – Well, the production for this album is officially produced by Tim Palmer (Robert Plant, Ozzy Osbourne), who did the first and third album for us. With the way that technology is these days, the production process is already part of recording to a certain extent, especially if an album is being recorded in a remote situation like we did with this one. I think what Tim did was really just take everything that was there and not really chop and change things, but just mix it. So the production got done along the way really and it’s typical of Wayne to take on a lot, as that’s just his nature. I know he’s been stressed out about this buy at the end of the day, this was the way he chose to work on the album.
OD – There are some great guest vocalists on the album, Gary Numan, Martin Gore (Depeche Mode), Ville Valo (HIM) and Julianne Regan (All About Eve). When writing each song, did you have these people in mind, or was it something that just organically happened during the recording process?
SIMON – There are people who Wayne knows personally and he reached out and asked them personally to contribute. If it was planned, then I didn’t know anything about it during the writing process. I get the sense that it was a case of Wayne thinking “I fancy getting a couple of my mates on the album”. The end result is what it’s all about and I think it all sounds great, to be honest.
OD – ‘Met-Amour-Phisis’ comes out on September 2nd and will be the first cut from the album, are there any other tracks that we can expect to see come off the album?
SIMON – I will have to be completely honest with you and tell you that I have heard that there are plans for some stuff to happen but I haven’t really got it straight in my head as to how it’s all going to unfold. Singles don’t really exist anymore, which is such a shame, so I think it’s more a case of releasing a couple of videos which are already planned.
OD – Now celebrating your 30th anniversary will there be any of the upcoming shows that are particularly special for you, almost kind of like a full circle if you will?
SIMON – It’s more places for me and yeah, they’re a few places that will be special for me. For instance, we are starting this tour in Ireland on October Saturday 1st and it only just dawned on me that I haven’t been over to Ireland since the 1980’s! I was there a few times there in the 80’s and all I remember is arriving drunk and leaving drunk and not very much in between (laughing).
OD – The Dublin show will see you kick off a tour that will essentially see you on the road until the end of the year in Australia. When embarking on a tour like this, do you have to go through any rituals before settling into the groove as I can imagine there is a certain amount of endurance you have to go through when away from your home comforts and living on a bus?
SIMON – It’s tough but we did a really tough tour in South America that was extremely gruelling. We were playing a show, then getting to the hotel room for just a couple of hours and then being woken up at some un-Godly hour to get on a plane again for the next show which was in a different country, where we were on stage again that very night. This happened over and over again and it was just beyond exhausting, to say the least. We were all dead by the end of that tour. Hopefully, we won’t have to endure that kind of schedule this time around.
Touring is just one of those things that you just have to climatize to and settle into the groove. However long that may take is different for each of us individually and you just get used to it eventually. Nothing could be worse than that South American tour, it was brutal. Since we got back together in 2011, all we had really done is 2 weeks here and 3 weeks there, but this is one of the longest running tours we have had in a long time.
OD – Regarding your own solo stuff, Mindfeel was the last release from one of your many side projects and came out in June of 2015. Can you tell me if you have any other news on up and coming releases or collaborations in the near future?
SIMON – Mindfeel came out a long time after it was completed. We finished that album in the early/mid 90’s. I had spent approximately 3 years working with those guys (James Bacon and Robin Downe) and it was during a time when music was changing a lot and also the music business was dramatically changing. The labels of that time really didn’t know what to do with that album (laughs). I think we learned from that experience that we were better off doing things by ourselves without getting involved record labels and publishing companies, which is exactly what we tried to do and it didn’t really work out properly and that’s basically the reason why that album never came out. It was a real shame at the time because it really is a great record. To be honest we were left feeling quite disgruntled about it!
I have lived away from my hometown for about 15 years now and I only moved back there about two years ago and hooked up with the guys again and we all agreed to bring the album out; otherwise it will never see the light of day. So we went ahead and released it independently, almost to just lay it to rest; if you know what I mean.
Since then I released another solo album in 2005 Lose The Faith and have been just tinkering about with multiple ideas. There’s nothing imminent that I’m working on at the moment but as soon as I finish The Mission tour dates, I’m very gung-ho to get something happening on my own again.
OD – When someone like yourself is involved with so many different musical endeavours, how do you compartmentalise your writing based on each project, as I would guess that you are in a constant mode of writing, do you have a system for each project?
SIMON – It is a bit like that. Something that I’ve always done it carry a dictaphone around when I have a few ideas and I just sing or play my guitar and record the ideas. I have loads of those ideas for many different kinds of musical ideas that just hang around in the back of my head or on my recorded files and when it’s time to do some writing, I just go back and have a look at what I’ve got.
With The Mission album’s, Wayne will reach out to all of us and say “so who’s got any ideas then?” and in fact, the opening track, which is also the title track (‘Another Fall From Grace’) on the new album; is a song that I wrote based on some of my recorded ideas from years ago. That track was actually sent over to Wayne as a full completed piece of music and he basically took it and dismantled it and rebuilt it to what you can hear today on the album. So yeah, the writing process works in many different ways and has no real set process for me, which I think works in my favour.
OD – You have accomplished a great deal in your career, but is there anything that you still have a yearning to do or someone that you would like to work with?
SIMON – Yeah, the collaboration method of work is something that I have been thinking about for a very long time, to be honest. I’m a person that is most happy when working on my own and in control of what I’m doing and I like to think that a lot of people are like that also. I know that Wayne likes to work a lot on his own also and then bring the band into the situation once the ground work or wire-frame has been put together.
I like to work on my own and when it comes to working with other musicians / artists it all comes down to what I have going on in my head with ideas on different instruments and sounds that I’m looking to achieve. I don’t know if I’m interested in putting a band together because I’m at the point in my life where I just do things for my own satisfaction rather than just doing it for the sake of it. I think it’s the only way to be at this point in my life and had I know that when I was younger, I could have saved myself a lot of grief and stress (laughing).
OD – Finally, regarding the setlist for this up and coming tour, there is a hell of a lot of material to consider, will you be shaking up the set list for each show and how do you all agree on a setlist when looking back on the huge discography / legacy in which the band have created?
SIMON – Yeah, it’s been a bit of a tricky situation. A few weeks back, I was sent a list of 43 songs to consider for this tour! Now that’s a lot of material!! To be honest, half of those are tunes that I can play with my eyes closed. You have to remember that I was in The Mission for the first five years and then I was gone for a long time before returning and now I’ve been in the band for about six years, so there’s a lot of material there in the middle that I’ve had nothing to do with. We started playing some tracks from that era on the last tour, which was fine.
Basically, on this tour, we are planning to play some old favourites, stuff from the first four albums and then a few from that middle period and also material from The Brightest Light and new album Another Fall From Grace. I’m currently working on all 43 songs and the setlist will be changing from night to night, so expect the unexpected!!
The Mission will be taking to the stage in Dublin’s Academy on Saturday, October 1st. Tickets are on sale now via Ticketmaster and Sound Cellar priced at €28.00 (inc booking fee). For more information, please check MCD Productions.
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