Getting to know /// Some Kind Of Illness

SKOI

So beautiful that you instantly fall in love and so heartbreaking that it hurts – that’s the music Some Kind Of Illness make. Their debut, self-titled album is full of ambient melodies, striking instrumentation and hypnotising vocals. In the time when so many bands try to be as loud and brash as possible, Some Kind Of Illness tone it down to luxurious calmness and elegant sophistication which sticks in your memory. Rock Britain had a chat with the band’s founder and songwriter Paul Hinks who shared stories about how the band started, what inspired him to write the album and how inspiration comes.

– What inspired you to start Some Kind Of Illness?

– We used to jam with friends at our house in Farnworth (near Manchester) six or seven of us in a tiny bedroom playing guitars, keyboards, wind chimes and anything else we could find that made a noise. That’s when ‘Some Kind Of Illness’ was born. Mark started writing some songs on his own.. He gave me a cassette tape of the demos he had recorded and I took it with me when I went travelling/working/busking around Europe and I played the tunes to anybody that would listen… He’s a poet and one of the best songwriters around in my opinion. When I came home about three years later, I recorded a six-track EP with my friend Oliver Maguire, we named it ‘The Crazy Train EP’ by Some Kind Of Illness but we never played live. I went working away again, this time in Figlini just outside of Florence in Italy,  I took my guitar and wrote about thirty new songs, some good, some terrible and then moved back to Longsight in Manchester and lived in a house full of musicians. I worked as a roadie for a metal band around that time so I was seeing people on stage every night and kept wondering if I could do it one day. My friend Dave Collins managed a few artists and he would push me and push me, he gave me so much confidence… I could sing in bars, train stations and I could go busking but the fear was there when it came to being on a real stage. We had a recording studio set up in the cold damp basement in that house in Manchester and Mark would come down.. He wrote lots of cool ambient music.. I taught myself to play keyboards and Dave showed me how to record properly without paying for a studios – it really opened the door for me and I never looked back. In 2012 I met a singer named Caoilfhionn Rose, an incredible artist. We started going out and fell in love.  Unfortunately we had a horrible breakup last year and the only good thing to come from it was that my nerves (with music) had totally disappeared.  I was on a night out with my mates Jonathan Haynes, Robert Mullany and Megan Bews, we walked into a bar where there was an open mic night in progress and Jon signed me up and said I was on in ten minutes.. It was the most important night of my life, I had done it, conquered my fear. I have played over two hundred gigs since then and never get nervous when I play. Mark worked with a guy called Jimmy Williams who had been in lots of great bands, he played the guitar. We started jamming in Rochdale at Jimmy’s house and it just clicked. We had an amazing year playing some of the most iconic venues in the north-west of England including Manchester Academy, The Ritz and The Cavern in Liverpool. We started to get lots of local radio play and interviews and then found a brilliant keyboard player/songwriter called Will Cairns who had already toured with some bands from Scotland. I think we needed that enthusiasm and positive energy around us and Will and Jimmy certainly had that.

– How would you introduce the band to somebody who doesn’t know you?

– I would say if you like acoustic indie songwriting, ambient music with good lyrics, you will love us.

– What’s the main philosophy you stick to as a band?

– Me and Mark have always been a good songwriting team, it’s important that we finish a song before moving onto the next one or just leave it laying around unfinished and unloved.  We tend to write and record in one day..  Ideas turn into a song and we stay awake until it’s done. I feel most comfortable writing that way .. If we decide we are going to be creative and have a day writing music, we usually come up with something worth finishing. I recently found out that Vini Reilly, our friend from the Durutti column writes this way.. He never has anything planned or written down… it’s just the mood he’s in and if he’s in the right mood, the magic happens. You have to be in the right place mentally to write a great piece of music.. Right place might mean depressed, happy or full of energy but you cant force it – it finds you.

– Your debut album is out. What’s the story behind this record? How did it come to life?

– It’s a very personal album. I wrote and recorded all of that without Mark, Will or Jimmy. It was more like therapy for me.. Every tune was finished in one day – some tracks two hours, some fifteen hours until it was done. I locked myself away for days, sat cross-legged on my bedroom floor in the dark, not eating, absolutely devastated over what happened with my ex girlfriend. I was really ill and really down but it’s the most beautiful thing I have ever created.. I just don’t ever want to go back to that place again.

– Your music is incredibly beautiful. What inspires you to create such gorgeous melodies?

– We are massive fans of ambient music like Brian Eno and soundtrack stuff like Vangelis for the Blade Runner film but we also love bands like The Verve, The Cure and Spiritualized. I think it comes from my brothers awesome music collection, listening to that growing up. Finally finding your own sound. None of us have had guitar/music lessons, we are all self-taught. The beauty is in the simplicity, layering tracks, creating an atmosphere around the song.

– Do you have a favourite kind of atmosphere for songwriting? How are your songs usually born?

– Like I said earlier, it’s about getting yourself in a creative place/mood.. Life is so fast and it’s hard to find time. It’s amazing to hear how people write.. We have a friend called Josey Marina who sees colours in songs, she will feel it before it has even been written.. You need to check her out, she is the best songwriter I have ever heard. There are so many hidden talents out there like Laurenmarie, Mike Glassbrook, and John Reynolds to name just a few. The Manchester scene is unbelievable, you could go to a gig every night and see a superstar of the future.  Most our music comes from a feeling or an experience.. I just think the song finds you and it’s out of your control, beautiful art.

– What’s your biggest goal concerning Some Kind Of Illness?

– Well I think we write beautiful music, so I hope we get a record deal or some backing to take this thing around the world. We believe in it because we listen to our own music and compare it with the artists we love and it stands up.. That’s not arrogant, it’s just what we feel. From the feedback we have got (from famous people and people we respect) in twelve months of gigging and putting the album out, it is very promising  and even if nothing happens from here, we have already achieved more than we could have imagined when we started this band 15 years ago. Thank you for letting us be a part of your great music blog xx

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