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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
While still in primary school I became infatuated with a Pop-Punk-Rock band called ‘Busted’. After seeing them perform on a famous kid's TV show called ‘Blue Peter’- I knew I needed a guitar. Fast forward a few months, I was at my school's summer fete. A competition was held in which every child released a balloon with their name and address attached to it. The balloon that traveled the farthest won. And yes (you guessed it), a few weeks later, while in assembly my name was called out and I was handed forty pounds for my good fortune. I was also lumbered with a French pen pal, which I wasn’t so thrilled about. Anyway, I went straight to the nearest guitar shop and bought my first guitar. If I had never gotten into music, I would love to say that I would have been a professional footballer, but talent would've had something to say about that. Honestly, I have no idea, ever since I started playing the guitar, I’ve been fairly blinkered towards a music career. I grew up in a rural community with lots of friends from farming backgrounds. So possibly in agriculture, who knows.
What do you like to do when you're not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Since our first lockdown here in the UK I’ve become lowkey obsessed with film photography. From photo walks to working in the darkroom and making prints. I’ve found this new creative outlet incredibly cathartic and beneficial to my productivity as a musician. Being in the darkroom (my bedroom DIY darkroom) making prints, is a very meditative place. A big part of being a musician is reflecting upon your past work and conceptualizing your future work. Long photo walks and the darkroom offer me mental clarity and replenish my love to write.
How long has your band been around?
SUNKIN has been a band for over a year now, but we’ve been best mates and played in bands together for years. Hector and I met at the University of Westminster when I was 18, then we met Declan through mutual friends later that year. We started our first band ‘Gutshot For Broadway’ while in our first year of university. It's through this band we learned the ropes of the London music scene. This project gathered a London cult following, was played on Radio X, and became championed by Libertine, Gary Powell. After three years I decided to leave the band and London. Over the next couple of years, I worked full-time as a porter and health care assistant before feeling the urge to move back to London and starting a new band. Fully armed with life experience and new material I moved back. The first thing we did was busk our way across Europe, honing our craft and testing our material to countless audiences in eleven different countries. At the beginning of last year, we played our first London shows including ‘Omeara’ before the pandemic brought live music to an abrupt halt. In the past year, we’ve tried to make the most of the situation by releasing two singles, playing live-streamed shows, and continuing to develop.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We’re lucky enough to live in London, what many people would consider the epicenter of music. Being surrounded by musicians, spanning all genres and backgrounds, never fails to inspire us. We can not wait for venues to open back up, not just so that we can play live again but to watch other bands do their thing. We live in a guardian property where we pay cheap rent to live in disused buildings. The nature of this housing scheme draws creative people from all different mediums together. So the inspiration is never hard to find.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
As I'm sure most bands can testify, finding and choosing a name is a hard task. Especially when you have to choose a name that hasn't already saturated the internet. The name SUNKIN was Hector's brainchild. He loved the idea of kin coming from kinship, relating and representing our friendship within the band. And the idea that the sun is integral to all of our existence’s. Stick-em together and you have SUNKIN.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
We feel so blessed to have played ‘The Borderline’ before it closed down. Being able to stand on a stage and know the likes of ‘Jeff Buckley, Oasis, REM, Amy Winehouse, and PJ Harvey, had played there. It also happened to be the first show that we sold out. There was something magical about that space.
The worst was during a small UK tour we did, we played a show in Glasgow. The next night a show in Edinburg was spontaneously added on. When we arrived we realised it was a rockabilly night. The band before us was a more than proficient rockabilly band, while the room was full of people wearing lucky-stripped, Cuban collared shirts with rolled-up jeans and slicked-back hair. As we took the stage the room proceeded to empty, leaving one very drunk old Scotsman. Throughout the entire show, he shouted, “You’s gommy’s are fucking shit, go home”. What made the situation even more cringe was that we had a small documentary team filming the whole thing. I’ve never seen or want to see that footage.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
I would have to say ‘The Borderline’ again. It was pretty cool playing at ‘Omeara’ and ‘The Barfly’ as well. After a year sparse from live music we don’t feel too picky but our dream venues to play would be The Roundhouse, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Union Chapel, and Olso.
If you could play any show with any line-up who would be on the ticket?
If this is a hypothetical question, where the dead were no longer dead and the genre was a non-issue, I would say: Django Reinhardt | Erik Satie | Vaughan Williams | Miles Davis | Ennio Morricone | Jimi Hendrix | Joni Mitchell | Bruce Springsteen | Leonard Cohen | Jeff Buckley | Radiohead | That would be one hell of a rad night of music, but we would beg to play the graveyard slot.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Enjoy the whole process, not just playing in a band. Try and form your own unique identity. I think this is as important as ever in the music industry. Try to understand every aspect, from your image, your cause, and your business strategy.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
I’d tell myself everything I said in the last question. And not to put so much pressure on my ability, to just enjoy the whole process.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I would say our new single ‘Short and Sweet’. This is a very personal song, originally written as a therapeutic love letter and not intended to be a song, let alone a single. Once I realised the vulnerability in the song resonated with people and the theme was universally relatable, the decision was made to release it.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
We’ve only been able to squeeze in three shows before the pandemic took hold its hard to tell what the more requested songs will be. We enjoy playing the heavier and more upbeat songs like ‘Private Promiseland, Blind spot, and our first single ‘The Pond’. Check out our YouTube channel ‘SUNKIN MUSIC’ to watch some of our live streams and tell us which songs you’d request. :)
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
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.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
All I want is to write songs that people can relate to on a human level. And if they can achieve a degree of solace through our music in the same way I did growing up. Then I’d be happy. So I think relatability and hope.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Of course. Families have disagreements. When you give so much time, passion, energy, and creativity; tensions are always going to arise. But we find communications the best defuser.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
As we can finally see light at the end of the Covid tunnel, we're excited about the future. We're still a new band and due to Covid, we've only been able to play a handful of shows. That's what we love to do! We just want to play music and perform, meet lots of great people, work hard and have a good time.