The Sinking Feeling is a Glasgow based band whose highly original, technically impressive and sonically insane music has been making waves in the city for a few years now.
Their new three track EP One explores some more commiserative and processed emotions as compared to Ugly, released in 2014, which was a more raw affair with heavier musical elements to boot.
One carries forward the dynamic song-writing and unorthodoxy of the bands music and vocal approaches, whilst boasting a somewhat softer edge.
I met up with the vast majority of the band to discuss what we should expect moving forwards, what drives the members, and how they got to this point in their musical careers.
It seems that The Sinking Feeling are back from an “unplanned hiatus”.
They toured two years ago after their EP Ugly came out in 2014, in 2015, they engaged in what they unaffectionately referred to as the “December tour”, Joey remarked that “it was horrible,” “I thought it was okay,” says Kenni, before Joey reminds us how cold it was, “yeah that van fucking sucked” realises Kenni.
After some debate between the two, the conclusion is reached that they never made it to London on that tour, hitting a few places in Scotland and England but failing to make it too far south.
They also toured Europe with Cardboard Swords in October last year, Joey reminds Kenni that they also toured around with Night Harvest less than a year after forming.
I ask them how it was possible to be touring so early into their tenure as The Sinking Feeling, and if the reception they received was good from the outset; “it was just at the height of Facebook groups, it was really easy”, says Kenni, to which Joey adds “UK emo was rife, Fletch was in the hardcore scene and knew people, I didn’t know anything about the scene.
I didn’t know anything about anything. I was from Dumbarton I didn’t know what the fuck was going on up here.” “You were very green”, interjects Kenni.
Through Fletch’s connections with other musical peoples, getting gigs was easy.
The band released a self-titled EP of which I’ve been assured there are “cassettes floating about”.
This EP was well received and led to the Night Harvest tour.
They tell me that every song on the EP was a totally different genre.
Being skint seems to have been the main reason behind a lack of releases from the outfit.
They recorded six tracks which they were expecting to put out by their ordinary means at that time, but it didn’t work out.
This allowed GoldMold to step in and become involved in the releasing of One and the logically named Two – slated for release by the end of the year.
Kenni says that they lost momentum after the delayed release, but feels like with this new relationship with GoldMold, they are back on track.
The band are touring this month, after a few shows in May, the first of which was set up by Kenni at the youth centre he volunteers at in Cambuslang.
Kenni seems particularly enthused about the Newcastle show on June 30th at Think Tank Underground.
He played there in another one of his many bands FRAUEN; “it’s a good venue, they put on a club night after the show, which the band gets free entry to and half-price drinks”, “oh no”, laughs Joey, “it’s silly” says Kenni, before recounting a story of doing a headstand and having beer poured into him by locals.
It is a shout out not only to the people of Newcastle and the importance of hospitable venues, but also – in my eyes – to England’s superior alcohol licensing laws.
I hesitate to say that their new EP is “happier” than their last, so I comment that it “seems less unhappy”; Joey picks up on this quickly, saying “in a way it’s more the way the tunes sound, their a little more upbeat, certain ones.”
Kenni adds that two of the songs off of the upcoming One are more oriented around the period after something bad has happened, whilst previous songs have originated from the experience of bad things happening at the time.
Joey stresses the importance of the sound of the songs in the conveyance of these themes of happiness and experience.
“If you didn’t know what the lyrics were, like in ‘Standard’ you might be like “oh! That’s quite poppy!””
It seems like it is the lyrics that belie the feelings underneath as far as this new EP is concerned.
It seems to me quite fitting that the musical sound is a bit more upbeat, jaunty or collected in the aftermath of events, the times at which people tend to put on a braver face than they are naturally wearing.
These remarks are not to suggest that the EP doesn’t have musical bite, depth or emotion; but rather that it is somewhat subdued – if you ask me.
I became a fan of The Sinking Feeling – or a Sinky Feely – on Halloween of 2016.
They were performing – in costume – alongside Lovely Ladies – in costume – and December 91 – not in costume.
They were incredible.
They successfully lodged their song ‘Second Son’ into my head.
I have only heard it live since last Halloween.
I learned in disgust that it wasn’t on Ugly – the EP they already had out – and I learned in fury that it isn’t on One – the EP coming out now.
I have been assured that it will be on Two, so it’s fine.
The Sinking Feeling made a big impression on me with the first song they played and it has lasted ever since.
Their sound goes very deep and evokes the demons of a broad range of styles.
They do not seem to be in any rush to define their sound by anything other than themselves as individuals, allowing them to engage and disengage with whatever sub-genre of the Great God Rock & Roll they’re feeling at the time.
Kenni is “Riffmaster” according to Joey, a sentiment that I agree with.
Kenni explains that a lot of the newer music is more collaborative, whereas in the past Kenni would likely write the “skeleton of a song” to be fleshed out by Fletch and Joey.
The lyrical content of One is more of a “damage report” compared to Ugly, which was written amidst rather than after personal incidences.
The Sinking Feeling tells me that money, time and life more generally have impeded the release of the six songs they have recorded.
Three are on One and three will be on Two, presumably one and two will be on three, and three will be on four.
I ask how they split up the six songs, they said it was just on account of what went together tonally.
Two is expected to be laden with more angst than two.
For which I am excited, being a young angsty man.
The band reckons that opening up their sphere of influence has also had something to do with the relative change of tone for One.
Kenni said that they were perhaps a bit closed off to the indie scene in the city, and that he would sometimes write something and then think: “no, that isn’t sad enough, or heavy enough.”
Joey says that they have been making the effort to move with the times, it’s not about something not being cool anymore, it’s just that you hear new music and it influences you moving forwards.
This seems to me to be a good thing, being malleable, open and amenable to the influence of what is going on around you as a recording artist is likely to lead to new sounds and approaches that would never be captured if you were trying to capture an old sound or to hone in too deeply on what you perceive yourself to be all about.
“We don’t want to regurgitate anything else that has been out, or at least try not to… it’s a pain in the arse with engineers though, who say “what kind of guitar sound do you want?” or “who do you want to sound like?””
It’s great that GoldMold is acting as a vehicle for The Sinking Feeling’s new records since it sounds as if there has been a number of setbacks and red lights for the band.
The band has a couple of things that they’re messing about with now, but the releases and the tour are at the forefront of their minds at the moment.
They tell me that the experience there has been a lot of involvement, interest and engagement from GoldMold.
“We can be quite self-deprecating,” says Joey, it’s nice to have “someone pushing you and believing in you… it’s great.”
The band explain to me that things change around about them all the time, “there’s no point in pitching a tent under one specific genre” says Kenni, it would be time to give it up if we reached the point where we thought “this is it”, and had locked down the sound.
We pause for a digestive biscuit and talk about tea and milk for a minute or two.
Then, we start discussing the idea of genre, none of us have a particularly good word to describe the sound of The Sinking Feeling, it feels like more definite or descriptive terms are needed than “rocky” “punky” or “hardcore”.
“We get “grunge” here and there”, says Joey, “people call us a fuzzed out punk band, but we don’t use any fuzz pedals” adds Kenni, “just come see us, name us yourself”, says Joey.
We go on to talk about anxiety; between us we identify growing up with the internet and all being conspiratorial as part of the makeup of our generations widespread anxiety issue.
Gary, the head of GoldMold records cuts in and says “I think half of the people in bands wouldn’t be in bands or be affiliated with this scene if they didn’t have anxiety.”
“We were all shitebags when we first started” says Kenni, “we’re getting better”, says Joey.
The Sinking Feeling say that they use shows as an outlet for anxiety, “stress building character” is the process as described by Kenni, the process of laying yourself bare with something you have created.
If it wasn’t for the band “I don’t know what I would be doing, probably a lot more drugs, what the fuck else do you do man? I don’t think there’s anything more cathartic to a certain situation than writing a tune about it and making it tangible so you can deal with it better.”
We talk about identity on top of this, and the fact that in this day and age you can take different aspects of different styles and approaches and incorporate them into your sense of yourself moving forwards.
Playing gigs like at the Cambuslang youth centre was great for the band because – in their eyes – it allowed them to introduce the younger people to something that they can use for themselves, or not.
Effectively, they were exposing them to something new.
Kenni is planning on running these gigs monthly to try and introduce a healthy musical balance into the diet of these kids, which seems to me a great idea.
“Surroundings and scenes are really important, you wouldn’t be part of a punk scene and then put out a trance record, I mean, you could, but it wouldn’t be because of your surroundings”.
It was nice catching up with the band, they seem like really nice people whom I’ve found in the past to be exceptionally competent musicians.
They’re releasing the EP tonight alongside fellow Glasgow band Polarnecks, Dundee’s Stonethrower and Canterbury’s Holy Pinto at the excellent Old Hairdresser’s in the city centre; this is not one to miss, so make sure you don’t.
Words: Paul Aitken