With his debut album What Could Have Been, What Will Never Be, He’s Not Your Kind is taking a dark turn through depression, loss and uncertainty. The new musical project from Tim Hicks, this darker tone is a change from his previous releases. A first in many ways, the project and album showcase another side of this multi-instrumentalist. We had the chance to talk to Tim Hicks about the musical project, his debut album, dark themes, home studios and much more!
OSR: What prompted you to create the musical project He’s Not Your Kind?
Hicks: There was some downtime with my other project ‘Desert Companion’. I was playing around in my studio and recorded a couple of Neil Diamond covers just for fun. I did a “Shoegazey” version of ‘Forever in Blue Jeans’ and a straight-up one of ‘Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon’, the line in that song “He’s not your kind” became the name of my project. I was pretty pleased with the outcome and decided to try my hand at writing an original with me singing just to see where it went. I wrote what became the title track of the album What Could Have Been, What Will Never Be and just kept going after that.
OSR: Your debut album What Could Have Been, What Will Never Be was recently released and carries darker tones than your previous work. What prompted this change?
Hicks: Like everyone, the past almost 2 years has been a pretty weird/hard time. There was a lot of uncertainty with my job and just a lot of unknowns hanging in the balance. I think we all have hit a breaking point during this time. Mine came in late May of 2020. Some things went down in my life that kinda put me at an emotional rock bottom, which also prompted some past traumas to resurface. I was in a weird place and needed a way to release the demons.
OSR: The darker tones of the album touch on loss, depression and uncertainty. How easy or difficult did you find infusing these emotions into the music?
Hicks: It was very difficult. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a pretty happy go lucky guy. I’ve always had a “don’t sweat the details, everything will be ok” mindset. So for me to open myself up like this was pretty terrifying. There were times I wanted to just scrap the whole thing. I’m glad I didn’t. I’m happy and proud of the results. This process helped me get out of the funk I was in and ultimately made me a better person and songwriter. If someone listens to this and relates, that’s great too. While the overall tone is dark, I did try to wrap the album in a message that everything will be alight, because it will be.
OSR: The album was written and recorded over an 8-week period, what was this creative process like?
Hicks: Stressful! If I learned anything from this, it’s that I never want to put that kind of pressure on myself again. The songwriting process was quite liberating and exciting. Everything went very fast. I was writing the lyrics and vocal melodies while writing and recording the music. Everything was written and recorded on my weekends over a 6-and-a-half-week period. So each song was basically created start to finish in just a couple of days. I typically work fast, but never this fast. It just all came out. Most of what you hear on the album is first take ideas that just made the final cut. I didn’t spend too much time over analysing. I just went with it.
OSR: The album was written and recorded in your home studio, what was the biggest challenge you had to overcome with this?
Hicks: The only real challenge was my computers processor speed (laughs). Would I love access to a professional studio’s Mic Pre-Amps and live room to record drums? Of course! I am fortunate to have a pretty great space to work in at home. I prefer to work alone while recording and I love the freedom of being able to pop in my studio whenever I can. Not having to worry about studio fees and wasting valuable time testing ideas while “on the clock” is huge. It’s also great to have my dogs in the room and be able to pop out and have lunch with my wife. Not being on someone else’s schedule was a necessity for this album. So many ideas were hatched while taking a break and sitting on the couch. Being able to immediately work those ideas out regardless of the time of day was key.
OSR: The sound of your music moves from alternative rock to shoegaze. Was this something that you worked at or did it happen organically?
Hicks: It was very organic. I am heavily influenced by bands like Failure, Nothing, Mogwai, Slowdive, Deafheaven and Sigur Ros, just to name a few. These elements always find their way into my music. I also love metal and experimenting with synths. As this project grows, more of these influences will show up. Especially heavier elements.
OSR: This album marks the first time you have taken over lead vocal duties. How exciting or nerve-wracking was this?
Hicks: It’s hands down the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never written lyrics before or sang more than just some background vocals. I never cared for the sound of my voice, and frankly never thought it was good. It was that ‘Forever in Blue Jeans’ cover that made me believe I could do it. I found my voice; I found my range. I think everyone can sing to some extent. It’s just knowing how to stay in your lane. I gained so much confidence doing this. I think it will show in my upcoming material.
OSR: This musical project is currently studio only. Are there any plans to play live once gigs are back on?
Hicks: I would definitely love to play shows one day. With both of my projects. Time is just not on my side at the moment. With a full-time job and life commitments, it’s just hard. He’s Not Your Kind is just me, putting a band together is a daunting task. Same for Desert Companion, it’s just two of us and the singer, Jenny currently lives in Seattle and I’m in Las Vegas. There’s a lot of moving pieces that need to come together to make any of that happen. If the demand was there, I would move mountains to make it happen. I do miss playing live. Until then, I am very content working as a studio project. I’m a studio rat after all.
OSR: If people could only listen to one song from the album, which do you feel captures the essence of the whole the best?
Hicks: ‘Everything That’s In Between’ for sure. It was the second song I wrote for the project and I feel it is the most “complete” offering on the album. It has that alternative, shoegaze blend and is all around a song that I am very proud of. I also released a video for it directed by a great friend of mine that really brought the song to life visually. I’m very happy with the finished product.
OSR: What else can we expect from you in the next 12 months?
Hicks: A lot! I’m currently writing and recording a follow-up EP for He’s Not Your Kind. This one will be a little less depressing than the first album (laughs). There will also be some much heavier moments. The absolute coolest thing is that Kellii Scott from Failure is recording drums for one of the songs in a couple of weeks. I couldn’t be more excited about this. Kellii is an absolute monster behind the kit, and Failure is my favourite band of all time. To have him on a song is a dream come true.
There is also new Desert Companion in the works. We are bouncing ideas back and forth remotely and coming up with some beautiful songs. The next year is exciting creatively. It’s a great time to be alive. I’m happy to be able to have the opportunity to make music. It’s everything to me.