Winnipeg’s Scott Hinkson Taps Failure Drummer for New Album
What would you do if the acclaimed drummer for one of your all-time favourite bands announced they would play on any song sent their way during the pandemic?
If you’re Winnipeg singer/songwriter Scott Hinkson, you get them to bash the heck out of the skins on your entire new album, >> (pronounced Fast-Forward).
That drummer? Kellii Scott of art-rock space lords Failure, a band arguably most appreciated by other bands, best-known for 1996’s sprawling concept album Fantastic Planet and, this year, ambitious new full-length Wild Type Droid.
For Hinkson, a fan since catching the group’s opening slot for TOOL at long-defunct St. Boniface event centre Le Rendezvous back in 1994, the chance to have the group’s notoriously heavy hitter keep time (and deconstruct it) was a dream come true.
“There’s an element of ‘pinch me, this isn’t real,’” he admits. “I was only one song into the writing of this album when I realized Kellii could play on everything. Every musical choice I made from that day forward was with him in mind. I stopped thinking about it as a solo album and more as a collaboration with one of my heroes.”
From the outset, Hinkson was up to challenging himself for his fifth full-length solo effort. Shortly after leaving local groove rockers Rooftop Static, he augmented his home studio with a new keyboard, guitar and amp, and made a pact that any song sounding anything like what he’d done previously be immediately scrapped.
The resulting first cut, “I’m the Medicine,” is a deliciously buzzy, undeniably hooky, electro-pop departure from his mostly acoustic guitar-driven back catalogue. It also quickly distinguished itself from the other ten songs on >> as the clear choice of first single.
“I let the experimental tone of ‘I’m the Medicine’ set the vision,” explains Hinkson. “I saw what was possible once Kellii put drums to the demo and thought, ‘I can go electronic, I can go heavy, I want all of that.’ It helped dictate where I wanted to go with everything else.”
He also knew where he didn’t want to go: the confessional tone of 2015’s The Song is Not On, an album he sizes up now to be an act of self-healing.
“The guy on that last album is a dated version of me, and I hate his guts,” Hinkson reveals. “With this one, I’ve got nothing to prove. I realized I likely used music as a form of therapy. Now I’m doing this because I love it.”
He’s not the only one. While Hinkson happily effuses about Scott’s distinctive playing, Failure’s star drummer is similarly generous in his praise for the veteran Winnipeg songwriter.
“[Hinkson] creates those rare and wonderful moments when the mind stops and music just pours out of me, unfiltered, unedited,” he says. “These moments are exactly why I love participating in music that beckons my true self.”
Without Scott’s involvement, Hinkson says he isn’t sure he’d have shifted from the writing stages to purposefully assembling an album, so critical was the drummer’s commitment to shaping it over the span of 11 months.
“I wondered if an arrangement like this would lead someone like him to leave his best chops for Failure,” he confesses. “I’m happy to say that I don’t think he held back in any way, shape or form. It’s just awesome.”
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