Back in April 2012 I reviewed Hive Mind, the fourth studio album from Pennsylvanian alt-rock band Sinch. Since the albums’ release the band have been pretty quiet and so I contacted drummer and social face of the band Dan McFarland to find out a little more about the albums’ recording, reception and the state of play of the band. Here’s what he had to say.
It’s been a year since Hive Mind’s release. What was the critical reception like?
I’m actually not sure. The response from fans has been great, though. And that’s really who we made this album for anyway. I’m not sure we even sent the album to any music critics or press or anything like that. This whole thing by made possible by our fans so we did it for them. I honestly don’t really care if anyone else likes it.
What was the inspiration behind the record? Was it as personal as previous albums?
For me personally, the inspiration was to put out another album because we had a lot of new songs that we were really excited about and we wanted our fans to hear them. I always felt like once we had a big enough fan base we could do something like this where work directly with them to get it made and this seemed like the perfect time to try and make it happen.
From my own interpretation of the lyrics I would say it’s definitely just as personal as previous albums, but that’s a question Jamie would have to answer.
Being funded by contribution from the fan community, contributors were sent a digital and physical copy of the album on its release at no further cost (I know, as I was one). As a result though, no contributor would have paid for it again, so did the album see much commercial return? Was it important to see commercial success?
The day we released the album we had already used all the money that came in so far and we still owed money for studio time. So for a while we didn’t see any commercial return. We eventually broke even and have made a little bit of money since then. None of us are quitting our day jobs any time soon though.
What was the recording like? Did you manage to record in one stint or only when money allowed?
We definitely didn’t record it in one stint but that had more to do with everyone involved having other jobs and schedules that we had to work around than the amount of money we had. The studio we recorded at, Sweet Creek, was really cool and understood what we were trying to do. We paid for studio time as much as we could but they were really accommodating and let us keep working after we ran out of money so we could get it done. Both of the guys we worked with there, Rob Fisher and John Fachet really stepped up and helped us make this happen. As much as we give credit to our fans for putting up the money it still wouldn’t have been possible without these guys. I think they believed in the album as much as we did and really helped push it over the finish line.
Sinch have always been a band to explore and embrace technology. Is this what inspired the webcam sessions during recording? Do you feel they were worth doing?
Yeah, I think it was just an attempt to allow fans to get an inside look at what we were doing since a lot of them had basically already paid for the album and it hadn’t been recorded yet. I’m not sure how interesting it was or if it was worth watching, but if even just one of our fans got something out of it I think it was worth doing.
Is the famous Ocular Noise Machine still in use? How has it improved and grown over the years?
I’m pretty sure the Ocular Noise Machine (aka the Viditar) is now hanging on the wall at Livid Instruments, the company that Jay founded based on a lot of the technology he developed while working with us. We haven’t played a show in a long time now, so I’m not sure how much use it’s getting.
There’s also a band called Ocular Noise Machine that features several members of Sinch. I’m not sure if they’ve performed any time recently but one of those shows may have been the last time it was used.
Are there other inventions? What other curious instruments and/or tech were used on recording?
Over the years we invented a lot of things. We weren’t smart enough to get anything patented though so some of the ideas have been stolen. Some examples include the game Would You Rather? and TV Dick, which you may have seen re-purposed as the more family friendly Mustache Game.
Does Sinch still have no label? Does independence as a band offer more freedom or does it hinder progression?
We still do not have a label. It definitely offers more freedom. For example, we can put out an album and not really promote it and not play any shows and we don’t have some label douche breathing down our necks about how we’re fucking shit up.
What’s next for Sinch? It took a long time for Hive Mind to come to fruition, so does it make you want to continue as a band? If Hive Mind was difficult, is the next album going to be as much of a hardship?
This is a pretty hard question. I honestly don’t know. We haven’t played a show or even had band practice in several years now. I guess the obvious answer for right now is, nothing. But I don’t think that means we’ll never do anything again. At the moment though there isn’t a whole lot going on.
The fan forums were always full of requests and questions about touring outside of the United States. Is there a glimmer of hope for an UK/European dates? Perhaps festival appearances which would be simpler to manage than a full tour?
Is there a glimmer of hope? I guess so. But we haven’t even played a show in the US, let alone our hometown, in years. So I would say it’s not likely any time in the immediate future.
What has been the live highlight of the bands career so far?
I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but for me there’s this one show we played back in 2002-2003 somewhere i Florida… Tampa maybe? It just stands out as a show where I felt like we were finally “doing it”. The place was packed, we were headlining, the crowd was into it… everything just came together perfectly that night. I can’t even point to anything in particular that happened that was different than any other show on that tour. That one just sticks out to me for whatever reason.
Another one that sticks out is the time we played the North Star in Philly and the turnout sucked and they payed us $5.00. Literally, they handed us a $5 bill. So yeah, those two shows.
How did Hive Mind’s material fit into the live set?
We had to use one of the space bag things where you put stuff in a bag and it sucks all the air out with a vacuum to make it smaller. We were able to fit all of Hive Mind’s material, plus a queen size comforter and 15 sweaters into the live set.
The Fans, aka Sinch Army
I always enjoyed the community and the bands connection with the fans. Being a small band with a fervent following, you seem intimate with the fan base, yourself specifically, although I notice the Sinch website hasn’t seen an update since Sept 2012, and Sincharmy.com hasn’t seen much action since July 2012. Has the community focus moved to Facebook et al?
Yeah the website hasn’t seen much action in the past year. Facebook makes it really easy to keep in touch with everyone so I think things have just naturally moved over there. I think for a long time I was trying to build a website that allowed us to do a lot of the things that you can now do much easier on social networks like Facebook, so why reinvent the wheel? For a band that’s active and touring and putting out music and everything, I think it’s still good to have your own site where you can have more control over the presentation. But for us right now there’s not a lot of activity as far as band related stuff goes, so we’re mostly keeping in touch with people on Facebook and posting the occasional depressing article about the state of the music industry or whatever.
How important to you is the personal communication with the fan base other than as a funding source?
It’s really important to me and always has been. I think it’s pretty amazing to be able to connect with people all over the world who are enjoying what we’ve put out there over the years. The more time goes by the more I realize that’s probably the best part about this whole thing.
I’d like to thank Dan for taking the time to talk to us. As a huge fan of the band, it’s super appreciated. Cheers Dan!