Returning with a fresh new single, James Parkinson (performing as One Cure For Man) delves into the world of envy, perception and famous artwork. Having received support from Louder Than War, Reyt Good Music and BBC Radio Lancashire for his cover of New Order’s ‘Age of Consent’, James is back with a highly emotional and sensitive song. We speak to James about his new single as One Cure For Man, discovering new music and lots more!
Why did you decide to enter the music industry?
My dad was a musician/songwriter and worked very hard at it. In the ’70s, before I was born, he was in a band called Slack Alice that very nearly got signed to a major label and management. He had great local success with a band in the ’80s, so naturally, I was part of the music industry by default. Living in a house where people constantly came and went, either from being taught by my dad on the guitar or his bandmates rehearsing was a very normal thing for me. When I was 17 I finally decided to start playing the guitar. Songwriting came really easy and was just a natural progression for me. I learnt the piano from the age of five, so he and my brothers were all playing and listening to music from day one.
What can you tell us about your release ‘The Haunted’?
I’ve always written songs with great meaning and about important things. The song is a collection of thoughts on how today’s ever-changing work of social media creates a false and damaging perception of the lives around us. Many of us find ourselves feeling envy at what we see through the lens of our friends’ social media presence only to learn much later about the suffering behind the smiles.
Does ‘The Haunted’ have any significant meaning for you?
‘The Haunted’ will always remind me of my friend Ian Seddon who tragically took his own life last August. He was an incredible person and totally inspired the video. The video (directed and produced by Jason Marshall of I Am Eye Productions) celebrates his incredibly colourful and vivacious character; his love for music, art films from the highest art house to the most popular of pop culture. Its aesthetics take inspiration from the paintings of Edward Hopper, specifically the clown in ‘Soir Bleu’ and the scene from ‘New York Apartment’.
What was the recording and writing process like?
I wrote the song last summer on my piano at home and performed it live in the autumn. It got such a great reaction I knew I was onto something good. Once I decided it was ready I demoed it at my home studio and sent it to Matt Heap who eventually recorded it. He felt, in his own colourful words, it was a banger. We set out to record it at his studio, Suff Studios in Colne, England.
This was the first time I’d been to a recording studio in about ten years as I always record everything myself. For me, it was an amazing experience as he guided me through the process and was very hands-on. I remember at one point we were recording guitars and using a delay pedal. He actually moved the knobs during the take to make it swell and increase the speed. That was a really magical moment and something I’ll never experience recording on my own. My younger brother Ben played drums and that was great to have him play on one of my songs. I think he did an amazing job, as did Matt.
What do you hope people take from the single?
Firstly, I hope they ‘feel’ something. I always wanted to make a record and aesthetic, whether it’s the cover artwork or the video so that it challenges people and makes them feel emotion and think. I also hope that it helps people who are suffering from serious mental health issues showing people how important art and music is. I felt quite strongly about my friend dying and so I wanted to put charities like CALM and The Samaritans in the video links highlighting how bad the suicide rate is for men. Of course, it’s not just for men, women suffer greatly too.
Which is more challenging for you – melody or lyrics?
It feels very pretentious to say this, but neither. None of them ever came that hard, but what is challenging is writing a song in my own language about something overly important, horrifying or disturbing. I’ve pretty much dedicated the last 20 years to writing about challenging subject matter and sometimes it’s very hard to get the message across without bashing people over the head. Usually, the point gets missed if you’re too subtle and I think I’ve been guilty of that. I am writing less than I used to, but I think it’s an age thing.
How would you describe your sound?
Great question, but difficult to answer. I think my sound is powerful and has urgency and drama; it’s also very traditional. I like my instruments to sound natural, so I hope that comes across in the music. If I was a painter, which I am as I do all my own artwork, I’d be using oils or acrylic not drawing on a computer.
What do you think is the best way to discover new music?
I really don’t know. I’d like to think in a record shop still, but it’s probably Spotify or YouTube now. The world has so radically changed in ten years and even more so since I first started buying records. For me, it was always the radio and my mates. People are now discovering things on social media a lot more, which is weird because you’re often not in the mood to listen to music in the same way compared to the inspiration you feel in a record shop. I’m 39, so I’ve bought tapes, CDs, vinyl and downloads across the spectrum. I still listen to the radio and occasionally buy music or stream from hearing something on it.
What does the future hold for One Cure For Man?
‘The Haunted’ has taken up nearly nine months of my life because the video was so ambitious and complex to make, especially with only myself, the director and my brother’s girlfriend (who did the makeup) being involved in it. I have plenty of other songs to record, but I might take a well-earned rest. The only problem is I don’t want to lose the momentum from building this song up. Like I said before, I’ll try and stop, but then the creative goblins will come knocking again! *laughs*
Do you have any message for our readers?
Stay safe and look after yourselves in this very crazy time. If you are passionate about music, really make people know this. It can only spread good and light into the world. If we don’t, we just make another generation think it’s not that important and human beings become a bit more grey and duller. Art and music are more important than we could ever know! Peace and love.