Addiction, religion and facing your monsters with Tim Hulsman
We all have our vices. Big or small, varying levels of intensity, they exist.
Tim Hulsman’s latest single, Monster, is in his own words about “addiction in all its forms.” Though it's easy to muster up thoughts of rock’n’roll type addictions, and while the song is about that, Hulsman says, it’s also about the everyday vices, about the addictions masquerading as lifestyle choices.
“I wanted to talk about this. I think it's important to look at our weaknesses. I’m by no means saying that I have no weaknesses. But I’m sick of people walking around pretending we’re all clean and perfect.”
The inspiration for this switch came from Hulsman’s own experience growing up in a practicing Jehovah’s Witness family.
“When I left home at 18 and decided I didn't want to pursue that path anymore, I was kicked out of home. It was a bit like a spring that had been held really tight for a long time, I went absolutely wild. I experimented with all kinds of drugs and alcohol, got into the rock’n’roll lifestyle. Got right into that whole world, and I saw a lot of stuff, the people I was hanging around with, and my own life, I saw things I didn't like.
“I started to see similarities between people who were addicted to substances, and people who were addicted to religious philosophies. The damage to my family, and what I was seeing around me, it was really similar. People who were addicted to drugs would get kicked out of home, it would divide families and wasn’t conducive to a better society. I found the same thing with what was going on with my parents.”
It was when Hulsman started to write Monster that the contrast between these addictions really showed themselves. “I realised I was writing about religion as well. About addiction and the correlation with any kind of fundamental belief system. When you become addicted to drugs, all you can think about is the next score. Same with religion. Everything becomes tunnel vision, you become blinded to everyone around you”
Hulsman’s forthcoming album Get Loved! has been a labour of love for the seasoned musician, and is something he’s deeply passionate about bringing to listeners.
“It was a pretty long process, I’d written all of the songs, and taken them to the band a year before we started recording in April this year. I was doing a lot of demoing on my own, and my bass player Craig jumped in and helped me with arranging. He was the butcher too. Most of my songs are too long when I start, Craig would come along and chop them up.”
In the time that has passed since his wild youth, his musical process has slowly evolved into something more personal than it's ever been. “When I was about 17, the very first time I played music live in front of people, a small gathering of family and friends. I got up with an electric guitar and played a song. I was terrified, but how great I felt afterwards, and the adrenaline, I knew it was what I wanted.
“I get the biggest thrill out of playing live, that's where the adrenaline kicks in. But I deeply relish studio time and the writing process, I love the creative process. It’s very insular, and you pull right in, but I love it. It’s like discovering new friends. And you’ve got to hang out with them for a long time, so you better like it. When I find a song I like, it’s a very personal and private moment.
“I put more emphasis now on creating great moments in a song. Before I used to be happy with three chords and a melody. I'm now trying to make sure each song has a moment of difference, and really takes you somewhere.”
By Claire Varley