‘I’m waking up all the time, with a little nagging feeling always crawling at the back of my mind. I’m living this life of mine, filled with negativity and no activity to fill the time’ – ‘Irreversible State Of Mind’
‘You’re everything you want to be, yeah you really made a go of it compared to me, I’m really glad that you turned out ok. I’m damaged goods and I bear the weight, the weight of every single god damn motherfucking mistake, I’ve slavishly collected on the way’ – ‘Green Eyes’
‘I live in a place where no one sleeps, and for people just like me you can’t see the wood for the trees. Where time has a way of slowing down, and your friends have all left town, but you still need them around’ – ‘See Through Skin’
‘There’s something in the way we build a wall, something in the way we imitate ourselves, ventriloquism as a way of life. Speaking someone else’s words, I’m a puppet have you heard? If you could only see my strings you would run for miles and miles’ – ‘Where Are You Now?’
The above lyrics are all mine. I’m not a very happy person, am I? My own personality flaws are without doubt the single greatest obstacle I have to overcome on a daily basis; and that goes double when trying to carve out a career writing and performing.
I’m pretty damn sure I have an undiagnosed bipolar disorder; a genetic legacy given unwittingly by both my grandmothers. My Nana on my father’s side passed away a couple of years ago after spending the majority of her life in and out of various mental institutions suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Hers was a sad life of abuse and neglect; but she was always lovely to me whenever I saw her as a child. I wish I’d seen her more as an adult.
My Grandma on my mother’s side is now spending her days in a nursing home suffering from senile dementia. I have to remind her who I am every time I see her and it takes a good hour or so for her to recognise me, and that’s on a good day. I think I get my extreme seasonal affective disorder from her – she would always be in a black mood if the weather was bad; and every winter I genuinely end up on the verge of suicide.
Grandma and I on my wedding day. Happier times.
My extreme mood swings affect my life on every level – I can be on cloud nine for weeks; creating music, exercising, visiting friends, having a great relationship with my wife and kids, loving life. And then for no reason whatsoever I sink into a black pit of despair. I see the world through clouded glass; detached from everything and every one. I will spend my free time with the curtains drawn, immersed in video games to escape my life. I will randomly find myself in tears whilst out shopping. I can’t connect to my family. And any music I may have been working on will get thrown away and forgotten, because of course its utter shit. I’ve been on and off anti-depressant medication throughout my life, and on one occasion unsuccessfully tried to kill myself. But again, that’s a story for another time and place.
This year has so far been particularly testing.
My two biggest singing inspirations are David Bowie and Scott Weiland (of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver). Just before the start of 2016 Weiland was found dead in his tour bus at the age of 48; the recipient of cardiac arrest brought on by a cocktail of cocaine, alcohol and anti-psychotic medicine (he was famously bipolar). Then in January after dropping his masterwork Blackstar; Bowie died of cancer. This came as a total shock as he had kept his illness private. I know it can be hard for some people to understand, but both their deaths have devastated me. I’m still grieving now. They are the reason I do what I do and I feel lost without them; even though we never met.
A couple of months later the unthinkable happened – Stone Temple Pilots announced they were opening up a worldwide open audition to find a new singer. While it could be argued its in pretty poor taste to do it so soon, they had been estranged from Weiland for years. I couldn’t believe it – the chance for me to audition for my favourite band and continue Weiland’s legacy. I recorded the tracks they asked for, wrote a bio and waited. And waited. Finally the band announced they had found some people and were starting the next stage of auditions. I was absolutely crushed.
My rendition of ‘Vasoline’ for the Stone Temple Pilots auditions. I didn’t get the job.
Now if you think for one minute that I actually thought I was going to get the job then you haven’t been paying attention to this blog. I’m a realist and I’m painfully aware of my own limitations, as discussed earlier. It still didn’t stop the rejection from hammering one more nail into the coffin of my self-defeat.
I’ve also become keenly aware of other local musicians who have properly ‘made it’. A guy from my home town of many years Clevedon is now in a famous rock band who opened for the Rolling Stones. Another teenager from Clevedon did well in the X Factor and is now a pop star. One of my friends worked with the drummer from Bastille who are now massive. And all I found myself thinking over and over while dealing with another irate customer in my shitty retail job was this – ‘That should have been me. That was supposed to be me.’
I hate sounding like that. Its petulant, whiny, petty, jealous and solves nothing. But it is what it is; and has been very hard to overcome. I’ve also had to deal with feelings of jealousy for some of my friends. Two of my best and oldest friends moved abroad a few years ago; one to America and one to Japan. I am blessed with many friends but very few that I have so much in common with, and it has been hard to live without that camaraderie, late night drunken talks and the creation of art together. One of the hardest things for me to reconcile is the fact I am bound to the UK for the forseeable future due to my many work and family ties. I have a nomad soul at heart, never like to be in one place too long and feel the constant call of the wild, a thirst for adventure that I shove deep down inside, trying to ignore its frantic, savage cries. I find it hard that so many of my friends and family have seen so much more of the world than me.
This lengthy preamble has been leading to this one fact – my mental health issues will, at some point, cause me to want to throw this new venture away. I will believe that everything that I’ve written and recorded is garbage. I’ll think my voice is shit. I’ll get frustrated at the lack of response from people for my music. I’ll get depressed when I’m not getting bigger and better gigs. All musicians and indeed artists of all types go through this, but with me it can become very unhealthy. And so I need you, Dear Reader, to help me. You need to tell me to keep going. Tell me to shut the fuck up. Tell me I know what happens when I give up on a project. Keep me going, I beg you.
Phew – after this heavy post, we will be going back to positivity next time. Its time to detail the revolution of the mind that needs to happen. I have some thoughts on how to stay happy, positive, and not just improve my chances of music success but my whole life. Maybe it will help you too. Until next time, stay positive.