the project brings together for the first time ever the long-running Los Angeles punks and the London-based singer and ex-Million Dead frontman, for many years now both friends and fans of each other’s music. With supporting live shows also shortly to be announced, the 10 strong track-listing of ‘West Coast vs Wessex’ captures NOFX tackling five selections from Turner’s sizeable solo back catalogue, with Frank reciprocating with recordings of five of his personal favourites picked from NOFX’s 37-years-and-counting career.
Both artists have sizable followings it would be hard to predict who’d still be standing if they were to slug it out. To be fair maybe Fat Mike wouldn’t get past the drug test but he’d probably hide a horseshoe in his glove anyway but the walk-in music is sorted as they could both play one of these tracks. Now to be fair I have to say I’ve seen Frank live a few times and although I enjoyed what I heard and I also have some of his records I’ve never been drawn in and become a fully-fledged fanboy but I do love ‘Thatcher Fucked The Kids’ and although NOFX do a sterling job its way below the original even if they’ve taken it somewhere dark and pulled its pants down and spanked it with a ska trombone and I’m good with that. And The same has to be said of NOFX I’ve seen them a few times and own the records but no fanboy and would it rude to say the best or rather my favourite release was the split they did with Rancid! (Flame me now NOFX fanboys) Not ‘Punked in Drublic’ and I do like Fat Mikes alter ego Cokie The Clown a lot. Anyway, I digress.
First half lets introduce tracks one to five and in the USA corner its NOFX and five Frank Turner tracks that manage to have their melons twisted (quite considerably at times) yet they still maintain the vital “Frank” ingredient which isn’t easy and they treat the songs rather well before devouring them NOFX style. ‘Substitute’ is skanked and the harmonies are great and when it breaks out it sounds fantastic. Angry love songs always work.
‘Worse Things Happen At Sea’ is no longer the picked melancholy its a slobbering beast that builds really well and Fat Mike and co have really worked on these and I’m impressed, no I’m really impressed. MAn these guys should do a collaboration and be done with it they are in tune – seriously. ‘Thatcher’ gets the ska skank treatment and to be fair it really works I’d never have called it as the keys dance and that horn bows almost as much as Thatcher did. Let’s not forget either kids, these lyrics are so spot on and what’s more depressing when it was written Frank never could have predicted Cameron and his austerity and then May before Boris well and truly fucked everyone not just the kids. Respect.
‘The Ballad Of Me & My Friends’ isn’t a folky sing-along its a blast through NOFX style. They get Turner in for a rip through ‘Glory Hallelujah’ like they’re Queen writing a musical for the west end big bold and quite beautiful. You have to take your hat off to Fat Mike hes reconstructed five of turners songs and given them a NOFX makeover and most enjoyable they are too.
In The ‘Wessex’ Corner is the very English Frank Turner and his band the Sleeping Souls and to be fair they’ve also entered into the spirit of things and taken five NOFX tunes and given them a “this side of the pond” English make over.
It is indeed the ying to Fat Mikes yang as ‘Scavenger Type’ get the punked-up acoustic style treatment as the ‘Punked In Drublic’ gets a good shoeing. I guess ‘Bob’ was a free hit for Turner but he takes ownership and if I was to pick a knockout blow on this release then this might well be it. Sublime, to be fair a great song handled with much love and respect.
‘Eat The Meek’ is taken somewhere totally different and reinvented and to be fair I didn’t see that coming either. That’s the pattern though and like ‘Perfect Government’ is another uppercut from Turner who winning this on points. Finally bowing out with his rendition of ‘Falling In Love’ this caps off a pretty impressive split. Exactly how it should be done and much respect to Frank Turner and NOFX who manage to knock each other out at the same time Rocky style. Give it a try then go check out the originals and then give them both a round of applause for their bravery, talent and execution.
Let’s hope for a rematch somewhere down the line or how about a full-on collaboration ‘West Coast vs Wessex’ has been an emotional box office success. Get on this pay per view kids its a big hitter for sure.
Here’s a couple of proper rainy days songs taken from a new split we’re reviewing this week on RPM its Frank turner & NOFX.
NOFX and Frank Turner will release a split covers album, ‘West Coast Vs. Wessex’ on July 31, 2020. Due for release via Fat Mike’s own Fat Wreck Chords label, the project brings together for the first time ever the long-running Los Angeles punks and the London-based singer and ex-Million Dead frontman, for many years now both friends and fans of each other’s music. With supporting live shows also shortly to be announced, the 10 strong track-listing of ‘West Coast vs Wessex’ captures NOFX tackling five selections from Turner’s sizeable solo back catalogue, with Frank reciprocating with recordings of five of his personal favourites picked from NOFX’s 37-years-and-counting career.
Just how often does the leader of one of your favourite bands ask you to do a split album? One where his band covers your songs? It’s the situation Frank Turner found himself in last year, when Fat Mike of NOFX asked if he wanted to do a split covers album. “And I shit the bed and said, ‘Fucking of course I do! That sounds incredible,” Turner recalls.
‘West Coast Vs. Wessex’ does sound incredible: NOFX filtering five of Turner’s songs through their singular sensibility, with Turner doing the same on five NOFX songs. But these aren’t simply double-time versions of Turner’s folk-punk tunes or slow, acoustic re-workings of NOFX’s iconic SoCal punk anthems. Both NOFX and Turner took time to play with the possibilities each other’s music presented.
“I listened to all his records, and I picked the ones that I thought I could make more interesting,” notes Fat Mike. “What I did is change a lot of chords. Frank, he beats me in the singing department. So I can’t sing better than he can, but I can maybe throw in a melody here or there or chord that he hadn’t thought of.”
Turner took a similar approach. “I didn’t want to just do straight covers of anything. I wanted to try and pick songs where I felt like me and my band could bring something different to the table,” he says. “But it did strike me that it would be cool to demonstrate to the casual NOFX fan, who doesn’t know who I am, that I am actually a fan. I didn’t just go to Spotify and pick the five most-listened-to songs.” For the record, only one of his choices appears on Spotify’s top five for NOFX: ‘Bob’, which Turner here transforms into a wistful country song. He pulled from deeper album tracks for his other covers: a punk-ed up ‘Scavenger Type’, a barroom singalong ‘Perfect Government’, the post-hardcore ‘Eat the Meek’, and a spare, haunting ‘Falling in Love’.
“Everything he picked was from the ’90s, so I took that as it’s okay to mostly do his early stuff too,” says Fat Mike, who channeled ‘90s NOFX for their interpretations. “People who hear it, they all say it sounds like old NOFX.” The band’s climactic take on ‘Substitute’ could’ve fit on ‘Punk in Drublic’, whilst ‘Worse Things Happen at Sea’ simmers with an ominous portent. The jaunty ‘Thatcher Fucked the Kids’ sounds like a companion to NOFX’s ‘Philthy Phil Philanthropist’. ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’ – lilting and bittersweet in Turner’s original – goes balls-out here. “Glory Hallelujah” sounds like a lost track from Fat Mike’s Broadway musical, ‘Home Street Home’.
Turner and his band, The Sleeping Souls, recorded their songs between their rehearsal space and during tour commitments, with Frank tracking his vocals from his bunk on the bus. NOFX recorded at Fat Mike’s Six Floggs studio, with production by the D-Composers (Fat Mike, Johnny Carey, BAZ Bastien, Yotam Ben Horin).
“It’s difficult to describe quite how it feels to hear back a song that you wrote played by NOFX, one of your favourite bands, in a style that is unmistakably theirs,” Turner says. “It tends to make me just laugh in a really elated kind of way. It’s just like, ‘Holy shit, this is ‘Substitute’ done by NOFX! This is fucking insane!’” Fat Mike was similarly psyched. “When Frank picked ‘Falling in Love,’ I was so fucking stoked,” Mike says. “Then I heard it, and I go, ‘Holy shit, he just kicked our ass.’ I was pleased with all of them. I thought he did a really good job – and not such a good job that we couldn’t beat him on a few songs.”
But there are no losers on West Coast Vs. Wessex. The Frank Turner-Fat Mike Mutual Admiration Society has produced 10 hooky re-imaginings of each others’ music. The novelty may pique listeners’ curiosity, but the songs will keep them coming back.
“I have always thought and always maintained, well before we were friends, that Mike is a great, classic songwriter,” Turner says. “And that’s what sets NOFX apart from many of their peers.”
What about him?
“Just for me to be able to stand up in front of the mirror and look at myself and say, ‘You’re doing a fucking split with NOFX’—that is an absolute dream come true for me,” he says, laughing. “I mean, I don’t quite know where my career goes from here.”
Punk in Drublic Festival 2021 European Tour Dates Feat. NOFX and Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls
13 May FRANCE Chemillé, Théâtre Foirail à Chemille
15 May BELGIUM Boom, De Schorre Open Air
16 May GERMANY Berlin, Zitadelle
21 May AUSTRIA Wiesen, Wiesen Open Air
23 May ITALY Milan, Carroponte
4 June GERMANY Oberhausen, Turbinenhalle
5 June GERMANY Hannover, Faust Open Air
10 June FINLAND Turku, Vanha Surrtori 5
12 June NORWAY Oslo, Oslo Spektrum
13 June SWEDEN Malmö, Folkets Park
I’m loving this recent album release shows that The Brudenell has been doing in conjunction with Leeds independent record store Crash Records. The deal; Buy a ticket in advance from the shop, in a bundle with the album on any format you choose for a bargain price. There have been intimate shows recently from the likes of Suede, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and The Kaiser Chiefs, who did a record four-show run here in one day! Not surprisingly, these shows sell out very quickly.
Now it’s the turn of Frank Turner. His new album ‘No Man’s Land’ has entered the charts at Number 3 this week, and I like to think we all helped by purchasing a copy in advance. I went for the indie only white vinyl/ticket bundle. That’s £23 for a record and a live show at my favourite venue…bargain!
The last time Frank Turner played Leeds was down the road at Leeds First Direct Arena earlier this year. Taking to the more intimate stage of The Brudenell , with just an acoustic guitar and no backing band, he whips up the same enthusiasm and energy for 400 people as he does for a few thousand in an arena with his band The Sleeping Souls.
Concentrating first on tracks from the new album, he opens with ‘Jinny Bingham’s Ghost’. The opening track from ‘No Man’s Land’ and one of the album’s highlights. The folky tale of a 17th century Camden killer is an upbeat, drinking song of the highest order. We all listen intently for the duration.
Next up Frank recounts the tale of ‘Rescue Annie’, the supposed jane doe who was used to model the death mask still used today as the CPR dummy. Frank goes on to introduce each new song with a bit of background story. So, on the hottest day for sometime he plays us a Christmas song called ‘The Graveyard Of The Outcast Dead’, of course he does, why not! Does it transport us to a cold December morning, in a different century? Does it hell, he’s no magician! It’s bloody roasting in here and the sentiment of the song does little to bring down the temperature.
Frank prepares us for ‘The Death Of Dora Hand’ telling us there’s a guitar solo and it’s hard, so if we could all shout loudly during the solo to cover up the mistakes, it would be appreciated! He even gets his roadie to bring a box out for him to put his “foot on the monitor, Slash-style” to help. A comedy moment that gets plenty of laughs and he does actually pull it off. “Doff your cap, boy”
‘The Lioness’ is full of punk attitude and aggression and Frank has the crowd in the palm of his hand with great crowd participation, getting us all to take over in singing the chorus back to him. The beautiful sentiment of ‘Sister Rosetta’ follows, the perfect swan song to ‘No Man’s Land’ before we get into more familiar territory. Having had the album on constant for the week, these songs are fresh and I know the lyrics, well at least the choruses, and it seems I’m not the only one.
The likes of the heartfelt ‘Be More Kind’ and ‘The Way I Tend To Be’ are greeted like old friends and sung back to their creator with the enthusiasm they deserve. A raucous and passionate ‘I Still Believe’ preaches camaraderie and the love for rock ‘n’ roll we all share. “I still believe in the need for guitars and drums and desperate poetry” he sings and it induces goosebumps in this setting just as much as the recorded version.
But the biggest cheer of the night is when he announces he is getting married next week, before bowing out with a soaring ‘The Ballad Of Me and My Friends’. Making it personal by changing the lyrics to suit the venue. Marvellous stuff indeed.
It’s well known that Frank Turner gives his all with every performance. He has a way of drawing you in, sharing his passion and inciting every member of his audience to get involved and feel a part of the show. And tonight’s was show no different.
Show number 2388 he tells us, yeah, he keeps count! And tonight he gave Leeds two intimate shows we will remember for years to come. One of those ‘you had to be there’ moments for sure.
Everyone’s favourite Etonian punk poet Frank Turner is back in familiar territory on album number 8, musically anyway. Turner has stated that he does not want to repeat himself with each album and ‘No Man’s Land’ sees the troubadour approach writing an album from a different angle. ‘No Man’s Land’ is a concept album based on the tales of forgotten women in history. From a 17th century Camden landlady who poisoned and cooked her lovers, to a Dutch courtesan, executed by firing squad, onto the tale of an Egyptian feminist, history buff Turner has done his homework .
A series of podcasts entitled ‘Tales From No Man’s Land’ accompany each song, and the themes of strong women stretch further than just the lyrical content. Gone (for now) is his band The Sleeping Souls, replaced by a full female backing band and producer to boot.
Frank’s canny lyricism and his knack of telling a fine tale does have a tendency to draw you in, and you can’t help but immerse yourself in the lives of these women. Some you will have heard of, some you won’t have a clue about, but after a few listens you will find yourself reaching for Wikipedia to find out a bit more. While over the course of a 3 and a half minute song the songwriter can only say so much, the point is made, and it’s up to the listener to find out more. Sometimes it works a treat and other times… not so much.
Opener ‘Jinny Bingham’s Ghost’ is a mighty fine, upbeat drinking song. Fiddles and skiffle beats fill the air like The Urban Voodoo Machine partying with The Pogues, as Frank reels off the first of many tall tales. Interestingly, the story is set in Camden Town, at The Underworld, on the spot where Jinny Bingham ran the tavern where she committed her dirty deeds.
The following ‘Sister Rosetta’ is typical Turner radio fodder. A pop-laced, perfect single about the godmother of rock ‘n’ roll, who I first learned about through the teachings of Alabama 3. A nifty accompanying guitar riff and a crisp production job courtesy of Catherine Marks makes this song sparkle and shine.
The jazzy ‘Nica’ is a complete contrast from anything else and works really well. Full of brass, woodwind and smoky juke joint vibes, it mirrors the subject matter perfectly. Elsewhere, the album falters in just a few places. ‘Silent Key’, about tragic Challenger Space Shuttle astronaut Christa McAuliffe, is a song that first featured on the album ‘Positive Songs For Negative People’. It’s a bit of a (space) oddity to be honest. Frank just seems to be going through the motions here with a lazy vocal melody that doesn’t really go anywhere. And closing track ‘Rosemary Jane’, a song about his mum, while heartfelt and personal to Frank, is just plain dull.
But there certainly are flashes of brilliance to behold. The stripped back country of ‘Eye Of The Day’ closes side one ‘Nebraska’ style, just the man and his acoustic laid bare, recounting the tragic tale of Mata Hari and her untimely death. Simple, heartfelt and probably my favourite track right now.
Soaring choruses in the likes of ‘I Believed You, William Blake’, written through the eyes of his long suffering wife Catherine, and the epic feel of side 2 opener ‘The Death Of Dora Hand’ stay with me long after my white vinyl album has stopped spinning and I turn my attention to find more about these remarkable women.
‘No Man’s Land’ is a perfectly executed album, to be listened to from start to finish as a body of work. The podcasts are interesting, though not essential to enjoy the album to its fullest. Some have labelled the concept of this album as ‘gimmicky’ before even hearing the fruits of his labour, but I say this album is far from it. Is it Frank’s best album? No, but it’s up there with his best and has already had the most plays since ‘England Keep My Bones’ was released for me, so he must be doing something right. A lot of thought has gone into the production, the concept and the lavish packaging and it makes ‘No Man’s Land’ a welcome addition to anyone’s collection. Fascinating stuff indeed.
FRANK TURNER today releases ‘Eye Of The Day’, the latest new track to emerge from his forthcoming eighth album, ‘NO MAN’S LAND’ (out August 16th on Xtra Mile Recordings/Polydor Records), produced by Catherine Marks and featuring an all-female cast of musicians. Frank has recently revealed details for a 9 date UK headline tour showcasing material from the new project– including two sold-out dates at London’s Alexandra Palace Theatre on November 30 and December 3, 2019. The tour will see Turner put a new twist on his formidable live set up, featuring a solo set followed by an unplugged band performance in seated venues. Stream ‘Eye Of The Day’ here: https://FrankTurner.lnk.to/MataHariPR.
Arriving alongside the fourth episode in Frank’s popular companion podcast series, ‘Tales From No Man’s Land’, ‘Eye Of The Day’ pays tribute to the life of Mata Hari in one of the album’s most starkly affecting tracks. Originally born Margaretha Zelle in late 1800s Netherlands, Mata Hari became celebrated as a dancer in turn-of-the-century Paris, taking her stage name from an Indonesian term meaning ‘Eye Of The Day’. Following the outbreak of World War One, however, Mata Hari was arrested by the French authorities on suspicion of involvement in espionage, and following a perfunctory trial was identified as ‘Agent H21’ and executed.
‘No Man’s Land’ is dedicated to the vital stories of women from history whose lives have all too often been overlooked by dint of their gender. Hailing from across wide geographical and historical lines, they also include Byzantine princess Kassiani (The Hymn of Kassiani), Egyptian feminist activist Huda Sha’arawi (The Lioness), and Resusci Anne (Rescue Annie) an apocryphal drowned virgin whose face was used as the model for the medical CPR mannequin across the world. There’s the serial killer from the Deep South who plucked her victims from lonely hearts pages (Nannie Doss), the jazz-obsessed heiress who fought for the Free French (Nica Rothschild) and a rowdy coach house landlady from 17th century Camden Town accused of witchcraft (Jinny Bingham).
“It’s bringing together my two main interests in life, which have always been separate from each other – history and songwriting,” explains Turner, who can be found seeking out long-forgotten historical sites on self-guided psychogeographical strolls when he’s not packing out arenas or headlining festivals.
The ‘Tales From No Man’s Land’ podcast is available from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Acast and all other podcast platforms. NO MAN’S LAND features thirteen tracks:
Details for a 9 date UK headline tour – including two dates at London’s Alexandra Palace Theatre on November 30 and December 3, 2019 – in support of his forthcoming eighth album, ‘NO MAN’S LAND’ (out August 16th on Xtra Mile Recordings/Polydor Records). Produced by Catherine Marks and featuring an all-female cast of musicians, ‘No Man’s Land’ is dedicated to the fascinating stories of women whose incredible lives have all too often been overlooked by dint of their gender. The album is accompanied by a new 13 part podcast series, ‘Tales From No Man’s Land’ (created in collaboration with Somethin’ Else), which hit #2 on the Apple UK podcast chart upon launch. Tickets for the UK headline tour will go on sale on July 19, with a special fan pre-sale via Frank’s store – https://store.frank-turner.com/.
The tour dates will see Turner put a new twist on his formidable live set up, featuring a solo set followed by an unplugged band performance in seated venues. Speaking about the format, Frank says; “For this tour, I thought it would be good to give the new album some proper attention, so the first set of mine of the night will be a solo run through some of those songs and stories; once the Souls are up with me, we’re playing around with a slightly more stripped back, thoughtful folk approach to some of the older material, which feels different and powerful. Looking forward to sharing a slightly different show with everyone for this run.”
The women featured on ‘No Man’s Land’ come from across wide geographical and historical lines. They include Byzantine princess Kassiani (The Hymn of Kassiani), Egyptian feminist activist Huda Sha’arawi (The Lioness), and Resusci Anne (Rescue Annie) an apocryphal drowned virgin whose face was used as the model for the medical CPR mannequin across the world. There’s the serial killer from the Deep South who plucked her victims from lonely hearts pages (Nannie Doss), the jazz-obsessed heiress who fought for the Free French (Nica Rothschild) and a rowdy coach house landlady from 17th century Camden Town accused of witchcraft (Jinny Bingham).
“It’s bringing together my two main interests in life, which have always been separate from each other – history and songwriting,” explains Turner, who can be found seeking out long-forgotten historical sites on self-guided psychogeographical strolls when he’s not packing out arenas or headlining festivals.
Frank Turner is set to release his new album ‘No Man’s Land’ in August.
Produced by Catherine Marks (Foals, The Big Moon) and due out August 16 via Xtra Mile/Polydor, ‘No Man’s Land’ is driven by the lives & legacies of 13 extraordinary women, previously marginalised by history. A self-confessed history nut, Turner began work on the project after learning about Jinny Bingham, a witch who lived in Camden in the 1600s.
Whilst there’s a couple of familiar names profiled on ‘No Man’s Land’ (incl. Godmother of rock’n’roll, Sister Rosetta Tharpe), the album shines a light on those overlooked by the mainstream – including Egyptian feminist activist Huda Sha’arawi, Dodge City dancehall dancer Dora Hand and the ‘Jazz Baroness’, Nica Rothschild.
Today, new track ‘Sister Rosetta’ arrives alongside the first episode in a new 13-part podcast series which Frank has created with production company Somethin’ Else, ‘Tales From No Man’s Land’, which unpicks the stories of each woman in conversation with various special guests, followed by an acoustic performance of each track.
Stream episode 1 of ‘Tales From No Man’s Land’: Here
FRANK TURNER will be performing in the UK throughout the summer:
11th 2000 Trees Festival, Cheltenham
12th Wasteland Festival, Newcastle
14th Folk By The Oak Festival, Hatfield
3rd Wickham Festival, Fareham
4th Tunes in the Castle, Exeter
9th Cropredy Festival, Cropredy
22nd Cottingham Folk Festival (Solo Show)
25th Greenbelt Festival, Kettering
Thanks for checking out my little corner of the Internet again. There really are no rules or expectations of what I am going to do here. Immediately after completing my first one though, this piece started writing itself in my head. It’s also shifted back and forth a bit during that time. The Wildhearts recently released their latest studio album ‘Renaissance Men,’ and it is quite simply a monster of an album. It is a serious album of the year contender with its 10 mostly compact songs reminding us of those albums of yesterday that did not waste time and placed an emphasis on all killer, no filler. That album served as the inspiration for the topic here- the stigma of mental illness.
Completing the first half of the album, ‘Diagnosis’ finds the band making a powerful statement that cannot be heard enough. The album has been on constant rotation, and that song kept nudging me to emphasize it for anyone that carries a mental health diagnosis with them. Coincidentally, I also saw a study by Record Union which indicated 73% of independent musicians suffered from some form of mental illness (https://www.the73percent.com/). I do not believe this is by any means a new phenomenon, but there has thankfully been much more awareness raised now. Unfortunately, there continues to be a stigma attached to mental illness that needs to be destroyed. People are NEVER a diagnosis. I do not care if it is a physical health condition or a medical health condition. Labels have genuine consequences.
‘You are not your diagnosís
You’re not that prescription in your hand
You are not your diagnosís
Simplified for them to understand’
(Ginger Wildheart, The Wildhearts, ‘Diagnosis’ from their latest album ‘Renaissance Men’)
I have worked in behavioral health for many years and have seen remarkable changes taking place within the field which are innovative and produce remarkable results. I remember the first time the clinic I where I worked brought a Peer Support Specialist (PSS) on board. We only had one, and there was some definite ignorance among the clinical team as for the first few days there was an unsaid belief that the PSS probably should not work with someone in crisis because it could cause the PSS to also go into crisis. I am very happy to report this belief was eradicated within about a week because we experienced the power of peer support. Clinically, we had failed to connect with the person, but this approach was remarkably powerful. In the not too distant past, I introduced a Peer Support Specialist to an inpatient psychiatric unit where the concept was entirely new.
“The stigma I experienced working in that facility has permeated through my recovery story. Before I reached wellness, people were telling me that my reality wasn’t true. Throughout my journey, having friends and loved one’s back away. Now in my profession as a Peer Specialist, being denied opportunities to help someone because it would “trigger a crisis” in myself according to their opinion. I am not my diagnosis. I am not my past. I am a person. My name is Jessi.” Jessi Davis, MHPS RSPS Transition Age Youth Coordinator Via Hope
I have been fortunate that I worked in a system that celebrated strengths and meeting people where they are. It inspired a passion for me in my career to always try to do everything I can to make this world a better place. Some days are more successful than others. I have heard and seen horrific stories. I have heard and seen beautiful acts of love, empathy, support, resilience, and recovery.
I know that I never liked the task in school when I was asked to identify 3 strengths or things I liked about myself. I think it has become much easier with time, but I honestly do not know if it is because of the experiences I collected on my way to adulthood or some other reason. Parts of my adolescence were awful, and it didn’t change until I was well into my 20’s. I also know though I was extremely lucky and fortunate in many ways, especially in that I found coping mechanisms that worked for me. Music spoke to me and was my escape from the challenges I experienced. I also began writing in a journal, and, while they were initially song lyrics, my limitations in musical talent (having none) meant that these would become essentially poetry, even if that wasn’t what I wanted to call it due to preconceived stereotypes about my role in this world as a man and how we are trained to guard our feelings. My darkness I felt when I was younger had outlets- healthy outlets.
Along the way in my career, I was presented with an exciting opportunity. Despite having no behavioral health diagnosis, I had the opportunity to attend a two week Peer Support Training class as part of my orientation for a job. Part of the training is the Peer Support Specialist being able to share their story in a way that inspires hope and resiliency. It was scheduled for about the middle of the training, and I felt uncomfortable with the idea of being in the class that day. I felt like I was an outsider and was betraying my classmates trust in some way. On the second or third day, I said something to one of my classmates during a break. This came out later that day in class, and our instructor told me he was sure I would have a story to share. Sure enough, I was annoyed that we only had 10 minutes to share as I felt it was not nearly enough time. While I have never experienced some of the things my classmates had, I had experienced similar emotions, similar moments in my life, and was moved by the stories I heard. Those two weeks have been extremely inspirational in my career. I have worked with others who have also received that training, and the power and energy these individuals radiate with afterward are contagious.
Turning this back to the song ‘Diagnosis’ and what inspired this, people are never just one thing. If you take 60 seconds and write down everything you are, I am sure you will have quite a list. It might start with father, son, husband, supervisor and then it gets really interesting as we drill down even deeper into what makes us who we are. To label someone as a disease takes away everything else they are. I have been fortunate to work with a CEO who frequently serves to remind others of this and has inspired significant changes in organizations across multiple States on this side of the pond with his approach. He also plays to people’s strengths and understands that you meet the person where they are in their reality, which can be quite challenging for some staff. Whatever the person is experiencing is what is real to them, if that is not validated, what reason does the person have to trust you?
If you watch the evening news, scroll Facebook or Twitter, pick up a newspaper after a horrific event, you will be hit hard with the power of stigma as people are quickly labeled or assumed to be (fill in the derogatory word that comes to your mind). What word was it for you? How did that become your conditioned response? Statistics over the years have demonstrated that individuals diagnosed with a serious mental illness are more likely to be the victim of a crime than the perpetrator.
While I am not writing this to dig out all of those reasons why that might happen, I believe addressing the stigma of mental illness can help serve as a catalyst for change. If people felt like they could discuss what they were feeling and experiencing without the negative responses and shame, I believe it would begin to make differences, even if the ripple of change is small. Several of them become larger and a wave can form with enough of them. It starts with each of us though. We interact with people on a constant basis in our lives. We do not know what most of them are experiencing or have gone through in the moments before we see them, earlier that day, earlier in their lives. We often get one snapshot of that person. In my worst moments, I would not want someone to take that as being all I am.
When I look at the artists whose lyrics have hit me in the heart and soul the hardest, it is the likes of Frank Turner, Ginger Wildheart, Tyla, and others who articulate so clearly many of the thoughts that have passed through my brain over the years. Many of their songs have become personal anthems that inspire me when I need them. They inspire resiliency and let me know my brain is not really that strange in those weak moments. Turner’s ‘Get Better’ Being a powerful anthem for many and a reminder that we can always get better as people as long as we are still breathing.
Thinking about this topic has also given me a reason to really take a look across several parts of my collection with various albums immediately coming to mind that has connections to this blog. If we travel back in time to 1978 when I was just a boy, Alice Cooper unleashed ‘From the Inside’ which was conceptually based around his stay in a psychiatric hospital of the time.
The ballad ‘How You Gonna See Me Now’ has always been one of my favorite Alice ballads, and I have really enjoyed the lyrical depth to it that became apparent as I got older. Titus Andronicus released ‘The Most Lamentable Tragedy’ in 2015 and shared the story of someone dealing with symptoms related to bipolar disorder over the course of a rock-opera with the band releasing one segment of the story as a music video that portrays someone receiving services in an institution.
Stand Atlantic released a music video for their song ‘Lavender Bones’ in 2018 which show their singer being treated the same as everyone else and being taught to think and act the same way. She breaks free from the authority in the video, and, to me, celebrates the character she is playing by showing all of the different sides to who she is as a person through all of the colors she uses in her painting (my interpretation).
Ginger Wildheart has been very open with the challenges he experiences and their impact on him. Between Twitter, his music, his charitable actions, and even negative incidents, he has let fans have a window into a world that would not have been seen decades earlier before the rise of social media. Ginger Wildheart has albums such as ‘Ghost in the Tanglewood’ and ‘The Pessimist’s Companion’ that really speak to the insecurities and dark emotions that we experience and provide catharsis. He has also addressed these experiences in specific songs over the years as well such as ‘The Order of the Dog’ and personal favorite ‘Drive.’ Ginger was recently on “Rock Talk with Mitch Lafon” with Alan Niven talking about their recent suicide attempts and mental health care. Here is a link to the show:
Wade Bowen is a red dirt singer/ songwriter based here in Texas who has a discography of amazing albums, and he has never backed away from singing about person topics that have affected both him and his family, such as his song about post-partum depression ‘Turn on the Lights.’ He recently released a piece on YouTube that addresses his own recent struggle with a physical illness as well as the suicide of his nephew who was also a member of their team. While Bowen and the team continue to process their grief, it serves as another reminder to eliminate the stigma that keeps this topic from being discussed. Here is a link to ‘Inconsistent Chaos.’
Another band that served me extremely well back in my late teens when I felt mentally exhausted and struggling was Suicidal Tendencies. I felt like Mike Muir was often tapping into my own brain with the likes of ‘You Can’t Bring Me Down,’ ‘Alone,’ ‘Can’t Stop,’ etc. His lyrics served as a kick in the butt while also tapping into human emotions that all of us feel at some point in time. They also helped provide another realization in that we need to like the person we are and be comfortable in our own skin. I feel like that goes back to my earlier example where I would struggle as a teen to identify my own strengths.
As the Wildhearts served as the inspiration behind this blog, it seems fitting to close it with Ginger Wildheart and Ryan Hamilton ‘Fuck You Brain’
The next wave of artists for Camden Rocks Festival 2019 is here! The multi-talented punk and folk singer-songwriter Frank Turner is joined by hitmakers The Wonder Stuff, Random Hand, Discharge, Richie Ramone, The Professionals, Eliza And The Bear, Sonic Boom Six, Area 11, Spunge, Shvpes and ninety other phenomenal bands across indie, rock, punk and metal announced.
They join the first wave of acts that includes Ash, Ratboy, New Model Army, Wheatus, Carl Barat, Ginger Wildheart, Milkteeth, Pretty Vicious, Raging Speedhorn, Angelic Upstarts, The Virginmarys, The Last Internationale, Bang Bang Romeo, Rews and many more.
This year Camden Rocks Festival is a two day event for the first time! Bringing you 400 artists across twenty grassroot venues in Camden Town.
Get out your microscopes and open up a spreadsheet to map out your days. If you were to ask us here obviously the star attractions of The Wonderstuff and Ash will have their fans but watching The Hip Priests, The Spangles or Rich Ragany & The Digressions is where the gold dust is. We’ll be doing our bit on the run-up to the event when we know venues and band times and let you know where we’ll be heading.