The trials of trying to pass yourself off as a normal human being.
Like hot, shiny Raspberries fortified with power-pop Vitamin C, Man & the Echo are a four piece band from Warrington. Sounding like a euphoric blast of air, their sound ricochets through decades of confident pop, landing squarely in the post-Brexit, conflicted, chaotic UK of the here and now. Read on as singer and guitarist Gaz Roberts goes through the emotions.
What are you working on at the moment?
We’re currently writing songs and making demos towards a new record.
What has been your biggest life challenge and what did you do to overcome it?
I don’t know, it’s difficult to pinpoint one particular event. I used to marvel at people who had their lives organised enough that they could pay rent, drive a car, afford to go places, so I suppose managing to pass myself off as a normal human being capable of doing all these things is my biggest challenge. I overcome it by pretending. I think everyone is pretending.
What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
Having no plan, no schedule, and having the means to do whatever I liked as it occurs to me.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”
Not worrying. Worrying is the worst.
What do you eat to stay healthy?
It’s more what I try not to eat. I try not to eat too much bread, too much sugar; I’m fond of salad.
If you could wake up tomorrow with a new ability to aid your health what would it be?
The ability to rid myself of distractions and to motivate myself to get more done.
Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?
Between work, the band and having something akin to a social life, it can be difficult to find the time, though I do try to follow quite a regimented plan. I’ve been making more of an effort recently as I try not to take too much time off work when on tour, but this means getting trains all over the place after work, driving back through the night and doing it again the next day. Earlier this year I could tell I wasn’t fit enough to sustain doing that. The more recent tour we did was better after a few months of sticking to a plan. I like running more than anything else.
Here at The Mind Map, we remember playing football and ‘tag’, running around the playground every day and loving it – can you share a similar memory?
I remember going for long walks around the area I grew up, making dens in the bushes, crossing the train tracks, running around abandoned warehouses. Playing out when I was a kid was equal parts football and being in places I shouldn’t have been. Over the school holidays, I used to go to my Grandparent’s whilst my Mum and Dad were at work and my Grandad would run me ragged.
Do you think the egg and spoon race should be an Olympic sport as well as running for a bus?
Yeah, and throwing a teabag into your mug from the other side of the kitchen whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. If you don’t get it in before it boils you don’t get a brew. I used to be genuinely world class at that.
Who was your best friend at school? What was the funniest thing they did?
Probably a lad called Dan. We actually hated each other for about 10 years but always walked home together as we lived close. We’re still friends though I haven’t seen him for a bit: life and being a grown-up gets in the way sometimes. He came to a gig last year and I was really pleased about that. He did lots of funny things. He has a nice turn of phrase.
Pumps or trainers for PE?
I think that depended on whether it was indoors or outdoors. I preferred the ubiquity of pumps as I usually had a make of trainers no one had heard of from Windsors. I finally got some Reebok Classics for Christmas when I was 11. I’m still looking for the same pair now.
Name your top five best vegetables.
Broccoli, Carrot, Sweet Potato, Cabbage, Cauliflower
Name your top five best fruits.
Banana, Strawberry, Lemon, Blueberry, Apple
What three songs lift your spirits?
All music can lift your spirits. Even music that it aesthetically dour or slow can be affirming if it’s good. I always find it very difficult to give lists of tunes that serve a certain purpose, music is more fluid than that. The same song can make you cry one day and burst out laughing the next.
What is your favourite self-help book or motivational quote?
I don’t do self-help books, I think you surreptitiously get more from a good novel or a poem; whilst you’re being entertained you pick stuff up about humanity without noticing. Reading a self-help book (and I have tried) feels dull, and self-obsessed and makes you confront things. I’m adequately predisposed to being dull and self-obsessed as it is and I’d rather get my moments of clarity from art, then they’re a welcome surprise. So I’ll give you a Kurt Vonnegut quote: “The function of the artist is to make people like life better than they have before.”
What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?
I would let them know I’m there, to listen and to try to understand.