Houston, we have a problem (with imaginary friends).
Purveyors of all things mind-bending and other-worldly, The Moonlandingz created a standout album last year with Interplanetary Class Classics. It had it all and then some: visions of dystopic futures to raw and unsettling love affairs shot through with a deep-seated social conscience.
We caught up with founding member and keyboardist Adrian Flanagan, to discuss his work ethic, personal challenges and the importance of music to his mental health.
What are you working on at the moment?
A couple of secret musical projects. I’m also working on my incredible beach body via a hall of mirrors.
What has been your biggest life challenge and what did you do to overcome it?
About eight years ago, I broke both of my arms. The specialist practitioner said my injuries were usually only seen in people struck by lightning (I came off a push bike). I was also told I’d never play an instrument again (I have very little rotation in my left wrist and limited movement in my right arm). It was an awful time. I felt like a fly in a spiders web, both my arms were in plaster and slings; simple things I once took for granted, from taking a lid off a bottle of milk or carrying a bag of shopping became things that were very difficult to do, even putting my coat on was a problem.
I had to endure two years of operations, four years of physio’, and a wired-lunatic amount of pain killers, which messed my insides up. I piled on loads of weight and psychologically I was in a pretty bad place. Since then I’ve written and recorded (with my various collaborators) six or seven critically acclaimed albums, a bunch of singles, toured the world. To a degree, I had the last laugh. No one puts baby in a corner!
How important has music been to your mental health?
Music and writing and playing live has always been my go-to medication for my own personal demons. However, I think the more successful you get – or just the busier you get – the more pressure you have, the more work there is to do, the more people want of your time. Throw in the minefield of touring and having very little sleep and being in close proximity to the same people in unnatural claustrophobic spaces for large parts of the day – and you can start going a bit doolally. Thankfully, we are not the kind of band who are going to be touring year in and year out; sure, we’ve put the work in this year but I think the future of The Moonlandingz live will be more of a sporadic thing, one-offs, boutique type events. Who knows when and where we will land next?
What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
I’ve never been the sort of person that strives towards some kind of unobtainable well of happiness, for a start, I suffer pretty badly with pain and depression, so day-to-day can be pretty miserable. I try to counter the pain – not with painkillers, but with keeping mentally and (lightly) physically active. I usually just throw myself into some kind of creative vortex. I guess a good day is when I’m doing the things I love, with the people I love. I also know that however low the lows get (and sometimes they are crippling), there’s always a high around the corner. It’s not all doom and gloom, sometimes I get to watch the Coronation Street omnibus!
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My wife, my dog, my family, my close friends and my incurable genius – not necessarily in that order.
Complete this sentence: “Good mental health for me means…”
Walking the streets telling people: I’m Lord Nelson!
What do you eat to stay healthy?
A Chocolate Full English.
Who was your best friend at school? What was the funniest thing they did?
I had an imaginary Russian friend called Vladimir. He was a right laugh, always up to japes. I couldn’t understand a word he said which suited me as I have no time for imaginary friends.
What is your favourite motivational quote?
Anyone who says you can’t do something.
What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?
Prioritise your workload. Do the bits you want to do, when you want to do it!