Idles

7 months ago   |   Words: Mark Taylor

At sold-out venues across the world, an ever-increasing fan base is singing along to IDLES’ songs of torment, frustration and personal disaster. The bands sonic aggression, along with singer Joe Talbot’s lyrical candidness is an appeal to many who harbour frustrations of their own.

IDLES are mastering the art of turning the bad into good by creating powerful music with messages of defiance and positivity. Whilst commercial success has arrived, Joe tells The Mind Map that real success is understanding your own mental health needs, building community, and creating music on your own terms.

What are you working on at the moment?

We’ve not long come back from touring the US and Canada. We’re playing sold out shows around the UK now. The tour is good. I’m struggling with sleeping patterns if I’m honest. I can’t get to sleep at night on the coach. I’m normally getting up at 8 in the morning full of beans. Apart from that the gigs are amazing – the best gigs we’ve ever had. Album 3 is happening. We’re writing it now. Next year we’re going to Australia and New Zealand to play shows.

You got to number 5 in the UK Charts with your new album. Does it matter to you?

It matters that we got number 5, absolutely. The whole point of our narrative is to change the populous and its narrative. The problem at the moment is there’s a stranglehold on popularity, commercialism and artistic license. An example is Kings Of Leon. They made two great albums. At the time, they sounded great, they looked great. They did everything you wanted as a young person listening to bands. Then they began writing for bigger audiences and they sacrificed their artistic license for money. That’s awful. What I want to do is be able to headline the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury – but not have a single song in our catalogue that I’m ashamed of. I want to change people’s minds instead of changing my mind. We want to keep writing songs we love that are within our artistic language without sacrificing any of that. We want to make people like good music again.

The aptly named Joy As An Act Of Resistance seems to tackle the stigma around mental illness head on. Was it intended? Do you feel obligated to give people a feeling of positivity about themselves?

The reason I attack those things is because they’re concerns of mine in life. Be transparent on stage – be believable. Play and sing about the things you believe in and that you’re concerned with. The album was written in a period of life where I needed change. I needed to approach my mental health and my cyclical behaviour. I wanted to tackle ideas of masculinity because I was reading a book by Grayson Perry on toxic masculinity. These were things I was talking about in my life so I’m gonna write about them because that’s what’s important to me. The time we’re in at the moment, people feel so much more isolated than ever before because of the internet, because of social media. I’m not interested in singing about stuff I’m not interested in.

What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?

Without any shadow of a doubt, losing my daughter. I think giving advice on grief is a double edged sword. Sometimes there’s no right answer. The thing with grief that you should always remember is to never feel like you’re a burden. Sharing you’re feelings and your emotions. You’re supposed to be sad, so feel sad. Don’t apologise to yourself or anyone else for feeling sad, or down, or angry. Go through those feelings, be in those feelings and live through the sadness of grief. Don’t fight it, you’re supposed to be sad. What you do is you embrace sadness and you talk about why you’re sad. You keep doing it until you feel less sad, then you keep doing it until you feel ok, then you keep doing it until you feel better. But, you know – you’ll never, ever be the same after losing a child or a parent. Everything changes after those moments. You can’t fight it. You’ve just got to embrace those feelings. Embrace anger, embrace sadness, embrace loss. You’ve got to talk and accept that things are going to be that way for a while.

There’s some specific personas and characteristics you call out in the lyrics of Joy As An Act Of Resistance. Is there a face of the darkest parts of society you are fighting against?

Ant & Dec. Saturday night TV. People clustered around watching C-List celebrities jump through hoops for loads of money, whilst they’re at home eating out of food banks. There’s millions of faces of it. The whole point is that we’re now in a place that is driven by money. Perfect aesthetics. Performance driven economics and performance driven ideologies that makes people feel like they’re not good enough. So they get drunk on the weekend and then they work more hours then they they should, for not much money. For people that get way too much money. And they’re not investing back into the community or into the country. So there’s a constant cycle of isolation. Not one of those people in that cycle feel like they’re connected to the next. And isolation will make you feel like sh*t – and then you die.

There’s an open letter to your Mum on the inside of your first album Brutalism. Do you hold resentment towards alcohol or alcoholism?

I’m not angry at alcoholism. I’m at angry at my Mum, and the people around her for not helping her out – the adults around her when I was a kid. My step-father was good. I never got to the bottom of her alcoholism because she lost her speech before I could be adult enough to sit her down and ask her ‘Why do you feel the need to drink yourself into a stupor everyday?’ I’m sure it’s down to insecurities, isolation, two divorces, lots of things. But I can’t answer for her because she’s dead now, because of kidney disease. I resent the fact that she didn’t feel safe enough to talk about her problems. If she was in therapy and she had good friends around her, a good support network, and an awareness of what it was doing to her – she would’ve been able to stop drinking.

I don’t have any resentment towards alcoholism, I hold resentment towards my Mum’s situation. I don’t have any resentment towards my situation and my alcoholism because I’m on top of it. I’ve got a great network of friends who individually sat me down and told me I’ve got a problem. I’ve got a father who’s allowed me to make mistakes and who’s always told me he’ll be there for me no matter what. This allowed me to make my own decision to stop drinking. In the kitchen, on my own. No conversation was had. It was a Monday – and it was the first Monday I hadn’t been hungover in a long time. I felt good and I hadn’t messed anything up. There was nothing wrong with my life at that very moment. I wanted to sustain that idea of equilibrium where nothing’s wrong. I can’t control everything in the world but I can control my drinking. I remembered all the good conversations with the people who told me I needed to stop. So I stopped drinking and I stopped doing drugs. It’s not easy. I’m 34, I had been in that cycle for a long time. I worry about having conversations about alcoholism because I don’t want make it sound like ‘Yeah, just stop’. If it was that easy there wouldn’t be any issue, we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place.

The Mind Map – please note that alcohol withdrawal can cause seizures. If you are affected by addiction and are looking for sources of support and advice please see Mind’s addiction and dependency support service here. 

What do you eat to stay healthy?

On tour you get a rider. We’re a bigger band now so we can be specific with our rider. We have raw green spinach and kale, broccoli, blueberries, peanut butter, bananas. We make a smoothie out of all the green stuff with ice cubes and mushroom powder. I’ve been fasting in the mornings and day time and for mental health because it really makes me feel better. When you get in the cycle of it, fasting is incredible for your mental health and your physical health. Me and Bowen (IDLES guitarist) talk a lot about diet as a way of treating yourself better and looking after yourself.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

My partner, my friends, the AF GANG community. It’s on Facebook, there’s 10,000 members and they built it up around our music as fan club type thing. Our music is a catalyst, I wouldn’t go further than that. After a while that subsided and it turned into a community of people supporting each other. Their motif is ‘All is love’. People go there with their problems and they go their with stories. One dude was agoraphobic, he wouldn’t leave his house. He made friends through the group and they encouraged him to come to a show. When they met him, they realised he needed help and they got him a job. Stuff like that happens all the time. One person tried to commit suicide and put a call for help up on the group page. Two people figured out where they lived and called an ambulance. It’s the best thing on the internet. The people that built it should be proud of themselves because it’s amazing.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

I’d wake up next to my fiancé. We’d have sex, I’d make us breakfast and we’d go for a walk through Westonbirt Arboretum. Then I’d have beans and toast with cheese on it. Then I’d meet up with he boys, we’d have a pint of Guinness in Dublin, then we’d play a show and my fiancé would be watching.

Your lyrics are complex. Moving seamlessly from hilarious to bizarre, to angry. Is there an intent to be funny in songs that discuss serious topics around mental health and politics?

Yes it’s meant to be funny. I don’t go around crying all the time. Everything’s funny if you look at it in one way. Like – I’m not laughing at the poor. I’m not going ‘haha – that’s funny’. I’m laughing in a sense that it’s ludicrous. The cycle that we’re in is a wheel of absolute archaic rubbish that needs to break. We’ve got more money in our country than we need, yet when I was working in care homes, you had to not quite ration their food, but you needed to be careful. There’s just not enough facilities for the care system or for working class families. When you see pockets of it – it is funny, yet most of it is a tragedy. I’ve written about the worst times in my life, but there’s hilarious parts to it that would have only happened if I’d have been an utter toe-rag. Tragedies and comedies are one line away from each other.

What music lifts your spirits?

Otis Reading

The Walkmen

The album Astral Weeks by Van Morrison always cheers me up.

What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed

If you feel like you’re unhappy then you’re going through cycles of behaviour. The worst thing you can do is accelerate those things with alcohol and drugs. You need to talk, you need to open up and you need to make yourself vulnerable to the people around you to learn about yourself and be able to progress forward. If you don’t have anyone you can trust around you, or you don’t feel you can talk to about your innermost problems, seek counselling. There are lots of charities all around the country that offer free counselling via different networks. I think it’s the best thing anyone can do. People aren’t talking enough and isolation is the thing that leads people to the worst behaviours. So I think the sooner people talk, the sooner people feel connected and the sooner people heal.

Idles are currently on tour – keep up to date with them here.

Shaun Whalley: Football Focused

2 months ago   |   Words: Ste Turton   |   Photography: Phil Bridges

As we sit down for breakfast at a converted barn just off the Knowsley Expressway, I realise it’s been five years since I’ve seen Shaun Whalley in person. A close school friend and old drinking partner, the talented winger was always good company. With a turn of phrase as sharp as his Cruyff, we’d bonded as younger men over the usual gear. Sports, betting, The Strokes; we had a lot in common, including our addictive personalities.

Whalley was a fun-loving, infectious kid with a wild streak. Not a Gazza sort, or tragic George Best figure. Just a loveable rogue, who’s pace on the pitch got him paid, while his over-zealousness away from the field, at times, hindered his professional progress. But I’d heard good things. Mutual friends had told me the Shrewsbury forward had completely ironed out his old issues.

As the coffee and convo flows on a chilly Wednesday morning in Cheshire, it’s clear my old pal is in a good place.

“This is the best I’ve ever been doing. I’ve been playing in League One for four years now,  and done well every season. We nearly got up last year.”

With spells at a variety of teams, ranging from Accrington to Warrington, Shaun’s time at Shrewsbury has been the most consistent of his career. It’s no coincidence it has arrived after finding peace in his private life.

Never a regular drinker, Whalley was notorious for going hard on the occasions he did cut loose; often leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. I’d been involved in many of those outings. Ruined furniture at house parties. Hotels turned upside down. Cleaned-out drinks cabinets. Young seeds being sewn, you could say. But not an ideal look for a footballer, or actions for a footballer’s friends to be encouraging. Married last summer to partner Jessica and now a father to four-year old Jude, the wild nights have long been benched.

“It’s so hard when you’re making the same mistakes over and over. I try and explain it to people, me mar and that. They like a drink and I think they find it hard that I hardly bother now. I feel like they think I’m not having fun. I try to explain to her that once I stop drinking, I don’t even think about it. It’s not in my thoughts. I don’t go boozers no more, and that’s not even out of effort. I’m just not interested”.

In 2015 when playing for Luton, Whalley received a wake-up call, on the booze front, that topped any of his previous warnings. After the team’s end of season awards ceremony, Shaun had been arrested for his alleged involvement in an assault. It was claimed his teammate, Ricky Miller, had head-butted a taxi-driver during a drunken, late-night ride.

“I sobered up quick, sat in that cell all day, getting questioned. What the fuck had gone on?”

“You know me, Ste. I’ve never been a fighter. I knew it wouldn’t have been me who’d head-butted a fella but at the same time, I couldn’t remember. I didn’t have a clue. Could have been? I just thought, “I’m in the shit here”.

Although never charged over the incident, Miller was also later cleared in court, the experience triggered change.

“I spoke to a lawyer. He said they could have nicked me, just for being there. My contract was up at Luton and I was just thinking, what am I gonna do here? I didn’t wanna drop down the leagues again. I had bills to pay. When I was younger I didn’t have any responsibility, it was just me, going at it.”

When a move to Shrewsbury presented itself that summer, Shaun and his partner jumped at the chance of a fresh start. They haven’t looked back. Together for eight years before last year’s wedding, the gratitude he feels towards Jessica’s positive influence is clear when he talks about his wife.

“With her being older than me, she’s always been more mature. She never really drank, either. So I wouldn’t. I guess she’s just bullied me straight,” he reflects with a smile.

While not strictly tee-total, Shaun’s alcohol intake is kept to the rarest occasions. Where once he’d revel in the carnage of a binge, he seems relieved those incident filled sessions are a thing of the past.

“We went to Dublin after a Saturday match for our Christmas doo. I had a good few bevvys, but no incidents, just a few drinks. Got some food. To wake up in the apartment knowing I’d not done anything stupid was just the best thing. I was buzzing”.

With the bevvying boxed off, the conversation turns to another vice we’d both indulged in during our younger friendship. Like many footballers, Shaun found himself with a healthy wad in his pocket and endless, post-training afternoons to fill. Hours – and notes – would invariably be spent gambling.

“The thing was, I just didn’t care when I lost. Most people are pissed off and fuming when they’ve done a wage in. I was just like “sound, that’s gone now”. The girls working the counter couldn’t get their heads around my reaction to bets going down. But I found out later that’s more a sign of a problem than getting angry.”

With one in five addictive gamblers attempting suicide at some point in their lives, Shaun’s escape from what had become a destructive hobby was a major achievement. He again credits Jessica for playing a big part; checking his finances, checking-in on his whereabouts. Ultimately, it was Shaun’s shift in priorities and a determination to be better that lead to change. He says he still has a flutter at Cheltenham and Aintree, but it’s once a year. Like the drinking, it’s controlled.

“I used to think I was a big sports fan. I still love boxing and obviously watching some footy games, but I hardly watch anything else. I wasn’t really into the other sports, just gambling on them.”

Recently back from a lengthy absence through injury, did he have any anxieties over old habits creeping back up on him, while sidelined?

“I’m just in a totally different place now, I don’t get the opportunities to lose the plot. It wasn’t an injury where I’d been stuck at home, so I was still going into training. Getting in earlier, leaving later. I just go home, play with our Jude, watch a bit of telly, then we go asleep. Then it’s the next day.”

Finding structure and discipline hasn’t made Shaun any less fun to be around. Those Ray Liotta blue eyes that once hinted at Henry Hill madness still light up when he’s excited, but represent much calmer waters these days. As we gab about the latest Netflix releases and what new boxing podcasts he should be getting his head into, I’m reminded that our friendship was much more than the gambling and partying that so often defined it.

“You know, I’ll never say any of that was shit, I really enjoyed a lot of those times. But there comes a time, you’ve gotta pay bills. You’ve gotta grow up. And then they’re just memories.”

Whalley’s clearly changed for the better, but so it seems has his environment. With high profile stars such as Tottenham’s Danny Rose opening up on depression, and the FA taking a zero tolerance approach to players gambling on football, does the current locker room seem different to the atmospheres he experienced when coming through the ranks?

‘Completely. Some of the stuff that used to go on in the early days was just not the sort of thing you can get away with in a work place. People just get along and are more understanding of problems. There’ll be the odd talk of a golf bet, but a lot of the younger lads are too busy on social media. It’s much more relaxed.’

After scoring on his recent return to Shrewsbury’s starting lineup after four months absence, the current version of Shaun Whalley seems to have more to give to his club than at any time in his life. He’s been lucky to meet a partner that has helped him develop, but his own intelligence and introspection have also been vital in preventing a premature end to his Football League status.

As for the future? He’s hoping his experiences – coupled with his footballing nouse – will allow him the opportunity to help younger professionals from a position of leadership.

“I want to be a manager, one hundred percent. Football’s all I wanna do. It’s gonna be hard. There are a lot of people that want to manage and there’s not a job for everyone. I know that. I just feel like I could do it, I could be a good manager. I seem to get on with people in football. I’m easy going, I like to see other people’s point of view and where they’re at.”

There’s no doubting where Whalley’s at. After settling the bill, we laugh at the fact we’re leaving a quaint farm dishing out bacon butties and cuppas, rather than a pub or bookies serving up pints and bets, like the old days. There are plenty more positive days ahead for Shaun. On and off the pitch.

Photo Credit – AMA Sports Photo Agency

If you’re struggling with gambling issues, checkout https://www.gamcare.org.uk for help and advice.

Inner Space – Kieran Shudall

2 months ago   |   Words: Phil Bridges   |   Photography: Phil Bridges

As forties jazz fills a faux Parisian café on Lark Lane in Liverpool, I spy Kieran Shudall, through the window, bobbing animatedly, phone in hand, trying to locate me. The friendly Circa Waves singer exaggerates relief as he catches my eye. Five years ago Shudall ascended rapidly from building sites and stage-managing bands, to playing Glastonbury. His nostalgic anthems suggested a young scouser living a filmic indie dream. But by the band’s second album, 2017’s ‘Different Creatures’, his songs had become more introspective and Kieran talked publicly about the other side of being in a band: “Just because you have a great job doesn’t mean you can’t suffer mentally and I think it’s important for people to know that,” he told the BBC. With us almost comfortable on stools, hot drinks in hand, Kieran explains the unnaturalness of being so high and low before and after shows. “It can all be an anti-climax. You can come off stage after a big gig feeling a bit guilty like ‘Why aren’t we jumping around the dressing room, and drinking, like in the films? Then you’re back at your silent hotel room. Luckily, I was 26 when we got signed, so I can’t imagine what that must be like for an 18 year old.”

Kieran says Circa Waves was never intended as a live project. Having been in bands previously, he wished to focus on songwriting – releasing his recordings anonymously on the internet. “There are people who have to be on stage and I’ve never been like that.” I note he is a confident frontman. Sipping his coffee, Kieran explains this is learned, rather than innate. He says buried within the stage persona is an anxious kid, who was too nervous to even do presentations at college. “I avoided them like the plague, calling in sick, or asking to do a video. I literally couldn’t get up in front of the class.” He attributes his ability to function on public platforms now to both his wife Heather: “she is amazing” and practice. But there is always another challenge around the corner. “Being in a band, you’re constantly doing stuff out of your comfort zone. I’ve just performed on Sunday Brunch and national TV is terrifying for me. I worried about it for an entire week on tour, but luckily I had Heather who can build me up. Once I’ve done it, I’ll feel great because I’ve pushed myself to achieve something.”

“It’s funny, I was sat next to a bunch of actors who were also really nervous and I thought they’re anxious and they’re in films with Tom Hiddleston’. It affects everyone. You just learn to hide it. Confidence is a choice, you just decide to be confident.”

In his song ‘Out On My Own’ from ‘Different Creatures’, Kieran sings about walking ‘in the steps of the men that you grew up with. But maybe they’re better equipped at dealing with this’. I wonder how modern models of masculinity affect him, as both a touring musician and husband?

“My dad was an electrician, able to fix everything, he could plaster walls and paint the house, do all this kind of stuff and I’m a bit like ‘I can’t do any of that, I’m rubbish’. You almost want to be the sort of tough provider. But at the same time you have the new generation Z growing up knowing it’s ok to be open and sensitive. I feel us millennials are kind of caught in-between. We’re still trying to figure out what’s acceptable. There’s a lot of stuff on Netflix and in the media about being young, sensitive and transparent and that’s amazing. We didn’t have that when we were kids.”

In May, Circa Waves will take their new, more layered expressions to America. “Everything’s built up at a nice pace. Luckily for me, gigs don’t scare me anymore, the bigger the better in my mind, which is something that weirdly happened over time. I feel at home on stage now.”

With Kieran driven largely by the creative process, I wonder how he deals with the scrutiny from music critics? “I hate waiting for reviews and try not to read them as 90% of them will be positive and I’ll be focusing on the 10% that are bad. I guess that can be quite anxiety inducing. It’s frustrating as you can put everything into your work and someone can pick it apart in one sentence. The Guardian did a shit review of our second album but the NME loved it. You want everyone to like it but that’s not possible. Also, the more you put yourself out there commercially or the bigger you get, the more the cooler magazines tend to dislike you. It’s a tough balancing act. You gain bigger crowds but lose some of that critical credibility. It’s very hard to have both.” Kieran laughs: “Bands like Arcade Fire are a bit of an anomaly.” He continues: “I used to strive for both critical and commercial acclaim but now I just try to make stuff as big and as ambitious as possible.”

The Penny Lane resident goes on to explain that it’s also a fine line between artistic expression and keeping your current fans happy: “I don’t think it’s good for art when you try to cater entirely to your current fan base. With our new album, there’s been a lot of people saying ‘Why is there a piano?’ for example. But you have to evolve. You can’t make the same album six times. Imagine if The Beatles had done that? They basically went from a boy band to a psych band. Imagine if they’d had the production techniques of today! They would be having a ball making music now.”

I wind up the interview asking how Kieran would say he has changed in last five years since Circa Waves formed? “I’m 31 now and I was 26 when we started. While life is more complicated and there are more responsibilities, I certainly feel more settled in myself. I suppose most song writers are kind of sensitive on the inside, so I still have that part of me. I think coming home after being on a tour where thousands of people have been cheering you every night to just going to the pub with your mates and talking about telly and being like ‘Isn’t this beer nice’, just regular things really bring your mind back to earth.

“Whilst we’ve had success, we haven’t toured the world constantly, and have had time at home to readjust back to being just a normal person’. I love my house, I love my cats.”

 

Zuton Fever: Dave McCabe on working it out

3 months ago   |   Words: Ste Turton   |   Photography: Phil Bridges

Sundays have changed a bit for Dave McCabe. Straight from a gym session of spinning ‘and a load of weights’, the charismatic musician’s looking fresh, as he settles into a booth at Love & Rockets, Lark Lane, for a chat about The Zutons’ upcoming tour. With rehearsals booked for this evening and a potentially sweaty 90 minutes watching his title-chasing Liverpool this afternoon, it’s not what you’d call a traditional day of rest. Dave’s happy with the loaded schedule.

“The fitness helps your voice, it helps your brain. It’s not like I’m looking dead skinny and great. But I’m seeing a personal trainer twice, sometimes three times a week. Riding me bike into town. It helps, you know, doing bits.”

Besides one fundraising gig three years back for the tragic loss of close friend Kristian Ealey, The Zoots haven’t been on stage together for a decade. Kicking-off ten UK headline gigs this month to celebrate the fifteen-year release of debut LP Who Killed…The Zutons?, McCabe recently made a conscious decision to live a cleaner, more productive life.

“This is me one beer all weekend, I’ve cut right down. The main thing is staying off the ale, getting up early in the morning, doing your warm-ups, all that shit. You’ve got loads to do to keep you distracted once the tour starts, but the hard work’s done in the practice room. You can’t  just go into rehearsal feeling dead weird and hungover. I’ve been having fits of tears, I don’t know why. They only last about two seconds and I used to put it down to the hangovers. But I’ve realised it’s always about stuff I like. A song I like. It’s never crying because I’m bitter, or angry. It’s always positive. It’s always about beautiful stuff.”

It’s been a hectic and emotional few months all round. Since announcing the reunion before Christmas, the band have been busy behind the closed doors of Elevator Studios, re-discovering their rhythm and timing. Alongside its catchy melodies and hooks, Who Killed…The Zutons? is an album filled with trepidation and uncertainty. Tracks like Zuton Fever and Pressure Point, in particular, grapple with unwanted and inexplicable anxieties. What was going through the frontman’s young mind, when he penned the lyrics?

“I was kinda just growing up. You’re seeing your dream come to life because we’d already been signed and started the album. You take a step back, loads of stuff comes out and you start cleaning your emotional pipes.”

“If you’re in a band you’ve got to be like that. In terms of songs and expressing yourself, you’ve gotta be honest or no one else will connect with it.”

Reconnecting with his bandmates seems to be providing as much enjoyment as re-visiting their back catalogue. At a time when some of Dave’s nearest have been battling ill-health, the comfort of his familiar crew has been a timely blessing.

“Back in the big bed, and I’ve only had one argument with Boyan” (Chowdhury, guitar) he laughs. “It’s been really good, everyone’s been dead nice. It was all about me and Sean (Payne, drums) getting on. We’re the driving force, if you will. Pair of narks, the ones who go home and think about shit.”

With Abi Harding back on sax, it’s only Russell Pritchard missing from the original lineup. The La’s/Cast’s Jay Lewis picks up bass duty, while Neil Bradley’s introduced on keys; adding a different dimension not only to the Zutons’ trademark stuff, but also new material the re-shaped collective are working on.

“There’s about twenty songs that I like, bits of songs. They all need finishing. It feels good, the ones we’ve done. Feels like it’s moved forward with Neil being there. There’s more percussion. Bit less sax, more harmonies. I’ve known Jay and Neil since I was about 17, they’ve got the right personalities.”

It’s been a long time coming, but McCabe seems to have struck a harmony in both his recreational and occupational realms. With an eye on the mounted television showing the Liverpool match, and his fingers stuck into a post-workout recovery batch of chicken wings, he’s as relaxed as a Reds fan can be right now. But as any football fan knows, a one-nil lead can be precarious, especially for an outfit with attacking tendencies. Does he see his controlled streak continuing, during and after the tour?

“We’ve done loads of partying in the past. The main thing for me is laying off, not going crazy for days on end. The best advice for anyone not to drink is to keep busy, replace it with other stuff. Give it a chance to feel better. Get over the boredom and all that.”

The singer’s honesty won’t come as a surprise to those who know him. An open book with a real interest in the human condition; even during his wildest periods, McCabe always had a self awareness and desire to find inner calm.

“I think maybe the main thing with any kind of anxiety is realising something in your head is creating stress. A lot of the problems I’ve had in my life have been stress related. Luckily for me I’ve known it’s stress, or been in a group where someone’s been able to point out to me ‘look, you’re stressed’. Some people go months… years, without knowing that. And it has bad results. I’ve seen mates break down crying, just over feeling anxious. I don’t find it hard to gab about anxiety or stress any more. I did when I was younger. More and more people are suffering from it. It’s normal to talk.”

Whether it’s been solo shows or with other bands – including Silent K, which he’s still a member – Dave’s never stopped gigging. But the last time the Zutons topped the bill, Barack Obama had just been elected president, Instagram had yet to be created and Michael Jackson was still alive. Does the prospect of going out there, to a potentially different environment and audience, bring with it additional nerves or fears?

“It’s more about the singing really at the moment, hitting the high notes. But you’ve gotta have nerves, the old cliche is true, and I always did. It’s a good thing. If you just go on and you’re not nervous you’re usually knackered and do a shit gig.”

And what about young artists starting out, putting bands together? With the shift to streaming and the ability for musicians to monetise their talent seemingly more difficult than when McCabe signed his first record deal, does he have any advice for newcomers?

“If you don’t know the difference and you really wanna do it, you’ll find a way. Just keep doing it. The main thing is just enjoying it, that’s what I’ve always thought from the off. It’s nice to make a living out of music, but if you don’t enjoy it there’s no point in doing it.”

True to his word he declines numerous offers of another drink, instead nursing one Guinness for the duration of the conversation, switching to water after polishing off his grub. On the 60 minute mark with Liverpool still leading, he decides to dart off and watch the rest of the game at home, unnecessarily apologising for wanting to grab an hours kip before band duties.

It’s a wiser McCabe; one that’s learnt from experiences and past disappointments. After a rollercoaster conclusion to the match his team have returned to the top of the league, too. Hopefully where they’ll remain.

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