Redwood – Going Through The Emotions

4 months ago   |   Words: Rebecca Durband

Alt Hertfordshire five piece Redwood have recently released new single ‘Mother.’ – touring alongside the likes of Sam Duckworth, Indian Lakes and Fish Tank. We chatted to vocalist Conor Bond about family challenges and his junk food ban.

What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?

Hello! I’m having a hard time latching onto any new music at the moment. This isn’t for any kind of weird self-righteous reason, however I really enjoyed the new Young The Giant single that Alex (vox/guitar in Redwood) showed me the other day. Aside from that I’m sort of revisiting records that I’ve loved over the years. I’ve listened to American Football LP1 and Brand New Eyes by Paramore about 20 times each in the last two weeks. I’m currently reading Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – I work at a golf course and one of the members whom I talk to about books quite a bit let me borrow it. My watching situation is pretty much the same as my listening at the moment. I just finished Brooklyn 99 for the 6th time. I will probably start Community again soon, and then watch the Harmontown documentary for the 100000th time.

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

In the latter years of his life, my Grandad suffered with dementia. After having a pretty bad accident at home in Belfast, he moved in with us in Hertfordshire. He also had a major back surgery which we all helped in his recovery process, which was great, but exhausting, especially at 17/18 years old. It was pretty terrifying to watch someone who used to be so sound of mind (literally the most intelligent person I have met, even to this day) suddenly regress mentally and eventually come to no longer recognise you. I was told by my parents that this was “one of life’s shitty hands and you just have to get on with it, unfortunately”. We were all in the same boat so at least we had each other. Carrying him out of the church with my dad, his brother, and my brother was obviously heart-wrenching, but there was a small piece of happiness in that unity, and within that I thought to myself, “This is our last ride, George.” My friends came forward for emotional support in that time too, and I still don’t let them forget how grateful I am that they were there.

What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?

I’m 23 in less than a month, so five or so years ago I was still a teenager, so there has been plenty to reflect upon. I think above all, I have learned that I have a tendency for anger that can spiral out of my control pretty quickly. Although I don’t think this is uncommon amongst men, let’s be honest.  To combat this, I have tried really hard to work on patience and perspective. I’ve learned that it is so much easier to let things go and move on, than it is to hold onto something that has pissed you off and harbour feelings of resentment towards someone. By doing this, it’s only ever going to come out piece by piece on your friends, family or significant other, rather than the person who you’re holding the grudge against, purely because you don’t actually have the bollocks to confront this person who has “done you wrong”. I feel that it’s important to be able to see the bigger picture when it comes to these sorts of things. A co-worker has pissed you off? So what? You’ve got the weekend off; you don’t need to think about stacking shelves for the next 50 hours, nor do you need to dwell on a person you don’t see outside of your place of employment not doing a menial task “properly”. Let it go.

 What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

Waking up when my body tells me to. No alarm clock. A cup of tea within 30 minutes of waking up. All my mates also having the day off work. Clear blue skies, about 21/22 degrees. Maybe a nice meal out in the evening. I don’t know. There’s perfection in every day at some point if you’re looking for it.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

I hate to sound like matey off that “Every Pop Punk Vocalist” video, but I am incredibly grateful for my friends. I’m surrounded by a group of very hard-working, intelligent and creative people. Everyone is working on their own stuff right now and we’re all at a very similar point, where we’re almost at like a fork in the road. We’re all the verge of “taking the plunge” and you know, going balls to the wall and risking it all for our “art”*. I like that we have that in common, especially as none of them are trying to make it in a band. * I put “art” in quotes so I didn’t sound so pretentious, but I guess this disclaimer has hit that one home innit.

Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”

Waking up in the morning and saying to myself “I got this”. Then proceeding to crush it throughout the day with whatever (if anything) needs doing without any mental roadblocks.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

My girlfriend and I are doing our best to cut out sugar and crisps and just general junk food. It’s not super difficult for us, as we’ve been vegan for over two years, so it’s just more fruit for when we want something sweet and it’s an extra handful of spinach on our plates at dinner.

Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?

We’ve also gotten back into the gym. So we’re pumping iron 4-5 times a week – you don’t realise how good for you two hours a week of PE was until you’ve left school. I also play football a couple of times a week. I started taking my physical fitness a bit more seriously when I realised that a half-hour set onstage would KILL me.

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?

When I was in Year 5 (9/10 years old), I got picked to start for the school football team. Five minutes into the first half, I Cruyff-turned this Year 6 kid who was easily a foot taller than me (I was a very small kid) and unleashed a rocket off my right laces (not unlike Stevie G). The ball struck the underside of the crossbar and dipped under the keeper’s head. I couldn’t believe it. I even got a shout-out in the next-day match report in assembly.

What three songs lift your spirits?

1) Never Meant – American Football

For a number of reasons. A) I first heard American Football shortly after getting a car. So Never Meant always reminds me of the freedom I felt being able to drive myself to work and college. I’m also on the American Football shit-posting group on Facebook – someone posted an amazing video of a compilation of Jordan Pickford saves in the 2018 World Cup, all syncing up with the first snare hit in Never Meant. I’ll send you a link.

2) Blood I Bled – The Staves

My girlfriend got me into The Staves. She found them on YouTube years ago and we both fell in love with them instantly. Any of their songs remind of the weightlessness of being 16/17. Anyway, this song gets me SO fired up. It builds so cleverly and all the instrumentation blends together as if it was crafted by a higher being. Near the end of the song also, is one of the best uses of tension and release I have EVER heard.

3) My Name Is Jonas – Weezer

Need I say anything?

What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?

Quiet, by Susan Cain. It’s not really a self-help book, however it provides a pretty in-depth insight to the study of Introversion vs Extroversion. Not versus as in “meet me in the Thunderdome”, just talking about the differences etc. Anyway I picked up a copy when I was about 16; prior to this, I hadn’t heard of the concept of introversion and extroversion, but reading this book answered so many questions and almost justified what I had previously thought to be strange behaviour throughout my life. Nope, just an introvert mate.

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

It depends on what is making them feel overwhelmed. If it is a creative or interpersonal issue, I will suggest that a person should take a break and remove themselves from that environment for a short while. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 24 hours. Step back, reassess, jump back in. If it is something that isn’t quite as simple and can’t be solved by just calming down, whether it be money or work issues, I would suggest that you try to see the problem from someone else’s perspective. Not to belittle how someone may be feeling, but instead to encourage someone to come up with a logical solution to their problem. It’s a bit like asking someone for advice, but for control freaks.

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Tyson Fury details his battle with depression

3 weeks ago   |   Words: Wes Pilgrimage

“The worst thing someone suffering with their mental health can do is get into drugs and alcohol” said heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury in his candid interview with podcast host Joe Rogan this week.

Talking to Rogan ahead of his upcoming WBC title fight with Deontay Wilder on December 1, the 6ft 8 Mancunian opened up about his battle with depression and 2016 suicide attempt.

“I was waking up and I did not want to be alive,” Fury said. “Nobody could talk any sense into me at all and I felt very low.

“I had just bought a brand new car – a Ferrari convertible in summer 2016 – and I was on the motorway. At the bottom of about a five-mile stretch, there is a massive bridge and I got the car up to 190mph and did not care about anyone.

“I didn’t care about nothing, I just wanted to die.”

But Fury revealed how the thought of leaving behind his wife and children made him pull over.

With the help of a psychiatrist, Fury is back where he belongs, living a healthy life and fulfilling his ambitions.

Ending the interview in fighting spirits. Fury warned his upcoming opponent: “You’ve fought the Europeans and you’ve fought the Americans, but you’ve ain’t never fought the Gypsy King before!”

Fury’s response to his depression is a common one. The NHS state: “When life is getting them down, some people try to cope by drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs. This can result in a spiral of depression.

Cannabis can help you relax, but there’s evidence that it can also bring on depression, particularly in teenagers.

“Drowning your sorrows” with a drink is also not recommended. Alcohol is categorised as a “strong depressant”, which actually makes depression worse.”

To get help with depression or suicidal thoughts call Samaritans on 116 123 24 hours, 7 days a week or visit www.samaritans.org

There are also many services available in our ‘find help‘ section on our homepage.

THUMPER – Going Through The Emotions

3 weeks ago   |   Words: Natalie Lorimer

The clue is pretty much in the name with THUMPER. Earning a reputation as one of Ireland’s most exciting live acts, the noise-pop quintet unleash a whirlwind of frenzied energy both live and in the studio. Combining the best bits of rock, pop, and grunge to create a sound in which howling feedback and pounding rhythm mix harmoniously with pop hooks, THUMPER are an exercise in unpredictability. We caught up with frontman, Oisin Furlong, to chat about the process of growth, The Blindboy Podcast, and mental health in the Irish music industry. 

What are you working on at the moment?

We just brought out a single called ‘(You’re Bringing Me) Down’ which is part of an EP we’re releasing in November called ‘Out of Body Auto-Message.’ The whole thing was produced by Dan Fox from Girl Band, and it’s a body of work we’re really proud of.

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

Severe depression and anxiety hit me in my teens, and reared its head again in my early twenties. The public mental health sector in Ireland at the time was pretty threadbare but I did manage to get professional help and learn to unlearn negative thinking patterns. Overcoming issues with your mental health is more of a process than an event, but continued mindfulness has always been key for me.

What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?

When you’re younger, you think that there will come a moment at some point in your twenties when you arrive as a “grown up.” I guess the one thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that we are always in a perpetual state of growth, and that’s the way it’s going to be for a long time! I’m not the same person I was last month, let alone last year.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

Being with friends, creating something just for the sake of it (music, food, conversation), comfort in the familiar, excitement in something new.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

I feel so grateful that I latched on to music as an outlet so early on. It has given endless joy and direction to my life. I also feel truly grateful to have found so many like-minded souls to play music with.

What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?

I’m listening to records by Idles, Bodega & Kojaque on a fairly continuous rotation at the moment, and I’m currently switching between reading ‘And The Ass Saw The Angel’ by Nick Cave, and Carrie Brownstein’s autobiography ‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl.’

I also just finished the most recent season of Bojack Horseman, which is as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.

Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”

Ace mental health doesn’t mean never feeling anxious or low. Ace mental health for me means not being overwhelmed by these feelings, and recognising that life is ups and downs, good times and bad.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

I stopped eating meat about three years ago, which helped a lot as I had to start paying attention to what I was putting in my body. It’s hard to stay healthy when you’re gigging or touring a lot, but when at home I do try to get a decent breakfast and eat plenty of fruit during the day. I have a bad habit of not eating anything all day and then stuffing my face at three in the morning, which I don’t advise.

Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?

Does loading amps in and out of venues count? We were gigging so much during the summer that any semblance of an exercise routine fell apart, but I’ll get back on it for winter – promise!

Here at The Mind Map we remember playing football and ‘tag’ – running around the playground everyday and loving it – can you share a similar memory?

I wasn’t the most athletic kid, but I did win a school-wide basketball tournament when I was about ten. A proud moment for sure. I also remember being very invested in nailing the Cha Cha Slide, though I didn’t pursue dancing in any sort of professional capacity…

What three songs lift your spirits?

Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song – Jeffrey Lewis
All My Friends – LCD Soundsystem
God Only Knows – The Beach Boys

What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?

I’ve never really responded to self-help books, or any kind of universal school of thought when it comes to mental health because I do believe everyone’s journey is unique, but I find it inspiring to hear individual stories of overcoming hard times.

The Blindboy Podcast is a great example of this, because he doesn’t prescribe any method but simply discusses his own journey to wellness, and what worked for him. I guess I empathised with his story because he’s also a performer (with the Rubber Bandits), and someone you would imagine is a massive extrovert, which couldn’t be further from the truth.  

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

Sometimes life is overwhelming, but making a point of noticing the good things you have is key to a balanced outlook. That said, emotions like grief and anger are sometimes healthy and normal reactions, so letting yourself feel these things and accepting them is sometimes the key to overcoming what life throws at you.

You recently played a show as part of the Hard Working Class Heroes showcase, which also featured a conference discussion on the importance of promoting good mental health within the Irish music industry. Would you like to see this topic more widely discussed by fellow musicians?

Increasingly the discussion on mental health in the music industry is coming to the fore in Ireland, which is great because even five years ago it wasn’t really talked about. It’s bizarre terrain to navigate as a performer because ultimately you have to balance the person you are offstage with the person who exists the rest of the time. Leaving a pound of flesh on stage after every gig can have its consequences if your mental health isn’t up to scratch. 

Lucy Spraggan – Going Through The Emotions

3 weeks ago   |   Words: Natalie Lorimer

Lucy Spraggan provided a breath of fresh air when she appeared on The X Factor in 2012, challenging the format with her unique brand of pop infused folk. Her songwriting helped her stand out amongst the years contestants, with songs ‘Last Night’ and ‘Tea and Toast’ finding humour and candid emotion in everyday scenarios. Now, with four albums behind her, Lucy continues to evolve her signature musical style and tours relentlessly to bring her songs to her loyal fanbase. We caught up with Lucy to chat about her new single which continues vital conversations about male suicide.

What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?

I am listening to Lana Del Rey – her ‘Born To Die’ album – because it’s iconic! I’m reading ‘Goodbye, Paris’ which is the American version of my mum’s newly published book, and I’m going to watch ‘A Star Is Born’ tomorrow as I’m in love with Lady Gaga.

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

I think at my darkest time in life I really struggled with my own thoughts. I got into a pretty terrible place and really had to pull myself out of it. The first part of that was letting my friends and family know how I was feeling – that was a pretty hard moment, but I was so much better for it.

Your new single ‘Stick The Kettle On’ was written in support of charity CALM to raise awareness of male suicide. What do you think are the pressures on young men?

There are too many pressures to list. Guys are expected to be this macho, indestructible superhero from pretty much late childhood ‘til the rest of time. Men are seen as providers, which isn’t always the case. They are pressured to look a certain way, to feel certain things, to be a certain sexuality, to not talk about their feelings in case they seem “weak.”

What help do you feel is out there?

There is help down many different avenues, but I know firsthand that reaching out to take that help is incredibly hard. At my lowest time I saw text services, phone numbers, email and online help but just couldn’t bring myself to go there. Looking back I’m not sure why I felt like that. There are so many important helplines and charities that are doing amazing things, I just feel like we need to normalise using them a bit more.

What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?

My best asset is my perseverance.

What would constitute a perfect day for you?

My wife, my dog, some autumnal weather, and our VW camper. Probably somewhere we could see the sea.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

Being and feeling alive.

Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”

Ace mental health for me means that everything else will come naturally.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

Fruit and vegetables, fresh fish… Cakes, scones, chocolate…

Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?

I use a little timer app and rotate through several exercises. I find it useful to have a countdown as I lose interest quickly!

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?

We used to run the cold tap and see who could keep their hand under it the longest. Weirdos.

What three songs lift your spirits?

Delicate – Taylor Swift

American Pie – Don McLean

There’s a Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis – Kirsty MacColl

What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” by Oscar Wilde.

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

Take a break, find someone you trust, sit down and have a chat. You never know what might come out.

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