“Step back, reassess, jump back in.”
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?
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 [vocals/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 later 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 sh*tty 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 sh*t-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.
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 s0 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 five 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.