“Releasing what you’re feeling internally can be liberating and can start the process of dealing with it”
Spring King are the Manchester-based indie rockers Tarek Musa, Peter Darlington, James Green and Andy Morton, who met in high school. Two years ago, they released debut album Tell Me If You Like To and now they’re gearing up to release new material, with festival appearances lined up at Live at Leeds, Neighbourhood Weekender and Reading and Leeds this summer. We chatted to guitarist Peter Darlington about healthy eating, meditation and writing music as catharsis…
Your track ‘Who Are You?’ appears to be about wishing you were like someone else and constantly striving to be a ‘better’ person. What you were feeling when you were writing the track?
For me, ‘Who Are You?’ is about looking at yourself and your situation and wanting to escape it in the hope of becoming a happier, more confident person. At the time of writing it, we were under some pressure to get a single finished. I guess some of that stress made its way into the song.
‘Demons’ also seems to deal with the topic of anxiety – how have you managed to deal with your demons and manage your anxiety?
Music is one of the ways in which I deal with anxiety. When you write something you love, it elevates you and brings joy. Outside of being creative, I find exercise and eating well really helpful, as well as openness and honesty with the people around me.
‘Heaven’ seems to be about not bottling up your feelings, but sometimes it can be hard to open up. What advice would you give to people who feel reluctant to express how they truly feel?
Often something that feels overwhelming inside your head, once spoken out loud it becomes more manageable. The experience of releasing what you’re feeling internally to the world can be liberating and can start the process of dealing with it.
What has been your biggest life challenge and what did you do to overcome it?
Growing up, I had some quite difficult issues within my family that had a knock-on effect on my self confidence and caused me great anxiety and later depression. At the time, I didn’t really know what these feelings even were, I just knew that I felt terrible and found it hard to open up to people around me. It impacted upon my day-to-day life and my close friendships. It wasn’t until I got to university that I realised that I needed to seek help in order to begin the process of healing. That initial moment of sitting down with a counsellor was a huge milestone for me and I’ll never forget it. Since then, I’ve continued to use counselling as a way to help process difficult experiences whenever I’ve felt I needed it.
How important has music been to your mental health?
All of my favourite memories are linked to music. Dancing, crazy punk shows, sing-a-longs on late night drives. There’s an Oscar Wilde quote that goes something like ‘We are are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”. Music has enabled me to dream, to escape and to feel part of a greater good. Writing music is joyful but also cathartic. You can let it all out, turn your experiences into songs. Music is everything to me.
What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
Get up early to watch the sunrise in the forest with the people I care about and a cute puppy. Meditate when I get home. Eat lots of fresh fruit for breakfast! Go to the gym or do some exercise for a while. Head on a bike ride and then go canoeing. Get home and dance in the living room to my favourite songs. Play a show in the evening to a happy crowd.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to write music and tour with my friends.
Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”
The ability to recognise when you’re not feeling quite right and having the confidence to share that with the people around you. Being able to embrace the positive emotions that life brings.
Who was your best friend at school? What was the funniest thing they did?
Tarek, who’s in the band with me, was my best friend at school. It’s difficult to pick out anything in particular because we’ve spent so much time together over the years and had hundreds of surreal and hilarious times. One memory sticks out is when we held a fake music festival in our local park in the middle of the night. Climbing trees, playing drums and dancing around a fire with everyone we knew.
What advice do you offer to friends when they’re feeling overwhelmed?
Share how you’re feeling with your friends and family. Meditation can really help too when your head is busy with negative thoughts. I recommend it to everyone I know.
What three songs lift your spirits?
There are literally thousands of songs that lift my spirits and make me feel good. Three that I’m listening to at the moment:
David Bowie – Suffragette City
Ty Segall – Girlfriend
Belle & Sebastian – Women’s Realm
Do you have any routines that help you through stressful situations, such as right before a live performance?
The first thing I do when I wake up is meditate for fifteen minutes. That sets me up for the day. I try to use mindfulness techniques thoughout the day, occasionally doing a body scan or count my breaths for 20 seconds or so. If I’m really feeling stressed about something, I’ll meditate in the evening for half an hour or so too. Before a show, nerves are good! We all get nervous and pace around. We do vocal warm-ups as a group that help calm our nerves a little. It all builds into the adrenaline rush you get on stage though. It’s a real high!
What do you eat to stay healthy?
I’m vegetarian so I tend to eat a lot of fruit, vegetables and pulses. It’s taken me a while to get my diet right and I’ve had to learn to enjoy food shopping and cooking. It’s time consuming and sometimes difficult espcially when I have a busy schedule. When you get it right though, it has a really positive impact on your life.
Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?
At the moment I go to Crossfit classes three times a week. It’s quite an intensive workout but it only lasts an hour. It’s great at improving fitness and mobility, which helps with all the touring that I do with the band. On my rest days (depending on how sore I am!), I try and do some skipping and light weights. I’ve been playing Basketball recently with my brother which has been fun too. Exercise really helps with mental health, especially when doing it socially. I would recommend to everyone.