“You’ll be alright. I love you.”
In July, Liverpool’s Sunstack Jones will release their new self titled new album, mastered by The Verve’s Nick McCabe. Blending classic songwriting with Big Star via The Byrds esque harmonies, their sun drenched Americana delivers a reverb-heavy, vapour-guided melodic swirl of beauty, perfect for this time of year. We chatted to Jules and Lorc from the band about anxiety, Vietnamese apples and Neville Southall.
What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?
Jules: – We’re enjoying Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. I got a bit hooked on Detectorists a few weeks back and watched them all over a week or so. I’ve been finding it hard to read lately, smart phones have knackered our attention spans, but I recently finished Robbie Robertson’s autobiography, which was ace.
Lorc: I’m currently reading The Water Will Come, an apocalyptic overview of sea level rise. It’s cheery bed time reading. Music wise, I’ve just finished a big Breeders phase, followed by the Stones and have headed back into heavy riff territory. Familiar comforting ground for me.
What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?
Lorc: I went through a really dark period of anxiety a few years back. It was six months of stomach churning, wired, altered state weariness. Every day waking up, and just feeling this ever present sense of fear and impending doom. It was genuinely horrific. My personal life had completely fallen apart and I felt like the world had turned and I’d just been left behind.
Luckily for me (as anyone who knows me will attest to), I’ve never been one to keep things in, so I just poured my heart out to family and a few close friends, and they just formed this amazing support network. However when you’re in that state, you also realise how in your head you are, and in my case, it was only really me that could fix it. It felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel, so I just stopped looking towards the end of the tunnel, and kind of just looked at my feet (bear with me), and took one step at a time. One breath at a time. One day at a time. Dawn still came, and I was still here, the world hadn’t actually ended, and little by little, I started seeing joy in the little things. There were plenty of backwards steps, but I just forged ahead. I stopped fighting the anxiety, and kind of came to accept it, as I knew that when the fear gripped me, if I took a step back, concentrated on breathing, it would pass. So when the next wave came, I had the knowledge to draw on of it passing the day before, or the time before and once I’d accepted it, it started to diminish. Very slowly. But it did. Ultimately it was time, persistence, and drawing on other people’s experience that got me through. And my dog. She was always happy to be with me, and that meant a lot!
What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
Jules:- We played Vestrock in Holland recently, that was pretty perfect. We did an acoustic set in a brewery early afternoon, then a full band set in the evening at the festival. Both packed with everyone listening and being in to it. In between we got ferried about on golf carts, a dressing room full of booze, food and everything else we could have thought to ask for, and were generally treated really generously throughout. At the end of the night we got shuttled to our hotel, crisp bed sheets beat a damp tent every time!
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
Lorc: A beautiful family, my dog, some beautiful friends, a roof over my head, food in my cupboards and love. So many people take these things as a given, but a lot of people out there are struggling to make ends meet, or are socially marginalised. And also being in Sunstack Jones. Because we’re well good.
Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”
Lorc: Serenity. If you can manage to have serenity, you’ve got it made. Obviously, I don’t skip around all day whistling with butterflies and birds landing on my shoulders with an inane grin, but when you’ve been through a mental health trauma and come through it, serenity is like an elixir – it’s something you never thought you’d have again. But you can. Believe me. I went for a walk the other night with my dog. It had been a really warm day, but the sun had gone down, and a really strong breeze had picked up and it was exhilarating. Just me, my dog (my best friend), clear blue sky, trees, grass, birds. It was magic. The kind of feeling that in my darkest days I could only dream of.
What do you eat to stay healthy?
Jules: – I’m a veggie and I’ve made a conscious effort in the last six months or so to cut right down on dairy as well. On a typical day I’d probably have crumpets with peanut butter for brekkie, hummus, pitta bread and falafel for dinner with a bit of fruit, and a curry with veg and chickpeas for tea. Sometimes it’s just beans on toast when I can’t be arsed. My problem is I have a sweet tooth. Dave from the band lives off malt loaf and he’s in good shape!
Lorc: I eat rock’n’roll. Sorry, I meant rocket. On a bread roll.
Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?
Jules: – I play football on and off but it’s died down of late. I’ve been trying to get out on my bike once or twice a week where possible. I couldn’t be doing with going to a gym, I’d rather be outside.
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?
Jules: – I remember Neville Southall coming to my primary school. We all got to take penalties against him. I took three and scored one. Pretty sure he let it in on purpose. Then my Grandad took my photo of me with him. I remember his hands being massive.
Lorc: I just remember summer’s being endless as a kid. The six week holiday was sunny from start to finish (officially), with the exception of one day of torrential rain, thunder and apocalyptic lightning, that everyone sat watching from the window. You got up, ate breakfast, played out until your mum called you in for dinner, then back out until tea, then back out until bed.
What three songs lift your spirits?
This. Is. Tough. However, these would all cheer me up:
Sly and The Family Stone: If You Want Me To Stay
Nirvana: Lounge Act
Akron Family: Ed Is A Portal
What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?
Jules: – I read a book called Lost Connections by Johann Hari recently whilst I was on my own in Vietnam. He travels across the world investigating how different countries and cultures approach and tackle depression and anxiety, and argues that we’ve become too focused on medicating rather than tackling the underlying reasons. Really interesting. There was a weird moment of alignment where I started reading it on a train to Hanoi, and he was talking about being really ill in hospital in Hanoi, due to eating apples. Apparently they drown them in pesticide to the point where you have to peel them or they make you ill. Anyway, a girl in the group I was travelling with had just bought some apples, so I warned her about it. Luckily she hadn’t already eaten them.
Lorc: My dad gave me this one, which I think is quite beautiful: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference”, my brother gave me “you can’t fight the waves but you can learn to surf”, and Peter Venkman gave me “We came, we saw, we kicked its ass”.
What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?
Jules: – Let people in. Talk to them, open up to them, your friends, your family, those you are close to or those you have around you. You’ll be surprised how many of them have been through the same or similar things, and how much good advice and help they will have to offer. Also, take some time to appreciate the small things. Listen to a record you love that you haven’t heard in a while. Go for a walk in the park. Get out into nature, that helps you recalibrate. If you are able to, get away for a bit, even if it’s on your own. A change of environment can take you out of yourself. Ultimately, if you aren’t able to shake it off, don’t be afraid to seek help. Go and see your GP.
Lorc: You’ll be alright. I love you.