“We can overcome anything”
White Lies are on the cusp of a new chapter in their history. The trio has found a new home with a new record label and will mark the tenth anniversary of their inception with their forthcoming album, ‘Five.’ With their sound evolving into something bolder and more complex than previous efforts, the band has found themselves pushed to new creative heights. Their latest single, ‘Believe It,’ embodies this shift in direction; a four-minute, synth-powered singalong that explores the process of therapy from multiple angles.
We spoke to White Lies bassist and lyricist Charles Cave about the mindfulness of weightlifting, his advice for helping friends out of a dark place, and an epic table tennis match with Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill.
What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?
I’m reading ‘Hombre’ by Elmore Leonard, I’m also re-reading Salinger’s ‘For Esme….’ collection of stories for a fiction-writing course I’ve been part of for a few years, and then I’m also dipping in an out of a non-fiction book about the fall of Rome by Bryan Ward-Perkins. And finally I have a book called The Daily Stoic by my bed, for a little daily dose of helpful and practical philosophy.
I tend to seek comfort in things I know and love: ‘Scritti Politti, Pantera, ‘Hats’ by the Blue Nile….’The Far East Suite’ by Ellington. These are all records that just sit permanently by my hi-fi, poised for action. But slowly I’m educating myself with classical music I missed out on growing up.
I don’t watch much TV. My girlfriend somehow manages to watch everything, so I wait for her to tell me something is really worth watching before I do. The last amazing thing I remember watching on TV was the War and Peace dramatisation with Paul Dano. Also, the Quincy Jones documentary on Netflix is fantastic!
What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?
I think if we keep being open, stay in a constant state of studentship, and always try to view everything from different perspectives, then we can overcome anything. Easier said than done, of course, most of the time.
What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
Brunch, a long Autumn walk somewhere beautiful, an evening in one of my favourite pubs with friends, food, perhaps some really great live jazz, and some beautiful dogs.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
I’m completely aware of my privilege and the opportunities I’ve been able to act on because of it. I think most of all I feel so grateful for my home, and for the close friends I have around me, and for the resources with which to express myself in all the failed and successful ways I have so far, and continue to do.
Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”
The ability to react in an emotionally useful way to the multitude of experiences life puts before us.
What do you eat to stay healthy?
I compensate for my sweet tooth with exercise. I try to base my core diet around boiled eggs, fresh vegetables, lean meat and fish, and plenty of water. You really can’t drink enough water. I’m also becoming a fan of intermittent fasting. It makes me feel good.
Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?
I try to go to the gym three times a week, where I mostly lift heavy weights and do very short sprints. I really love lifting weights for the focus it requires. I’m loathed to throw the ‘mindful’ word around too much, but I’ve found lifting weights more than cardio exercises really keeps my mind focussed in the absolute present. You can’t start daydreaming, or worrying about what’s going on in your personal life, because you will drop a heavy steel bar on your chest or back! On the days I don’t go to the gym, I really do try to walk a good six miles a day.
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 spent most of my primary and secondary school years trying as best as I could to avoid any physical exertion. To say I wasn’t ‘sporty’ is a massive understatement. In secondary school, after the age of 15, you got to chose your own sport option on a Wednesday afternoon. I spent five years trying to find ‘the easiest sport’. Unfortunately, I made some term-long mistakes. Turns out fencing is really hard, and sweaty, and the outfit stinks. Also turns out the table tennis at a fiercely competitive level is equally strenuous. I have to say though, that came in handy when – cut to 10 years later – I beat Caleb Followill at a heated game of table tennis in an arena dressing room somewhere in the midwest. Big crowd watching – [Caleb’s wife] Lily Aldridge included…
What three songs lift your spirits?
Paul Simon – Mother and Child Reunion
Yellow Magic Orchestra – Sportsmen
Scritti Politti – Perfect Way
What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?
Chose a sport or exercise that demands your full focus, attention, and strength. Also, for a bit of very very specific advice – search for ‘Michael Sealey’ on YouTube. You have to get over his odd tone of voice, but his videos have worked absolute wonders for me. I really mean it. Give them a go.
I think we need to shift awareness to the practical things we can all do to help those in need. I’ll be honest with you, if your friend is having an awful time, your text saying “I’m here to talk whenever you want” is probably not enough. Think of talking as mild painkiller. We need ways to actually help this person recover quickly from what they’re afflicted with.
So here is my, possibly controversial advice: Lie. Make up a big fat lie that gets this person you are worried about to come and be with you doing something slightly strenuous, something that requires focus, and something that requires a degree of sociability. Have you been meaning to re-paint a wall in your bedroom for a while? Perfect. Call, text, or go and physically collect your friend that you’re worried about from their home and say: “I need a massive favour, mate. I’m really sorry. I started painting my bedroom wall and I’ve just bitten off more than I can chew. Can I borrow you for a few hours? I’ll owe you a massive favour. And I’ll buy you brunch to make up for it.” That’s just one example. Borrow a dog, and call your mate and say, “You’re good with dogs aren’t you? OK so I said I’d look after Rex but I literally don’t know what I’m doing and I’m scared its going to run away when I have to walk it….”