Editors [25/11/2018]

As everyone is saying, this year was filled with good and bad, with challenges and surprises, positive and negative. For me, it was a struggle for my mental health, but I’ve managed to stay afloat. That’s why I saved the last interview I’ve done this year for its last day. I think, this one is by far the best and most meaningful interview, I’ve done.

You’re always on tour, I didn’t expect to see you in Poland that quickly after your last concert. You’ve played in Warsaw in April, roughly 7 months ago.

Justin Lockey: Yes, it’s the 5th time this year, plus we’ve played probably 6 acoustic shows. It’s a lot, for one country. But I love coming back to Poland. We’ve played like 20 shows in Germany only this year.

I can understand that. Germany is such a huge country. And the big cities are spread all around.

It’s fucking enormous. I drove across the entire country in like a week. It’s going on forever.

You’re touring so much. How do you cope with it?

I don’t really, I have a hard time touring. It’s incredibly difficult, that’s why I travel on my own. I don’t eat well, or I don’t eat enough, so I lose lot of weight. I have two wardrobes of clothes at home, one for when I’ve just got off tour, since my clothes don’t fit me anymore. And when I get fat again, when I’m at home, there’s the other one. True story. I have large and medium. When I go on tour, it’s large. And I come home a medium. I struggle with it quite a lot. Not with the shows, nor with the people. I don’t struggle with any press, anything like that. I just struggle with the general lifestyle. When you’re constantly unsettled. And mix it with excitement, which is very close to fear. Then time it by thousand, that’s touring.

That’s sounds ridiculously hard.

It is ridiculous. Some people like Tom and Russ take it lighter, for me it takes a lot of energy just to get to the venue. With all the other rituals, for me to be in place, to have a good show. I’m always tired, when I’m on tour. Because I travel by myself. Because I’m always on edge. I run out of energy twice as fast as normally, I can’t catch enough sleep. So on days off I’m just whipped out. Today’s Warsaw, tomorrow Bratislava. And then I’ve got a day off in Linz, Austria. I’ll probably sleep for like forever.

It sounds so terrible, but I perfectly get it. I also need to have routine. Right now I’m sleep deprived for ages and being on the edge.

Yes, for me it’s like having two lives. One is when I’m on tour, which is chaotic. I like flying, don’t mind driving, cause I can see countries when I travel. When you travel on a bus, which I won’t do, you arrive in the venue, you see inside of it, which all are the same. Then you do show, then you get back on the bus, it’s already night time. You travel in the night, so you never get a chance to see the country. It’s just a line of venues. Whereas when I drive on my own, I can see everywhere. I stay in little towns and stuff, in the middle of nowhere. I’ve been to towns, you just wouldn’t visit, ever.    

And that sounds super cool.

I like that side of it. I’m happy, when it’s just me, my thoughts, someone else’s car. Just having a good time. I don’t even listen to music most of the time. I just think. And then I turn up, say hi to the guys, do soundcheck, have a little nap backstage and then do a show. And then, like tonight, I’d be heading to a hotel straight offstage and fly to Bratislava tomorrow.

Sounds busy.

It is, but it’s kind of a false routine, I’ve got it all on my phone, know where I’ve got to go and what to do. So today I woke up, was supposed to go to the train station, take the train and come to Warsaw. And then tonight I would have just got a cab, went to the airport and sleep. But this morning I’ve got up to the fire alarm. The kitchen was on fire. So I had to get out of the hotel and wait till they could tell me to get back in to get my things, so I’ve missed the train. I had to hire a car and drive. It slightly upset my routine today. But it’s fine. I spend a lot of time in airport hotels. I see train stations, airports, flying doesn’t make me nervous. I spend a lot of time on an airport hotel bed, watching the news. That’s touring. Rock and roll.

I was asking about it, because a lot of musicians struggle with the routine and they go into drugs and/or alcohol.

You know why they struggle? Because it’s very bad for mental health. Generally being a musician these day and age is very bad for your mental health. It’s because musicians and generally creative type people are genuinely or generally prone to depressions, anxieties and/or panic attacks. It’s the worse career ever. But at the same time it’s the most rewarding career, because you create. But what you find, everywhere you go, every band and crew, every venue, every festival is just a hot mess of mental illness. Yet nobody says anything. Right after we went to Europe, one of my other bands mates killed himself. It was in April this year. He was a singer of another successful bands as well. He went missing and was found dead. The only difference between him and the next one is, he sang about it, so it wasn’t really that much of a surprise. But it’s always a surprise. He’s not the first and definitely won’t be the last.

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The other side of the medal is, if you’re a musician and not working in music, you still experience the same struggle. It’s fine that I have the routine, but at the same time…

… not pursuing what you want to do. The thing is, nowadays it’s harder to make the living out of music. Back in the 90s or beginning of the 2000s people were still buying records. So people could probably get by without touring. Nowadays touring is the only place you make money. So we’re kind of fucked both ways. But you try to throw yourself into it hoping, you come out the other side untouched.

It all depends from a person I guess.

It all depends for a person and the people you surround yourself with. I have very understanding band mates, who know when to leave me alone, they don’t question my crazy ways of getting to places. And don’t ask questions if I need help. They are there for me. It’s especially needed in a male situation. If there was no bravado around mental illness, more lives could be saved.

I think it’s still the stigma surrounding the genders. Women can speak about it and worse case scenario they would be called mental. With men, you can’t show emotions or weakness.

Not so much, unless you’ve got a great group of people around you. That helps a lot. There’s so many strains of anxiety, depression all around, not just in music, but everywhere, because the world goes so fast now. Everything seems so sped up, to the point where it’s really hard to stay on top of what’s happening, without trying to plan something. You get constantly back away with texts, emails, Whats app, Instagram, all this. We lived fine without it before. But now, if you’re not in it, you’re kind of at the bottom of a social pile, I guess. Which is horrendous, but I just switch my phone off. It’s hard to keep up. But then you’re on tour and trying to do both at the same time it’s just impossible.

We’ve tackled this pretty depressing topic.

It’s fine, I’m quite open about it. More people in bands should talk about it. I’ve seen people affected or struggling. And no one says a fucking thing. And you know, no one will say a fucking thing, because the sooner it gets out and someone wants off and stop the world for a second, then nobody’s making money. Look at all those fucking pop stars. They get minced through the mill. They’re out 365 days of the year, until they’re dead. A lot of it could be ambition and stuff like that, but a lot of it can evaporate persons mental health. And nobody talks about it. But it’s happening everywhere. Sex, drugs and rock&roll is probably the old way of coping. The only thing people see, when they come to the show, is us walk on stage. All smiles, putting a show and having a great time on stage. That’s just 1% of the day. The rest of it is fucking boring. It’s shit. Boredom and depression. You’re away from your family, seeing Europe in winter, it doesn’t raise your spirits (laughter). I can easily understand why people descend to drugs and alcohol. If you’re already susceptible to be addicted to things, then you’re fucked. And again, nobody’s gonna stop everything for you. The moment everything stops, the moment everyone stops making money. The end of the day, it’s also the business and the job. I’m not selling being in a band, am I? (laughter)

We did talk about it last time, didn’t we?

Yes, we did. I’m not saying it’s bad, I think the positive thing is making the records and being creative. But it’s mixed with the dread and the fear of touring. It’s like everything, never what you’ve expected until you get there and do it. And then when you do it, you might just go on. But you never know, what your life could be like, if it’s just in your imagination.