Be Well Spezial, Tag #4: Im Gespräch mit James

Tag #4: Wie gefällt euch eigentlich bisher diese spezielle Woche rund um die Themen Be Well und Mental Health? Feedback ist immer gern gesehen: stört oder vermisst ihr irgendwas? Was gefällt euch? Ich habe auf jeden Fall Spaß an der Sache (obwohl es natürlich auch schwere Kost ist, wenn es um psychische Krankheiten geht) und ich hoffe sehr, dass auch ihr etwas damit anfangen könnt. Nachdem am gestrigen Tag der wunderbare Oise von End Hits Records ein wenig aus dem Nähkästchen plauderte, machen wir heute weiter mit James, der recht schnell Feuer fing, als er zum ersten Mal mit Be Well in Berührung kam. Wie schön und erfrischend ich es finde, andere Menschen zu befragen, die diese Band ebenso abfeiern wie man selbst.

Er ist mir irgendwann drüben bei Instagram aufgefallen, weil er dieses wunderbare Talent besitzt, alles in ein perfektes Wortgewand zu hüllen- und das ganz besonders bei dem Thema Musik und Herzensbands. Und unter diese Kategorie fällt eben auch Be Well, was diesen Typen nur noch sympathischer macht! Es ist ein wenig verrückt: ich wollte James immer mal vorschlagen, auch außerhalb mehr über Musik zu schreiben und hatte ihn gedanklich bereits unter ‚Interview? Oder ähnliches?‘ abgespeichert und wie großartig es jetzt ist, dass es doch so schnell damit geklappt hat und er direkt dafür zusagte!

Ausführlich beantwortete er, wie er überhaupt auf Be Well aufmerksam wurde und warum er diese Band so sehr liebt, welche Parallelen es zwischen den Songs und sein Leben gibt und was sich ändern muss, damit psychische Erkrankungen endlich mehr Beachtung finden und somit ernstgenommen werden. Das und noch viel mehr jetzt hier für euch! Vielen Dank an James!

James, introduce yourself with a few words!

Welp, I am a 45 year old hardcore kid from Kansas City Missouri.

What does music mean to you?

Music has everything to do with my life. Music is what shaped me into the person I am today. Granted music also shaped me into the jerk I used to be but I somehow turned that around. I got into the music industry in 99 and it has been my world for more than 20 years and I can’t think of anything I’d rather do. It took me all over the country and I’ll always be grateful for that.

‚Hardcore is more than just a genre of music.‘ Tell us more!

Did I say that somewhere? How much time do you have? To me, hardcore is an aggressive vehicle for a positive message. I could go into a long long rant about what bands I consider hardcore that most will consider metal or emo. I hate all the terms that categorize hardcore like „metalcore“ „emocore“ etc. To me if you have an aggressive style of delivering a positive message then you’re a hardcore band to me. I get into arguments all the time about this and I’ll never back down. I go by association and how they fit into the hardcore scene also. Like if you ask me if I think Thursday is a hardcore band? Yes they are. To me they are. All this subgenre stuff like „metallic hardcore“ „metalcore“ „melodic hardcore“ is all just terms that provide people with a categorization to get them to associate bands with others and sell records. Some people really hate that I say this and tell me I’m totally wrong but I don’t care haha. I’m weird about all this and a lot of my opinions on it kinda do contradict themselves but it seriously keeps me up at night. I had a girl break up with me because we got into and argument and I told her that New Found Glory was a hardcore band. She still won’t talk to me. There may be more to that though haha. Told you I’m weird.

Be Well / Singles

How and when did you first stumble upon Be Well and what was your first impression?

I heard about them actually from a Facebook post from Mike McTernan. They had posted these song samples on YouTube so I checked it out and I was immediately like „I’m going to love this“.I love every single band that the members were in before so I expected to love it but Be Well sounds nothing like any of their other bands and that was one thing that really hooked me. It was fresh and new and the way Brian sings is something that I have been waiting my whole life to hear. He sings with such a passion that you think he’s in tears while he singing and that is what stood out to me the most. They played the Boysetsfire 25th anniversary show in New Jersey last year and I was going anyways but when I saw that they were going to play I was stoked. So I flew from KC to Newark NJ and hung out at the airport for about 24 hours then went to the show. Their stage presence was exactly what I expected. They are seasoned hardcore musicians. I took a couple videos of the show and posted them on Instagram like not even an hour after the show and then they started following me and I freaked out. I literally squealed when I saw that haha. I didn’t think I was going to be able to go to their record release show but I kept missing out on the sales of the 7″ because they sold out so quick so every color I missed out on so I said „fuck it“ and a friend and I got in the car and started driving to DC for their record release show and missed it by an hour. I was so mad. Brian found out about it and actually mailed me the 7″. That was the most unexpected and best thing I could have possibly imagined happening. For a band to actually care that much and to do that for a guy they don’t even know is just incredible. I’ll never forget that. I’m not one of those vinyl guys who collect every color but missing out on each one was horrible haha. I told Brian he didn’t have to do that and he said he wanted me to have it and I’ll cherish that forever.

Frozen: ‚kinda sounds like blink 182 just a bit heavier anyone agree?‘ What would you say? Do you agree (haha)?

Who the fuck said that? Tell them to come here so I can smack them. No, I do not agree, oh no, no no.

Strength for Breath: Which song line can you especially relate to?

„I love you to fucking death you’re the reason I have strength for breath“

The way he sings that line is just crushing to me. I connect with that lyric for a couple of reasons. One is I have a mother who has extreme dementia and helping her is a battle but one that I’ll take on forever because she did the same for me my whole life. The other is just a stupid boy has crush on girl thingy that was dumb. I know that song isn’t about those topics but that’s my answer. Also the line „Here I am clearly not at my best“ floors me every time. I can go into another reason that song floors me because of the way I grew up and how I felt but I’m not ready to talk about that yet. Sorry

Confessional: What do you like most about this video?

Oh wow, ok so I literally cried when I first saw the video. I just watched it again right before I wrote this and I cried again. Fuck this is actually hard to put into words. I have the same issues with what they had written on the papers so that’s one reason. The fact that his brother and daughter is in it and when Mike had that paper that asked „am I a good influence“ brought back memories that I’m still dealing with. I always think I’m not good enough and when Josh from Crossed Keys which is another band that I’m absolutely in love with held up that sign that said „I’m not enough“ really hit home because I struggle with that a lot. The whole video is just fucking amazing. Always brings the feels.

Morning Light: Which song line touches you the most and why this one?

„Because I ruin relationships so don’t cast your lot with a sinking ship“

I self sabotage relationships because I am afraid of actually ruining someone else’s life. I’ve done it a few times and it’s a scary thing. That whole song just nails it for me. I feel the exact same way. I’m always hoping that tomorrow will be brand new.

What makes Be Well so special?

Many things but the main one for me is the lyrics and the way he delivers them. Like I said earlier it’s like he’s crying while singing and that just hits me so hard. I have had a lot of issues with mental health and when I first heard this band all I was thinking was „holy fuck this is a hardcore band with members of bands I already love so yeah I love this“. It wasn’t till I really delved into what he was saying in his lyrics that I had the „oh shit, this is going to fuck me up“ moment. I love the style. I love the aesthetic of the videos and the themes. I love the passion. I love that’s they’re on the best label ever. I love the urgency. I love the message. I could go on and on but it all boils down to the fact that this is a hardcore band that sings about hardcore shit. Simple as that. There’s nothing I don’t love about this band.

The Weight and The Cost / Mental Health

How many copies of this record have you ordered and which version is your favourite?

I ordered 4 copies from Equal Vision and one from End Hits. I originally thought I would end up ordering every single variant but they sold out before I could so I’m happy with 5 copies haha. I’m not really a huge vinyl collector but I knew I had to have multiple copies of the full length. I think the End Hits one will be my favorite because even though EVR is my favorite label End Hits is home to a good friend of mine and I’m stoked that End Hits Records is doing the international part of it. I kinda slightly like the End Hits cover better. Don’t kill me please.

What expectations do you have of The Weight and The Cost?

I really have no other expectations than I expect it to be one of my favorite records of all time and it already is even though I’ve only heard 4 songs from it. I expect to cry also and I’m positive that will happen when I get it.

In terms of content it’s about the struggles with depression and anxiety of singer Brian McTernan: how important do you think it is to focus more on mental illness?

I think it is absolutely important that we talk about it more often to get rid if the stigma associated with it. If we normalize talking about it then we can have discussions that are real and not clouded by our fears of how people will see us afterwards. I’m a fucked up dude. I turned 18 in a mental hospital. I have had issues with my mental health my whole life. I have been on every single type of medication for depression and anxiety you can think of. Nothing has ever worked more than talking about it. I have actually talked about it more this year than I ever have just because it’s more out in the open now and the stigma is slowly going away. I have always been afraid of what people think of me. I am actually having a tough time even writing this because all I can think about is what will people think of me after this? I’m scared to death right now. I think we need to get it out in order to heal though because keeping it to yourself just destroys you slowly. I hope that made sense.

Do you think other bands should follow suit and use their reach for such an important issue?

Yes and no. I wish there were a lot more bands who focused on mental health of course but I still need music to relax me and music to break people’s faces to also. I think the mental health issues in music today do a lot more for people than they used to. Music is a lot more real now I think. Be Well does everything for me though. They make me think, cry, relax and want to tackle people. That’s all I need. Hehe

All too often mental illnesses are underestimated and ridiculed: what should change so that these illnesses are finally taken seriously?

I’m a former Republican so you’re about to get some shocking answers from me on this. We need full free medical and mental health care FOR FUCKING FREE IN THIS COUNTRY! A lot of the reasons that mental health is such an issue is because it costs thousands of dollars to treat and most of us who deal with it don’t have the means to pay for treatment. When I was in a mental hospital when I was 18 I was in there for 6 weeks and it cost my parents 1500 bucks a day. 1500 PER DAY!!! Luckily I was able to pay them back for it but it put them through hell trying to pay that. My father was a preacher and my mom never had a job in her life. We didn’t have money like that and for my family to care that much to spend that ungodly amount of money was insane. Did it help me? Fuck no it didn’t because once I got out I went right back to what I was doing and how I felt before I went in. All that place did was vilify me for think or feeling the way I did. All I did in there was write stories and make out with girls in the snack room. It was ridiculous. We also need to redirect funds for mental health issues to actual social workers and trained personnel rather than every time we see someone dealing with mental issues we call the cops. Cops are not trained to deal with it so they either just arrest them or kill them. You think I’m joking? No I’m not. I’ve seen way too many mentally unstable people get killed just for reacting in a way that the cops weren’t trained for. We need to take money away from police departments and use them to fund programs that actually help people. Yes I’m saying DEFUND THE FUCKING POLICE! I hope that answers that question in the most Jamie way possible haha.

If you could say anything to Brian right now, what would it be?

Brian, dude this record so far has done more for me and my mental health than anything ever has. I’m confronting it more now than ever and these songs are helping me heal. I can’t thank you enough. This is the hardcore band I’ve been waiting for. You guys done did it.

Anything else you wanna add?

I hope I made sense with all these answers. I’ve never done this about a band before. I hope everyone likes the record. I know I already do and I’ve only heard part of it. Damn, just as I was writing this I got a notification that Hate5six just uploaded a Damnation AD set so I’m going to go and watch Brian’s brother scream now. It’s a good day. Take care, thank you.