The Weight and The Cost – Das Buch enthält wirklich unfassbar viele wundervolle Menschen, die mir in den letzten 1 1/2 Jahren all ihr Vertrauen und ihre Zeit geschenkt haben, um über Be Well, Brian McTernan als Produzent und Freund und über die eigenen, sehr persönlichen Erfahrungen mit psychischen Erkrankungen sprachen und das werde ich für immer tief im Herzen behalten. Einer dieser Menschen ist Chris Wollard (Hot Water Music, The Ship Thieves, The Draft, Rumbleseat, The Sheryl Cro(w) Mags // Cro(w)s), den ich tatsächlich für dieses Buchprojekt von Anfang an im Kopf hatte.
Ich weiß noch, als ich eine E-Mail losschickte und ich mir keine allzu großen Hoffnungen machte, dass darauf eine Reaktion kommen würde und so wäre es auch tatsächlich fast eingetreten. Als ich nämlich langsam aber sicher komplett mit dem Buch abschließen wollte, um es in den Druck zu geben, strandete plötzlich und unerwartet eine Mail bei mir und was soll ich sagen? Chris war direkt dabei und ich hätte nicht glücklicher darüber sein können.
Ich glaube, dass viele noch das völlig überraschende Statement von Chris aus 2017 vor dem Auge haben, wo er erklärt, dass er aufgrund seiner mehr als angeschlagenen psychischen Gesundheit eine Pause einlegen müsste, um sich ganz auf die Genesung, auf die Verbesserung konzentrieren zu können und er sich deswegen aus Hot Water Music auf unbestimmte Zeit zurückziehen muss. Ein derber Schlag, der überall meterhohe Wellen schlug, aber auch genauso viel Verständnis bei Fans, Freunden und Weggefährten auslöste. Für das Buch nahm ich mir nochmal genau dieses Statement und einige Zitate daraus zur Brust, um die hoffentlich passenden Fragen für Chris zu finden.
Chris ist definitiv einer der ehrlichsten Menschen dort draußen, der aber auch genau weiß, wie er mit seiner offenen, charmanten und losgelösten Art und Weise für eine gute und ausgelassene Stimmung sorgen kann. Wollard ist einer der Guten. Jemand, der nicht stur auf ein und derselben Stelle stehenbleibt, sondern weiterhin an sich arbeitet und auf diversen Ebenen weiterkommen und dazulernen möchte- und sich auch endlich wieder aktiver in der Musikbranche bewegt, wie zuletzt gesehen und gehört bei Feel The Void von Hot Water Music, welches von Brian McTernan produziert wurde. Und ich weiß nicht, wie es euch erging und ergeht, aber mir zauberte das ein unfassbar breites Grinsen ins Gesicht, als ich nach einer gefühlten Ewigkeit diese altvertraute Stimme Wollards‘ hörte, die so unglaublich gut, geschmeidig und gleichzeitig kantig und rau klang, wie schon lange nicht mehr. Liebe ich! So schön, dass er wieder dort ist, wo er hingehört: Unter seinen besten Freunden, seiner Familie und wieder das tut, was ihm so viel bedeutet.
Hier jetzt das Interview für euch! Vielen Dank auch an Elena Vilain für dieses großartige Foto von Chris, schaut euch auch ihre anderen wirklich fantastischen Fotos an: Hier!
„…my old friends Stress and Anxiety are back…“ – When did you first notice stress and anxiety creeping in unhealthily in your life, and how did you deal with it at that time?
This is kind of a layered question. If I look back from where I am today, I can see that it has always been around. But that comes with the gift of hindsight. I remember it when I was growing up. I remember it through the years.
Playing shows, always, triggered me. Even when I was having the time of my life, I’d have to really try to keep myself on an even keel. I’d just get really wound up too much. My guts would hurt, and my head would spin. My hands would grip my guitar so hard that I’d hardly be able to get through a show without my hands giving out… I mean don’t get me wrong, I was exactly where I wanted to be. But I was trying to just ignore it in the old days. I didn’t really rationalize it. I was just coping with it. I was angry and frustrated and I did all the things that come along with those feelings. I’m not proud about any of it.
Then vs. now: How easy or hard was it for you to confide in people when you weren’t well, and how about now? What progress have you made over all these years to be able to deal with everything better?
I don’t think I’ve ever had a problem talking with people about it, but if you’re not really being honest with yourself, it’s hard to be honest with anyone else. Like I said, I didn’t rationalize any of this kind of stuff in the old days… or I guess I didn’t really see it very clearly.
When I was younger I was made to go to therapy sessions that I’d have to say… I don’t know… I felt like an alien. It was horrible. And it made me really avoid anything of the sort for a long ass time. I think that was probably a big set-back, because I think I held a grudge about it. I didn’t want any therapy for a long time after that. But therapy has become a really great thing for me in the last few years. It really has. I know why I didn’t start back up earlier, but I wish I wasn’t so blockheaded about it. It’s helped a lot.
„I know that this is a mountain that I CAN climb.“ – What gives you hope in such difficult situations? Who or what gives you the necessary support and what (important) role does music play in this?
I have hope because I have faith. This is surely because of my mom. She is a saint, and I know everyone’s heard it before, but she say’s „an object in motion, stays in motion, and I got to keep moving“. I’m such a lucky man. My wife and my son and my family and friends are what keeps me happy and motivated.
As far as how music plays a role: sometimes we need a common language to speak without speaking. It’s awesome when it clicks. It really is.
What kinds of fears and tormenting thoughts are deeply rooted in you? Which ones keep haunting you and which ones are particularly difficult for you to get a grip on?
I’m not sure I have many fears or tormenting thoughts… but I do have „triggers“ i guess. What I mean is that I have things that „trigger“ things in me… In the old days, it would seem like the waters would get rough pretty quick. I would start to feel very alone and alienated, and I would turn into a miserable person. I’d get hotter than a hornet, and it was not good.
I don’t think, at this point, I really have anything haunting me. I could have been a better man at certain points of my life, but I’m not a finished product. I’m still learning.
„…to accept your limitations…“ – How can you tell that you are approaching or have already crossed a certain line? What warning signals do you perceive in such critical moments?
Well, in my experience, when I crossed the line, it was all too obvious. It sucked. When I look back, I can see that the whole couple weeks leading up to it were bad… and I just marched right ahead. I didn’t think that I could be smacked down so hard. I’d been touring since I was 15 years old and I just thought that I was fine. I thought everyone felt as messed up as i did, and a lot of my friends and brothers did… but we didn’t talk about it in a real way. I didn’t recognize how I’d been coping. Just coping with it. Pushing myself to the extreme… until I felt it all give way. And that was a scary thing when it happened. As far as warning signs… they come on very slow… and then very fast.
„I will jump back on it when I can.“ – How have the years gone after you announced the break? What took the most out of you during that time and what point have you reached today? How are you doing?
Well, it’s been a strange few years to be honest. At first I couldn’t find a job… I don’t think anyone really wants to hire someone that has been on tour in a punk band their whole life. I don’t blame them I suppose. But for real, it sucked, and when I had old friends saying „I don’t think this will work“, I was getting pretty fucking down. Luckily my friend took me under his wing and showed me how really paint, and that’s what I do now… I paint houses, and I write songs. It is a nice fit.
Brian McTernan said the following about you on the End Hits Records podcast when talking about the lyrics from the record Caution: „This dude I love and respect so MUCH is like dealing with so much pain that’s similar to me. How come I never talked to him about it? I never said to him, like: Hey, dude, you know what, man? I feel that same way.‘ – How did you feel in comparison when you heard the songs of Be Well for the very first time? What parallels to the lyrics can you draw to your own life? Where do you see the similarities to Brian’s story?
Sometimes I think, unfortunately, that’s just how it goes. And it sucks. When we get working, it is an overwhelming process, and there are so many things to think about. There are so many PEOPLE to think about… I mean everyone is working on different parts on any given day…I think we’ve always tried to have a philosophy in the band: never complain… complaining is contagious… never do it. But I always believed that Brian was maybe the guy that really gave a shit the most about what I was trying to do. I’m not sure if I would really have been ready to talk openly at that time about what was in my head. We did talk a lot about it all while I was writing but I don’t think I was self-aware enough at that point to really have a true awakening.
Hahaha ok so, I still am a guitar player first: so my first listen of any record… that’s what I’m listening to… and so my first thought was … „holy shit… this is rocking! and Brian is singing his ass off!“ hahahaha It always takes me a few listens before I start picking up on the lyrics of anyone’s record, but I have read the lyrics and listened to that record a bunch and I just think it’s great how open and honest Brian is with it all. It’s not an easy thing to do. It really isn’t. When I listen to that record I hear a man looking into a mirror… that might be one of the hardest things any of us can do.
What do you love and appreciate about him and what makes him so special as a music producer?
I’d love to tell you what I love about Brian, but for real… it’s hard to put these things into words. We were learning so much together…at some points… and really, I say this a lot these days… but I think music is more about discovery than it is about creation, and that is something I started realizing at Brian’s old place.
For our band the most important thing is for us to be able to work with people that understand where we are coming from in a practical way. We need to be able to communicate with the Producer and the Engineer about every idea we have. In order to that that, we always wanted to work with people that already knew the things we were into and where we came from… and Brian is exactly that guy for us. What I love about our relationship… so many years into it… is that we can just really, honestly, work together. If any of us have a big battle, it is only because we all are working and trying to do something together.
The Weight and The Cost is about the struggle with depression and anxiety of singer Brian McTernan: How does it feel for you to hear such profound and heartbreaking songs from someone you know?
Well, writing about things that are that personal is very hard. It really is. And when I see a friend writing such personal things down, it can be a bit shocking. That’s because I just never want to see my friends having to struggle with these things. But at the same time, I know that in order to deal with these things, we need to be able to communicate them and get them in front of us so we can deal with things. So to me, it’s a healthy thing and I’m happy to know that Brian is actively dealing with things. He’s a good dude with a good family and good friends and I hope he never forgets that.
Why is a band like Be Well so important, especially in such volatile and uncertain times?
In any era, art and music and creative thinking are necessary for cultural communication. That’s how we grow.
If you had to describe the album The Weight and The Cost in just one sentence- what would that sentence be?
My brother is back, and he has something to say.
Anything else you wanna add?
Thank you for taking the time, and giving a fuck.