Thursday, 17 May 2018

The Brookes Talk 'Man Up' and Mental Health

Yesterday The Brookes released their latest song Man Up, a song that is really focused on mental health, specifically the alarming rate of male suicides. Instrumentally the track has everything in it you know and love The Brookes for, it's catchy, upbeat but with a punk edge. It's a great song, but it's the lyrics and the message that make this track so important. As always the band have delivered a killer song with a thought out and clever message. 

We spoke to frontman Bonge Keal about mental health and their new release.

Photo by Apertunes Photography

Your latest single ‘Man Up’ addresses mental health and suicide within males. Something that is so important to talk about! Was the process of writing the song difficult?

I suppose so, it’s something which effects everybody either personally or emotionally and as it’s such a taboo subject, I guess it was somewhat difficult. I tried to write the lyrics in a form which would indicate and portray the exact issue, but without appearing overly striking. Along with the upbeat track, I’m happy with the end, overall impact.

As the artists, are there any lyrics in the song that really stick out to you? Or you feel will have the biggest impact on the listener?

The obvious answer to this is ‘Man Up!’, as this in itself poses one hundred meanings which I think everyone can be on earth with. The lines ‘they force you to smile’ and the latter ‘go tell your fears’, really show the switch in emotion, being told to cover your feelings to then opening up and beckoning those issues. Again, this is exactly what I tried to point out during the progress of the song.

You’re working with CALM Zone in the release of this single, how did that come about?

Searching the internet and really investigating which charities were making an underlined project about this issue. Again, as it’s a taboo subject I was happily surprised to find the amount of noise being created behind this matter. CALM just really stood out to us and were really onboard with what we were aiming to achieve and together, we are on to a good project. Music is a great gateway for everything too, that’s why we used it to really push our cause.

Toxic masculinity is such a huge issue that needs to be broken, in your opinion what do you think we can do to try and change people’s attitudes towards positive masculinity?

Where do I start? I’ll keep it short for interview purposes. To break a historic stigma after so many years of normality to societies after societies, I believe the best technique is one shared in the film gladiator, “I am Spartacus”. If you know, you know. Basically, to make an impact everyone has to create a tremor together and really start pointing out on the damage this has by getting behind these charities, to let them be heard. From soldiers having no PTSD support from the government after such a harsh normality change - to your everyday boy behind put behind today’s pressures which even past generations won’t understand, it needs to be treat with the respect it needs because too many lives are being taken, that’s the harsh reality.

A mental health helpline has launched for musicians recently, I saw you shared an article about it. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it will help make a difference?

Absolutely, you know I have heard too many people complaining about, “why are they focusing this on only musicians” and “They just need to man up”, Ironic aye? But, this is why it is still such a huge issue. I think it’s great to create these helplines for many needs and not just a handful, at the end of the day, those few charities aren’t capable of catering for everyone and that’s why there needs to be certain subjects people feel like they can confide in. It doesn’t mean that musicians get a separate helpline because they are more important or anything along those lines, it is purely there to cater for these people on a comforting level. 

Following on from your release of Man Up, what have you got planned? Gigs and festivals?

We are actually in the making of a video for the song, which will be released shortly. In regards to playing, we are in the wings for a few festivals and we are planning a tour, that’s all you’re getting.

Are you working on anything else at the moment?

We have a few songs being created which are substituting old remaining setlist fillers, I am very much looking forward to playing these live, real crunchers you see.

As a band do you see yourselves continuing to address this subject within your music?

We will always make noise about this issue of course, song wise I think after this we have ticked that box, as we both know there are many issues to cry out about Holly. It’s not much a case of, been there and done that, move on. But, we are trying to create a pattern to capture he fact that we really aren’t happy with societies impact on it’s members and we want these issues to be addressed, what better way than through music?

Currently it’s Mental Health Awareness Week – which has obviously gotten a lot of people talking about mental health. I’ve seen a few people saying things such as ‘it’s all very well people voicing that it’s okay not to be okay but we need to be using this week to campaign for better mental health care’ – how strongly do you agree with this? Do you think it’s equally as important that people are using this week to voice their own struggles or to try and show their support?

Like everything, in the perfect world it would be great to not have to raise your concerns about said issues, but it isn’t the perfect world. Therefor I believe it’s fantastic that so many people are making this the big deal it deserves and hopefully, just hopefully, it will make it’s way to the powers that be in our government, (that’s a whole different argument). I just hope that after this week has left us, that people will continue to recognise the issues and really try make a difference. Donate, help out or even posting on social media, any awareness is awareness and I’m overwhelmed in the reaction it deserves.

Interview by Holly Beson-Tams

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