Don’t Fret Tracks: Rob Vicars, wars

We’re thrilled to share the story of wars, the melodic hardcore mob from Rugby, UK who’ve just signed to Spinefarm Records.

Here, vocalist Rob Vicars talks openly about the band’s collective struggle with anxiety, self-doubt and other forms of mental illness, and how it’s all influenced the themes of their debut album, We Are Islands, After All.

“Having fought and mostly lost against the tumultuous, disparaging, sniping echoes of my own mind for as long as I can remember, it’s one thing experiencing this ravage yourself, riding that wave through an unfeeling education and being dashed against the rocks of the ‘real world’ in perfect sequence; it’s another entirely seeing it impossibly intensified in those closest to you.

My tangles with the emotional well locked up inside my head left me clinging by fingertips, heels clattering away at a snapping sense of self-loathing, of corroding anxiety and simple, irrevocable disbelief; but cling I did. Having watched my best friend be eaten away by the devastation of a cyclical force that only he can see, feel, hear, experience, it’s easy to believe we are all eventually left stricken and helpless in one way or another. In wars, this turmoil is channelled and poured out, often contrary to some perceived notion of intention, into something creative and tangible, and that is how we carry on.

‘‘wars’ seemed to be such a fitting encapsulation of our words and our noise.’

As people, we’ve been writing music for a long time, and whether this subject matter was a bit of an inevitability, or the time simply aligned in such a way (which it certainly has for some other stuff we’ve experienced as a band so far), ‘wars’ seemed to be such a fitting encapsulation of our words and our noise. We were writing before we had the name, and when we came to look at the ideas that had occurred naturally when we wrote, this concept of internal conflict was present throughout. In some ways you feel bound to create what you create, what you put out is a product of yourself influenced by the bellowing, the silence, the disquiet of the mind you live with.

Writing music, playing music, contorting about to a violence you’ve created is a catharsis I simply cannot describe. It’s an addiction, something that I know feeds the strength that exists in you, at times when that strength is so disarmed by that deep-seated, echoing insistence that you are not enough.

Of course, I’ve also seen that turbulence render even the most effective of cathartic, release-valve-esque tools useless; when you can’t get out of bed and pick up a guitar or a notebook, when going for a walk, or moving from bed to sofa, something that you know will help, is too much.

Watching this happen to someone so close to you leaves you seemingly adrift, helpless, frustrated, alone. But pushing through that sense of inertia is vital if you’re on the other side, if you can, because that person needs you – if only for a text or a phone call, an interaction which might seem passing, or repetitive, but could be the difference that keeps someone sheltered from the storm of themselves for another day.

wars have recently recorded an album, and these subjects, these invisible battles, permeate throughout. It seems they are at the forefront of our lives in the smallest and the largest of ways always, and finding a creative skeleton to stretch them over is a unique thing. Letting those darkest days come out of you in tactile forms is something I can attest to being entirely worthwhile, on the occasion you can grasp at it.

‘In our first two singles, the tracks tackle this sense of dread that comes from the sudden idea that you don’t know yourself.’

In our first two singles, the tracks tackle this sense of dread that comes from the sudden idea that you don’t know yourself. When you’re consumed by ambivalence and indecision, when your actions don’t echo the things you feel you know about yourself, it can leave a residual sense of loss and anxiety, something that in turn eats its way into other parts of your life. The latter single, The Art of Not Knowing discusses dealing with the problem more directly than some of our other songs; learning in some ways, to live with those demons, and turn that disparity into art.

I am lucky to have clung to the walls of that well, lucky to have such a platform for catharsis, lucky to know so many brilliant people who talk, discuss, support and prioritise the issue of mental health. Whether you are in the clutches of your demons yourself, or are close to those that are struggling; I can but tell you from some small experience to look for a creative release, find a way to occupy that mind and banish those thoughts through your fingertips. It won’t always be the answer, but it may at least provide some momentary refuge. Most importantly, love each other, always, fiercely, and never forget how much difference a simple message to one another can make.”

wars – We Are Islands, After All, is out 27 January 2017. 

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