This article was originally posted on press.badseed.world.
Vocalist and songwriter Dan Campbell (The Wonder Years and Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties) joined Don’t Fret Club to discuss mental health and the music industry.
Read the full chat at press.badseed.world.
Do you still relate to the feeling that you’re on a different path to other people your age?
Yeah, I mean, pretty much constantly. That’s really the only thing you feel. You choose a job that is disorienting and foreign, and difficult for other people to understand and to get their heads around. What’s that Blacklisted lyric? ‘A tourist among my family and friends.’ And then time passes strangely. Not now because we’ve kind of paused booking new things, because I have the baby coming. But for years of my life, especially some of the early years of the band, I would know what I was doing 18 months in advance. And when you know what things look like that far in advance, it’s hard to live day by day. You’ve got to live in these chunks.
And so, years go by very quickly because you think of it as like, ‘I have this tour and then that tour, then I’m home for these three weeks, then I have this tour’ and they go so fast, they just get eliminated. Then there’s also this duality to it because you’re going all the time and things are moving very quickly, but also pausing to make progress on a lot of things. So all of your friends at home are doing this steady pace and maybe it doesn’t feel like it’s going so fast for them. You’re like, ‘What happened to this year? Oh my god, you guys made so much progress. Where have I been? What have I been doing?’ Some friends it gets harder to talk to and they don’t understand what you do, and you don’t understand what they do.
Is touring still something you enjoy?
I like to play. I really like to play. If you get a good show, a really good show, where it’s packed and the crowd is alive. I like to explore still, but it’s definitely tougher on my body than it used to be. I suffer emotionally. It used to be, ‘everything is a fun adventure, what a fun adventure all the time’. And now it’s like, ‘well s**t, like my family needs me and I’m out here.”
Mental health is a topic you’ve addressed lyrically, but how do you feel the relationship between mental health support and music is managed?
Well the economics of it are difficult because it’s very hard to earn a living making music and it’s very, very hard to earn a living in the surroundings of making music – on a label’s side or on the management side, or the agent’s side. It’s just [that] the economics of music are very, very different than they used to be. There’s just less of a support system, I think, than there could be. It would definitely help to take more breaks and not be on tour as much [but] it’s not really an option. It would be great if record labels could provide health care [but] it’s not really an option. There just isn’t enough to make that kind of stuff possible. For other musicians in other countries that have socialised health care, it’s obviously easier but for American bands it’s not really an option.
[It] would be great to have access to therapists. A lot of it definitely is not so much about the music industry, so much as it is about the health care industry. There are certain therapists that your insurance will cover, but when I was looking for a therapist, the ones that my insurance would cover – which I only get because I’m married to my wife and [it’s] through her work. If I wasn’t married I wouldn’t have it at all. The ones that were available to me through the insurance, which were the affordable ones, had waiting lists of six, seven months. I’m like, ‘I need help right now’ and then so eventually I found someone that could take me right now but they’re not covered by my insurance. And so it was financially difficult.
I think the other thing is that it’s a little bit about maybe being a little more empathetic and understanding. I think about it a lot when I think about Scott from Frightened Rabbit and the piece that they wrote about him. When we write these songs that are kind of soul-baring, and it’s like, ‘hey I’m writing about a thing that’s painful for me and I’m going to sing it to you every night’. And some nights, it’s just automatic, it just comes out of your mouth. But then some nights you stop and think about the lyric and when you wrote it, and what happened and you just rip it right back open. Every night I’m opening an old wound back up, for the sake of the performance and the art, and how it can be useful to others. And most people are kind about that, but some people are not at heart very empathetic and don’t treat that with the kind of the respect that it maybe deserves. So that can be difficult.
Read the full chat at press.badseed.world.