New Noise Magazine reached out to a diverse group of artists and asked them to speak about their personal experiences with dealing with their overall wellness. The topic of being in good physical and mental is an exclusive spotlight coinciding with Issue #32 of the print magazine, deemed The Wellness Issue. Each artist speaks with a refreshing transparency on the struggles they face and how to better go about their own health.
Featuring guitarist Brent Rambler of August Burns Red
Comprised of vocalist Jake Luhrs, guitarists JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler, drummer Matt Greiner, and bassist Dustin Davidson, August Burns Red are one of the biggest names in modern metal. The metalcore giants recently released their latest album, Found in Far Away Places—which rose to number four on the Billboard charts—via Fearless Records. Rambler offers a few tips and tricks for keeping your career—and yourself—healthy while climbing the charts.
How To Start
Something that has been key to the success of August Burns Red over the years is the fact that, early on, we adopted a very hands-on, DIY mentality. Sure, we’ve had booking agents, managers, and labels help us along the way, but we’ve always been at the center of every decision we’ve made. No one knows what’s best for your band more than the members.
Starting with a hands-on approach also allows you to learn a lot more about the industry, which will help a lot more than if you just give everything to a manager and say, “Make us successful!”
Health on the Road
Health is something that’s really hard to maintain, and that’s because once someone gets sick, everyone gets sick. The members of August Burns Red all try to be fairly healthy people. That includes eating well and trying to exercise on tour.
I personally have a YMCA membership, which is a great tool. Not only is it a place to work out, it’s also a getaway from the venue and bus [or] van. It’s also a place to shower, which can be hard to come by on the road, so it’s totally worth the $30 to $40 a month it costs. You can suspend your account for multiple months at a time, so you don’t have to pay for it when you aren’t using it.
Some things that help me out a lot mentally on the road may sound bad, but they aren’t. Having some vices can really help you get through a slow day. I’m not talking about cigarettes or drugs, but things like finding a coffee shop or a comic book shop help the day go by quite a bit. It’s just nice to wake up and immediately have a plan of attack for your morning or day. Sitting around a dark dingy venue can be depressing at times, so vices or hobbies that you can easily find in most cities brightens your day.
Featuring Jackson Hawdon and Joel Martin of FOAM
Joel Martin, Harley Barnaby, and Jackson Hawdon of Perth, Australia’s FOAM grew up as close as brothers and have been hanging out and playing music together for most of their lives. They have four EP releases under their belt, including 2013’s Sarpa Salpa, 2014’s Run Kon Koma, a split EP with Puck and The Feeling Is Mutual, both from 2015. Their debut album, Coping Mechanisms, is about coming to terms with yourself, the world around you, and the ways we try to make it work. Hawdon and Martin weigh in with some choice advice for staying healthy and sane, both at home and while on the road.
Being Healthy with Social Media
JH: We make a lot of dumb Instagram posts when we’re traveling together. We use it to make fun of each other and make light of whatever situation we’re in together. On the other hand, it’s the most powerful tool we have to market ourselves. Our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are a mix of show posters, updates about whatever we’re up to, and photos of Harley looking dumb after he falls asleep on an airplane.
How To Be OK on the Road
JM: I don’t think I could possibly shed any more light on the perils of perpetual drug and alcohol use on the road. Anyone who’s read so much as the blurb of a rock star’s autobiography would know it’s wise to practice some modicum of moderation. But it’s still valuable advice that can be easily forgotten between the highs of the shows and the lows of the travel.
I would recommend spending whatever small amount of free time you’ve got exploring the city or town you’re in. Go for a walk, visit an art gallery. These things are free, and getting some sunlight and exercise will help with that gross feeling in your head and belly. Plus, you might amass some good times you can actually remember once you’re back home. And eat some damn vegetables every now and then, would ya?
How To Maintain Morale and Discuss Issues Constructively on Tour
JM: Hopefully, you’ve ended up on tour with some of your closest friends, and maybe you’ve known them long enough to have some experience in disagreeing with them. That’s my experience anyway. But just like any other time, empathy and self-awareness are king if you want to keep the vibe friendly. For better or worse, you’re all in this thing together, so it’s everyone’s responsibility to stay cool when stress levels peak. Have some understanding, and take a look in the mirror sometimes to make sure you’re keeping your own ego in check.
Holistic Remedies on Tour
JH: It’s hard to remain disciplined when you’re on a tight schedule, getting up at hideous hours of the morning, and driving [or] flying long distances, but do your very best to maintain your levels of the holy trinity. That’s Water, Sleep, and Your Goddamn Vegetables. Stay in touch with home too. Text your girlfriend, call your mum. Whatever keeps you grounded and connected to real life is critical when you’re on the road. That’s my experience anyway. But just like any other time, empathy and self-awareness.
Featuring bandleader Emil Rapstine of The Angelus
Describing their sound as “hymnal slowcore” and “gothspell,” The Angelus—rising from the musical oasis of Denton, Texas—bring Southern Gothic to an aural plane. The band’s latest album, There Will Be No Peace, is available through Tofu Carnage and Basement Avatar Records. Bandleader Emil Rapstine is not only a talented vocalist and guitarist, he’s also an advocate for holistic remedies and mindfulness and takes a moment to share his wisdom.
When I stopped drinking, I quickly realized that not only was alcohol an addiction for me, but drinking was also something I used to calm my nerves before I played a show.
I had to quit drinking completely, so the only question left to ask myself was, “Do I need to drink to be able to play music?” The answer, of course, was no, but this left me unarmed to deal with my seemingly subconscious anxiety about being onstage. That’s to say, in my mind, I didn’t feel nervous about performing in front of people, I looked forward to it, but once onstage, I found my hands would shake uncontrollably sometimes, with the tremors making their way to my legs. The more I thought about it and tried to control it, the worse it got, and it made playing the simplest guitar part almost impossible. Was it too much energy, too much adrenaline?
After just dealing with it for years, my first step toward a solution was to remove caffeine, my “vice” of choice since giving up drinking—and smoking—from the equation. I would often drink coffee late into the evening, so on days of shows, I would only drink coffee in the morning. This helped a bit, but didn’t completely solve the problem; the shaking was getting worse and making playing stressful and simply not enjoyable. I was on the verge of asking my doctor about beta blockers until I started two new things: peppermint oil and just being “excited.”
A drop of peppermint oil—the drops I use also contain Chlorophyll—on my tongue and under my nose right before I play helps center my concentration. I accidentally discovered this when I was sick, taking some drops to clear my sinuses, but to my surprise, I felt totally alert and my nerves subsided. This has been ritual ever since.
Also, I randomly read a study about the positive performance effects of the act of saying, “I’m excited,” and embracing that, as opposed to trying to be calm and rid yourself of anxiety. The idea is to “reappraise” anxiety as excitement and to view the task at hand as an opportunity rather than a threat.
Could it be so simple? With the other two changes, it has made a world of difference in my mental state and in my ability to play my sad songs without a sense of dread. Hopefully, it can help someone else as well.
Featuring Lindsay Minton and Daniel Hawkins of football, etc.
Emo revivalists, football, etc., from Houston and Austin, Texas, feature vocalist and guitarist Lindsay Minton, bassist Mercy Harper—who were recently married; congratulations!—and drummer Daniel Hawkins. Their third album, Corner, was just released on Community Records and was produced by J. Robbins—who also recorded their last EP, Disappear.
LM: I struggle with wellness quite a bit. The band serves as a channel for a lot of that. A lot of my lyrics are about my dealing with depression and anxiety—or at least serve as a platform for it. I can’t say it brings any sort of catharsis, but it makes it tangible and, at the same time, something outside of myself and my head.
DH: Our band is spread across two cities—Houston and Austin—so, for us to actually get together and work on music and actually be a band, it takes planning and consideration of what all is going on in each other’s lives. I think this in particular helps us avoid the pitfalls of feeling burned out or overwhelmed by it. When we do get together, we’re excited to see each other and make music, since it’s not something we get to do very often. This excitement and focus helped us immensely when it came to writing this last record.
Featuring Sergio W. of Everymen
Everymen are a five-piece kitchen-sink band from Lake Worth, Florida. Their debut album, May Your Ashes Have Stories To Tell, was released on Say-10 Records on May 17. With a rowdy sound reminiscent of Gogol Bordello and Larry And His Flask, the band’s lyrics reflect their personal struggles, and they throw a little bit of everything—from punk to polka—into the mix. Lead vocalist, guitarist, and banjo player Sergio W. offers some insight into the pitfalls that often accompany life as a musician and some ways to potentially avoid them.
My name is Sergio W., and I’m going to start by saying that my past was filled with a cocktail of trauma, bad choices, and drug addiction.
Playing music has always been a huge part of my life and one of the best ways to express myself. The so-called “punk rock lifestyle” and life of a touring musician was perfect for someone like me; I could escape my past, my problems, my insecurities, and for the most part, drink and drug away all the void I felt inside.
This was OK for a while, but the solution to my problems became the same thing that would tear apart any relationships I’ve built or any chance to find true happiness. Without getting into detail, because my past does not reflect who I am today, I will tell you my last few months consisted of me getting kicked out of a band I started with one of my best friends, getting shot at by a Miami gang for stealing their heroin, and attempting to kill myself by overdose.
Even though music played a positive role in my life, it also played the role of my enabler. When I finally lost everything, it was time to start over.
When talking about wellness, I think about my recovery from drugs and the patterns I’ve created to deal with my pain. It was important that I focused on myself and reached out to others who suffered from the same disease of alcoholism and addiction as I did. I ended up in a treatment center where one of the counselors had told me that if I followed any music career I would fail, but the joke was on her.
After leaving the center, I worked on rewiring my whole life. I wrote some of my best lyrics and started using music as a coping skill rather than a way to escape. Tym, our bass player, was one of the first people to understand my limits and that I was trying to change my life. He never asked if I wanted to go out drinking or partying, he picked me up for coffee and played music with me at the halfway house I was living in. Tym and I started Everymen for fun and to cope with our everyday struggles.
This band started with the right motives and intentions, and my view of the world was starting to change. I started playing music to express myself more than to impress others, and I always kept my recovery first. As time went by, the lineup we have now became sort of a weird fucked up family, and we went through ups and downs, but always had each other’s back and looked out for each other.
Through it all, I worked at a treatment center and used my knowledge to start talent shows and musical events there. I even brought my laptop and a mic to record some of the clients, because rather than making them feel like they can’t follow their dreams, I wanted to encourage them to find a healthy balance in their lives.
I met Terry, a guy who did groups at clinical and ran a drum circle for the clients, and that’s where my love for music and recovery would find a way to connect. We started a music program for alcoholics and addicts called Soundpath Recovery, with the idea that self- expression and art would motivate clients to open up and feel alive again. Today, we have an amazing studio where our clients get to record songs, poems, and anything they want to create. We run groups and work with the clinical team to create a safe atmosphere for them to find hope again.
I would have never imagined that this would be my life today and that all I went through in the past would be useful to help others and myself.
My band Everymen just got signed to Say-10 Records, and we are releasing our record called May Your Ashes Have Stories To Tell. All of the songs are a reflection of the many feelings we can all relate to and how we choose to play the cards we are dealt. I get to live my life again by learning from my mistakes and surrounding myself with people that care about me and my well-being. We built a community of friends and musicians who are positive, and we ignore negativity on social media or anywhere else.
I’m not perfect and continue to make mistakes—some more painful than others—but through the support of the people I surround myself with, regardless if they are in recovery or not, I am able to move forward. To sum things up, everything I learned through my growth in recovery has been useful in every aspect in my life, and I did not get sober to hide from the world, but to join life again.
May Your Ashes Have Stories To Tell…