Between the Lines: Hell
I worry about writing about my music, because it could potentially restrict somebody's enjoyment of it. I like to leave things open to interpretation so that people can make their own associations and have a more personal connection with a song.
Besides, sometimes you can get across everything you wanted to say in a three minute pop song, or in this case, fifty seconds. There are advantages to writing ridiculously short songs. Don't you hate that feeling when you're playing a song and you get bored half way through, but still have to trudge through the rest of it? Also, I want radio DJ's to have something short to play when they need to sneeze.
That being said, I worry too much and I'm a terrible excuse maker, so I should forget all that and just get on with it. I learned a while ago to stop following my emotions and actually think about what I'm doing. Usually my emotions suggest staying indoors is the best solution to any situation.
A psychologist once diagnosed me with general anxiety disorder. He gave me a perscription for the most generic drug available, and leaflets for a procrastination group therapy session. I didn't go, but the drug was very effective. A huge component of my personality was chemically removed, and my life became a cartoon where nothing was at stake, complete with Wile E. Coyote-esque comical injuries.
This was a fine solution for a while, but when you remove a portion of yourself, other parts can grow to fill in the gap, and you realise why that part was there in the first place. With several emergency room admissions, and the increasing alienation of my loved ones, I realised what I'd become was worse – I was a fucking asshole! I gave up the SSRI's to see what I'd turn into next.
In a way I'm just as anxious as I used to be, I worry about the intricacies of social interaction, like which hand gesture should I end any meeting with? A high five? A fist bump? Thumbs up? Hugs? I have on occasion, spontaneously invented incomprehensible combinations of these. The “tiny thumbs up”, for instance, which failed to complete the conversation as it just raised more questions.
Obviously I'm completely over thinking this, and avoiding the point, which is one of my problems. Basically I just do what scares me, which means leaving the house, having a job, and “singing and dancing.” I work as a hairdresser now! Which means imitating a normal human being for hours, five days a week! My mask of sanity must be effective – a colleague once accused me of being a “real chilled-out guy”.
So that's pretty much what the song is about, the need to get up and perform in everyday life, where inside you're screaming about the insanity of it all. I imagine there's a lot of people like me walking around completely terrified of ordinary day to day life, pretending everything is okay.
The music video my partner Natasha Cantwell's interpretation of the song “Hell”. It's how she imagined the character in the song would get along on a camping trip. He only gets to express his true emotions after killing everyone, having bottled everything up, he explodes in a maniacal dance routine. Nobody sees it. Maybe if he felt able to be himself around the living, things would have turned out differently?
I love the video because it incorporates parts of my life, my career, and the nightmare lurking beneath the surface of the cult of consumerism, all processed meats and repressed feeling. But that's just my interpretation.
Between the Lines is a series where songwriters take us into the writing room
Read (and listen) to the rest of the series here