The BIG Über Rock Interview: Brock Lindow (36 Crazyfists) Print E-mail
Written by Rich Hobson   
Saturday, 10 February 2018 04:40

The personal difficulties and tragedies which have fed into 36 Crazyfists’ last two records (2015’s ‘Time and Trauma’ and 2017’s ‘Lanterns’), resulting in powerful and personal expressions of grief and triumph which are among the band’s best. Hitting the UK in January 2018, Über Rock were lucky enough to catch up to frontman Brock Lindow ahead of the band’s (sold-out) show in Birmingham to chat about the record, life and what can be done to support those suffering from mental health issues like depression or addiction…


Although we were only a few short days into 2018, I started by asking how the year was treating the guys so far?


36 CrazyFists


You can’t really go wrong starting the year in the UK – it’s always been such a great place to us.


We’ve just spent three months touring the States. But there are so many bands that it’s a little bit harder to do it out there, we have a great couple hundred people that come see us every night and that’s great, but we’re driving ourselves and we don’t make much money. It’s really a job – and even though it’s a job overall, at least when we get here we can jump on a bus that’s stocked with beers and play to bigger rooms. The first four shows of our tour are sold out – last night in Manchester I could have just held the mic out and not sang a word. It’s awesome. I’m super thankful for all of it and we don’t take it for granted at all.


You mentioned in our last interview that there were a lot of stories that went into ‘Lanterns’…


People always ask me if it’s a therapeutic process, writing whatever album. I always answer yeah, because that’s what music is for me but I guess I kind of hit a lull in my life, the last six or seven years maybe. A real funk; everybody has their low points, but mine was very personal and on this album in particular I was hearing a lot of ‘is this cathartic to you’, ‘is it healing’. I really started thinking about that and… I’ve been saying that for so long, but was I ever really changing what these mishaps have been? The answer was no; I continued to be that person and eventually started not really liking me anymore. It was weird – I had lots of friends, I was in a band and having a great time, but I was living dishonestly in some areas of my life – and things of that nature. So not to get specific on stories, but to sum up the new album I’m doing everything in personal life, where I sit right now, to be a different person.


What I mean by that is – be accountable, being able to change a situation and get out of that funk and heed the words that I’ve been writing all these years. It’s not just a bit sing-along; it’s personal perspective, it’s a lot of dirt and I needed to come to terms with it and live differently. You’ve always got your demons, always got your closet to clean, but at least I’m aware of it now. I’m 42 years old and a lot of the shit I’ve been doing for all these years is a bit lame to be doing after 40. With age comes wisdom and I’m really trying to live these songs and stories because I’m tired of writing about them then slagging it off as ‘well, there goes the healing, we wrote a record, I’m good now’ – no you’re not, you’re still downing an eight-ball of cocaine and downing whiskey all day (I wasn’t; I’m just making an analogy). If you’re singing about your drug problems but still doing the drugs, you’re not healing at all; you need to quit the fucking drugs. That doesn’t mean these songs are any better than the previous ones, it just means they mean more to me personally now.


So did moving back to Anchorage help that process?


36 CrazyFists


I’m around people who aren’t yes men, so that’s good. It’s not like I had this massive entourage of yes men, but sometimes you do have people around you that are not going to curb your issues, they’ll just ride along with you. I have a lot of friends back home who’ll tell me exactly how it is. Reality came crashing down on me recently; the last album was mainly – if not totally – about the passing of my mom, this album was the aftermath of what happened to me after that, the downward spiral. It was lame – I’m totally removed from it, but it’s like ‘wow, that was me – I really lost.’ I lost my wife, who I’d been with for fifteen years – we’re still friends, but it took a little bit. I’m really trying to live the words I’m writing now.


So where were you when you wrote 'Lanterns' – still in the eye of the storm or on the way back up?


I think I was on the way back up. Before I actually wrote the lyrical content I was like ‘I don’t want to write about the lame stuff anymore, I want to move on from that.’ My girlfriend is the one who actually said ‘no, that’s how you write – you need to get it off your chest’. I want to tell my story in some vague way – I’ve always been a vague writer, so it always comes out like that anyway. Now I’ve done it, I’m glad I did it. I had a totally cool idea which I may still do some day; I had this idea about native Alaskan culture.


They have all these totem poles and all the animals represent a story – the raven, the eagle, the salmon, the bear. It’s super cool and is very spiritual. I got on this trip and was like ‘I’m gonna do that, but have it pertain to my life’. It became way too involved and if I were to do it, I’d want to do it very respectfully. So I want to talk to people from the native cultures – I know plenty of native Alaskans – to make sure it’s alright for a white dude to do that, because I want to be respectful. I’m born and raised in Alaska, but I’m not native. I love the culture – the stories, the artwork, the spirituality. That’s the path I want to take and it’ll take lots of research. In the end I wasn’t prepared to do it, but maybe someday.


How representative of your career do you think 'Lanterns' is?


Well, it was very current at the time I was writing it. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to, because I was trying to get away as fast as possible, but I think it represents a chapter of my life that I’m not fond of, but had to go through to get where I am now. It’s a reminder of that – I went through hell but I’m still kicking. It represents where I was and where I don’t want to be.


How do you maintain health – both physical and mental – while on tour?


36 CrazyFists


By having a good support group. I think as men in general we don’t like to reveal our downfalls, we’re a proud species. So it’s difficult, especially if you’re trying not to let anyone know about the baloney you’re involved with. I’ve been in some dark spots in my life and I didn’t want to tell anyone about it. I know now that its super unhealthy. By having those hard conversations, the gnarliest sides of you that people aren’t aware of… I think it’s okay to feel ashamed now. You don’t want to do it always, but when you’re in a hard place it helps to have somebody to talk to.


I know I’ve got some really good friends that contributed to a massive turning of the corner for me. Had I not had those conversations… boy. I’d hate to say I’d never do anything too drastic, I like to think I never would and I’m not proud to say it, but I’ve had dark thoughts in my head and I was ashamed for that. I know in my clearest moments I’d never do something so lame, take my own life, but it just doesn’t work like that. People that don’t understand usually haven’t had those hardships and they don’t realise how important friends, family and whatever really are. People that will not judge you and will listen – I’m grateful I’ve had that.


Do you think the industry needs to be more accountable for looking after musicians’ health?


It’s hard because; what is the industry? Musicians are people, labels are people, press are people. Drug abuse and alcoholism run rampant in this industry, so that contributes to all kinds of great times and bad times. It needs to be more aware, which just means people need to look out for people. Because people need people. People can suck, be gnarly and evil to each other, but they can also be really compassionate and loving towards each other. When I discovered that I needed to have these conversations, I was thankful that I had those people that could be there for me. You get a bit of clarity, help to go in the right direction. There’s a line on this record – “on the right side of the dirt I awake” and that is important; each day you have the opportunity to fix what it is, so long as you’re on the right side of the dirt. I take that into account and I’m grateful for each moment I can fix the things I’ve messed up in my life.


‘Lanterns’ is available now via Spinefarm Records.


PHOTO CREDIT: Photos © Allan Maxwell/Über Rock.


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