Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Musicians' mental health back in the spotlight

Brian Harvey
The Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk MP has called on the music industry to do more to protect the mental health of musicians. The call comes after Danczuk, spoke to former East 17 singer Brian Harvey for one of a series of interviews he has conducted exploring different political issues for LBC. In the interview, Harvey spoke about his struggles with his mental health, feelings of suicide, and problems accessing NHS services. Many of his problems, argues Danczuk, were exacerbated by his time in the music industry, particularly by people working with him introducing him to hard drugs.  Harvey recently vented his anger at the music industry as he smashed up platinum discs he was awarded with the band and then posted a video of his outburst online on YouTubeIn the expletive-packed burst of anger, he rants: 'East 17, one million sales - this is what it f****** means,' before the destroying his discs.

Brian Harvey vents his anger
The issue was raised five years ago at ILMC 22 in a panel chaired by band manager Kieth Harris, which featured contributions from Squeeze's Chris Difford, now a recovering alcoholic who wrote an heartfelt article in the March 2010 issue of IQ magazine "The Bridge to Normal Life" looking at his own alcoholism and also what can be done to help others. along with Difford, the panel, Keeping an Even Keel, featured Flemming Schmidt (Live Nation Denmark), band manager Adam Parsons, Sanchita Farruque (BAPAM) and record label man Paul Conroy (Adventures in Music) and focussed on whether artists were being pushed beyond breaking point. It was acknowledged  that drugs have been the catalyst for many masterpieces in all areas of the arts, but the key was to assist those who cannot function without them, rather than interfere with responsible users. There were differing opinions as to the roles of managers and whether or not interventions were ever appropriate. “We treasure artistic freedom and trying to promote interference in personal freedom would not go well in our neck of the woods,” said Live Nation’s Flemming Schmidt. “I travelled with Kurt Cobain and he was a lovely but self-destructive guy – I don’t think we as an industry could have changed that.” Others such as Chrissy Uerlings, felt drug usage was the result of the industry itself as professionals put the need to make tours cheap above the health of the musicians. “You book as many shows as close as possible, to make it cheap,” he said. “Instead of giving people the right to get rest we look at the costs. Don’t pretend that people really look after each other.” All the panellistrs agreed that adequate support and education is generally unavailable for the artists who acknowledge needing help. Difford stated that current support systems were not strong enough and that artists frequently need financial support to attend costly rehabilitation centres. “The main thing is not about intervention – it’s about support,” he said. “There’s support on the High Street and major institutions like Barclays look after their own, but music is all about making money, not about caring.” and Paul Conroy concluded the session with a call to action: “We could leave this room and say we’re actually going to do something about this. As an industry we put money into a lot of things but it’s about the artists at the end of the day. But it’s not the sexy end of the business is it?” Chair Keith Harris commented “The most important topic was that people weren’t aware that there was help out there. In terms of actually managing to help themselves, everyone that talked made the point that they had some kind of support. The idea of making people aware of the support that’s out there was the most important topic to me, because it was actually a way forward. You’re never going to get a definitive solution, but it’s good to have some suggestions and things that might be taken forward.”

And Eddy Temple-Morris has revealed details of a compilation being put together to raise awareness for the British Tinnitus Association and the need for more research into tinnitus, featuring contributions from Coldplay, DJ Fresh, Enter Shikari and more with Tenmple-Morris saying "We still have no cure for tinnitus, because there is no government funding for any research" and "the problem is getting worse and worse, because every kid is listening to loud music on their phone, with earbuds or swish Dr Dre mobile bass bins, and our spam-faced Prime Minister and his NHS-annihilating cronies have still not spent one single penny on letting us know that doing this could give us brain damage. Yes. Brain damage. I'm not making this up. Tinnitus is not an ear problem. It's damage to the pathway between ear and the hearing centre of the brain"

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