Andy Bell On Music, Mental Health, And His New Album

andy bell has touched a true purple patch in its composition.

The guitarist is a key component in Ride’s glorious second chapter, while his electronic production work under the moniker GLOK is highly sought after.

Finally making his solo debut in 2020 with an excellent feature film ‘The View From Halfway Down’, Andy Bell spent lockdown focusing on art, creativity and his own life.

The results are compiled on the extraordinary new album ‘Flicker’, an 18-track treatise that demonstrates the breadth of his songwriting.

Ranging from whiny acid folk to baroque ’60s pop to burst of psychedelia, he covers all the bases (and more) we’ve come to expect from him.

Thematically, ‘Flicker’ is a journey of self-discovery, an imaginary conversation between Andy Bell and his teenage self.

Here, Andy Bell writes for Clash about music, mental health, and his new album.

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There was a period in my life when I was in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, I found it really helpful. Already in the first session, I felt that I had begun to see myself and life in a new way. I was sent back to the core of who I was, in an exploration of when I had felt most like ‘myself’, followed by figuring out how to get a little more of that back again, as I had obviously strayed. pretty far from that. The therapy itself was very practical. They gave me what I would describe as a mental health toolkit. After identifying what I needed, they gave me new ways of thinking about events and new techniques for basically living.

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After leaving therapy, I found myself relying on one technique in particular that still serves me well many years later. This was having conversations silently, or out loud, with my teenage self, whom I identified early on as the most authentic version of myself. To describe this person: about 16 years old, obsessed with playing the guitar, obsessed with rock music and rock history, a great appetite for reading, open to life, optimistic, ambitious, confident and with many friends. Decisions would be made quickly and they wouldn’t fret. There would be no regrets. Whatever happens, I knew it would be okay.

It has become a real issue for me to ask myself What would that child do at this time? Well, that’s what I’m going to do. Would he be seriously worried about this that I’m thinking about too much? No, so forget it. Take advantage of that opportunity, say yes to that opportunity. I still have bad days and sometimes events can set me back. But I’ve come a long way going way, way back.

This has resonated with me once again when I went back to the old music I had written, sometimes dating back to the 90’s, to work on my latest album, Flicker. In a way, I had musical conversations with my younger self throughout. And the lyrics do fill in more pieces of the mental health toolkit I took with me after therapy.

‘It gets easier’ is a good example. The title comes from Bojack Horseman. In one of Bojack’s later episodes, he started running, possibly to improve his mental health, which, by the way, is why I do it too. Bojack has momentarily given up on the side of the road when a wise monkey appears and says something to him like “It gets easier… you have to keep doing it every day… but it gets easier.” I found this typically insightful and helpful. It fits the bill as the song is about just that, being out in nature, taking a walk or escaping from a bad day. And in the choruses, I imagine myself as a younger, happier version of me, giving my older self the advice to go out:

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“Get out
When you’re inside out
Take two steps away from what you’re thinking.”

As for the other tracks on the album related to this wellness theme? Here are some additional ideas. ‘Something Like Love’ tells me not to dwell on one version of the past, because each person’s version of what happened is different. No one can be 100% right: memories get distorted, time changes how you feel about things, so the past isn’t worth worrying about. ‘Lifeline’ is about not falling down the rabbit holes of the Internet.

‘We All Fall Down’ basically boils down to the old saying “Nothing good happens after 2am”, it’s about how things can go downhill late at night when everyone’s crazy. You could also say that it’s about leaving a party at the right time, which is one of the true skills of life.

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<a data-cke-saved-href="https://andybell.bandcamp.com/album/flicker" href="https://andybell.bandcamp.com/album/flicker">Andy Bell Flicker</a>

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‘Flicker’ is now available.

Catch Andy Bell at the following shows:

February
14 cambridge The Portland Arms
fifteen Nottingham rough trade
sixteen Brighton resident music
18 Margate Elsewhere

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Author of the photo: andrée martis

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