All Talk #1: What’s The Point Of Being In A DIY Punk Band?

Mark Bartlett examines the trials and rewards of slogging away determinedly in punk scene, in the first of a new series of opinion pieces.

Part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music.

Hi, I’m Mark Bartlett, lead singer of obscure London emo-punks Our Lives In Cinema.

I’m currently in my bed. It’s raining outside; the wind is fucking noisy. I’m really tired and I’ve got a stinking cold. My eyeballs hurt as I’m writing, probably because I don’t own a computer and do all of my writing on the pages app on my phone.

I get myself pretty stressed out, and I feel like I have too much on my plate what with having a full time job (with very strange shift patterns) and all the demands associated with that. Next week my band is going into the studio to record EP no. 2 All Talk. We are also hosting a big charity fest/release party on March 3rd in Kingston, with some of my favourite UK bands. We are going to make new videos, get new merch and press ahead full steam with our plans for 2018.

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When I get stressed out, my wife Ruth always asks why I don’t just drop a bunch of stuff (and get off my phone). After all… hobbies are supposed to be fun and relaxing right? I agreed. I resolved to quit social media and stop being such a try-hard, try to write some songs and be ‘off grid’ for a bit.

This lasted for one week max. A fortnight later, I’ve started organising a festival and taken on all the other stuff that comes with releasing a new record. This forced me to think about why I bother and what the overall point is. I think it’s important every now and then to re-examine why you’re in a band in the first place, give yourself a little bit of self-therapy and re-adjust your expectations accordingly.

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So what is the point? Are we trying to make this a career? No. We all have wives, girlfriends and mortgages/rent to pay. Stephen has baby, Phil has one on the way. We mostly like our jobs and the security that comes with that. Will we ever tour? Honestly, I’m not sure. I would really like to someday.

So why do anything besides from just make music you like, if you have no belief that you can take it further? Why put on shows and have merch and all the rest of it?

For me, collaboration and meeting new, interesting people is one of the best reasons be in a band. Being in a band for me is a hobby. It’s not my source of income; I don’t mind losing money doing it. I love the teamwork involved and being able to maintain friendships I’ve had with people for decades at this point. I’m 36. I met both of our guitarists when I was 7 years old. It means the world to me that this band has helped us remain close friends. I love playing shows and am happy to do that for free too. I love meeting people in other bands. I love the process and putting a thing together, and the band allows me to connect with artists within a bunch of different mediums whether it’s a tee, EP cover, video or poster being made.

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Second in Line sporting some OLIC merch.

I was fortunate enough to meet a huge amount of really talented people this year. I was able to see so much great art, and I discovered a wealth of amazing bands I would have otherwise been completely oblivious to. It is an amazing feeling when you see a gorgeous gig poster that has your band’s name on it. It really makes me feel part of something, especially when you’re sharing a bill with someone you really respect and admire.

Ultimately, I think with me at least it all comes down to ego and self expression. I love playing live because it’s how I feel I can be my most ‘true self’, and everytime we play I overcome the confidence problems I have a little bit at a time. We write songs completely for ourselves, although obviously it would appeal to my spirit of community if other people liked them too. We do all the other bells and whistles because we love working with other talented people.

So, if this disjointed article had a point it’s this… If you’ve always wanted to be in a band or engage in any sort of creative venture but have never pulled the trigger, just get on with it and put yourself out there. It doesn’t matter what level you find yourself at; you’ll be rewarded in lots of different ways if you open yourself up to the talents of the people around you.

It does really unnecessarily stress me out sometimes though.

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Our new EP All Talk will be released through Umlaut Records on March 2nd. Cinemania Fest takes place at the Kingston Cricketers on March 3rd, featuring Aerial Salad, Triple Sundae andd Captain Trips, plus loads more.

Article by Mark Bartlett. Explore our #MentallySound series for more articles about mental health in music.

4 thoughts on “All Talk #1: What’s The Point Of Being In A DIY Punk Band?”

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