“Thank You, I’m Sorry”: Impostor Syndrome In Music

“Great set, man!” The internal cacophony of anxiety and self-doubt is all too familiar to Lucias from Call Me Malcolm, as he describes in this amusing piece about impostor syndrome.

Written by Lucias Malcolm, of Call Me Malcolm fame. This is part of our #MentallySound series, exploring mental health in music. 

The following is a work of fiction that happened last week. Any similarity to person or persons is entirely likely.

The gig is over. Nothing broke, up to and including equipment and/or bones. The crowd seemed happy, or at least, no one threw anything. But who can really tell? The band rush to pack leads, instruments and sweaty t-shirts into whichever bag is closest. I crouch at the front of the stage fighting a particularly impudent stretch of gaffer tape as a figure approaches.

“Great set man!” he smiles.

Shit. I think to myself. Not now. But it’s too late. I can hear the gavel banging already…

~

Anxiety: “ORDER! ORDER! I call to order the Council of the Inner Monologue.

[Indecipherable murmurs from the countless other voices in Luke’s head]

Anxiety: “I have called this urgent meeting to discuss the most recent and egregious compliment from a stranger, to wit, ‘Great set man’…”

Depression: “Point of order! We are yet to discuss the matter of Something Stupid the Host Body Said When He Was 13.”

[More murmurs and disagreement]

Anxiety: “On the contrary, we went over this in great detail every week for the past 23 years.”

OCD: “Point of order! We can’t start the meeting until we’ve established absentees. Confidence isn’t here.”

Self Hate: “He never is.”  

[More murmurs]

Anxiety: “ORDER! ORDER! Absentee noted. Now, all in favour of replying to the stranger with an inaudible mumble, say ‘Aye’.”

~

I mumble something inaudible in response, offering a smile so lacking in conviction it’s hard to tell if I’m even conscious.

“Yeah man, I really love how much fun you guys have on stage.” He offers with a warm smile.

~

Self Hate: “Point of order! Raising the issue of the errant ‘really’ in the strangers follow up compliment.”  

Anxiety: “Noted and seconded. Too much stress on the word to seem genuine. All in favour of raising the threat level to ‘Suspicious’, say ‘Aye’”

[Cries of ‘Aye’]

Anxiety: “Motion carried. Trigger the Self-Deprecation Clause and instruct the host body to pour scorn on the compliment in principle.”

~

“We’re normally a bit tighter than that.” I stutter. Crisis averted. For a second there, he might’ve gotten away with thinking we were good.

“No seriously, you were so tight. The breakdown in that last song was insane!”

~

Anxiety: “Emergency point of order! Suspicion duly confirmed. Host body was erratic in execution of musical instrument during last song.”

Depression: “Motion to abort Council of the Inner Monologue, quit the band and move to Dieppe to make shoes.”

Anxiety: “I see no other sensible option.”

Self Hate: “Initiate the Cobbler Protocol!”

Anxiety: “Noted and seconded. All in favour say–”

OCD: “Emergency! Emergency! Host body placed the wires ABOVE the foot pedal in the bag. Unacceptable. Motion to–“

~

“I also wanted to say,” the man continues, unaware of the eight-way conversation the voices are currently conducting in my head, “Thank you for talking about mental health. I suffer myself and it means a lot that you bring it up.”

~

Anxiety: “I… well… this is most unexpected.”  

[Door opens]

Empathy: “Sorry I’m late. What did I miss?”

Depression: “We’re moving to France.”

Anxiety: “The host body was presented with an unexpected compliment. We’re trying to establish the root cause of such a breakdown in social protocol.”

Empathy: “Maybe it was genuine? It probably took everything the guy had to come out to the show tonight. Maybe, it took even more for them to walk up to a stranger and start a conversation.”

Self Hate: “He’s right. Motion to discuss this awkward moment in detail at 3am every morning for the next week.”

OCD: “I’ve already made a note.”

Anxiety: “Agreed. Now, I suggest we enshrine in law the Imposter Syndrome Initiative. To wit, from now on, all compliments are met with a genuine ‘thank you’. All in favour?”   

~

Before I can respond, he leaves. I mull over whether I’ll ever feel comfortable in conversations with strangers, moreover ones offering compliments. Either way, I know it’s already on the agenda for a lengthy 3am brooding.

Moments later, I’m packed up and standing by the merch table, offering my best ‘come hither and part with your money’ eyes to people glancing at t-shirts. It works, because a figure approaches.

“I thought you guys were great today,” she offers.

~

Anxiety: “This is it folks, this is everything we’ve trained for. Triggering the Imposter Syndrome Initiative…”

~

“Thank you!” I insist.

~

Anxiety: ““ORDER! ORDER! I call to order the Council of the Inner Monologue. Host body accepted compliment with entirely too much enthusiasm. May be taken as sarcastic. Abort! Abort!”

~

“I’m sorry.” Shit. Baby steps, Luke. Baby steps.

Written by Lucias Malcolm of Call Me Malcolm.  They’re excellent, they’re great live, they talk a lot about mental health, and you should definitely go compliment them after their set. 

If you enjoyed this, read Lucias’ other articles about music and anxiety: There Is A Bear On Stage and Everything Is Probably Fine.

 

 

 

Playlist: The Best Live Punk Rock Bands of 2019 (so far…)

Listen to our latest Spotify playlist, highlighting the best live punk rock bands of 2019 so far.

Curated by Sarah Williams.

We’ve made a Spotify playlist of all the best punk rock bands we’ve seen live this year, just for you. Want to discover your new favourite band, or relive the best music festivals of 2019? Look no further.

Live music is the best barometer for new bands. No matter your budget, it’s impossible to capture the energy of a good gig on vinyl. Watching a band live is the fastest way to fall in love with them.

Writing in August, I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy a plenty of punk gigs and festivals already this year. Feisty bands like Not On TourThe Penske File and Nosebleed have consistently got me dancing. I’ve been impressed by old favourites like The Bronx and Consumed, who haven’t lost their edge. And I’ve caught new acts like Cryptic Street and Daves and had my mind blown.

Here is a Spotify playlist of the best punk rock bands of 2019 so far. Who would be on your list?

Continue reading “Playlist: The Best Live Punk Rock Bands of 2019 (so far…)”

Everything Is Probably Fine

Pre-Gig Anxiety: made worse by day jobs, traffic, hunger, other people or flaming Volkswagens. Lucias Malcolm gives us an amusing account of a problem every band will be all too familiar with.

Article by Lucias Malcolm, vocalist/guitarist in Call Me Malcolm. This is part of our #MentallySound series, exploring mental health in music. 

It’s 12:17 and a car is on fire.

Chris, our drummer, and I are on route to pick up our bassist Travs from the deepest, darkest wilds of west London. We are currently at a standstill on the A-something-or-other and the (thankfully) empty car next to us is on fire. Firefighters look on with the helplessly professional nonchalance of people that are sure, “Yes, that is definitely a fire.”

We’re due on stage in Stafford at 7:30, with a requested arrival time of an hour before. When a promoter asks you to arrive at 6:30, you can extrapolate from that the options available to you:

  1. You need to arrive at 6:30
  2. 6:00 if you want to be in any danger of being invited back.
  3. 7:29 if you think you should actually be higher up the bill.

I am haunted by a teeny, tiny, soul crushing anxiety every waking minute, so I’ve plotted our arrival for 5pm. And even then, my anxiety thinks we’re cutting it fine. An atypical 3-way argument ensues whereby Chris insists everything will be fine, my anxiety scoffs, and I sit in the middle trying not to annoy either of them.

But it’s 12:17 and a car is on fire. Continue reading “Everything Is Probably Fine”

Gig Review: Behind-The-Scenes at Manchester Punk Festival 2019

A review of MPF from Sarah, who volunteers at the event. Friends, frantic dashes between venues and some top-class hardcore, including Not On Tour, Adrenalized, Svalbard, Consumed, Fair Do’s and Snuff.

Although there will be reviews aplenty, at Shout Louder we want to offer two unique perspectives on the fifth year of Manchester Punk Festival. Mark Bartlett’s given us is highlights as an MPF virgin, where as Sarah Williams is an MPF veteran who volunteers at the festival. In this edition, Sarah gives us a unique perspective from behind the scenes.

Excitement for Manchester Punk Festival begins long before the doors open to the public. Unfortunately, excitement can easily be mistaken for stress.

Weeks before the main event, I’m inundated with messages asking about guest list, accommodation, press accreditation and band recommendations. I’m only a volunteer, I’m not even one of the organisers – I can’t begin to imagine the sheer insanity of their inboxes. How they manage to keep it together in the days leading up to the festival, I will never know.

Welcome To Manchester Punk Festival.jpg

Thursday

The hard graft starts in earnest on Thursday – the eve of the festival. I drive to Moston to join a five car convoy; our best method of transporting all the festival merchandise in the absence of ROPTM’s van. I’m blasting out Ocean Wisdom round the M60 like some boy racer on the way, which is harshly interrupted by a phonecall about a bounced band payment and a confusing artist hotel booking. We get it sorted in seconds, like pros.

Delivering the merchandise is the first time I’ve seen MPF’s brand new venue: The Union. It’s a huge, modern student building fittingly decorated in Manchester’s signature yellow-and-black. I’m shocked to see the size of the main hall. As we climb ladders to hang banners, it starts to look like a ‘real’ festival venue. It’s fucking huge. Continue reading “Gig Review: Behind-The-Scenes at Manchester Punk Festival 2019”

Gig Review: A First-Time Experience Of Manchester Punk Festival

Mark overcame anxiety to pop his MPF cherry, celebrating with Kermes, Charmpit, Big Joanie, Incisions, Fastfade, Burnt Tapes and more.

Although there will be reviews aplenty, at Shout Louder we want to offer two unique perspectives on the fifth year of Manchester Punk Festival. Sarah Williams is an MPF veteran who volunteers at the event, who’ll be giving us a behind-the-scenes perspective, whereas Mark Bartlett’s has given us his highlights as an MPF first timer. In this article, Mark explores his nerves about attending alone, and why the effort was worthwhile.

Here are some thoughts about my first ever trip to the Manchester Punk Festival over the long Easter bank holiday weekend.

My first ever MPF can only be described as a completely heartening, life nourishing experience, which was briefly prodded by the occasional anxious freak out.

By the time the weekend was done, my notions of what punk is or isn’t was challenged by the massive breadth of genre variety on offer. Ultimately, I felt that the living spirit of punk rock is the ethos, outlook, morality and community of the few thousand individuals who make this annual pilgrimage.

MPF Incisions cred Josh Sumner 2.jpg
Incisions @ Gorilla. Photo: Josh Sumner

I fully expected to feel awkward a lot of the time. I’m a real loud mouth once I get to know a person properly, but alone I’m very shy around strangers, and that’s further exacerbated when I’m around people who I think are talented (no shortage of that here). I naturally assume that people dislike me and in groups I always feel very visible and awkward. It’s a behaviour I have to work quite hard to deprogram myself of.

If I’d had somebody to go with, I would have loved to have come to any previous MPF, but the general feeling of being lonesome and weird was insurmountable. Last year, I felt the pangs of jealously having heard about all the fun everybody had, and I was resolved to go no matter what, come rain or shine. Luckily for all of us, the weather was completely glorious and, even as a solo traveller, I didn’t feel alone for any significant portion of my weekend. Honestly, I was surprised to find out that so many people I met have so many of the same social hang ups. I enjoyed the weekend from a social perspective every bit as much as what was on offer musically. It’s a brilliant atmosphere and it was great to finally get the chance to meet some long term social media pals in the flesh, as well as catching up with some old friends. Continue reading “Gig Review: A First-Time Experience Of Manchester Punk Festival”

There Is A Bear On Stage

Lucias from Call Me Malcolm discusses the constant pressure of anxiety and panic that haunts him on stage.

Written by Lucias Malcolm, vocalist/guitarist in Call Me Malcolm. This is part of our #MentallySound series, exploring mental health in music. 

We have a gig in less than an hour and there is a bear on stage.

I’ve been a musician for just shy of twenty years and an outwardly functioning human being for almost double that; functioning in the sense that in that time I’ve somewhat miraculously kept myself fed, watered and free from major scarring. I even tie my own shoe laces (though I do wonder if there’s a statute of limitation on this – I’ve been wearing the same Etnies for as long as I can remember and I’ve not re-tied the laces since day one). The point is, outwardly, as far as society is concerned, I function.

Inwardly it’s a different story. At current count there are thirty seven different warning lights flashing, smoke is billowing from several important looking dials and the rabbit that usually steers the ship lost the manual in 1996. The point is, I get anxious.

As I said, there is a very real, to me at least, bear on stage. Continue reading “There Is A Bear On Stage”

Exclusive: Call Me Malcolm Premiere Video For ‘Restore Factory Settings’

Watch the latest video from ska-punk breakthrough stars Call Me Malcolm exclusively at Shout Louder.

Shout Louder are proud to bring you the latest music video from summery South London ska-punk kings Call Me Malcolm.

In 2018, Call Me Malcolm were responsible for restoring lost faith in the ska-punk genre, with the release of their album I Was Broken When You Got Here (read our review).

Filmed at Level Up Festival 2018, the video for Restore Factory Settings follows the band’s theme of channelling mental health struggles into relatable, singalong lyrics. It also revisits the nostalgic screens of Windows 95…

“Restore Factory Settings is about the moment you realise you suffer with mental health issues, and trying to process that as the world moves on around you,” said guitarist/vocalist Lucias. “Our songs are not typically tied to one moment or event, but in this case I wrote it about a day I was unable to get out of bed, and the waves of realisation that cascaded out of that. In the wider narrative on I Was Broken When You Got Here, we resolve that it’s ok to not be ok. This song begins that story.” Continue reading “Exclusive: Call Me Malcolm Premiere Video For ‘Restore Factory Settings’”