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To bluntly open this article, I’ve struggled with anxiety for most of my life. That anxiety has recently been linked to depression, and there are some days in which I feel devoid of everything. I end up not wanting to move, leave the house, or even communicate with anyone. It’s a lonely trouble to face, particularly if you’re like me; someone who struggles to openly communicate or express negative feelings in fear that you may become a burden to someone.
Through these thoughts, I often find solace in music. It’s an easy form of escapism, and by immersing myself in songs and freeing myself of any stresses or problems I may have faced that day, I feel better. The band that has helped the most with this? Alkaline Trio.
Before you read on, you’ll be grateful to know that this isn’t the same story of conveniently discovering a band at your lowest point, and said band ‘saving your life’, but rather the story of how a band that I already listened to regularly suddenly became a lot more meaningful to me.
For those who don’t know Alkaline Trio, they are the three supremely talented musicians named Matt Skiba (guitars, vocals), Dan Andriano (bass, vocals), and Derek Grant (drums). Despite lineup changes and personal hardships, the band has an accomplished career spanning over 20 years, and with a fan base just as strong as it was two decades ago, they show no signs of tiring just yet.
My journey into Alkaline Trio probably started back in 2013. It’s not the conventional route into discovering a band that already had more songs to their name than I had memories, but as a 13-year-old who was finding his feet in terms of discovering music for himself, it was good enough. I enjoyed the brash and bold songs, I enjoyed the dark aura that I assigned to their music, and was fascinated by their criminally clever lyrics. At the time, they were just my go-to band for letting off steam, with catchy songs to chant along to, but over time they became so much more.
I can’t pinpoint an exact date in time in which the band I thought were cool and rebellious became one that I treasured, but I do know it was around the end of last year. My mental health at that point was dreadful; I was experiencing newfound stresses that were foreign to me in my young life, and I ended up not knowing how to cope, so I ultimately ended up isolating myself and spending most of my free time scrolling through the internet and listening to music.
It was in this time I re-stumbled upon the track "Take Lots With Alcohol", a song I initially enjoyed for the catchy guitar riffs and expert drum-fill in the opening. However, when I sat down and allowed myself to truly feel the lyrics, I realised they resonated with me. I felt as if I knew exactly what Andriano was saying, and that the taboo topic of mental health had suddenly become casual chit-chat. Yes the song is aggressive in nature, but when the curtain is pulled back, it’s a song that shows a man wearing his heart on his sleeve and letting the world know his problems. I delved deeper into the catologue, and suddenly songs such as "Lost and Rendered", "Fine", and "Warbrain" became more than just casual listens. Instead, I felt like a group of people actually understood me, or better yet, could empathise with me.
Sometimes you feel low to the point you block out the thoughts that people might be able to help, and disregard sympathy in the hope that you find someone who, instead of offering you recycled advice, can be angry at the world with you, and just hear you out.
The opening lines of:
"I can’t go on, I think my heads too heavy. I need that song, those trusty chords will pull me through"
of the previously mentioned "Warbrain" are words I cherish now, and I acknowledge that there are plenty of people who cope with music too.
Through Alkaline Trio, I helped understand my own struggles better, opened up to more people, and slowly but surely, I know I’m getting to a stage I’d like to be mentally. I know now that it’s okay not to be ok, and I’m fortunate enough that music has gotten me to a stage in which I can talk about my troubles. There’s no true substitute for talking your problems through, and letting those who are truly close to you know how you’re doing, whilst also being there for others yourself, but if music can just help you get two steps closer to that, then let it.