It’s been five years since singer and songwriter RHODES released his last album. During that time he “fell apart and put himself back together”, something he says you can hear from new EP “I’m Not Ok”. Rhodes chatted to CALM about his break, how writing the album affected his mental health, and how he copes when things are a bit crap.
When talking about the themes of his new EP “I’m Not Ok”, Rhodes mentions him coming to terms with the fact that there is love around him and people who care: “The new EP retraces my footsteps to a time when I was trying to figure out what led me to be where I was at a certain time in my life. These are the most direct, most personal songs I’ve written and the overriding message I’d like people to take from the EP is hope.”
Songs like ‘Love You Sober’ are very personal to RHODES and highlight the escapism he found through alcohol. It was a song he was really nervous to release: “When I was a teenager I’d escape with drinking and partying and going out and doing all these things. But I kind of used that as a metaphor for general escapism and running away from problems. I guess I got to a point where I realised my self-destruction was really hurting everyone around me.
“It was quite hard to write but it was an important one for me and those around me who care. It was me hoping they can see I want to get better and be a better person, but understand that it’s hard. I hoped it would be an expression of frustration and desperation to try to get better and have a better life.”
While we couldn’t imagine RHODES doing anything but singing, there was a time in his life when he planned to be a guitarist – and actually had a fear of singing in public. Luckily, with support from his friends and family, he overcame that fear: “My dad was a guitarist so I grew up running home from school, standing in front of the mirror and playing my guitar along to Jimi Hendrix. Then loads of bands later and loads of experiments later, I found myself feeling a need to express something a little deeper, a bit more personal, a bit more emotional. The fear of singing was always there but I got to a point where I was like: ‘Oh, man if I don’t do this now, I know I never will.’ I showed some of my songs to people I trusted and got great feedback. So it was a little encouragement from my friends and family, but then also just literally chucking myself in the deep end and doing it.”
It’s writing journals, as well as exercise and talking to friends, that RHODES recommends to people when things are a bit shit: “I always feel a bit unqualified to give advice because I’m still trying to deal with things, you know, and going through my own stuff. But I definitely think the first step in beginning to approach fixing problems and working through struggles is to, just hold your hand up and talk to a friend, or talk to anyone, even if it needs to be somebody you don’t know, you know, like a therapist or someone like that.
“I think this is why one of the most awesome things about CALM is that you’ve got that helpline where if you’re not ready to be open with your family as you could be with a stranger, then calling CALM is a great first step for sharing your problems.
“I’ve got a small circle of friends. My best friend and I have our little Friday night catch up. He lives in Bristol and I’m in London so we always meet for a pint on Fridays over FaceTime and just sit and chat and check-in. I’m very open with my friends and my friends are very open with me – most of my friends are also creatives. So, being open and transparent comes with the territory. But I feel really lucky because my friends and I have always been quite open with each other about stuff.”