The family of former Drones drummer and solo artist Mike Noga have issued a statement nearly eight months after the Australian musician’s death last year, discussing his struggles with mental illness and alcohol, and encouraging those in the music industry to speak openly about mental health and seek help if they need it.
In a post shared by Noga’s sister Ali on April 13, the family say that a Coroner’s Report received six months after Noga’s passing revealed that the songwriter’s death was accidental. It was caused by a rare condition that caused a cerebral hermorrhage, a condition exacerbated by bouts of heavy drinking.
“Mike had a lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression which became particularly difficult in the last three years of his life, during which time he often relied on alcohol to self-medicate,” the statement reads.
Known as an “outstanding musician” and for his “humour and engaging personality”, Noga was “a gentle, sensitive person with a lot of emotional intensity and he often struggled with the lifestyle that came with being in the music industry,” his family wrote.
“Long flights, late nights spent in venues, relentless touring often under exhausting conditions and time spent away from family, friends and loved ones can compound existing mental health issues,” they added. “Being on the road constantly made it difficult for Mike to get professional help for his anxiety and depression and often it was all too easy to self-medicate with alcohol in order to board a flight, get through a gig or to deal with stress in general.”
They continued, “The music industry in Australia is highly unregulated and as a band member the lines between friend, work colleague and employer are often blurred. This means it can become more difficult to navigate taking a stand against behaviour that would be unacceptable in any other workplace for fear of losing your livelihood.
“Please remember that your band mates or those in your music team are often your friends, family, managers and co-workers all rolled into one. As music lovers, we should remember that many of us turn to the arts in order to nurture our own mental wellbeing and we need to have an awareness that the people who create for us may sometimes be suffering themselves. Our deepest wish for those in the industry and those that love music is that you please be kind and supportive of each other.”
Noga’s family went on to say that as they sought to support the musician through his mental health struggles, they found it “exceptionally difficult to find a holistic approach to mental health support” in Tasmania, where Noga had lived.
They added that they hoped the Australian Government would “take mental health even more seriously in the future” by providing adequate funding for a “holistic approach” to mental health services.
“To all the musicians out there, thank you for your valuable contribution to society, stay safe and seek help if you need to. There is no shame in struggling with your mental health. We all need compassion and we all need each other. Rock on and spread the love as the more we talk about this stuff, the better.” Read the statement from Noga’s family in full at the bottom of this post.
Noga died, aged 43, in August 2020, with no cause of death given at the time. Noga joined the Drones in 2004, touring with the band and performing on albums ‘Gala Mill’, ‘Havilah’ and ‘I See Seaweed’ before leaving amicably in 2014 to focus on his solo career. He went on to release three solo albums, his last being ‘KING’ in 2016.
Noga had announced in July 2020 that he’d signed with Part Time Records to release his next album ‘Open Fire’, recorded in 2019 and produced by Alan Sparhawk of Low.
His family’s recent statement concludes by saying they are continuing to work with the label to posthumously release ‘Open Fire’ later this year.
FOR HELP AND ADVICE ON MENTAL HEALTH:
- Lifeline – Crisis support and suicide prevention services
- SANE Australia – National mental health charity supporting Australians affected by complex mental illness
- Black Dog Institute – Putting health in mind
- Mental Health Australia – Mentally healthy people, mentally healthy communities
- Headspace Australia – National Youth Mental Health Foundation
- Support Act – The heart & hand of Australian music