Last summer, Lewis Capaldi announced onstage at various festivals that he hadn’t finished the long-awaited follow-up to his hit debut album ‘Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent’ because he was “horribly lazy” and had spent all of lockdown masturbating. As typically funny as that sounds, it’s not true. The real reason for the delay, as revealed in new Netflix documentary How I’m Feeling Now, is a bit less whimsical.
Out tomorrow (April 5), the film follows Capaldi as he starts work on the new songs while “struggling to balance the familiarity of home, normality and all he’s ever known, with life as one of the biggest stars on the planet.” Feeling the pressure from selling 10million copies of his hugely successful opening record and going from “pubs and clubs to arenas in just a few years while remaining resolutely himself,” Capaldi reveals he’s “pretty terrified” for fans to see behind-the-scenes.
And you can see why. Covering Capaldi’s writer’s block, mental health problems and his struggles with Tourette’s syndrome, the doc leaves little private. Here’s everything important that we learned from watching it…
Success has made things harder
Capaldi has always suffered from anxiety but he’s “never been more insecure” than when he was trying to write album number two. “The success of the first [album] made me feel… self-conscious about my own abilities,” Capaldi says during the opening minutes of the documentary. “A global pandemic is only in the top three weird things that have happened to me in the last three years,” he adds.
He calls that first album era “as close to dreams coming true as possible” but as soon as he found success, he was asking himself “can you do that again?”
He returned home to start work on album two
With COVID putting a stop to his world tour in 2020, Capaldi was forced to return home to Whitburn in Scotland. “There’s nothing further from the Grammys than Whitburn. Small town, loadsa pubs, that’s it,” Capaldi says. “I always saw myself as someone who wouldn’t live in their hometown [but now I’m back] that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. It’s the antithesis of all the mad shit. Ordinary is such a remarkable thing. Beauty in everyday life.”
Capaldi still plays new music to mum and dad first
When he was younger, Capaldi would lock himself in his bedroom and practice music before rushing down and performing for his parents. “That was [my] first audience. I’ve got loads of fond memories of coming out and playing them songs when I’d just do it on guitar,” says Capaldi. “Now, when I have songs that are finished, I [still] fire them off to them.”
Later, he plays them a new song that his dad calls “shite” and his mum labels “not one of your better ones.”
“I feel like the stuff you’ve written before, the writing was better,” she adds. Well, at least they’re honest.
Elton John helped him with imposter syndrome
“Did I tell you this story,” Capaldi asks the crew before casually recounting an anecdote that involves Ed Sheeran and living legend Elton John.
The tale begins with Capaldi having a few beers with Sheeran and talking about imposter syndrome – and ends with a supportive email from Rocketman: “Dear Lewis, I was talking to Ed yesterday and we were talking about you. He said you were feeling a bit like an imposter. BOLLOCKS. You are totally your own man. Your album is still riding high all over the world… and it’s your first album. You write beautiful songs that resonate with millions of people. You are great live and a wonderful singer. You’re also very funny and original. I mean this sincerely, stop it now please or I will come up to Suffolk and bring out the latent homo in you. Buckets of love, Elton.”
Lewis took a four-month mental health break
After struggling to feel excited about the new songs he was writing, and with an “anxious twitch” getting progressively worse, Capaldi’s family and team “put a pause on the writing and recording of the [second] album to focus on his mental health.” The break lasted four months and in that time, Capaldi was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome.
The diagnosis “made complete sense” to Capaldi who was given a plan for how it can be managed. “I know what the steps are to get better, the onus is on me to do it,” he explains. “It feels good, knowing I’m not dying.”
He’s excited by the new album
Earlier this year, Capaldi told NME that his second album ‘Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent’ was “a total piece of flaming shite”. Don’t believe him.
Towards the end of How I’m Feeling Now, Capaldi explains: “The last two years have been a battle and the album reflects that in some ways. I listen to the album and think ‘I really like this’.”
Playing live is what drives him
“The only reason I started writing music was so I could perform it,” says Capaldi. But he still “doesn’t get” why people would turn up to watch him. “I love the fact people give a fuck. I’m eternally grateful and I can’t thank people enough… I love you but I will never understand you. That’s what I’m trying to say to you all at home.”
Following his struggles with imposter syndrome and Tourettes, Capaldi wasn’t sure if he’d be able to get make a comeback – but at the end of the documentary, he says “going out onstage in front of 50,000 people feels right.”
‘Lewis Capaldi: How I’m Feeling Now’ is released on April 5 on Netflix