Muse's Dom Howard, Editors' Tom Smith and We Are Scientists' Keith Murray feature on the record
Andy Burrows and best-selling author Matt Haig have teamed up for a collaborative album, ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’. Check out the new video for latest single ‘Barcelona’ below, along with our interview with Burrows.
After the former Razorlight and We Are Scientists drummer turned solo artist drunkenly text Haig on Twitter, the pair soon started collaborating on what would become the album ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’. Due for release on February 1, 2019, the record was heavily inspired by Haig’s autobiographical work of the same name, dealing with his mental health struggles but ultimately searching for ‘hope and optimism’.
To launch the record, the band have shared the video for new single ‘Barcelona’.
“I’m so excited about ‘Barcelona’,” Burrows told NME. “I feel like it’s the song that I’ve been trying to write forever. I think it’s a really instant and colourful pop song about a guy thinking back to a dreamy summer night in a beautiful city. The chorus is totally joyous. It’s at the very forefront of what was best about Matt and I working together.
“The video is a really beautiful animation directed by a guy called Miles Skarin. “It’s a really beautiful 3D animation of Barcelona, then once in a while you’ll see me sat on the roof playing a guitar. At one point you’ll see Matt emailing me the words. Maybe this will bring a bit of colour to these dark times.”
What can you tell us about your early communication with Matt and reasons for working together?
“I was away on tour with Tom Odell as his drummer, and trying to think of a reason to make a new album of my own. I didn’t just want to make another one as just a long-haired, beardy bloke singing about how miserable he is, so I thought it would be cool to have something else to grab a hold of. I had been following Matt after reading his book ‘A Boy Called Christmas’ and ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’.
“He was one of those people who would just cropping up when I was scrolling through Twitter. He’s intriguing. I found myself agreeing with him but also being infuriated somethings. I just found him fascinating. One night I just drunk enough to send him a direct message, which is very modern. I asked him about writing some words of working on a project. I thought there was a link between ‘A Boy Called Christmas’ and me having just done the music for ‘The Snowman And The Snowdog’, I thought we could do something animated and it was all quite loose. I woke up to a really lovely message saying ‘This all sounds quite interesting, let’s meet up’.
“We had a few beers, it started off as a ‘Hansel And Gretel’ play kinda thing, then he sent me some more traditional verse-chorus-verse lyrics. One of them was called ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’ and it was cool. The music and the lyrics all just became very close to my heart.”
What is it about his unique take on words that inspired you?
“A lot of the best songs and lyrics are feelings that we all may have, but might not know how to articulate. Whether you’re a fan of Matt Haig or not, he really puts thoughts down and arranges them in a way that really makes sense. These are thought patterns, processes and relationships laid out so beautifully. It was a dream to sit with those wodge of paper with his lyrics on, because I felt so close to all of them. I’ve tried in the past to write songs to other people’s lyrics and it’s never quite worked. Even if you believe it, you often feel like you’re listening to someone else’s song. I just feel so close to these words from the very beginning.”
What are the main lyrical themes and the character of the album?
“‘Reasons To Stay Alive’ captures a very dark place that he was in. He was at the very bottom of his mental health, and then wrote about it from having come through it in order to offer some advice. That song and ‘Handle With Care’ are dealing with mental health, but there are also love songs on there. There are straight-forward emotive pop moments on there, but also some much more deep and emotional tracks.”
What would you say the message is of the tracks with deal with mental health?
“There is a lot of hope and optimism in his words, without being cheesy. There’s an acceptance of anxiety, whether within ourselves or as a result of what’s around us – I think we all go through that. At the core of it all though, there is a hope, and there is a love. He does it so tastefully, it’s helped me. It was a very uplifting experience to record these songs. I’ve tried to bring a lot of joy and colour to the music, but he’s nailed a lot of the issues that we’re all feeling.
“He really goes there with how crap it gets. You can’t always say ‘It’ll be fine’. He’ll say something so real on Twitter about the state of things, and then he’ll come back with something hopeful and optimistic. He has a message for the greater good. It’s important to realise that it ain’t all easy for any of us, but it ain’t all shit.”
You have some special guests on the album. How did you come to work with Dom Howard from Muse?
“Well, Dom and I have been close friends for many years. I first met Dom when Razorlight went out on tour with Muse in March 2005. It was a long seven week tour around the States. He’s just a brilliant mate. Obviously we have drumming in common. He plays on the song ‘Hero’, and you can tell when it gets all drummy and Muse-y. Keith Murray [from We Are Scientists] is on the same song on lead guitar. If I’d have managed to get Tom Smith [Editors] onto that song as well, then that would have been my dream supergroup.”
But Tom is on another track?
“Yes, he’s on ‘Handle With Care’. I’ve been very close with him for years and we’re currently working on another Smith And Burrows album.”
Will that be another Christmassy one?
“No, it’s for all seasons! We’ve finished writing it and we’re just looking to record it in the next month. It’s a straight ahead pop album with a bit of rock thrown in. I really hope that it will be out next Autumn. There are some bangers on there, Tom’s on fire. We’ve just been waiting for a time when Editors weren’t on tour for us to finish it.”
Have you heard the new Razorlight album?
“I’ve heard a few songs from it. It sounds good. It’s got a lot of energy like the early stuff, which I know is something he wanted to recapture. I enjoyed it. Obviously he doesn’t speak to me so we have zero communication these days, but it’s great they’re back out on tour and giving it some.”
To support the album, Burrows will be heading out on the below tour dates. Visit here for tickets and more information.
Monday 11 – BRIGHTON, Komedia Studio
Wednesday 13 – GLASGOW, King Tuts
Thursday 14 – MANCHESTER, Deaf Institute
Friday 15 – LEEDS, Brudenell
Sunday 16 – WINCHESTER, Railway Inn
Tuesday 19 – LONDON, Oslo
Wednesday 20 – SOUTHAMPTON, Joiners
Thursday 21 – BRISTOL, Fleece
For help and advice on mental health:
- ‘Am I depressed?‘ – Help and advice on mental health and what to do next
- Help Musicians UK – Around the clock mental health support and advice for musicians
- Music Support Org – Help and support for musicians struggling with alcoholism, addiction, or mental health issues
- YOUNG MINDS – The voice for young people’s health and wellbeing
- CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably for young men
- Time To Change – Let’s end mental health discrimination
- The Samaritans – Confidential support 24 hours a day