John Grant: ‘Compassion, gentleness and empathy have to be a part of the masculine picture’

"In 2018, we’re only tapping on the window of the fact that it’s OK for a man to ask for help"

John Grant has spoken out about the political nature of his new album, and the importance of shifting attitudes towards toxic masculinity.

This week sees Grant return to the UK for a tour in support of his acclaimed fourth solo album ‘Love Is Magic‘. Speaking to NME, Grant has said that he’s found that some people have been offended by the track ‘Smug C**t – but Grant is keen to express how important a song it is to the record.

“It talks about how the cult of masculinity in the United States, as it seems to me, means that to be a successful male you must be feared. Like, the only way to command respect is through fear,” Grant told NME. “I talk about proteins flying off the shelves, everyone’s at the gym, getting those big muscles. Everyone’s into MMA because it’s a case of ‘I’m going to fuck you up if you don’t get with the programme’. Those panties ain’t goin’ to wet themselves, so you need to go get them muscles, make people fear you, incite fear, lie to people.”

He continued: “There’s this huge cult of manipulation. The most attractive thing is unbridled ambition. That’s the sexiest thing – just ‘fuck everybody else, get the fuck out of my way because I’m realising myself’. It’s absolutely fucking vile, but how else are you supposed to react to that shit?”

Speaking of positive portrayals of the approach to male norms with regards to mental health, Grant hailed Richard Madden’s portrayal of Sergeant David Budd, the former soldier suffering with PTSD in The Bodyguard.

“That’s a really incredible performance,” Grant went on. “They definitely touch on how strange it is that in 2018 we’re only tapping on the window of the fact that it’s OK for a man to ask for help. It’s still a big deal, because it’s never been OK for a man to say ‘I can’t deal with this, and I need help’.”

Grant also believes that one should always be careful when it comes to the balance of censorship and artistry.

“This freedom of speech and political correctness thing is a very difficult conversation – especially when it comes to things like comedy,” said Grant. “It’s almost like comedians won’t be allowed to exist any more because they won’t be allowed to make fun of anything. I worry a little about certain things like that, but I think it’s about motives and the spirit behind what’s said. Context is very important.

“Compassion, gentleness and empathy has to be a part of the masculine picture. Courage, strength and all of those things are great and essential, but they have to be tempered with all these other things.”

With this in mind, the former Czars frontman said that he felt ‘heartened and encouraged’ by the volume of audiences speaking out against homophobic, sexist and racist language in music when there were cruel intentions afoot; especially in light of the ‘normalisation’ of offensive views via the spread of right-wing ideas in countries such as Brazil and Germany.

“People are just feeling emboldened to do and say anything out in the open right now,” Grant told NME. “It’s heartening that people are questioning language and being more open about what it means to be a more or a woman, but there’s also something more ugly going on.

“The stuff that’s going on in Germany right now with the far right breaks my heart. It’s quite alarming.”

‘Love Is Magic’ by John Grant is out now. His full upcoming UK and Ireland tour dates are below. Visit here for tickets and more information.

Monday October 29, 2018 – BRIGHTON Dome
Tuesday October 30, 2018 – LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Wednesday October 31, 2018 – BATH Bath Forum
Friday November 2, 2018 – SHEFFIELD Octagon
Saturday November 3, 2018 – MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Wednesday January 30, 2019 – LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Thursday January 31, 2019 – GATESHEAD Sage Gateshead
Friday February 1, 2019 – GLASGOW Kings Theatre
Sunday February 3, 2019 – HULL Bonus Arena
Monday February 4, 2019 – LIVERPOOL Philharmonic Hall
Tuesday February 5, 2019 – NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Thursday February 7, 2019 – CAMBRIDGE Corn Exchange
Friday February 8, 2019 – SOUTHAMPTON O2 Guildhall Southampton
Sunday February 10, 2019 – MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Monday February 11, 2019 – CARDIFF St David’s Hall
Wednesday March 27, 2019 – LIMERICK University Concert Hall
Saturday March 30, 2019 – GALWAY LEISURELAND
Sunday March 31, 2019 – DUBLIN Bord Gais Energy Theatre

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