Alternate title: get your ass downtown to support our army veterans with loud music!
This article is something a little different; it’s about mental health. This Remembrance Day, a couple of my musician friends in different bands are coming together to host a metal concert that raises money for our veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, after the horror they witnessed serving our country.
I’m not here to take sides. No matter who was right to be where in the first place, the fact remains that those who go to war need help when they come back. According to Veterans Transition Network, where the ticket money is being donated to, “every year, more military personnel & veterans die from suicide than any other cause, including combat.”
Including the military into music is nothing new. The first songs ever were very probably tribal war chants. From national anthems, to giving “In Flanders Fields” a choir arrangement, to Western songs with the message of “respect your troops, or else we’d all be speaking commie, you punk!” to unsung details added into music videos to tug on the heartstrings of the viewers (Taylor Swift’s “Ours” and Carrie Underwood’s “See You Again” come to mind), armies have always been included in art, as they are such a prevalent and emotional part of our human lives.
I was a high school senior when there was a terrorist shooting in my city. Blocks away from the scene, I was crying with the lights out in my English classroom, while we all sat on the floor – none of the students were told anything until afterwards. Upon boarding the bus to go home that afternoon, I quietly offered my seat to a young man in a camouflage uniform, whispering “anything for those who serve our country, sir.”
Last month, the National Post published an article titled “Canada’s Loneliest Hero,” following up with one of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers who played a key role in putting an end to the attack of October 2014, and now lives with PTSD. According to the article, Mr. Curtis Barrett is now working with RCMP management to ensure members are looked after properly after traumatic events, and was able to return to active duty this past summer.
Now, breaking the stigma of mental illness via song lyrics has been growing trend in recent years. It’s been there longest with fringe artists and niche genres, who have nothing to lose, chart position-wise, by explicitly singing where they were before music saved their lives. Every year, there proves to be more cases of the “tortured artist” in the mainstream – from Kurt Cobain to Lauren Aquilina. I’ve personally gone through my share of struggles, and know how much sheer courage it can take to talk about it, let alone write and perform in in art for all the world to download on iTunes. Take Amy Rola, a young singer-songwriter I stumbled upon via twitter. I streamed her entire new album; the lightweight lyrics weren’t to my taste, until I heard “Harder,” a piano ballad about overcoming an eating disorder. When I told her on social media that that was her best song, she replied back: “Thank you. I’m glad you like it. I wasn’t sure whether or not to put it on the album but all my close friends told me I had to. It was hard opening up to everyone like that. Your comment means a lot to me,” and then several emojis.
Talking (or singing) openly about mental illness not only raises awareness, but can even help with outside funding. It’s no great revelation that the general public prefers donating to “pretty causes” (animal shelters, children with cancer) and there’s nothing wrong with those charities. However, they then take the same approach to mental health. That’s why fluffy “love your perfect self” campaigns raise a lot more funds than ones that actually dig deeper and go darker. This is where my friends come back into the story.
“Awareness is on the rise and we should help that. And, with the number of local bands on the bill, I think that there is a lot of potential for this to be a community building event.” – Trevor Gosling (The Courier)
“It’s a good cause that is rarely addressed in the music community and it’s also a generally good show with good bands and good people.” – Vincent Lewis (Ringwraith)
“Also I think there’s a lot of merit in the fact that the local “metal” community getting together and doing what we can. As great as the scene in Ottawa is it’s such a small fraction of music in total and most if not all of us don’t have very much. So I think doing what we can has a lot of value. I understand that big pop acts pulling in millions of dollars donate a lot to lots of causes but that’s a penny in the bucket for them. This is literally everything for all these bands and I think that says a lot about “metal” in general. We may not have a lot or a huge portion of the population listening to us but we are willing to give everything we have.” – Mitchell MacDonald (The Courier)
“It’s really awesome to have so many members of the Ottawa scene coming together for something so important. So happy to be a part of it.” – Evan Haydon-Selkirk (The Aphelion)
Saturday, November 12th, 2016.
Cafe Dekcuf (221 Rideau Street)
Doors at 7pm | 19+ (ID required)
Tickets are $5 in advance, $8 at the door
Join the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/516968248505688/