Alex Clare talks us through his new album, Tail Of Lions. Deeply rooted in religious literature, its other influences range from mental illness to the current political climate, making it an engaging listen from one of Britain's most distinctive male vocalists.
When people encounter stress, there are many ways of dealing with it. Some vent aggressively, others run away. I have found that the most frustrating [reaction] is - not unlike an animal playing dead to avoid predation - when someone you love stonewalls you.
Emotions are exhausting and often people don’t want to expend the energy, so they close up. That’s what this song is about. My frustration, after the honeymoon period of marriage, when you actually have to really begin to try and understand the way you communicate with those nearest and dearest. When the real hard work of building a marriage begins.
["Get Real"] is about learning and attempting to gain control of my emotions and impulses. Making efforts to view the world realistically, properly and understanding what I’m here for. We only have a few years on this rock, and we have to spend our time bringing as much benevolence as we possibly can.
The divide between the haves and have nots Is growing, and too many people are being forced to become slaves to a wage. Just remember, it’s not about surviving and making money. Regardless of what you have, live. After your Brief 80, you should look back and be proud of what you’ve achieved and that shouldn’t be based on your material wealth.
There is nothing worse than self-righteousness - to be in a place where you "know" you’re right is very dangerous. The best place to be is happy in yourself and if you are not, to be very aware that what you say to others may crush them emotionally. Often when people have little self-appreciation or control, they try to bring others down to their level, I wrote this after reflecting [on] meeting with someone who just couldn’t relate to happiness and seemed to look down on anyone who was genuinely happy in life.
I know a young man, who had coped secretly with serious mental illness for a few years. I wrote "Basic" after I witnessed a huge breakdown which led to a psychotic episode. So many people turned their back on him because of his often unusual, sometimes aggressive behaviour, unaware that he was seriously unwell. It really hurt to seem him in that state and it hurt even more witnessing the lack of love, reliability and compassion from those who knew him.
Ever feel like you don't fit in anywhere? Me too. So, I wrote a song about it. I’d love people to realise that it's within our little peculiarities that our individual unique gifts shine through. It’s important to realise [that] the things that make us insecure are the very things where an individual’s greatness lies.
In Chassidic literature there is a powerful physical state of ecstasy described as being so great that [the] soul can literally leave the body. The remedy is to be drawn in to the physical world by attachment to material things. When I was thinking about this, I wrote "Tired From The Fire", to express a deep longing after contemplating this idea for a while.
It can! I’m not referring to infatuation, rather the love it takes one to really begin to appreciate someone or something for where they are now, as opposed to the dark places they have been. To be able to shower them with positivity and love, even though it’s not always the easiest thing to do. Sometimes we have to set aside our emotions to help someone else’s with theirs. Just to feel, to empathise.
I am generally apolitical, but after seeing the breakdown of the UK's union with Europe - spearheaded by a few closed minded, selfish and bigoted individuals, who managed to play and draw on people’s prejudices for their own selfish goals - I wrote this song. Coupled with the future of politics in the US, we’ve really been shown just how much of a pantomime democracy in the 21st century has become.
You will, you know. The two verses are based are on two famous Hassidic sayings; the first from Rebbe Nachman of Breslov: "There is no despair in the world at all". The second, "There’s no wall you can overcome," is based on the teachings of the Rebbe Maharash of Chabad, who said [that] if you can’t go through something, go over at. These two mantras were said to motivate and inspire, but I always found them frustrating. To tell them to someone who’s in the depths of melancholy or depression would be condescending at best, and heartbreaking at worst. I felt they needed a bit of contextual explanation to bring out their two meanings You have to be aware of your own potential first, then you can see the woods for the trees.