THE JAMES KENNEDY PODCAST
#48 - BOB ROTH - TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION 101
Bob Roth is the Executive Director of the David Lynch Foundation, best selling author, podcast host and charity director as well as one of the most sought after meditation teachers in the USA. He has personally taught thousands of people the practice of Transcendental Meditation including many celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey, Russell Brand and Hugh Jackman. Here he chats with me about what Transcendental Meditation is, the science behind it, why we could all benefit from it and shares some practical tips for improving your practice. Hear our conversation at : https://linktr.ee/jameskennedypodcast TRANSCRIPT Hey, what's up? Welcome back to the James Kennedy podcast. What's been happening? Hope you're all feeling awesome and chilled and low stress. And if you're not fear not because I got you covered today we're going to be talking all about something that I've tried and failed at many, many times, but something that when I actually put in the effort and stick with it has always had a profound impact on my mental health, my stress and anxiety and my clarity of thought. But the problem for me is I'm a naturally high stress best dude who lives a very fast paced life and is constantly juggling way too many different places at the same time. And I make very little time, if any, for that essential self care recharge time. Sound familiar? And then the meditation or yoga or exercise regimen or eating healthy or whatever it is gets gradually pushed further and further out of my life as I blast on face first towards my own inevitable destruction. Now we had James Watt from Brew on last week, who spoke very strongly about the importance of making time for self care in whatever form it takes for you and how, rather than hindering his stressful role as a successful CEO, it is actually paramount to improving it. And if he can find time to do these things, then surely I and I'm guessing most of you can also do so as well. So this week we're focusing on the aforementioned meditation, baby. As I said, I personally find it practically impossible. But in those times when I've really stuck with it, the effects have been absolutely undeniable. I've slept better. I've been calmer, My mental health has been better. My mood has been lifted and I've got way more mental clarity. And I've worked better and worked faster. So why or why do I keep falling off the wagon? I hear you ask. I got no idea. But I am desperate to climb back on the saddle and get back in the Zen Zone because I really, really need it right now. So today we're gonna get into exactly what is meditation. How does it work? Why does it work? Why most of you definitely need it. And what you can do to get started now, As you know, I don't mess around on this podcast, right So if you know if I'm gonna do something, we're going straight to the top, right? So if we're gonna talk about meditation, we're gonna do it with the best in the land. So we are extremely lucky to be joined today by Mr Bob Roth. Not only a man who has personally taught meditation to thousands and thousands of people in all walks of life around the world, from military vets and school children to celebrities like Tom Hanks, Hugh Jackman, Oprah Winfrey and Russell Brand. But he's also the executive director of the renowned David Lynch Foundation For Transcendental Meditation, a best selling author on the subject. A podcast host on the subject. A charity director and one of the most sought after meditation teachers in the Western world. So do not tell me that I am not good to you guys. Bob, this is a real honour. Thanks so much for doing this, man. How are you doing today? BOB ROTH: I'm doing great. And it's really it's an honour to be on your show. So thank you for having me. JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, you're too kind and welcome any time. Of course, Bob. Well, I know I don't have you for as long as I would like to today, so I'm just gonna jump straight in and get down to business. If that's OK with yourself? BOB ROTH: Let's go for it. JAMES KENNEDY: Awesome. Well, I suppose we should establish at the start that you specialise in a form of meditation called Transcendental Meditation. So it would be, I think it would be good to set the stage here at the start of the conversation, to establish for the listener who doesn't know anything about this at all. What is Transcendental Meditation? And what are the benefits that it brings to the people who practise it? BOB ROTH: Well, it's a simple, natural, effortless technique. This just the nuts and bolts here practise for about 15 to 20 minutes twice a day, sitting comfortably in a chair with your eyes closed. And during that 20 minute period, according to science, your active thinking mind noisy, active thinking mind has a chance to settle down inward to a state of inner calm and equanimity. At the same time, your body, because they're so connected, gets a state of rest deeper than the deepest part of deep sleep, and that deep rest, according to science is miraculous. It reduces stress, anxiety, depression, burnout. It promotes resilience, better health, focus, creativity. That's why all the people that you are mentioning and the 10 million others practise T M for its it's it's very real. Benefits, right from the start. JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah, well, I can vouch for that personally from my own experience. 1 100%. And it's good to know that I think it's becoming more popular now. I think more people are open to the concept of meditation. It's not seen as such a kind of Taboo or esoteric kind of, concept any more, thanks to the popularisation of, you know, meditation, apps and things like that. But how does the ancient form of Transcendental Meditation that you specialise in differ from some of these more increasingly popular types of meditations, such as, you know, breath work and guided meditations or mindful or mindfulness or any of the, you know are out there? BOB ROTH: Well, it's a wonderful question, and I want to step back for a second and just sort of give a model or an example of of the mind and what the different meditations do. So I like to think of you're on a little boat. You're in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean and all of a sudden you get huge waves, 20 ft waves in your little boat. You could look up and see these giant waves and you could think, Oh, my God, the whole the whole ocean is an upheaval. But that's not really true, because if you did a cross section of the ocean out there, you'd realise, OK, the waves are 20 ft 20 ft high, The ocean is miles deep and at the depths of the ocean, it's pretty darn calm. So use that as an analogy to the mind, the surface of the mind, the waves, the, you know, torrential waves. Some people call it the monkey mind. I like to call it the gotta gotta gotta mind. So I gotta do this and I gotta do that. And I gotta call him and I gotta call her and I gotta make make a list and I gotta find the list and I gotta get make a new list and I gotta gotta get to sleep, and I gotta get. It's all the goddess and everybody's got that. And so it's a natural desire. I am gonna answer your question about meditation in a minute. I just wanna I just wanna put this in perspective because it'll do a better job of answering so into the field of meditation. Everybody wants inner calm. Everybody wants inner equanimity, inner power in her creativity. But so there's different meditations, and there's tonnes of different meditations. But according to science research on all the different meditations, it comes down to basically three. James. Ok, are you still with me, or is this too long of an answer? JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, 100%. I'm loving it. BOB ROTH: Ok, OK, so it's it's, it's, you know, it's so three basic meditations, and they look at it by measuring brain wave patterns. What's going on in the brain through, MRI scans and ECG. The first of the three is something called focused attention, and that's where, OK, you got a monkey mind your mind is filled with thoughts, so you focus. You focus your attention on your breath. You focus your attention on some part of your body. You focus your attention on a mantra, a sound. The idea is just focus. And when we do that, it it to try and clear the mind of thoughts. It's actually very difficult thing to do. But what the research shows is that creates something called gamma brain waves, and gamma is 20 to 50 cycles per se. We're working really hard. Fast, hard, hard, hard second type is called open monitoring. Many mindfulness techniques are like this. Many breath work techniques are like this. Open monitoring teaches us to dispassionately observe our thoughts and our moods and our feelings. We're not trying to push them out, just dispassionately observe them. Don't be in the past, when you if you know a guy named Joe and 10 years ago, Joe did done you wrong and now you he he's coming to town. Well, that was 10 years ago. Be in the present moment and in the present moment isn't equanimity. There's no equanimity in the past, and it's just worry in the future, in the present moment and so that it is open monitoring. And that's another group of meditation techniques. Those are both called I'm giving You a mini master class here. Those are both called cognitive approaches to meditation. Cog means pertaining to your thoughts, your moods, your feelings pertaining to the waves. Stop the waves. The third is Transcendental Meditation. Now James gets an answer to his question. The third is trans Transcendental Meditation and transcendental meditate. The word transcend means go beyond and in Transcendental Meditation, we recognise that you, all of us, have a vertical dimension to our mind. We feel things deeply. We love deeply. We get hurt deeply. We also have an intuition. Somebody says, James, I got a great idea where you should put your money into this and it sounds great. And then you're with yourself quietly and you go. I don't think so, Jack, And he asks why? It doesn't feel right. So that's a deeper level of the mind in Transcendental Meditation. Far beyond. Far deeper than that, there's a level of our mind that's already perfectly calm, expanded, unbounded, the source of our creativity, the source of our energy. This is what they say in the books. So Transcendental Meditation doesn't care about the waves. Doesn't doesn't try to try to stop thoughts. It goes to the source of thought. And when that happens, we have something called alpha one. Brain waves completely different to what you see from others. And I said, Your body gains a state of rest deeper than sleep according to research at Harvard and then a whole galaxy of benefits that are wonderful for not just surviving life, but thriving in life more than you see in with any of the other meditations. I'm not putting them down. They all have their purpose and people love them. But the research stands pretty strong. JAMES KENNEDY: Awesome. I appreciate that wonderful explanation and tour of all the different types of meditations there. Bob, I really appreciate that and that that makes a lot of sense. You mentioned the galaxy of benefits as well that that T M short for Transcendental Meditation brings to the person practising it. Could we list some of that galaxy and jump into that ocean of consciousness that you mentioned there and and explain? What exactly does it bring to people's life as a result of, you know, even short term practise? BOB ROTH: Well, so you have on the phone a guy who love who loves science. I mean, I love everything art, music and everything but science. And because I'm by nature a fairly sceptical person. And so I you know, I don't want to just just because some branding agency came along and said, Something is great. I want to show me the evidence before or I do it. And the research on Transcendental Meditation showed one thing that's very important if your listeners or any of us have degrees of anxiety in our life about things we all do. Anxiety is driven by a hormone called cortisol, and cortisol is secreted in the adrenal glands that sit on top of the kidneys. Whenever we're under pressure, anxiety and cortisol, Shuts has a very bad effect. Shuts almost too much of it shuts down the immune system. That's why if a person's sick, they're more likely to get. I mean, if a person's stressed, they're more likely to get sick. So if you get a good night's sleep, cortisol too much of a bad thing drops 10% in 20 minutes of T M. Cortisol levels drop 30 to 40%. Wow. And that is huge because nothing else does that other research shows, we're doing research right now with veterans and who have PTSD. And there's a huge amount of research showing that TM is excellent antidote for veterans and first responders and actually anybody, all of your listeners who have ever had traumatic experiences in their past and that traumatic experience continues to haunt them. T M is incredibly effective for reducing and healing trauma on the other side of the coin, there's studies that show increased creativity in the creative process. The creative process isn't just having good ideas. As you know, it's the ability to take those ideas and make them happen. A lot of people could say, I'm gonna start a podcast, but look what you're doing James, you started. You know, you started a podcast, a lot of work to do it. But that's the creative process is both the innovative idea and the ability to focus to make it happen. And so there's a lot of research on TM for enhancing creativity, intelligence and the ability to focus, and I'll say one last thing and also second last thing. There's 100 million Americans in America with high blood pressure. The numbers are probably just as high in the UK high blood pressure and you can take medicines and it just and it saves lives. But it doesn't stop. It doesn't get to the root cause. So the National Institutes Of Health in the US is given $26 million to study the effects of T. M on high blood pressure. And you know, the results are amazing. And I think in a couple of years, we're gonna have our NAT National Health Insurance is gonna cover T M and reimburse for it for all these different benefits. JAMES KENNEDY: That's incredible. Yeah, I mean, you mentioned cortisol there. I mean, cortisol is a killer because, you know, cortisol is the, the catalyst to so many other illnesses and problems and stresses within the body and the mind, you know, which which can lead to a whole range of physical illnesses and cancers and all sorts of things. So that reduction in cortisol there is massive across the whole health spectrum, isn't it? BOB ROTH: Oh, yeah, Absolutely. I mean, I I I really think there's such a change going on in the health care system right now. They they have to move away and and insurance companies, you know, in the US we have a lot of private insurers and also medic Medicare, which is a national insurance. The, they're going through a huge change because modern medicine doesn't understand the cause of so many mental health issues. So many people suffering from anxiety, depression, insomnia, burnout. And and then it goes further. Bipolar disorder, eating disorders. They don't know that they don't. It's called pathology. They don't understand the cause. And if you don't understand the cause foundation, then you can't have a you know, a solution. Like we we know that if I if I cut my arm and it gets infected, they know what that is. There's germs, and there's bacteria and I got an infection, and I get antibiotics. Well, if a person is depressed, they don't know. They really don't know the cause. And so and so they throw a lot of money at different pills, and it helps some people, but not everybody. So here comes the long Transcendental Meditation. Simple technique, not pharmacological, non-invasive. Anyone can do it. A few minutes in the morning and a few minutes in the afternoon, and it has a galaxy of of benefits. Not just it doesn't just reduce high blood pressure. And that's it, as I said, reduces high blood pressure, burnout, anxiety all in one shot. So it's a new time that's coming. And it's not long before TM and other evidence based, non integrative practises are part of the health care system because the current one is bankrupting everybody. JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, 100% Yeah, and could you imagine if they had this in schools? You know, I've often thought that so many societal and personal problems could probably be dealt with better in school. You know, for many kids, fortunately, school is the safest place that they've got. You know, there may be trauma at home, so I think to be taught this tool at such a developmental age could probably nip in the bud. So many psychological and as a result, you know, physical problems that whether we like it or not affect all of us in society. BOB ROTH: There's a lot of I mean, there's a lot of schools in the US and I, I imagine, also in the UK that are incorporating some forms of meditation or breathing or something because, if a person is 26 or 27 they start showing signs of bipolar disorder, it started when they were five or six. It didn't just, you know, bang. And so those ages, those developmental ages are crucial to give them something to manage and deal with the 24 7. They feel it too. Social media bullying online. I mean, I'll tell you something that's pretty shocking. The fastest rise of numbers of of people going to emergency rooms with suicide, suicidality threats of suicide. The fastest growth rate. Children 5 to 11. Wow, children 5 to 11. I, I could not believe it like when I was a little kid. Yeah, I'm gonna go out and play kickball or football or basketball or whatever. Spend the night at Joey's house. Now it's a different world, and girls in particular, the high levels of stress in their early teens. It's frightening. We're in. We're in danger of losing a generation to stress. You're right and meditation, and I think they're starting to recognise you can't ignore it. We're gonna give everybody, medicine. You know, Valium, every child. Valium. It's not sustainable. It's not scalable. It's not humane. So it's not long before you're gonna see T. M and other other techniques being made available in the schools to save the children. JAMES KENNEDY: Wow, that is staggering, man. I had no idea that that was the situation. And it's fascinating to me that one of the more effective tools that we have in the fight against some of the things you just mentioned is this practise that has been around for, am I wrong, thousands of years? Is that right? BOB ROTH: Over six over 6000 years old. Yeah, predates, Buddhism predates Judaism, predates Hinduism, predates everything. I mean, as as is yoga. Yoga is also predates it. It's not like you had to be a Buddhist or Hindu to do yoga. It was long before that stretching, transcending it was just accessible. And then religions come along, whatever. And then they may incorporate it into their practise into their religious belief. It's something useful, just like a religion could say that you need to do jumping jacks or, you know, doesn't make jumping jacks religious, Catholic. It's just a technique. So that's what happened with meditation. It got it degrees of it got adopted around a religion but in and of itself has nothing to do with religion. It's just a tool. JAMES KENNEDY: That's a great point to point out as well, because I approached, Transcendental Meditation when I did my, training in it with the same level of scepticism that you alluded to earlier. I'm from a scientific interest background. I mean, I consider myself to be an atheist, and I was a little bit put off by what I consider to be some of the religious aspects surrounding it. But that was just down to my own misinformation. As soon as I got into it, I realised exactly what you said. That this is This is a powerful tool that is, not aligned with any kind of belief system or anything like that. So, for people listening to this who may have been falling into the same misinterpretation as myself, this is, as you just said, is not connected to any kind of faith or belief system. This is just a practical tool that, as you said, can bring you that galaxy of benefits. BOB ROTH: Yeah, and 10 million people of all religions have learned it all educational backgrounds, all cultures. And what I love is the work that we're trying we're doing right now to get insurance companies to reimburse for T. M so that any, you know, a mom who's on welfare? Single mom, she goes to her doctor. She got two kids stressed out of her mind. The doctor can say, Well, you know, I can give you, you know, this Valium, this anti anti anxiety medication, and I can also give you write a prescription for you to learn TM. That will be so great because some people don't want to live their life on drugs. I think one of the interesting things is I've received calls from some of the top pharmaceutical firms in the US wanting to offer T M to their employees for the stress because it's it's so all pervasive right now, it's just all pervasive, and it's not going away. I also tell people I say, You know, maybe 20 years ago, the idea of taking 20 minutes out to do TM to meditate was a luxury, you know, for rich people or something, it's not a luxury any more. It's It's an essential tool in your toolbox to not just as they say, survive but actually thrive. And, it's It's just it's It's not long before it's widely available. It's not long. I call it the democratisation of meditation. Everybody should have equal access to these tools. This is not just for somebody who, who this or that everybody should have equal access. It'll make a huge difference. JAMES KENNEDY: Well, I think, yeah, it exactly what you said. We we're living through a a growing stress epidemic at the moment, which which causes a whole spiral of other physical and mental illnesses and ills in society at large. And it all comes down to the growing stress that we're feeling, You know, time times are hard at the moment and getting harder. So, to to have this tool that's so powerful available to us, I think, is a real gift. And it's ironic that we're coming back to something, a practise that has been around for thousands of years in the modern age, isn't it? You mentioned yoga as well. I find that quite interesting. BOB ROTH: There's also research on some Chinese medicine. There's really it's just they they knew a lot way back when, they knew a lot. JAMES KENNEDY: That's interesting. Chinese medicine still falls into the camp that I described earlier where I treat it with some scepticism, am I wrong in that as well? BOB ROTH: Oh, no, you should be. That's fine. I'm just talking about There's research now on aspects of Chinese medicine. There's research on aspects of Ayurveda, which goes back to, you know, the Vedic with yoga. Just research. I I'm I don't adopt or believe just everything wholesale altogether. But there's elements of something that they knew and the same with Chinese medicine. There's there's some research showing that some of the herbal compounds can work more effectively than our high tech medicines because ultimately, what? What are what? The human body is the same human body for thousands and thousands and thousands of years and thousands of years ago. Maybe they, you know, they're growing their foods without pesticides and without all that stuff, and we grow with it with so much of that now and our human body can't metabolise it can't just process it. So I think a lot of some of the diseases is can be due to just not The body doesn't know how to handle these medicines. The body doesn't know how to handle these these these chemicals and so we can look back to Ayurveda or Chinese medicine at yoga to see if they have some wisdom. Then they could be relevant today. But I think I think there's a difference between scepticism and cynicism. I would be I always tell people I'm a sceptic. If I was a cynic, I'd never get out of bed. But I'm a sceptic. And that and the sceptic is not, you know, disbelieving. Just show me the evidence and that's why I love T M. There's just an enormous body of research and more coming out all the time in New York City where I'm calling you from, we're in. We're offering TM for free to in 50 hospitals to doctors and nurses and health care providers who are on the front lines. We're on the front lines during Covid and now the front lines with the violence that's happening in our cities, and we're in 50 hospitals, and we'll be in 1000 hospitals in a year or two because the demand is so great. JAMES KENNEDY: That is absolutely incredible. What great work you're doing as well. I mean, you've been doing this for decades now, and, you know, to thousands and thousands of people. I mean, you know, when you when you look back at the lives you've you've changed and the lives you've saved. I mean, do you feel a sense of reward or is it are Are you still looking at the mountain ahead of you? BOB ROTH: There's two things. It's a wonderful question. By the way. You're an excellent interviewer. Really Good. JAMES KENNEDY: Not bad for a dumb ass rock musician? BOB ROTH: Yeah. Yeah. Really Good. Really good. Really good. Ask me the question again. JAMES KENNEDY: I was just saying on a personal level, I mean, do you feel a sense of reward? BOB ROTH: Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, I yeah. I'll tell you, I want when I was a kid, I always wanted to change the world. I worked for Bobby Kennedy. Senator Bobby Kennedy when he was when he was trying. Yeah, let's talk about the ancient when he was trying to when he was when he was running, wanting to get the Democratic nomination for president. And I saw him speak, in San Francisco with 2000 people in June, and I thought, we're gonna change this blank, blank world, but we're all together. And then five days later, four days later, he was assassinated and it was very devastating to me, and I decided I was gonna go to college, went to University Of California At Berkeley. I would study law, and I would become a a US senator like Bobby Kennedy. Change the world. Well, it didn't take me long to realise even then, going to school at Berkeley that politics was not gonna heal the soul of the nation. I mean, look what's going on. And I thought maybe education. My mom was a school teacher. Maybe I I said, write an educational curriculum and change kids one at a time. And then I learned to meditate. I started, you know, sceptically. But I learned it and one of my first thoughts after I learned was so relaxing, I thought, Maybe this is a tool I'll I'll bring to those kids in South San Francisco and in Oakland, California, where there's a lot of crime. And now when you ask that question, you know that was June the 28th, 1969 you know, all these years later. Now I run a foundation that's brought T M for free to a million kids all over the world. And we're working with veterans and police and firefighters and, you know, emergency, technicians, you know, drive ambulances. And we're working with school teachers and inner city school kids and frontline health care workers and women who are survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. And it's growing. And we're in, you know, New York, and our main centres are New York, Los Angeles in Washington DC. But that's just because we're pouring all of our resources to demonstrate and how effective this can be, and then other. Then we'll make it available all over the country and all over the world. So, yes, it's very satisfying on the one hand, but on the other hand, I still see the mountain top, and there's still more work to do so. I don't stop. I I don't stop ever. People are always saying, Well, just bask in your achievement and I say No, it's more fun and more. I love challenges and it's more fun to to go to go for the top and the top is and the top is in medical insurance companies covering TM so everyone has equal access. JAMES KENNEDY: That would be amazing. That would be amazing. Well, I mean, for people listening in the UK. You know, obviously that's a strange concept to us, but in America I can appreciate just how powerful that would be. BOB ROTH: Well, it's gonna happen. I'll tell you, I I in the UK your your insurance. Your your health care system is getting riddled and beat up by the same stress. Drug abuse, violence, you know, every it's the same. And when it's demonstrated here, it won't be long before the UK they they have to do it because they're losing money and they're losing. More importantly, they're losing lives. JAMES KENNEDY: Great point. Yeah, great point, Well made. And when people talk about you, they often focus on the fact that you've taught Oprah Winfrey and Russell Brand and Hugh Jackman and all these celebrities that you you're the guy that that taught the celebs. But you know what does normally get mentioned in that same conversation? It's the fact that you've taught thousands upon thousands and thousands of people personally from a very different walk of life from, you know, military vets to survivors of domestic abuse, trauma victims, people with PTSD. And I'd be really interested to know what you've seen personally happen to those people as a result of beginning this practise of Transcendental Meditation. You know what improvements or changes did you see in these people personally, And how long did it take before those changes became known as a result of doing this practise? BOB ROTH: Really good question. So when we we're talking about like veterans or police, I I'll give you an example in the US may be different the UK, but a person in the US will have will experience or see, on average, 3 to 4 traumatic events in their lifetime. Just something car crash something in their family, 3 to 4, a first responder, a firefighter or police 100 and 80 wow, 100 and 80 of traumatic experiences. Imagine what that does to your brain and your nervous system and your, you know, obviously your emotions. So what they find with T. M? Because it's so easy to learn and the veterans love it, you know, And and we tell them it's It's roots are It's, It's It's actually a Warriors meditation. It was practised by the Warriors Early on, I said, not a bunch of hippie dippy, but it was like, you know, by Warriors. I said, This is your meditation and within a few days, having learned it, what we find is veterans who hadn't slept more than an hour or two because of nightmares and night flashes. Now they're sleeping for a week, 16, 18 hours, and then after a week, they're just back to normal. But the body gets it gets such a degree of re rest and relaxation that now they can sleep. There's such a sleep debt. So the Veterans Administration is very interested in the benefits of T M because it shows like within a few weeks, research shows a reduction in in in PTSD, which is post traumatic stress disorder, a reduction in anxiety, a reduction in insomnia. They start sleeping better and there's a transformation. And within again, we don't teach him a philosophy we don't teach him. Oh, you should have a positive outlook on life. You should be happy. You should be happy you're alive. Now we just give them the tool. The technique takes about an hour a day over four consecutive days to learn from a certified teacher you want. You don't want a bogus teacher, a certified teacher and that teacher will teach you how to meditate. And that teacher will be available to support you or other teachers for the rest of your life. And so now I'm gonna answer your question about a 30 to 40% reduction in symptoms of PTSD. about a 50 to 60% reduction in sleep disorders. Very significant. And right now there's a they call it a phase three trial that we're doing at Stanford University Medical School, University Of Southern California Medical School, Columbia University Medical School, Mount Sinai Hospital on T M and veterans with PTSD. And the results of that study will be used to get coverage by the insurance carrier for veterans, to cover T M for, you know, as part of their health care system. So all my talk about this, we're not far away. It's not just talk. It's very, very close. JAMES KENNEDY: That is incredible. And when that happens, you know what an achievement that will be for you personally to have been part of the Movement that made that happen. BOB ROTH: No, it it's really will be great. And and it's, you know, it's, The thing is, the need is so great that people are stepping forward. Let me help. Let me help. Let me help Let me help. We've launched something in New York City called Meditate New York, and in a couple of months there's gonna be billboards all over the city just telling people. Look into meditation, not just T M. Look into meditation. Educate yourself no more, Make your decisions. And the mayor, Eric Adams of New York City. I taught to meditate 12 years ago, so he's a co-chair of Meditate New York. It's really going well, really going well. JAMES KENNEDY: That's amazing, man. Well, I think with all this information and science and galaxy of benefits and stats and everything that we're talking about. I think it's important at this point to remind people that essentially the practise itself is very, very simple. Essentially, it's just sitting still. With your eyes closed for 20 minutes once or twice a day, it doesn't require any, equipment or Yeah, no, No apps. BOB ROTH: No, you have a sound, a simple 123 syllable sound that you think quietly, and the teacher teaches you how to how to think it. So you're not making effort, you're not straining. So the whole process is profoundly relaxing. And that again, all the stuff we're talking about comes about from that deep relaxation in the body and also the brain. The brain is bathed in this very calming soothing. It's called alpha one. So afterwards that deep rest is not doesn't make you exhausted. It's energising. You have more energy, more focus, more resilience. You're more yourself. You're just more yourself. That's it. You're more. You're not the stress self. You're more yourself. JAMES KENNEDY: Well, God knows I need a lot more of that in my life because I currently have, I've been recently diagnosed with PTSD and, a little bit of nervous system dysfunction due to some recent trauma that I had, so that I need to be getting back on the saddle with this. BOB ROTH: When we're done here, we're gonna connect, and we'll set up some time for a follow up, and I'll help you with that. JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, thank you so much, Bob. Yeah, that that's music to my ears. I'll fill you in a bit more on the details when we speak. Thank you so much for that. You're very kind that that segues into to the next section of the conversation. I'm gonna try and squeeze in here before I take up too much of your time, which is somebody in my situation that does have training in in TM and does understand what it's all about and what it entails, but is still struggling to actually make it a habit in their life. What tips could you give us now, as somebody who is, you know, work done this with thousands of different types of personalities in different situations from all sections of society? What general? Habit forming tips could you give to someone like myself who's making a lot of excuses. I get up in the morning. There's coffee. I want to, you know, I want to exercise before I get up. You know, I don't have kids, But if I did, that would be my distraction. There's work. There's the commute. How do people when they're juggling so many things in an ever more stressful and ever more time constrained life? Find time for this? BOB ROTH: Well, first thing I say is James, there's 1440 minutes in your day. And if we can't, if you can't find 20 out of that or 40 out of it, some priorities here, buddy, because because because because the trajectory that we're all on. And if you have PTSD and you know it's another thing, it is called complex PTSD, where you just gather. If you're just living, then you it it's not getting any better on its own. So number one there is time to be available. You could just get up 20 minutes earlier, and the 20 minutes here's another point. It doesn't take away from the sleep the benefits of sleep because the rest during TM is deeper than sleep. So you're not. It's not like you're getting up and losing 20 minutes to exercise. You've already doing the exercise. You get up 20 minutes earlier to get a state of rest deeper than sleep. That's going to allow you to sleep better the next day. And and I so And the fact is for the brain to establish new neuropath ways this way, saying new habits. It takes anywhere between three and 67 weeks for that to happen three weeks and six or seven weeks for that to happen. When I learned T M, I decided I didn't know any of this stuff. I decided, OK, I'm just gonna do the meditation. As my teacher said, Do it twice a day for 20 minutes. I'm gonna do it for a month and then if I'm there, but I'm gonna do it. And then after a month, then I I'll decide if I want to do it. But I have to give it a chance if if you if if someone says Oh, here, here's a beautiful plant. No, if you have, it is a beautiful orchid, But there's no orchid, still young. But if you water it like this, you can have beautiful orchids and then you water it half as much. You said Ah, there was the flower Wasn't any good. The orchid wasn't pretty, but you didn't give it a chance. You didn't water it so And also I hear from people saying, Well, I meditate when I get really stressed. And I said, That's like watering your vegetable garden when the leaves are, you know, the lettuce is about to die. You know that's not gonna do any good water. The stinking vegetable garden. Take care. Take care of yourself. Take care of yourself. So to you and to others, I'd say. All right, I'm gonna do this for a week, Twice a day. All right? I'm gonna re-up it for another week, but you gotta do it. And if you don't, then you got nobody to blame but yourself. JAMES KENNEDY: Love that answer. I feel like I've been told, and I shall do as I'm told. So thank you, Bob. Well, for people that have a bit more discipline than myself and you are really putting in the time and the effort here to make this work. What general tips Have you discovered over the years of doing this on such an extensive level that help people along the way to to form to form this habit or to maintain this habit or to make it a little bit easier along the way? Because it is it is difficult. I mean, the practise itself is very simple, but it can also be very difficult because it's so at odds with the nature of our internal world, isn't it? Our internal world is so noisy. We've got that internal dialogue which never shuts the hell up for two minutes. So just calming all that and silencing all of that is, is is, can be quite difficult to to to fall into a groove with that. So what general things have you discovered over the years that help people to stick with it and to make it a bit easier? BOB ROTH: Well, it's a good question. And the fact is, when I told you about those three different types of meditation focused attention very hard to do because you're trying to stop the wave, you're basically trying to stop the waves on the surface. You're trying to stop thoughts, which is very hard because the mind naturally thinks about a zillion different things. The open monitoring, a little easier. You don't have to stop thoughts. It's just living in the present, you know, and then T M I have to say no effort. And that's why I want to refresh your practise. Because if you're making effort, it's not TM. So I would, but I would. For everyone, I would say Just be sure you're doing it right if you're doing the focused attention, and that's your choice and you want that that difficult sort of thing. But you like it. Then connect with your teacher or find someone and just be sure. Just be sure you're whatever you're doing. Be sure you're doing it right. And so that's what I'm saying to you, James. You wanna be sure you're doing it right and you're gonna find that it's not difficult. I promise you you're gonna find that it's comfortable and easy and relaxing, and that so I just tell. My advice is to anyone just be sure you're doing it right. And if you're not happy with one meditation, try another because they're not all the same. JAMES KENNEDY: Great advice. Well, Bob, as we come towards the end because I know unfortunately, I've gotta let you go, even though I'd like to keep talking to you for the next two hours. Everyone that's been listening that wants to get involved and start their meditation journey. How do they start? Where do they go? What do they do and how does it all work? BOB ROTH: Well, two things you can go. I just know that in the US you can go to TM dot org and then they'll tell you that there's a place to find out where the UK or you can just go online and just, you know, Google Transcendental meditation UK. I'm also gonna do something here. I'm going to give out my actual email address. This doesn't go to someone else who goes to me. And if you have any questions about the meditation or you want help in finding a teacher, you can email me and it's Bob at David Lynch Foundation dot org Bob at David Lynch Foundation dot org. That is my personal email address, and I'm doing it because James is such a good guy. JAMES KENNEDY: I'm not gonna take any of the credit for that. That's very, very kind of you, Bob. I hope you're not going to get inundated now with questions. BOB ROTH: If I am, that's fine. If people genuinely want to know, then I'm happy to answer that. That that's fine. JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, you're a true gent. That's really kind of you. Thank you, Bob. And I can I can assure you that none of my listeners will be contacting you with anything, dubious or irritating because they're all of a supreme intellect level. Hence why they listen to my podcast. Of course. Bob can also be stalked on Instagram and Twitter at meditation, Bob. And as I mentioned in the intro, he is also the executive director of the David Lynch Foundation, which can be found at www dot David Lynch Foundation dot org dot UK. So check that out. And if you're interested in hearing more from Bob, Bob has done thousands of interviews which you can hear on podcast form or on YouTube as well, talking more on this subject. So definitely go and check that out and get yourself started. BOB ROTH: Wonderful. And you're great. And and next time I'm gonna interview you about your rock musician and how you got interested in all of this and what you're doing, But that'll be another call. JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah, I look forward to that. I tell you what could be interesting is maybe if I get back on the meditation saddle and we could have a catch up, conversation. Maybe, you know, six months down the line or something to see how my life has changed. What I did differently to maybe stick with it this time with more success and what benefits I'm feeling as a result, Perfect. BOB ROTH: Sounds great to me. I thank you very much for having me on your show. It's an honour. And, and I really enjoyed it a lot. JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, well, the honour was all I was, Bob, Honestly, thank you so much for, for doing this today. We really appreciate it. It's been a fascinating conversation, and hopefully you know, we'll speak to you again really soon. BOB ROTH: Ok, take care. You too. Bye. Bye. Thank you, Bob. JAMES KENNEDY: Take care, mate. Speak to you soon. Bye. Bye. Bob Roth boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, put it together for him. What a kind and cool guy. Absolutely does not need to be taking time out of his busy schedule to come and talk to me when he usually frequents. You know, the biggest talk shows on the planet. But, did it nonetheless gave us his time. He even gave us his email address, which is crazy. So don't take advantage of that, right, guys, don't let me down now, Don't go. And like in in it with stupid questions, You know, Don't be like I got your email address off the James Kennedy podcast. I'd like to ask what your opinion is on the underground bunkers that the alien lizard people control us from, You know, keep it exclusively meditation based and specifically to do with Transcendental Meditation. And I'm guessing to do with where you can find a teacher in your nearest town. Keep it limited to that. Please don't take the piss. But I hope you enjoyed the conversation. I think it's fascinating stuff, and I can personally vouch for the fact that it honestly honestly does work. And I've only done it a handful of times and the fact that I haven't stuck with it is to do with me not to do with the practise itself. It's It's clearly a wonderful, powerful thing, which has been proven consistently by science. So give it a go man. Just give it a go. Check out the the links that I mentioned earlier. They'll be copied into the description as well, so you can click straight through, check out the David Lynch Foundation and just type in Transcendental Meditation and followed by in the name of your home town and see if you can get yourself a local teacher and, just give it a go man. Just give it a go. And if you're not meditating in any form whatsoever, there are loads of apps and things you can do just to get just to dip your toe in just so you can get a feel for how it all works and stuff. It's that simple. You don't need any equipment. Like Bob said. You can just do it. Sitting in a chair, you can just sit in the garden. You can just sit in a bus stop if you need to be, you know, and in these ever stressful, ever noisy, ever anxious times. Just being able to shut your brain off just for you know, 5 to 10 to 20 minutes is really invaluable honestly, for your entire nervous system. So give it a go, man, you know, and see how you get on with it. Some people take to different things better and quicker than others. You know, you might really fall in love with it and be like, how did I ever live without this? You know? And when that happens, you can thank me, but mostly Bob, as always, remember to subscribe to the podcast because we bring in new bangers like this every single week, baby. So wherever you get your podcast, whether it's Spotify, apple stitcher cast box, even on YouTube, give me a follow. Give me a subscribe Hit the star rating button. Let the algorithm know that people are interested in these conversations, so they push us out there for more people. That's not a lot to ask, is it? For all this free goodness? As for me, you know exactly what I'm gonna go and do now. I'm gonna go and get my Zen on, baby So I will see you next week. Take care of yourselves. Have a great one. And I'll catch you on the next one. See you guys.
#47 - JAMES WATT - BREWDOG - LESSONS FROM THE PUNKS
James Watt is the co-founder of Brewdog, the insanely popular craft beer brand that embraced the principles of punk rock to disrupt a market and dominate the headlines with their provocative and creative approach to business and marketing, which took the company from two men and a dog to a billion dollar global brand. On this episode, James shares his wisdom on business and marketing, the importance of balance, climate change, punk rock, tips, advice and ice baths. Hear our conversation at : https://linktr.ee/jameskennedypodcast TRANSCRIPT Hey, what's going on? Welcome back to the James Kennedy podcast. How are you doing? Apologies for missing you gorgeous misfits last week, but I was busy scribbling away on my new book and also recording some new material for that hot chart topping band, James Kennedy and the Underdogs. That's right, baby. There's gonna be some new material coming your way real soon, as well as live shows and all of that good stuff. As I've said before, if you haven't yet joined the awesome Secret Society community, come and join the crew now and get the first scoop on upcoming gig dates, new music and loads of other cool shit that's gonna be happening real soon. Just go to www.JamesKennedystuff.com/tribe and enter your email address and your city so we know where we've got friends around the place and we'll come and make some noise for you. That's www.JamesKennedystuff.com/tribe. There's also a link on that page to join the official Secret Society Facebook Group too. So you're all welcome in there. Please come and join us and thanks again to you all for continuing to check out my podcast.I really do appreciate it, man. I appreciate all the kind words and the feedback and all the love and support. You guys are awesome, and it's what keeps this show afloat. So thank you so much for, for keeping me in doing this thing. I have got an amazing guest coming up really soon for you guys today. And there's likely to be a lot of puns on the theme of dogs today because, as you may or may not know, my autobiography was called Noise Damage My Life as a rock and roll underdog, which led to my new band being called James Kennedy and the Underdogs. And we have a thing called the Dog House, which is a fans with flaws scheme that we run with our amazing and generous tribe of misfits around the world who accommodate our sad sorry asses when we're out there on the road doing our thing. But the reason I mentioned all of this is because on the show today we have got a man who is almost literally the top dog in the world of craft beer and someone who is artfully blended by much loved punk rock ethic and aesthetic with huge global success in the very crowded beer market to carve out their own thing in their own way. Divisive, most likely controversial, certainly. And not without their fair share of enemies, but a truly fascinating and wise character who, I just know is gonna have a lot to give in our conversation today. I'm talking, of course, about Mr James Watt from the global phenomenon Brew Dog. But before we jump in with all four feet Sorry, don't forget to subscribe to the podcast on any and all platforms. This thing is available everywhere, including Spotify apple, Amazon stitcher cast box and also on YouTube. So please, please, please. If you want to help a brother out, please hit that follow or subscribe button. And if you could give me some stars or review, it would mean the absolute world, then it would be a huge help in helping me continue to push these conversations out there. You know, I don't have any advertising and I don't get paid to do this thing. So if you're enjoying these conversations and think they have value, please give them a share and get involved. But now, as promised from underdog to Alpha Dog, James Watt and his fellow band of pirates at the mighty Brew Dog are roaring louder than ever. And we've got a tonne of stuff that I want to get into. So let's just get down to business and bring him on to the show. Mr James Watt. I know you've got way more important shit to be doing right now than talking to me. So I really appreciate you taking the time out to speak with us man. JAMES WATT: No, it’s good to catch up and excited to do it. JAMES KENNEDY: Me too, man. I mean, how you been doing? JAMES WATT: Yeah, I'm doing awesome. I'm excited to be the second James and a two James podcast. JAMES KENNEDY: Yes, and two Celts as well. Welsh man and a Scotsman. So what could go wrong? I was going to crack open a Black Heart, which is absolutely fucking delicious, by the way. But 11 AM is too early, even for myself. So I'm going with black coffee instead. I hope that's OK. JAMES WATT: I've got coffee as well, but I'm sure it's five PM somewhere, so I don't think I don't think it's ever too early for a Black Heart. JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, yeah, They twisted my elbow already. Well, what's going on with Brew Dog HQ right now? Man, you're a busy dude. What's happening? JAMES WATT: Yeah, Super busy. So we're just, it's kind of geeky, but we've just installed a new canning line. So, I've just been, like, watching it. Amazed at the speed that fills can. So it fills 60,000 cans an hour, 1000 cans a minute and, going back to the early days of the company to fill 1000 cans. Used to take us kind of 24 hours. So we can now fill the amount of cans in one minute that took us. It took us 24 hours to do back in back in the early days. JAMES KENNEDY: That is awesome, man. I can imagine that would have been, you know, a very a very cool nerd fest to be a part of and hey, more beer for us as well, you know? So everyone's a winner, right? It is insane how far you guys have come in such a relatively short space of time and long before I was a fan of the beer, which I'm 100% a massive fan of. I was a massive fan of the branding and the marketing because your marketing is genius and I know that you get asked about is all the time so we don't want to dwell on it too much. But we've got to talk about it, man, because obviously, you know, I'm a musician. I'm from a punk rock aesthetic, ethical background myself. So you know, your your your messaging and your imagery and your your marketing is always really resonated with me because, you know, the Brew Dog brand is very undeniably steeped in punk rock, isn't it? So where does that come from? I mean, is that your background, or is it just an extension of who you are as a person? JAMES WATT: I think it's a bit of an extension, but the thing that we were massively inspired by from the kind of whole punk Movement was like to smash the system. You need to be able to exist outside the system, so you need to learn the skills that you need to succeed yourself. So it was that kind of DIY hands on kind of ethic that that we just kind of fell in love with, and that's what we've kind of built our business on. So always, like try to learn what we what we need to do ourselves, not dependent on the system, not dependent on anything that's outside of us and being happy to kind of live or die on the merits of what we what we do ourselves. And that was the kind of attitude that we've tried to build this thing, and I think it's I think it's been good, good so far and it's kind of made for a super farm journey as well. JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, 100% man. And it's been a fun journey for the rest of us to watch as well. I mean, your marketing, like I said is, is just fucking genius is bang on And that whole, you know, giving a finger to the to the establishment figures and, you know, just doing things your own way and not giving a fuck. You know, I love all that man, and it clearly is an authentic extension of who you are as a person, because it would just be impossible to maintain that this this convincingly for this long, you know, But in order to take what's clearly quite a natural voice for you into the, model of a packaging up a product and a business and you know, strategies and all that sort of shit Did you study and learn any of the technical stuff that you would need to do to convert that natural voice of yours into a brand and a marketing campaign? Or do you just have a natural talent for this shit? JAMES WATT: And I didn't, and I'm actually delighted that I didn't And I what you find if, like people study business too much or if people are too experienced a thing, they know exactly how something is supposed to be done. Now, if you're a small company, if you're an upstart doing things the way things are supposed to be done or they get you absolutely nowhere because you're competing against companies that are way bigger than you. So I think the fact that we went into this, like, so naive I was working in the in the North Atlantic fishing boat before I set up the business. But the fact that we didn't know how things were supposed to be done conventionally meant we had no option but to kind of forge their own path. And in doing so, I think we've come up with a much better way of of building our business in terms of community ownership, in terms of beers that we make and in terms of what we do. So that naivety, that lack of knowledge, that lack of experience, I think is actually one of our strongest assets. And I I do a bit of investing in smaller businesses, and I'm always excited to back someone that's got not much experience and not much knowledge, because I think that's how you figure out a way how to circumnavigate a whole market and come up with a new way of doing things. JAMES KENNEDY: That is a great point, man. Yeah, and already, you know, you're dropping. You're dropping some pearls of wisdom here, man. I think people can learn from, you know, regardless of the industry that they're in. And speaking of that, I wanted to flip things on their head. Whilst we're on the subject of punk, rock and business, I wanted to ask you how you might approach this sort of change that we had in the music industry. If it was in the beer industry, what would happen if all of a sudden overnight, the product that you sell, the physical, tangible product that you sell became a free commodity that literally streamed out of the Internet for free? Which, as I'm sure you know, is exactly what's happened in the music industry. And some artists and some labels have been able to sort of navigate that, and others have just sunk. So if you're really interested to hear what somebody from a completely different industry outside of the music industry would would would potentially manage that problem Should you wake up tomorrow and the product that you sell as as the centre of your business suddenly became free? JAMES WATT: That's a fantastic question, and there's a Quote that I often share with the team, and the Quote comes from Darwinism and then kind of evolution. It's not the biggest or the strongest or the fastest that prosper. It's the most adaptable, so that adaptability is hardwired into our DNA as a company, and I'll give you a great example. So when Covid hit, I spent one day in the depths of despair, thinking the company was wasn't going to make it. The next day I kicked into action mode. We completely pivoted our distillation business, and within four weeks we were making hand sanitizer for the NHS. When there was a shortage of sanitizer, all of the bars were closed. But we use our bars as kind of fulfilment centres for eco and delivery business and we, our ecom business within the space of two months. So if, like landscapes and markets today change so quickly, everything is changing. You can't cling to the past and you have got to change and you've got to adapt. And I think the companies that do well long term are the companies that adapt to the inevitable changes. Every market is going to get disrupted, every industry is going to change, and the companies that die and go the way of the dinosaurs and the ones that are reluctant to that change and they don't embrace it. And they've fact you've got to emra change and you've just got to be quick, adaptable and nimble in the face of that change. JAMES KENNEDY: Brilliant answer. Yeah, that that's such a great point. And it was echoed by, I had a guy called Brian Slagel from a record company called Metal Blade Records. And they were the label that first discovered Metallica and Slayer, one of the world's largest independent record, still going strong four years later. And that's exactly what he said. I said, What do you see in common with all of the main bands and labels that stayed afloat this time? And he said, Adaptability. He said, That shit is always going to hit the fan, and it those ones that can adapt and change are going to be the ones that stay stick stick around. So, yeah, I love that man. Beautiful Quote as well, because the Darwin Quote often gets misrepresented, the people say, the strongest survivor of the strongest and the fitness. That's not actually what he said. It's exactly what you said, so thank you for clarifying that. So as a thought experiment, then if you weren't, so you you got jacked off with Brew Dog and you wanted to actually go into the punk rock business, and you were you were managing a punk rock band from scratch. What would you do? The I don't know if you know anything at all about the music business, but, I mean, it's damn hard out there at the moment. We could do some great minds like yours when in a world where the product is free and every douche in the world has got access to the platforms, you know? So the platform is saturated with every man and his dog and a demo tape. You know, how do us dumb ass musicians navigate that world? What would the evil genius of James Watt do if he was managing a punk rock band starting today? JAMES WATT: So I'm going to caveat this heavily by saying, I know very, very little about the music industry. But if I was looking, if it was managing a punk band, if it was managing a coffee shop, if it was managing a car wash business, if it was managing a fintech business, whatever, I would always go out with the same kind of underlying principles. So three principles, very simply, Firstly, you've got to kind of try and be a force for good in terms of what you're doing. So everything is so saturated with people doing similar things, People want something to believe in the market for something you believe in is infinite. So you've got to try and like, do some good in terms of what you're doing. Secondly, and this one for me is massively important. You've got to find a way to to Distrupt, you've got to find a way to do something different. So if I was managing a punk rock band and if I was just doing exactly the same as every other punk rock band manager out there, I would be a stone cold failure, and it would go nowhere and like the success would be limited. could only ever be a percentage is as good as the other people in this industry, which wouldn't interest me at all. So find our way to do things differently, And that often involves taking our risk that unless you take a risk and are willing to take a substantial risk, you're never going to open yourself up to the possibility of real success. And the biggest risk is not taking a risk at all. So be a first for good, do things differently, take a risk and thirdly, I think the best businesses kind of today and in the future are going to be so deeply rooted and embedded in community. So that connection of community and like we don't feel like our brand is ours. We feel it's it's our fans, like dog belongs to our fans to a community of 220,000 equity punks. They help us design new beers. They help us find new locations. They're the kind of heart and soul of our business. So I would, focus on being my first for good. I would try to do something destructive, and I would put community and community ownership at the heart and soul of whatever I did. And that would be the same as if I was managing a punk drug band or any other new business that might die in and give a go. JAMES KENNEDY: That's awesome. That was That was actually the next question I was going to ask you. So we tick too off in one go that you fuck flying through it. And what do people do? Because this is the question I've asked a lot of music industry people, so it be interesting to get somebody who's had success in business in a totally different industry and also quite saturated market with some heavy players that dominate most of the market. What do people do to get heard above the noise of everybody else doing it? Because there's a lot of talent out there. There's a lot of hard working motherfuckers out there, but again, they might not be talent in business or marketing. And you guys have been very, very good at blasting yourself into the public consciousness and staying there as well. What can people do let sticking in the music business? I know you said, You know, it's not something you know a lot about, but in a predominantly digital world that it's very, very saturated. What can people do to to get heard above the noise of everybody else? JAMES WATT: Great question. So, first and foremost, let's just assume that the kind of base product be it albums, be it coffee, be it beer, be it soft. Let's assume like the base product is of like outstanding best in class. Elevate the quality. So for us, we set out in an industry dominated by global behemoths. Thousands and thousands of times our size. We were two humans and a dog with a big mission to make other people's passion about fantastic beer, as as we as we are and I all odds than are on us getting completely lost in that industry. But we haven't done that, and we've now built the 14th most valuable beer brand on the planet, which which is, which is pretty crazy. And our strategy was was very, very intense. It's OK. So the companies were competing against spending tens of millions hundreds of millions every year in advertising, trying to convince people that cheap mass market, lowest common denominator beer is a quality product. If we try and spend a tiny amount of advertising, we're going to get absolutely lost. We've got to find out a way to cut through that noise. We've got to find a way to get our message out there, and we've got to find a way to do that while showcasing what we are passionate about and for us that time and time again came back to OK, let's take massive risks. Let's put everything in the line for what we believe, and let's try and move the narrative forward. Let's try and make sure it's underpinned with the passion that we have, and sometimes it can come across quite stun. But I mean, the intention wasn't for it to be stunted. The intention was, OK, let's do something that gets people thinking and speaking about beer in a different way. So we made the strongest beer on the planet because we want to challenge people's perceptions of what beer is, how it can be enjoyed, how it can be savoured, how it can be made. And that leads to a very different discussion about beer. We drove up tank through the streets of London to announce the opening of our Camden location because with no advertising budget and like Little Beer Company opens a bar in London, they're going to get no media coverage at all like us. Driving a tank through a London seller and opening of our bar there made headline news. We hired a helicopter and flew the helicopter, and we did this twice over London in New York, over the kind of Bank Of England and the kind of Wall Street in America, and we had kind of a little stuffed cats. And we threw them out of the helicopter with a little parachutes. This was death to the fat cats because we were rejecting corporate finance and building a completely completely new finance model for small businesses. So not taking ourselves too seriously wearing our heart in our sleeve and being willing to take a stand. So we took a huge stand against the World Cup in Qatar because we felt that was the right thing to do. Not many companies have the guts to do that. And if you look at most companies, they're so bland they're so you don't know who they are. You don't know what they stand for. You don't know what they're about as a business. We wanted to kind of make sure that people knew who we were, what we stand for, how we how we do things. So take risks, take gambles, do things that kind of cut through the noise, which is difficult on a low budget, focus in community and be very clear about who we are and what we stand for. And by doing that, we've been able to we've been able to grow in that industry, dominated by the kind of mega bucks advertising it and cut. Do we now one of the best known bans in the in the UK, despite the fact that our competitors over the last 20 years have spent cumulatively, probably in excess of two billion on advertising we've spent next to nothing. JAMES KENNEDY: That's so cool, man. Yeah, and it's certainly worked, dude as well. I mean, like, everybody loves the brand. I mean, even like my mother. When I said that you were coming on, she said, Oh, I love Brew Dog. And then my 96 year old grandmother, who was also there, said, Oh, I love Brew Dog as well. So, you know, you're clearly reaching all, all all demographics there, you know, 96. JAMES WATT: That's a good age. JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, dude, you’ve got to invent a new drink called a little treble. My nan swears that the key to her longevity is whiskey, and she calls it a little treble, which is basically half a glass of fucking whiskey. It's like half a pint, but by calling it little, it it implies because it's innocent, you know, little treble. JAMES WATT: I think somebody should tell the Scottish whiskey industry about her. I think they, like, found her next market. If you want to get to 96 this is the way to do it. JAMES KENNEDY: She would love that dude.She she'd be more than happy to cash in on that one. But I Yeah, you're totally right, though, man, Like I the tank thing was absolutely fucking genius. I love that idea. And I think another thing is that you got to be prepared to make some enemies because I know you guys can be quite divisive at times, and you have made you know, you you you've You've gone to quite a lot of flack over the years. But, you know, if we're going to use cool quotes, you know, to follow on from the Darwin Quote, I mean, I love the Quote. You know, a man with no enemies is no man at all. I mean, if you're trying to do some shit, you're trying to break into a very mono market and you're trying to take on some long standing behemoths. You're going to make some enemies, and you're gonna piss some people off, and I know that you guys have probably made some mistakes and errors of judgement or whatever over the years, but coming from where you started from with the resources you didn't have in a system that has been very well established for such a long time with with main players who are very powerful and very deep rooted, I suppose it's impossible for that not to happen. Do you think that's fair? JAMES WATT: Yeah, absolutely. And we've always been involved in quite divisive as our done. We've got some people who absolutely love us and some people who who don't. And for us that's fine, because any brand that sets out trying to keep everyone happy is going to be so vanilla, so beige, so indifferent that you're never going to get people passionate about it. And it's almost like unless you have some some haters, you're never going to kind of build the army of love, which is not flipside of the coin. And like some people don't like people being successful doing what they love, because it makes them feel inadequate and insecure fact that they're maybe not that successful and not doing something they love. So the natural response is to is to and that we've always taken flak, some of it justified. We have made mistakes along the journey where two guys that set up a company when we were 24 we've been so high. And and companies are that high growth, it's difficult to kind of keep all the plates spinning the way you want. And sometimes you can't do everything super well. So we've made mistakes along the way. We've held our hands up when we have made mistakes. But I think the amount of flack we sometimes take is definitely disproportionate to the amount of mistakes that we've made as a company is what it is. We know who we are. We know what we do. We know who our fans are and we just keep keep building our business in the UK and internationally and keep going. And it's something that just sometimes happens, especially in the UK with with success. JAMES KENNEDY: But yeah, well, you've got some powerful enemies as well, and people don't like, you know, people don't like when a new dog turns up on the on the block. You know what I mean? I think that's probably where a lot of the disproportion of that comes from. You know, you've got some pretty pissed off powerful enemies that had a pretty comfy position at the top of the table there. And you guys have come and kicked the fucking the legs of the table away. You know, speaking of those guys in the behemoth, not necessarily in your industry. But I know your life has probably changed significantly now, from when you started the business. And I'm sure that you mingle in some corporate circles. Probably against your will. often times. I know that sustainability is a big part of what you guys do. And it harks back to one of the key principles you mentioned about doing good as a company or a band or whatever it may be, so many companies don't. I would I would I would guess that most don't now you've rubbed shoulders with some of these guys I'm sure. What's your feeling on why they don't I mean, they've got grandkids too, right? I mean, it can't just be greed. What's the reason? JAMES WATT: So sadly, and I'm I'm going to speak about our sustainability journey. Then I'll speak about why they don't care. So we we thought we were doing our bit for the planet. We thought we were doing our bit to kind of help against climate change. And that assumption just came crashing down. After I had dinner with Sir David at just before Covid hit. And after that dinner I was hit with a blindingly stark realisation that we weren't doing nearly enough. And we were part of the problem that our planet is currently facing. And we are sleepwalking as humans off the edge of a cliff. We're facing an existential climate crisis, and we need to wake up in huge, huge, huge changes across the board, not in 2050 not in 2040 and not in 2030. Like huge changes needed today. Some scientists think it might try to be too late. I don't subscribe to that view. I don't think it's too late, but we need to make cataclysmic change across the spectrum of what we do as humans on this planet to be able to survive here. So on the back of that meeting, and despite our business going through the teeth of Covid, we decided to completely pivot everything we do. So we work with Professor Mike Berners Lee. He's our kind of lead independent scientific advisor and one of the kind of world leading experts on climate change, carbon foot printing and sustainability. And we became the world's first fully certified carbon negative beer business. That means we take twice the carbon out of the air every single year that we emit. Any time someone has one of our beers, our planet has less less carbon, but kind of sitting underneath that our first focus is on reducing our emissions. So it's good that we remove carbon. We we also need to reduce our emissions. We've made huge investments across the business. So we've now got an on site bioenergy facility that turns our waste water into bio methane gas, which then comes back and powers our system. We're working hard in the electrification of our of our vehicle fleet. We've got an advanced heat recovery system in our house. That kind of takes the heat that escapes and then uses that to kind of heat. The next batch batch the beer. We're now fully wind powered in the in the UK, so huge investments to reduce their footprint. And also, when we count carbon, we count all of the carbon. So including the carbon in our supply chain. At the moment, we work with kind of a very high class, high quality removals and offsets. So there's so much noise. There's so much nonsense or so much dis ingenuity in the offset market. So Mike Beardsley and his team vets that we usually do most of our work for the Nature Conservancy of of Canada, which is kind of very sensitive to kind of biodiversity and kind of all those kind of key factors with the removals that we're doing. We also bought, 10,000 acres in the heart of the Scottish Highlands and the 10,000 acres it's It's huge. It's bigger than 17 actual countries. And in the Lost Forest, we, we've now started, but we're planting well over a million trees to take carbon out of the air. So our carbon is our problem, and we are determined to fix it ourselves. And we'll have 300,000 trees planted by summer, and we're not just planting trees. We're creating a native biodiverse leaf woodland habitat and kind of rewilding a key key part of key part of Scotland. So that's where we are on our sustainability journey. And I fully believe that to drive the change that we need as a society as humans on this planet, the change has got to come from the best of businesses working hand in hand with leading scientists. I don't think politicians are able to help us here because the timescales they work on for five year re-election cycles is incompatible with the pain that we're gonna have to take as society to make the changes we need. So it's got to It's got to be business that that that drive the change here and business has got a huge responsibility to do it as to why other companies are not doing enough to answer is sad. And the answer is simple. And the sad, simple answer is at the moment, consumers simply don't care enough about climate change to in a small pocket of consumers do, and maybe 10 or 20% of consumers make their purchasing decisions based on sustainability. The vast majority of consumers at this moment in time don't care enough, which is going to change at some point in the next 5 to 10 years. The sooner that changes the better. And members of the public need to realise they can have way more of an impact when it comes to fighting. Change, fight, climate change with how they spend their money every single day and how they vote every four or five years. So consumers need to, and it's a sad thing to say. But ultimately consumers need to care more, and as soon as consumers care more and demand that of companies, the companies will change. But until there's that huge demand from consumers, there's not enough incentive for the big companies, who are mostly public, who want to make money for their shareholders to make less money if they have to invest in sustainability. So at the moment they're focused on making money for their shareholders and members of the public. It's going to change, but the vast majority of the public don't care enough yet about sustainability to force big companies to change. JAMES KENNEDY: All right, that's a very interesting answer and very well put as well. I didn't see that one, but I thought you were just going to say there are a bunch of greedy bastards that don't care because they've got their underground dungeons with their maids and their robots. They don't care. JAMES WATT: No. So so they care about one thing. I mean, they care about their sales, and it's so the The consumer has got so much power, but also so much responsibility here because soon as the consumer demands that and as soon as the consumers only starts buying the most sustainable things in the category, everything, everything will have to aspire to that bar. So it's a bizarre thing to say about how consumers spend their money is one of the key factors in if we're able to successfully fight climate change on this planet. JAMES KENNEDY: And do you think then? I mean, you guys answer this question for me. But do you think it is possible for all businesses to, survive and have longevity and make profit and do all the things that a business needs to do while still being ethical, sustainable and not having an army of eight year olds in a sweatshop somewhere? So is it possible? Because they say a lot of them say that we wouldn't make any money if we did that. JAMES WATT: It's absolutely possible. But coming back to that adaptability point, it's going to require adaptability. So if they keep doing the same thing, not possible if they're willing to change if they're willing to evolve, then absolutely, absolutely possible. But it's that disability. It's that nimbleness. It's that willingness to be able to change things that may been done that way for 10 20 30 40 50 years. However, we have to make change as society, as individuals, as companies to fight this crisis that we're facing JAMES KENNEDY: Love it. Well, I'm keeping an eager eye on the clock here, and I'm I'm trying to rattle through as many questions as I can. I've got you here in front of me. So I hope you don't mind throwing at you. JAMES WATT: I like the speed. We actually got an internal saying in our company that we like to count time in dog years. So I think any company like speed, especially in small company like speed, is your superpower, like so many kind of big companies. So many industries are so slow, so bureaucratic. So if a normal company wants usually does something in seven days, we want to do it in a day. If a normal company does something in seven weeks, we want to do it in a week. A normal company does something in seven months. We want to do it in a month. So we love to count time in dog years. And that speed has enabled us to go from two humans and a dog to the 14th most valuable beer on the planet in just under 15 years. JAMES KENNEDY: Amen. But you're clearly very comfortable with the speed. So you you're keeping me on my toes on my paws. Excuse me? That was that was bad. That was bad. But I want to move away from this sort of marketing and the corporate and the punk rock and down to the personal level, because your life, I'm guessing, has changed immeasurably. You know, you you you You've kind of, you know, for people on the outside who who are like starting up a business or a band or whatever it might be you've you've done it. You know what I mean, you've started out. You put the whole new, disruptive model you've taken on the mainstream, and now you've got all the success to to show for it. And you're still true to your values. You've got great, great product that's very well respected and loved on the streets. Has it changed you as a person at all? How has it changed your life? Is it like we all imagine it is that once you get to the top of that mountain, it's all fucking awesome. And life is great and you know you're bathing and your millions. Or is it just you, you're the same guy but now you just got less time and more shit to do and more pressure and more stress. I mean, is it is it what we imagine? Or is it something else? JAMES WATT: Great question. So for me, it's it's never been about the money at all. And if it was about the money, I would have sold the business completely three or four years ago. And I'd be like sitting on a beach somewhere, drinking a cocktail and never have to do anything ever again. And that that's not who I am. That's not what I want For me, it's always been about, like, stating something enduring something that we're proud of. So, like myself and my team are given our kind of energy or time or commitment or passion, like we want to build something kind of look back in 5, 10 years time and be proud to be part of that. We've tried to be part of a company that did something differently, that the climate that changed the beer industry and it's it's nice to be successful. I still live in the same place that I lived in before I was before I was successful. I still I still do the same things I still like. My best friends to this day are the people that I used to work with on the on the fishing boat. So I I think my my life and who I am is kind of changed very, very little and still so focused on like every single day I wake up just like I did in like the first, the first week. It's like this is what I love. This is my hobby. I get to do this as a job. I get to work with people I love. I get to make something that brings people joy. That brings people together, that they can find that they can find, like enjoyment and relaxation and the beauty, the beauty. And I get to elevate the state of of fear, which is something I'm insanely passionate about, so I wouldn't want to stop for a second. Hopefully, I'm doing this in 5, 10, 15, 20 years time because it's something I absolutely a door. And the success is the Ah, the success has been good, but still very much the same person in the same place. Try to do the same thing just, I guess, with a bit more kind of personal comfort, which which is nice, but, the ability to the ability to scale. And I often kind of get asked by journalists and kind of people interviewing me like, what do I think of what we've done, what we've achieved, what we've built in the 1st 15 years, and I wouldn't say I'm callously indifferent to it, but I I'm reasonably indifferent to it. So for me, what is exciting is OK, what can we do from from here. So we've built ourselves an amazing platform. We now make beer and high tech beautiful facilities in in Scotland, in Columbus, Ohio, in Berlin, in Australia, in China, in Japan, in in Ireland, we've now got distribution in 65 countries. We've got an equity punk community of 220,000. So what we've done so far? Ok, what can we do from here? How can we turn our business into the world's leading beer company at the same time?Showing business can be a force for good, flying the flag for sustainability and elevating the status of beer in as many people's lives as possible. And that's what I'm excited about, that that's what gets me out of bed every morning. And that's what I'm determined to put everything the line to try and achieve over the next decade. JAMES KENNEDY: Love it long will you continue, man. I mean, how do you, I got one more personal question. How do you manage your, the practicalities of your insane workload, then? I mean, do you get down time? Do you get rest time? Do you get to exercise? Because, like, I'm not flying anywhere near the level you are, man. I'm you know, I spend most of my time in a house in my pyjamas like I am now, you know, like, do it, do a podcast. I'm supposed to be writing my second book, which I've been working on for fucking months and recording a new record. Like I get to do you know, all my favourite things in the house. But even even I struggle to find time, to meditate, to exercise, to eat well, to visit my mum, to have some downtime and see the misses. I can't imagine how hard that must be for you. Do you manage to do any of those things? Or is your life just fucking high speed? JAMES WATT: No, I mean, I I have to and I think it's so so important. And what I find if I don't make time to do those things, I don't take the best version of me to work. If I don't take time to exercise, if I don't take time to kind of spend quality time with my daughters if I don't ensure that I eat well, if I don't ensure that I sleep well, I'm also huge at the cold water immersion at the moment. So if I don't make time to go in my, my, my if I don't do those things, if I don't get enough outside time, I I I maybe like 70% of the and work ethic and like focus that I think I need to take to work. So it's almost if I'm building up the blocks of my time. Obviously, I want to be I I work a lot like a hell of a lot and I want every hour that I work to be as effective as it possibly can be. But I know that over the course of a week, if I don't make time to do those other things, those hours that I work are not going to be as effective. So it almost I don't feel guilty about doing those things because I know that the work that I do is going to be better, because I do those things that I enjoy and because I do those things that keep me, keep me healthy, keep me focused, keep me connected and such an important way of using my time. And I'm like so into time management. So every single human, regardless how successful they are, regardless of how much money they are, all gets 24 hours in a day. And for me, what determines to a large extent how successful someone is is how effectively they use their time over the course of a day. So I do loads of things like I I batch my meetings. I only reply to emails at certain times and too many people, they just kind of they have no structure to how they use their time. So they'll send an email. They do a hop about every time you switch tasks. It costs you focus. It costs you energy. It's a kind of more likelihood to get distraction, and it can throw a bit of kind of social media strolling in at the same time. So I I monitor how many minutes I use my phone a day. I monitor how many minutes I'm on social media a day extra that I record that I try and keep that so I can focus on other things. I spend a lot of time doing what I would call like deep focused work so my favourite way to work is a do not disturb sign on my door with noise cancelling headphones on. I give my phone to my assistant and I turn it off and you need to create that space to focus because otherwise you're trying to do deep work. But at the same time, you pack away an inbox, you jump on to social media, you do a phone call, you need to create the space for that. And then I also like to block out significant amount of time spent with my team. But I like to do that kind of back to back to back. So I'm in that mode where I need to be engaging where I need to be a leader where I need to connect with with people so thinking very consciously about how I use my time, how I structure that time and how I minimise the opportunity cost of wasted time by switching between tasks and how I maximise the focus I have. I think it really helps me, and the difference between a productive week in a in a less productive week is absolutely massive. But then, if you times that by 52 if you times that by 520 over the course of a decade. So I truly believe that these little things can add up if you do them again and again again, So can they. Really discipline, disciplined and structured in terms of how I use my time and kind of how I allocate the focus that I have That is some great advice. JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah. I mean, I'm guilty of a lot of those errors myself. I'm trying to write a book, and then I'll I'll take I take a break. I'll go on Facebook and then half an hour later, you know, it's like, What am I doing? So yeah, I'll be Oh, wow. JAMES WATT: My uncle's got a new dog. Oh. JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, that's really interesting. I'm gonna spend half an hour talking about that. So I'm guilty of that myself. So I'm gonna take that away, for sure. Because I got I got a lot of shit that I gotta get done. JAMES WATT: The best work that I always do is when I'm completely undistracted. So you've got to carve out a few hours at a time. No internet, no phone calls, No connection, nothing. And you need to almost decouple your head from where things are. So you can't something I often say to the team and say, Say to myself as well, You can't build the future if you're so concerned with what's happening at the moment. So you've got to kind of create that space to be able to look ahead and build something. And I think I've got some good qualities that as I see you, I've probably got some things I need to work on as well. I think my strongest my strongest suit, is that ability to kind of build something, create something. But you've got to give your head the space and time to be able to do that. JAMES KENNEDY: That is great advice. Yeah, I will definitely be taking that on board myself. What do you get from the cold border therapy? JAMES WATT: Oh, I love it. So I started doing it about two years ago. I actually one of the investments that I've made recently is a company called Monk, which is designing a beautiful kind of ice bath to go in people's homes, and I originally started doing it to kind of help recover from from work out from exercise. But what I'm really into now is the kind of mental health benefit. So every time you do it, regardless of how many times you've done it, it is it is still very difficult. But I've now got like a ice bath in, in in in my home, so every morning or going for 2.5 3 minutes. And the fact the kind of sense of accomplishment that you've done something that difficult first thing in the morning and it's impossible not to feel good. Afterwards, you get kind of flooded with flooded with endorphins. You kind of feel more alive than after you've had kind of two or three coffees, but it's also kind of so beneficial for your heart, for your muscles, for your recovery. But that kind of buzz that high, that focus that kind of sense of accomplishment as, it's always a very difficult 22 minutes and what I love about it as well. You've got to be exactly there, so you've got to be so focused and so present. If your head somewhere else, you need to jump out after 10 seconds, you need to be calm. You need to slow your breathing down. I always find it difficult to meditate because my head is quite noisy. You can't have a noisy head when you're in cold water. You've got to be so calm, so focused, so relaxed. So so in that moment. So I think there's so many benefits, I think it's gonna be the next. It's quite niche at the moment. I think it's gonna be the next big mainstream health thing that more and more people people do. And it's just got so so many benefits and also benefits in terms of kind of weight loss. It kind of eats up off your body as well. Benefits in terms of kind of reducing inflammation, reduce some kind of aches and pains in your body, and if you exercise, if you work out, it massively speeds up recovery as well and huge amount of mental health benefit benefits as well. So I would encourage everyone to do it, and and you don't need to have an ice bath. So I started by doing kind of 15 seconds every day at the end of the shower, on cold and after a few weeks. You build it up to 30 seconds and 45 seconds in a minute. And if I'm travelling, if I'm in a hotel, if I don't have access to the ice back itself, it's just two minutes full cold at the end of the shower and you get exactly the same benefits. You don't even need to invest in anything and anyone can get the benefits. So it's it's, it's It's tough, it's tough. But doing something tough kind of builds up mental resilience, and everyone needs a kind of good, good amount of mental resilience. I think so. For me, it's a It's a fantastic thing. And I would, one of the things that I'm kind of most reluctant to to not do as part of my day. JAMES KENNEDY: Well, you you've convinced me to give it a go because a few people have mentioned it on the podcast, and it does sound like something I definitely need to do. Oh, God, the idea of that just fills me with terror, so I I'll give it a try. I'll give it a try, and I'll tweet about how I got on with it. JAMES WATT: Ok, let me let me know. I'm excited to hear how you how you got on JAMES KENNEDY: It won't be good. JAMES WATT: And maybe if we do the podcast again, we can We can do it whilst we're up to the neck in ice water. JAMES KENNEDY: Yes. And we'll have the aforementioned pint of Black Heart as well. JAMES WATT: That's the one. JAMES KENNEDY: Let's do it. Sounds good. JAMES WATT: See how many minutes the podcast is, Maybe one or two. JAMES KENNEDY: I think you'll win that. I'll be like, Fuck this. I'm out of here, man. I'm more than happy for you to win. Well, James, I got one last question before I let you go, because I'm gonna try and get away early because I know you got shit to do. We've got quite a few it themes in common. As I said, I'm in a band. My band is called James Kennedy and the Underdogs, which was taken from my book that came out in, in the lockdown. My life was a rock and roll underdog. I was I'm a political punk rock band. My album is called Make Anger Great Again. I know you've got a thing called Make Earth great again. And also I've got a thing called the Dog House, which is fans with flaws basically touring out and about because we're like a DIY punk band. We've got, a database of fans that put us up on their sofas and their floors, and it's called the Dog House. So we've got quite a few with dog related themes there that come from my band name. I just wanted to double check. I'm not gonna have that. I'm not gonna get chewed up by the Brew Dog mafioso at any point, you know, Am I or is the is the head dog giving me a green light and said It's OK? JAMES WATT: You are all good and like some of those things that you just mentioned that can I see so much resonance with what we do? And I love some of those initiatives you're doing. So I will definitely check out the band and check out the book. JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, thank you so much, man. I'll send you some shit, man. I'll send it to your assistant. I'll get whatever the irrelevant P O box is to send it to and I'll post it across. JAMES WATT: Well, we can we can Thank you by sending you some beer as well. JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, well, I will never, ever say no to that. So thank you so much, man. I really appreciate it, James. I'm gonna let you go now, man, because I know you got loads of important shit to do. Thank you so so much for giving us your time today, dropping all the pearls of knowledge and wisdom on us. And thanks for quenching our thirst with all these gorgeous amber neck jama over all these years as well. And for sticking it to the big dogs and bringing a bit of punk rock to the pint glass. So thank you so much, man. And I hope to see you again soon. JAMES WATT: Awesome, loved the conversation. Love the questions. And thanks for having me JAMES KENNEDY: Any time at all, man. Thanks again, James. Speak to you soon, mate. Take care. JAMES WATT: Speak to you soon. Take care. Bye bye. JAMES KENNEDY: There you go, guys. Raise your glasses and howl like drunken Dobermans. The main dog of the brew, Mr James Watt. I hope you enjoyed that chat. That guy certainly knows his stuff? He's got a lot to say and he does not mince his words. There's a lot of great info and advice there, I think for anyone running or starting a business or indeed a band or whatever, you know, it's very kind of James to share all of that wisdom so generously. And, you know, I I unfortunately I got so carried away with all the questions I totally forgot to ask him, as I always do with the guests. You know what is coming up from HQ. Which fortunately, you know, these guys don't need my help with any promo, so I'm sure he's gonna be OK about that. But as I mentioned earlier, the guys do have a creamy new addition to their arsenal of fun called Black Heart, which is absolutely fucking delicious Stout and is available at all of their bars as of right now and also in can form at the supermarket. And I would 100% recommend that you go and sink one of those cold bar boys at the first opportunity. I know James and Co have had a lot of criticism over the years for different things, and I know that they are divisive and I know that people are going to be saying to people, Why didn't you grill him about this and grill him about that, you know? But that's, you know, I'm not. I'm more interested in the wisdom and the learning opportunities. This this ain't fucking Jeremy Paxman, you know what I mean? And I just think that is such an interest investing a unique entity in the world of business and what they've done is so interesting. So I'm much more interested in getting into the minds behind all that and the practical insights that you lucky bastards can gain from someone who's clearly supremely talented in areas that I and I'm guessing most of you motherfuckers are certainly not. So why not listen and learn? You know what I'm saying? You don't need me to tell you, but Brew Dog are at Brew Dog dot com at Brew Dog on Twitter and Brew Dog official on Instagram and Mr James Watt is at Brew Dog James on Twitter and Instagram. So go and give them a follow. I hope you gained some useful ideas there and some definitely some food for thought. As always, do leave some comment. Start a conversation, join a conversation, share the episode around and let me know what you guys think. Don't forget to subscribe and join the Secret Society at www.JamesKennedystuff.com/tribe. JAMES KENNEDY: And I will see you again next week with another awesome awesome guest until next time, my friends have a great week. Fight the power and I love you loads.
#46 - MARK SCHAEFER - MARKETING ESSENTIALS FOR 2023
Mark Schaefer is one of the worlds leading marketing experts as well as an author, public speaker, blogger, podcaster and educator. His clients include companies like Adidas, Dell, Pfizer & Microsoft and his best selling books include 'Marketing Rebellion', 'Known' and 'Belonging to The Brand'. He has spoken in 35 countries, his books have been translated into 14 languages and his podcast has been downloaded more than ONE and a half million times. Here he shares his essential insights about social media, brand marketing, community building, mindset and...the big question! Crucial info for anyone hoping to get heard above the noise in 2023. Hear our conversation at : https://linktr.ee/jameskennedypodcast TRANSCRIPT What is up. Welcome back to the James Kennedy Podcast Episode 46 baby! I hope you enjoyed last week's chat with the awesome awesome Awesome Rou Reynolds from the awesome awesome awesome Enter Shikari who are currently tearing it up around the world as we speak. If you haven't listened to it yet, go and check it out. That is one cool dude dropping some knowledge. And since that one came out, I've already lined up another tonne of awesome guests who are going to be coming your way really, really soon. So stay tuned. Also, since we last spoke, I attended a performance of a song that I co-wrote with the uber talented and lovely Miss Cat Southall called ‘Sing for Life’, which was performed by the Tenovus Cancer Choir at the Saint David's Theatre in Cardiff. It was a 400 piece choir performing a song that we wrote a good few years back now, which is be very close to both of our hearts. We wrote it specifically for the cancer charity in Cardiff called Tenovus and at the time they were trialling a new programme where they were trying to see if singing, specifically singing in choirs, brought about any physiological benefits to people suffering with cancer or, you know, the after effects of treatment and that sort of thing. There was a documentary on Channel 4 about this, which followed the choir's journey from having never sung before to getting a standing ovation at the Royal Albert Hall in London. It was a hell of a journey, very, very emotional. Like I said, it was a few years back for us now, and we wrote a song called Sing for Life, which was kind of came after the documentary on Channel Four, which was called Sing for Your Life. And it's become kind of like their anthem as such, you know, and it's a song that's personally very close to both of our hearts. Obviously, I lost my father to that awful disease as well last year, and just the significance of what the lyrics mean and the fact that the people singing it are all affected by cancer. So seeing a 400 strong choir of people from the community, not professional singers who are all going through something singing that song loud and proud in a packed out Saint David's Theatre in Cardiff was really, really something, and it was a fundraiser for the charity's 80th birthday, and it was a bill packed full of Welsh talent including Only Men Allowed were there, and of course, the incredible Amy Wadge who performed the set of absolute bangers, including, Thinking Out Loud and the song from Keeping Faith. I mean, her back catalogue at this point is absolutely insane. There's not an A list music star on the planet that she hasn't written for at this point. And it's mental because I saw Amy, you know, I used to know Amy, obviously, it's been a long, long time since we, you know, we we've spoken in that capacity. But, you know, I used to go to her shows when she was playing like solo acoustic gigs in a club in Cardiff, you know, 20 years ago to like, you know, a handful of people and I look at her now man, you know what I mean. She's writing songs for Ed Sheeran and literally everybody else. It's absolutely incredible. So to see her in the theatre playing some of those songs really kind of, like hit home just how far she's come and how possible the dream is as well, you know? I mean, I'm seeing someone there that I used to know who's now living a completely different life. It was a lovely night all around. And to hear our song as well, you know, in perfect harmony with 400 voices. It was yeah, it was a very emotional, touching night. So that's what I got up to last week, Amongst other things still plugging on with the book, you know, making good headway with that, I'd say I'm about halfway through now and, yeah, I mean, the more time I spent writing this thing, the more into it I get and the more I kind of just want to rush it out so you guys can read it, But unfortunately, publishing takes a long, long time, so I don't know when it's gonna be, but it's certainly not going to be this year before you get your mits on the thing. But things are gearing up with the band as we speak, there will be some new material, hopefully soon, as well as some other cool things we've been working on for a while now behind the scenes. And of course, there will be some shows coming really, really soon. So if you are on my mailing list, you will get the first announcements of where we're going to be playing. If you're not on the mailing list, what are you doing on there right now? The address for that is www.JamesKennedystuff.com/tribe. Get in there, whack your email address in and put the city in the country that you live in as well. Because then, when we're planning our tour routing, we can see who's where, and we can come and play for you. So make sure you put the details in. Do subscribe. Don't worry, I don't spam. I send about one mail out, like every month or something like that when there's some good shit to talk about. So don't worry about getting spam, but please do head to James Kennedy stuff dot com slash tribe. Enter yourself into our mailing list. And then hopefully we can come and make some noise and have some good times with you guys. Super soon. Now that is the promo Out of the way. I think we should get down to business and bring on the real talent of today's episode. Man, Have I got a good one for you guys today? Today's guest by no means needs to come on, my little podcast. They are already crushing it on pretty much every level, from best selling books to podcasts to Ted talks and TV appearances and sold out speaking engagements around the world. You know, they they don't need to come and talk to me, but they very, very kindly offered to come and give their time freely and to give awesome nuggets of knowledge and insight that is going to help all of you lucky listeners. So do not say I'm not good to you. And do not tell me that you haven't yet subscribed to the podcast. Whatever platform you're listening to this on press pause right now and go and it follow Subscribe. Whatever you got to do, give me a star rating. You know, the usual jazz that I nag you about every week. Go and do it right now. I just want to get down to business and bring on today's guest because they have got so much knowledge that I want to tap into. And I had so many questions I want to ask them, and it's so little time to do so. So let's get on with it and bring on the star of the show. Mark Schafer is one of the world's leading marketing experts, as well as an author, public speaker, blogger, podcaster and educator. His clients include companies like Adidas, Dell, Pfizer and Microsoft, and his best selling books include Market in Rebellion, known and Belonging to the Brand. He has spoken in 35 countries. His books have been translated into 14 languages, and his podcast has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times. So I think it's safe to say that we're in pretty good hands today, guys. Mark, thank you so so much for doing this, my man. How you doing? MARK SCHAEFER: Hey, I am doing great. It's just awesome to connect with you. JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, likewise, man. 100%. I mean, I've been looking forward to this conversation ever since we locked it in. I mean, there are so many things I want to ask you, but I think we should just jump in head first and start with the biggie. MARK SCHAEFER: The biggie, the biggie. Oh, my gosh. What could what could it be? I'm tingling. JAMES KENNEDY: What? What is the meaning of life? Mark, What is the meaning of life? Tell us. The biggie for me is this right? I have lots of music industry guests on here, and we all talk about the merits of the new model versus the old myself. In particular, I'm a big evangelist for the new model that I can record my own music and put it out this next day if I want to. There are no gatekeepers or curators telling me what I can and can't do. It's empowering. It's democratisation. It's it's levelled the playing field. It's awesome. The problem comes when you want to put it out there and you're confronted with the realisation that everybody else on Planet Earth is also doing that. And this is a question that nobody in the music industry in particular, has been able to answer for me yet concisely is, What the hell do you do to get heard above the noise of everybody else also doing their thing? MARK SCHAEFER: That is the big question. And you, You know, it's funny. That's basically what I have devoted my career to for the last 12 years, or maybe even longer. And And it kind of started around 2011, where I made this observation that and, you know, you and I before you pushed record, we started talking about the shift, right. The shift in the world, the shift in the industry, the shift with media. For me, it was really happening around 2010 2011. And I saw that the power in the world was moving from these big consolidated media companies and advertising agencies to the people. Once you can start creating content and remember, you know, in the early days of the Internet, being a musician or an artist, it really wasn't that feasible because we didn't have the bandwidth. We couldn't download anything right? You couldn't upload, you couldn't download. But then things started moving along, and that's when the power started to shift. So in 2012, I wrote the first book on influence marketing called Return On Influence. Nobody was even talking about it. Nobody was even using that word. But this was a significant change where people, creators, artists, musicians, they could start creating their own brand on the Web. They could create their own influence, their own power, their own audience without a gatekeeper. This was a historic moment. This was a historic moment. So that was sort of the beginning of this trajectory. Ok, I saw the power shifting. I wrote this big book and then, ever since then I've been trying to figure out OK, what do we do about it? Because it's true. And it happened. And now everybody's creating content and music and art. And now, if you thought it was noisy before, you ain't seen nothing yet, because now we've got Chat GPT and we've got Now we've got robots creating our content, and they never get tired and they never get hungry. And they, you know, don't go on strike. So that's they're gonna be creating infinite amounts of content. In some ways, it's great because it unleashes a new level of creativity. I mean, let's say you're a you're a musician, but but you're just you're not a good writer. And what Chat GPT does is it is it does for writing what the calculator did for math. Right? If you hated math, the calculator made you adequate. You could do your taxes even if you never even understood what you were doing. And chat can do that now for for writing. We've got, programmes out there like mid journey. You can do that sort of thing for art. You know, I'm I'm now creating, you know, artificial intelligence generated art. For all of my content. All of my blogs. Oh, wow. And it's beautiful and compelling, and it's it's and it's fun to do. It's just fun to create. And so So the The positive of the beautiful thing about this James, is that it's it unleashes a whole new level of creativity. If you if you if you were afraid of writing now you can be a writer. You know, if you never were that artistic, now you can create beautiful images. You can do art that goes along with your music at at the push of a button So that's the good. That's the good part about it. The exciting part about it. And, But there are also, you know, a lot, a lot of challenges, but but that. But that you, you are asking the right question is, is is is what do we do? And I think the short answer and maybe we can explore this a little bit more is, So I wrote a book in 2019 called Marketing Rebellion. And the subtitle was, the most human company wins. So it's most human, fill in the blank. Most human university, most human symphony, most human nonprofit because that is the key to how you stand out in this world is is to recognise that people want to experience the authentic human connection. You got to peel back the curtain and show the world. This is what it's like to be me. This is the good. This is just like you did in your book, right? You peeled back the curtain and said, OK, this is what it's like to be me. This is what I'm learning. This is how I'm growing. This is these are these are the mistakes I made and that that that vulnerability is missing in in most of the world and all of the marketing. So if they if they if they get that from you, you you earn this connection that can turn into community. JAMES KENNEDY: Great point. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. There is a kind of like an advertising burnout. Isn't there fatigue? You know, we've been have you get content saturation from every angle. Everybody's on the make. Everybody's trying to sell you something to someone that just have a direct, humane conversation with you is a breath of fresh air because everybody's got something to sell and as you said, it's a very, very noisy world out there right now and how anyone makes any sense of it. I don't know. I think my community struggles a lot with this because we may be talented in in a creative areas but not necessarily talented in business or marketing areas. So so we do struggle with that sort of thing. But we are, ironically, perfectly placed because communication and authenticity and artistic expression is what we do, you know. So we we you would think we would be best at it. I think the confusion within my community, definitely from my own experience and that of my peers, is we're not really entirely sure what the process of marketing is in a basic sense. What are the sort of key fundamental principles of marketing? What am I doing? What am I hoping to achieve? How do I start and how do I get there? And how do I keep it going? MARK SCHAEFER: This is a good intellectual challenge for me to describe the marketing process in five minutes or less. JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah, sorry, man, no pressure MARK SCHAEFER: I don't think I've ever done this before, James. So here we go. All right, Number one. What is marketing? Marketing is the process of creating a customer. You know, underneath that there's a lot of things you can do. You kind of have to understand what your customers like and where they are and what's going on in their lives and how much money they have. But essentially it's creating a customer. For a musician, it's creating a fan that's gonna buy your work. Ok, Now there are two different kinds of marketing, and this is where a lot of people get confused. One is direct marketing. So this would be if you go into a store and you see a coupon for Coca Cola. Coca Cola, they need to move more product. They can. They can have a coupon and the cans and then they'll sell more stuff. And it's pretty easy to measure you. You do coupons. You sell more stuff. It's pretty easy to measure. That's called direct marketing that's not so relevant to artists and musicians. I mean, I'm imagining you've probably never had a sale. You know, you probably never said it's Boxing Day. We're going crazy. Two for one special. I mean, that's not how it works right now. Here's what does work. This is the second kind of marketing, and that's called Brand Marketing. So let's go back to the Coca Cola example. I gave a speech in Poland before the pandemic, and it was it was a huge thousands of people in this audience. It was an amazing event, and I said, when you think of Coca Cola, what do you what do you think of? It's sort of a rhetorical question, but somebody from the audience yells out polar bears. So even in even in Poland, you think of Coca Cola. That's polar bears. Now why? Why does Coca Cola do that? Because they don't want you to think about, you know, high caloric sugar water that makes you sick, right? They want wanna create an expectation of feeling when you interact with this product. It's supposed to make you warm and friendly and happy, and you share it with family special occasions and you drink it on the beach. That's Coca Cola. It's a feeling that you expect now. Now we're getting somewhere. So the key to marketing for a musician or an artist is to create a feeling that you expect, and you deliver on that feeling every time and that feeling is gonna connect to your audience. That's why some people might like Taylor Swift and some people might like Radiohead, and some people might like Ozzy Osborne. They're completely different feelings, completely different expectations, but it connects to you in some authentic and organic way. Ok, now all right. So here we are. Our job as a musician is to create a meaning, a feeling that connects us to our audience. That makes us different. That creates loyalty. Because as long as you deliver on that, and that's why a musician might struggle. So let's say you got a, you know, a rock and roll artist, and then all of a sudden they create a country album. Now you're gonna lose to a lot of people because the expectation has been breached. Ok, so that's so that's really what marketing is about. Now the good thing about the world today is that every person and every artist has an opportunity to reach directly to their fans through any you know, all kinds of different kinds of social media, you know, outlets, and so we don't have to worry about gatekeepers. We don't have to pay advertising agencies. We just have to really show up in a human way that reflects our brand. That's consistent with our brand. And typically, you know, as you sort of mentioned that, you know, an artist and their persona, it's generally gonna be consistent with who they are, anyway. I mean, unless you're, like, Kiss, you know, then all bets are off. But, you know, for most you know, singer songwriters, you you're gonna be, so the idea is, how can you take people along on your journey and let them in on what you're doing Now, here. Now we're gonna connect the last dot and this really, this is where I have a new book out. So this is this is like, the evolution of my thinking, and my new book is about community. So most artists, naturally, they're doing something on social media. Social media is cool. Because it gives you the opportunity to connect to people who have never heard of you before. So you can reach this vast new audience. You've got the potential to, you know, possibly reach the whole world. But it's a weak relational link. I have 180,000 followers on Twitter. If I put out on Twitter. Hey, everybody. I've got a new book, you know? Or I got a new album out. How many people will buy it? Almost none. Because it's like throwing a message in a bottle out into the ocean, right its ephemeral. The people are there. The connection is possible. But I mean, is it really gonna connect with people? So the strategy is to take them to the next step, which is an audience. So do you have something they can subscribe to? A blog, a podcast, a video series, an INSTAGRAM account. Now it's not throwing a bottle into the ocean. It's reliable reach. They're saying, I love you. I want to hear from you. I want to know everything about you. And now you've got an audience. And if you say I've got a new album out, they're gonna buy a lot of albums, right? So the strategy is, you know, create this, you know, brand, connect on social media, but bring the social media, you know, connections into an audience, encourage them to subscribe. Now, unfortunately, this is where more most businesses and most artists stop. You know, I've got my thing, I've got my audience. That's cool. The ultimate emotional connection. That's what we want. We want the strongest possible emotional connection that is a community. Ok, so let's use Kiss as an example. Kiss. They've got the brand. They're on social media. They've got, you know, they've got an audience, but they've also got the Kiss Army, the Kiss freaking Army. Now here's the difference in an audience. It's a cult of personality. If you go away, the audience goes away. But in a community people know each other. There's communion. There's a purpose bigger than the music. It's like, look at my Kiss, T-shirt. Look at my Kiss makeup. You look at my recording from this show. Oh my gosh, they're on their final tour, right? And so it's like a neighbourhood. And here's the interesting thing that I found in my research, James. So my new book is called Belonging to the Brand - The Last Great Marketing Strategy. Because, you know, you know, we we're blocking ads. We're in a streaming economy. We don't want ads, We don't see ads. We don't believe ads, but we need community. We don't just want community. We need community to be fully human beings. We have got to be in community. This is the only kind of marketing that people actually want. So the key the ultimate is to bring people into a community and then and then focus on getting people once they know each other. And they have a place where their friends are, they're never gonna leave you because that means they gotta leave their friends, right? Yeah, it literally belong to the brand. Yeah, A community creates a layer of emotional switching costs. They can't leave you. They're gonna always be loyal to you because that's where their peeps are. That's where their friends are. And its the most powerful kind of marketing there is. So there you go. That is artistic marketing strategy in five minutes. JAMES KENNEDY: That was amazing. Thank you so much for doing that. If there was an audience here now, there'd be a standing ovation. MARK SCHAEFER: I'll just imagine it in my mind. JAMES KENNEDY: Yes, yes. Please do, because when this episode goes out, there will be a fragmented audience all around the world who will be doing exactly that like finally, finally, it makes sense. Now someone has just condensed it all down succinctly into five minutes and cleared up all of the noise on this issue. So thank you so much for doing that. That was brilliant. And a lot of what you said resonated with me personally because I've fallen foul to a lot of those pitfalls myself. In the sense that when I first discovered the power of social media, I really threw myself into it head first, and I built up organically a large audience of over several 100,000 followers across my various pages online, which was awesome, right? But only a very small proportion of that following became an actual engaged audience and listening to what you just said, I think it's because I focused exclusively on attracting as large an audience as I could and not on building an actual intimate human community. So what's the missing link there? How does one go from utilising the amazing powers of social media to attract and build their tribe, you know, but also to then develop that into the sort of self sustaining community that you just described? MARK SCHAEFER: Well, there are two things I think in terms of the artists. I mean, normally, if I was talking about a company, I would start with the culture of the company I mean, is it a cult of? Is it a company that really cares about their customers, or do they just want to hit their quarterly sales number? I assume if you're an artist or a band, that doesn't really matter, because you are the culture. Now here's the big thing that a lot of people miss is. Well, let's go back to this idea of brand and what you stand for. Here's an example that's easy to understand Patagonia. So when you hear this brand Patagonia, you know, they stand for environmental sustainability, responsible recreation. I mean everything they do and everything they say. I mean, I think I just read last year the like the founder of the company is selling the company and taking all the profits and giving it to environmental causes. So I mean, that's what they're about. I've got a friend who only buys Patagonia, which, by the way, is not the cheapest clothing. But he says, I only buy Patagonia because my purpose intersects with their purpose. So he literally belongs to the brand. So you get back to this idea of like, what do you what do you stand for you know, What do you stand for? What kind of sense of fun or what sense of social commitment Or you know what? What? What's going on with you and then you You you move people into a community because they wanna be part of whatever you're part of. It might just be fun. It might just be I wanna be entertained in a certain way. That's perfectly fine. Other other ways, it might be people wanna they wanna grow. Maybe they wanna change the world in the same way you do. And the artist might think, Well, look, I can change the world in a bigger way. If I've got my fans with me, I can have more fun. If I have my fans with me, I can create better art If I have my fans with me. I can get on a bigger stage if I can have my fans with me. So what can you do? Bigger and better and have a bigger impact. If people are coming alongside you because they believe in the same thing you do. So that's the That's the next thing and then they need a they need a place to gather. It could be I mean, a lot of people today are going on to Discord. My community is on Discord. I have a community dedicated to learning about the future of marketing. There are people there from all over the world challenging each other with new ideas. Now, you know, how does that grow? You know how my purpose is. You know, I'm I'm writing books and blogging and giving speeches about the future of marketing. So that's my purpose. And that's their purpose. And we're growing each other, and we're we're learning. And every blog post I write now, every speech I give somewhere in that is an idea that came out of this community. We're pushing each other and learning. And so maybe you say, Hey, everybody, you know, we're gonna get on Discord, and then you set up different chat rooms of things that are going on and maybe every once in a while you come on and give a little You'll you'll play a little song or say hello. Use the audio channel, use the video channel on discord, you know, have a little effect. Prime the pump and then watch the watch for For for For leaders who emerge, people who wanna start a discussion. Maybe they want to start a newsletter about you. Maybe they want to help you with promotions. Maybe you set up people in different cities. If you're on tour, you know, on the ground kind of people and you find those volunteers who who build the community for you. And so now I mean, I've got, you know, people in my community were doing experiments in the Metaverse. I'm not doing it. They're organising the whole thing. They decided they some people wanted to start a podcast. We're starting a podcast. We're writing a book. We're writing a book together. It's gonna come out in in June. We're doing experiments with with NFT’s, and the last thing I'll say is we're talking here about Discord in an online community, but every community has the best communities have an offline component as well. So if you're an artist, you know you have a special section where your community sits or you have a meet and greet or you have a party before the show for your community. So because once they see each other face to face, remember that the love and the friendships in a community that spills over to the artist, that's as important as the love for you. If they love each other, then you don't need any more marketing. Your marketing is over. It's marketing without marketing, because you build this group of people who you know, they're gonna do the marketing for you. They're gonna talk about all the things that they're learning about in this community and spread the word JAMES KENNEDY: That is a great point amongst, you know, many, many amazing points that you've dropped so far. Which is something I hadn't previously considered in my use of social media as my means of, audience generation. Because if I understand what you're saying correctly, you're saying that the role of social media has now changed. It might be be a great place to meet new people and meet your audience, but it is no longer the end destination. It is no longer enough. You now need to have that other home, that other hub where your guys, Your tribe exclusively mingle, which isn't just an open town square, as Elon Musk calls it. You know it. It's your home. It's your club. It's your private membership area where your where your tribe can assemble and become that thriving and collaborative tribe that you describe exactly 100%. MARK SCHAEFER: That's the that's the goal is you know, it's, you know, I don't have a good analogy at the top of my head, but it's almost like, you know, you're you're you're planting the seeds in social media that you that you you know, the harvest comes in your in your audience and then your community. So you wanna you wanna connect with people on social media but somehow encourage them to, you know, to opt into whatever they can subscribe to and then eventually become part of a community on, you know, on on discord or or reddit or wherever you want to have your community. JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah, and there's a lot more platform options now as well, isn't there? You know, outside of the main, the major ones, you know, like, Telegram. You've mentioned Discord already. You know, Mastodon is one that I want to try and check out. MARK SCHAEFER: Now you got to be careful because I don't you know, like Mastodon is is similar to Twitter. It's still an audience, right? So you mean you've got to have a home base like Slack or Circle or a Facebook group, where people can go every day, any time of day, day or night, and they can come in there and meet friends who share their love, share their passion of of what's going on. You've got to have a home base. And as if it's Facebook or Twitter or something like that, it's It's you know, it it it's it's it's probably not even an audience. You've got a you've a community is you know what defines a community is when they know each other. You know, if you've got an audience is great, by the way. I mean, I've got a huge audience and they, you know, they buy my books and they hire me to give speeches and hire me to do marketing and consulting. That's great, but the ultimate connection is is community, and I'll give you Let me give you a quick example of how this works and, So I teach a class on personal branding. So it's, you know, it's it's, you know, it's reasonable, but it's it's $1500. It's still, you know, quite a bit of money. And, so every time I have one of these classes, I have to I have to promote it. I have to put it on social media. I have to put it on LinkedIn. And, you know, I try to limit the class to 10 because I give people a lot of individual attention and then see the last class. I only got eight. I didn't. I couldn't fill the class and I was doing all this work to try to fill the class. And I only got eight in my community. Someone said, You know, Mark, I saw that you teach this class. It would be great if you could teach this class just for our community so that these are people that know each other. We could have friends in this class, and then we could help each other, and then we'd be in this community talking the same language. I said, Well, OK, here's a sign up list. I'll let 10 people in and 10 people signed up in two hours. Wow, No promotion, no social media, no work because it's it's the It's the It's the ultimate marketing. It's marketing with no marketing. My Mark, My If if if my community gets big enough and strong enough, I will never have to worry about content, marketing, advertising or s e o ever again, there's a There's a chapter in my book that it would be very, very relevant to artists. I've written 10 books in the new book Belonging to the Brand, Chapter four. I did something I've never done before. I devoted the entire chapter to one person. There is a woman. She was an entrepreneur, had a great business. This is 2015. She got pregnant. Some people are saying, Well, you know, you gotta give up the business now. You gotta be a mom. Some are saying No, you got this great business. You gotta fight for the business. She decided I wanna do both, but I don't really feel supported. I wanna do both. She started talking about these ideas in a in a Facebook group. She had five or six people that said, Yes, we need a group that will support moms who want to be entrepreneurs. Long story short. She now has a Facebook group with 80,000 women in it. Wow, she's making a million dollars a year. No sales, no marketing, no advertising. Zip, no S e o. No cut up marketing nothing. She has no sales people, no marketing budget at all because she has 80,000 people in this community, she said. My only job is to make them feel validated and safe. This is a safe place to talk about these issues. So she creates courses, videos, coaching events, a paid membership. Vip level, right? She's, she's She's like doubling her business every year with no sales budget, no marketing budget. Any artist could do. Use that model. It's It's like I had this little victory, you know, selling, you know, 10 slots in my class in in, you know, just a couple of minutes and just like, Oh, that's how this works. What if I had 80,000 people in my group? I could sell anything. I could feel everything. My marketing would be over. That's the beauty of community. It's the ultimate marketing. It's the ultimate emotional connection with no marketing. That is incredible. JAMES KENNEDY: What a story. And that makes total sense as well. Because if you if you're a part of that community and you want to do a crowd funder for an album or a project or something like that, that's you. Go to your guys. You know what I mean? MARK SCHAEFER: Because it's It's there. It's all there. JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah, that's awesome, man. Jesus, What a story. And like for a band starting out, then let's say they only have a bunch of followers. You know, they haven't really built much yet, but, you know, they're a kick ass band. They're hard working. They're they're They've got a great brand for want of a better word. They've got a great new album coming out, but they're trying to harness the power of social media towards that end goal example that you just used there. But they're not yet at the stage. Where thing they do is super interesting. And this this is a common complaint that I have from so many of my friends is we get social media despondency, you know, like we run out of steam because the relentless need to find things that are interesting and engaging and fun and or insightful or cool or exciting. It's not always possible because so much of what we do in reality isn't any of those things. You know, there's a lot of admin and emails, and many people have got Day jobs and, you know, shit going on outside of the band and people run out of ideas, they run out of steam. It's very difficult to maintain that kind of momentum, like in a corporation you know they'll have or or in a major label band, you know they'll have a digital department and a team of people constantly making content. But how do we as, speaking about specifically about my community as artists? How do we navigate that without getting a little bit of traction and a little bit of, you know, hype going? And then all of a sudden, it runs out of because you just, you know, or or oftentimes like, like to use my current example. Often times you're too busy doing the thing to be documenting the thing like I've I've just received my advance to write my second book. There's a deadline looming. I've got a crack on with the book as much as I'd love to be, you know, taking pictures and stuff like that for social media. I've got to actually write the damn book. There's nothing interesting or cool or exciting about a picture of me hunched over a laptop writing a book. And there's only so many times I can post that picture because the process of writing a book it is is exactly that. You know what I mean? It's it's not interesting. So how do we harness the power of these platforms to the end destination that you have brilliantly described without having to fall foul to filling the world with more pointless crap or or staged inauthentic crap? Because we know we've got nothing genuinely exciting happening right now, which will obviously have the opposite effect. How do we navigate that? MARK SCHAEFER: Yeah, I mean again. Well, first of all, I I want to back up because you you you you said something interesting that I want to build on. You thought about Well, maybe it's a small band and they've got a great band, but they don't have a lot of followers, or every community starts with five people right. I mean, it's amazing. It's basically you've got five friends or five fans or five customers, five people who just believe in you and love you and want to help you. And that's where it starts. Arguably the biggest community in the world is Twitch started with five people. The stories, the stories in the book, This guy named Justin. He started live streaming his life. He had a camera on his head and just live streamed his life. And everybody thought that was cool and they wanted to do it. So he created this software where you could live stream. You know what's going on in your life? There were these, like these. They were the these gamers and they're saying, We want to live stream people. We want to watch each other, play games And he said, That's not a thing that's not that's not what this is about. No, they said it is a thing. It is a thing, he said, OK, and that's how Twitch got started. Just five or six passionate people who said, Just give us a chance. So I mean, even if you're small and starting out, don't be, you know, concerned about it. I mean, you could be optimistic about it, because here's the difference. Let's you know, for the third time, let's go back to Kiss. Kiss didn't start the Kiss Army. The Army started the Army, right? All right. It was an It was an ex. They got lucky, really. They got lucky in a way. They they had critical mass of people that started this sort of Movement. But But what most bands miss out today, they can create their own Movement. You can be mindful about it. We've got the technology today. That's that's helping us. You know, we talked about, you know, discord and Web three and even like the Metaverse. And, you know, bands artists are using NFT’s in creative ways. There's an A case study in the book where the whole community is built on NFT’s and the NFT’s. You know, get, you know, give you, you know, advantages. And they give you access to certain, you know, opportunities to to create new content, create new stories. So, there there's just so many opportunities. I if if the if, if the band approached this like I'm a startup, right? I'm a startup. I need help. I need help with promotion. I might need help with financing. I might even need even help on, you know, creative input. So in the startup world, most startups, their their marketing begins with community. Saying, look, you're my fans, Let's get going. And then you start with five, and then the five turns to 10 because they because they're saying, Oh, my gosh, I'm having so much fun. I met these cool people, and we're actually getting to have creative input into this, you know, into this band. They're how we get to pick the album cover, you know, or whatever, right? Can you believe this? Or, you know, I did this piece of art and and, you know, this might actually be the the album cover. So people, more and more people get involved, and then the and then, you know, you build the momentum, you know, But you've at least at first you know, you you you've got to be involved. You've got to be accessible. You've got to be open. You've you know, this the same community that I talked about that's built on the NFT’s. It was started by an artist, and and this artist comes in every Day and people watch him draw. So you're sort of like, you know, demeaning yourself in a way about writing the book. Why wouldn't you just pop on every Day and say, Well, here's what I've written today This is where I'm going with the thing or I've hit a I've hit a block today. You know, I I thought I was going this way, and I just thought I was all wrong and I wasn't being honest. And I'm writing the whole darn thing over and or you just Or you said I did my best work today. Let me read this to you or here's a memory I'm sharing in my book. I've never told anyone this before. I'm gonna tell you first, so I mean, there's lots of things that you can do that take five minutes, that it's just peeling back the curtain to say, you know, here's what's you know. Here's what's going on in my in my world today. JAMES KENNEDY: That's fascinating stuff. I mean, it's so interesting for me to hear you say things like that because that would never even occur to me. That's the difference between someone that obviously has a natural talent for this mindset and someone who doesn't for me. I'd be like, Why would anyone care that I'm writing a book? You know, it's boring. It's a boring process. They'll they'll enjoy the book. MARK SCHAEFER: The book is the end game, but James, think how easy this is. It doesn't take a lot of time. It doesn't take a lot of talent. It takes a mindset. You said it exactly right and a mindset is something that anybody can change. It's just a matter of awareness. It's a matter of what you need to do to make it work. That's a little bit different from the way you used to do things. But that's the way the world it's. It's like tuning yourself to the way the world is today, and I I I If you can do that, you can do marketing. JAMES KENNEDY: That's a great point. And I know that my musician friends are going to be virtually high fiving, you know, loving finally having some clarity and inspiration on these, what are often, you know, frustrating and confusing extracurricular things that we also have to do as well as all of the other bloody things we now have to master in this, you know, Day and age. And a common conflict that I know happens amongst many of my friends. And I'm sure it's the same across all industries, too. Certainly for start up and, you know, in independents is how to prioritise our time. We do so much as it is already, and I and I know that a lot of my friends feel like, Well, do I spend the morning, you know, taking selfies and posting on social media? Or do I practise my instrument and write the song and and or the book or whatever it might be and then actually do the thing that ultimately is what I should be doing? And I know that some people, you know do say to designate a Day to doing all of that week social media stuff. And I know that other people just, you know, just constantly do it on the flight. Do you have any recommendations about how to manage that most effectively to maintain consistency? MARK SCHAEFER: Well, it it. It depends on, you know, it depends on the, you know, the situation. If, like when I teach my personal branding class, what I do is, as I emphasise, that the people will create some kind of content, you know, a blog or a podcast or a video or something once a week. And I have them commit to 18 months because it takes 18 months to really see if it's it's it's not a hockey stick, you know. It's not gonna go straight up. It's it's It takes time. It takes patience. It grows slowly, but then it starts to build and it starts. It starts to work, you know, I'll I'll, i'll tell you. Here's an example I use in my class, the Black Keys. So I got to I You know, maybe six or seven years ago, I got to go backstage and meet the Black Keys, and this is when they were just about they were blowing up. I saw them in a place that held 2000 people, and 18 months later they were playing Madison Square Garden. They were blowing up, and I asked Patrick Carney I said, what was it. What, What? What was the thing that just ignited you? He said Nothing, he said. We've been writing and touring for six years, but we just don't stop. We just create, create. We want to do a little bit better week by week, by week, by week, a little bit better on our shows, a little bit better on our songs and you don't give up. So for a personal brand, you know, I recommend, you know, once a week for a community, probably something once a Day. And it could be as simple as I saw something in the news today that blew my mind. What does this mean for artists and let people chime it in? Or I just listened to the most magnificent piece of music today. It reminded me of you, or I just thought, today is the 50th anniversary of the dark side of the Moon album. This was a special impact of me and my life. Tell me what you thought about it, you know, in the community so and then and then. If you do that every Day you'll find after a few weeks the community takes over. They'll start having their own conversations, they'll start creating their own culture. So, you know, I I think personal brand, You know, once a once a week, creating a community where people are gathering in some place like discord. You know, I'd start out doing something once a Day and be consistent and keep the faith. JAMES KENNEDY: I suppose as well, you know, because it can't be challenged. You know, when you're looking at those likes and you can see that no one's in that video that you're already proud of. No one's watched it consist. MARK SCHAEFER: Consistency is more important than genius, right? You know, you just you just keep showing up. If you want to become part of the fabric of someone's life, you gotta show up. You gotta keep showing up, and and and do it on a consistent basis. You know, when I when I've been I started blogging in 2009. I blogged 650 weeks in a row. And then I had it took a little break for Covid got really sick. And then, you know, blogged another 180 weeks in a row. I've had a podcast for. We're in our 11th year. Never missed an episode. Wow, because you just show up. You show up, you show up and they know it's Tuesday. What's Mark gonna send me? And you show up and you and soon you become a habit. You become part of their life. So, community, What's James got for me today? What's going? Oh, look at this. Billy posted something today. That's interesting, too. Oh, now there's three of us, and that's how that's how it works. JAMES KENNEDY: That makes so much, so much sense. Yeah, I I must say you're making me feel like a slacker as well. 11 years without missing an episode. I think I took a week off after my third episode or something, and I think we should mention as well, probably. You know, we haven't mentioned this yet. There is a meritocratic element to this as well, in in the fact that you have to actually be good, you have to actually be delivering something value and something that be be contributing something good to the world. You know, in the case of music, which this episode has been, you know, mostly centred around. You have to be good. You know what I mean? That has to come first. MARK SCHAEFER: Oh, right. You got to deliver the goods. Yeah, Yeah. I mean, people are only gonna talk about your restaurant if the food is good and the price is fair and the bathrooms are clean and you know the and you know it's a it's a you know, it's a clean environment. You've got to deliver the goods in whatever you do, whatever business you are. And if you deliver the goods as a musician, then you've got a chance to build a community and and win and blow up love it. JAMES KENNEDY: But as we come towards the end, I want to ask you about the future, because I'm personally seeing a stark change in the old dinosaur platforms. You know, like Facebook and Twitter and YouTube. I'm I'm seeing like their engagement is thinning out quite drastically. And I know that many people are becoming disillusioned in those you know, gigantic platforms now. But do you think that they're still as relevant as they used to be? Or do you think that they're soon to become like relics of the past? And that something else is going to take over. And if so, is there anything that you've got your money on? MARK SCHAEFER: They are, They're definitely ageing out. And the reason they're ageing out is because young people don't want to be there. Young people, they don't wanna be exposed, They don't wanna be ridiculed. They don't wanna be part of this polarised world. So, Gen Z to some extent millennials they're they're blockading themselves in in digital campfires. They're going to places where they can't be seen and they can't be found. I think, discord is big. I think discord is a place where a lot of a lot of young people are going. It started out as a place for gamers, and now it's It's become, You know, a place for art is a, a place for tech industry people. It's It's kind of like the hot the hot place right now. And and discord is growing and improving a lot. It's very, very flexible. What you can what you can do there, I think another place, where young people are hanging out and I don't really need to know the solution to this is they're spending more and more time on in in in video games, places like Fortnite. But brands are showing up there, right? You can buy things in Fortnite. You can go to concerts in Fortnite. But, you know, there there were even, so I think, we're gonna have to see what the next big channel is. Obviously, TikTok is big right now with with Gen Z. It's not without controversy. It's not without some legal problems right now, so we'll have to see how that plays out. I predict TikTok will be OK because there's a lot of money there. I'll put my bet on the money. I'll put my money where the money is. But I also But But But here's the other thing I would look at James is that social media fragments along demographic lines and age groups. So, really, the only people who the only demographic growing on Facebook is 55 over, sort of everybody kind of loves YouTube and Instagram. You've got 18 to 34 kind of on Snapchat, and then, you know, kind of 20 to 12 on TikTok. But behind Gen. Z is Gen Alpha. And they're gonna look up at their big brothers and sisters say, Nah, we've got this thing that's gonna be the next innovation, and I It's not there yet. I'm here in rumblings. But keep your eyes open. Keep your eyes open. Certainly if I were if if I was a musician appealing to young people today, you know, TikTok is obvious. Discord, I think, is obvious. And then, you know, it's it's kind of lots of lots of other options beyond that fascinating stuff. JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah. Be interesting to see what the new platforms are looking around the corner and what the next big thing is gonna be. You know, but as we're speaking about the future, we need to As we come towards the end of the episode, talk about what the future holds to Mr Mark Schaffer. What have you got coming up? What's around the corner? I can see that you got the brand new book standing pro behind you there on the books shelf belonging to the brand. What else you got happening? And what do we need to let people know about? MARK SCHAEFER: I mean, I I've always got lots of different things. But the one thing that may be interested interesting to you and, your fans is I I have a marketing retreat and for the first time, I'm going to bring it to Europe. I'm gonna have a marketing retreat at a castle outside of Dublin in September. And this is all going to be about the future of marketing. I'm limiting it to, a small group of people and it's it's literally gonna be a retreat because it's gonna be reenergizing. We're gonna We're going to It's about being relevant in this marketing world. How do we stay relevant? How do we adjust to all these things in in this marketing world? And it's gonna be a lot of fun because we're gonna be in this beautiful, mediaeval castle building like 10 53. We're gonna have falconry. We're gonna drink Mead, probably by the end of the event, I'll be an armour who knows? But it But my sight is, businesses grow. So you if you if you don't remember how to spell my name, just go to businesses grow. You can find we mentioned. Yeah, dot com we mentioned, you know, my books, my blog, my podcast and my events. You can all find it at businesses grow dot com. JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah, the site is amazing. I mean, I will link everything all of your links, into the description for the podcast, and I'll give it a plug after we we close the chat as well, because the website you've got so much free stuff on there as well, great resources with the podcast and articles and blogs and links to your books, which I think I'm now gonna have to go out and buy all of. So definitely go and check out businesses grow dot com and people can follow you. Also at Mark Schaffer on Twitter and Instagram, which I'll link in as well, Definitely worth doing now because you share a lot of great stuff on your socials as well. MARK SCHAEFER: Yeah, I try. I try to Instagram I don't It's not business at all. It's basically rocks and plants, hiking and hiking and kayaking. And it's like AAA p, peering into my personal life a little bit. JAMES KENNEDY: Well, where can people find out about this awesome event in Dublin in September. Have you announced it yet? Is there a ticket link available? MARK SCHAEFER: Yeah, it's if if you go to if you go to businesses, grow and then www.businessesgrow.com and at the at the at the NAV Bar at the top it says events. Right? And I've got one coming up in America in in the spring. And then in September, I've got the first one ever in Ireland because I have so many friends in Europe. They've been begging me to to do this in Ireland, and I will just say this is the best thing I have done in my career, Period. It is magical. It is life changing you, you know, and it's you'll you'll meet people that will help you succeed for the rest of your life. So it's, it's it's It's a magical, magical event. JAMES KENNEDY: Wow, I'm gonna go and grab myself one of those bad boys. Now, I think a weekend in Ireland as well is always a fun thing to do. So hopefully we'll see you there. Mark, That sounds absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for doing this. I really appreciate it. You've really given so much knowledge and insight there to my community and which is a real gift. We thank you so much. And thanks for everything you're doing and best wishes with everything coming up. Thank you, James. Thank you, Mark. Thanks so much for your time today, man. It's been great to meet you. I'll see you soon. MARK SCHAEFER: All right. Great interview. Take care. JAMES KENNEDY: Mr Mark Schaefer, ladies and gentlemen, put it together for him. What a nice guy. And what an absolute dude for coming on and answering all of my stupid questions and giving us all of that amazing free insight into how to manage this wild new terrain and landscape that we all find ourselves in. Yeah, No excuses now, guys, you know, like Mark said, this is a mindset shift, and he's given you all the tools and all the answers that you need there to get cracking and go and achieve your dreams. Man, I know I've framed a lot of the questions around the music industry, obviously, because that's the only one that I have any experience of. And it's the community that I spend most of my time with in. So that's what I hear from people. But I you know it. It applies to everything, man. You know, like whatever industry you're in, you can apply the wisdom that Mark has just dropped on you there to your success and your advantage. And I would recommend you go back and listen to the podcast again, take some notes and put that awesome wisdom to your advantage. The lovely and brilliant Mr Mark Schaefer can be found on his website at businessesgrow.com. He is also on Twitter at MarkWSchaefer. Let me spell that. It's Schaefer, that's Mark W. Schaefer on Twitter. He's on Instagram at Mark W. Schaefer also and on YouTube at M. W. Schaefer, now his website that I mentioned there. Businesses grow dot com has got tonnes and tonnes of incredible free content, including podcasts, articles, blogs, links, videos, all sorts of things. It's amazing that he gives all his stuff away for free so honestly go into a deep dive at businesses grow dot com. You can also check out any of Mark's best selling books, including belonging to the brand marketing Rebellion, known social media, explain the Dow Of Twitter and many many more. And the event that Mark mentioned there in Ireland is under the heading on his website events. It's called the Uprising Europe, which I love the title of that and there are still just a handful of tickets available. So, please, if you've got any sense at all, go and snap them up right away. So a massive thank you again, a round of applause to Mr Mark Schaeffer for blowing all of our minds and sharing so generously all of that amazing knowledge that's gonna help all of us do our thing. Thank you so much for joining us and listening. And if you want to thank me for making these conversations happen, all you gotta do is show me some love on that subscription button, baby. Go and hit, subscribe, follow on whatever platform it is or on all of them. Even if you listen to it on YouTube, go and follow me on Spotify and Apple and anywhere else just to help share the love. And if you want to be the first to know about upcoming tour dates with the band, new merch, secret live streams and all that sort of jazz, then join the Secret Society mailing list at JamesKennedystuff.com/tribe. That's it from me for this week. Stay tuned for another awesome episode coming up next week with another amazing guest. And in the meantime, take care of yourselves. Take care of each other and I'll see you then have a good one. Adios.
#45 - ROU REYNOLDS - ENTER SHIKARI
Rou Reynolds is the singer in the hugely popular band, Enter Shikari, as well as an author, producer and video director. On this episode we talk about the bands forthcoming album 'A Kiss For The Whole World' and latest tour news as well as Rou's thoughts on the music industry, the power of art, politics, hope, community, system change and our band logo's being the same! Hear our conversation at : https://linktr.ee/jameskennedypodcast TRANSCRIPT Hello and welcome back to the James Kennedy podcast. And guess what? This episode marks one year to the day since I started doing this damn thing, man, what a year it's been. Jesus Christ. You know, as I said in the very first episode, my presumption was that I would do three of these things and then just like forget to do a 4th and that would be the end of it. But, man, here we are, like a one year later, still trucking and Jesus Christ, I had no idea that it would go the way that it's gone. We have had some incredible guests on this thing since it started, and I want to just give a massive thank you to everybody that's given their time so generously to come and speak with me on the show. And it's a real treasure trove of insight and information and food for thought developing on this thing now. So if you're new to the podcast, please have a nose to the previous episodes because we've covered a tonne of stuff on this thing. Now, from you know, the war in Ukraine to nutrition to climate change, the music industry Israel and Palestine, Spotify mental health relationships protest and activism. Dude, there's a fucking whole shit load of stuff on this thing. So go and have a look through. And if you if you are new to the podcast, please do subscribe and give us a follow. So you don't miss any more of these awesome episodes because there is a tonne more shit coming up, and I don't want you to miss any of it. And while we're on the subject of following things, my band, James Kennedy and the Underdogs have started announcing some shows. Baby, it's been a long winter man, including being censored and shadow man and having my video taken down of YouTube. You having an album called Make Anger Great again? That comes out a month before Donald Trump is running for re-election. It's probably not a smart move. And my album was essentially crushed by the algorithms. Twitter actually just mailed me, like, half an hour ago, confirming that they did actually shadow about me. The motherfuckers. YouTube told me that, you know, the video for the power was shocking, even though, you know, there's nothing shocking about it at all. So it's It's been a tough road for me, man to get that album out. So, you know, we've had a lot of hurdles with the band as well. Personal problems of things which have given us a few false starts. So I'm looking very much forward now to getting out there in the summer time and kicking some fucking asses and making some noise, and I hope to see you all there. So if you're not on any of the pages, go and check out JamesKennedyUK on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, JamesKennedystuff on YouTube to to catch up on the tune in. And hopefully we'll get to see you all really, really soon. Now, speaking of awesome guests, we have got a good one for you guys today. And I'm so thankful to today's guests for squeezing us in because they are super crazy busy right now. Now I can't imagine. I need to explain to anyone listening to this who Enter Shikari are. I mean, you know, unless you've been living on Mars for the past 10 years, then you know exactly who I'm talking about. I'm joined today by the singer Rou Reynolds and there's a tonne of stuff I want to ask him and get into. Including something that many Enter Shikari fans have made me aware of online in no uncertain terms. The fact that our logo, my band's logo and their logo is essentially exactly the same. So I'm gonna gingerly approach that issue with Rou, and I hope he doesn't set a bomb off under my ass. So let's get down to it. We are honoured to be joined today by the one and only Rou Reynolds singer and songwriter and the fucking incredible sonic juggernaut that is the mighty Enter Shikari author, producer, creative, visionary and wearer of many and enviable hairstyle. Rou Thanks so much for stopping in, brother. How you doing? I'm good. Thank you very much. ROU REYNOLDS: I'm good. Thank you very much for that lovely introduction. JAMES KENNEDY: Well, I'm glad to hear it, man. Because I know how crazy busy you always are. So, what's happening right now? What's going on? ROU REYNOLDS: Oh, yeah, all sorts. I mean, our album is basically kind of a month away now, so it's, yeah, everything's just amping up loads of press loads of, doing the final video shoots for the next two singles, trying to get the next leg of shows set lists all sorted and stuff. So lots of programming. Yeah, firefighting is what I've come to call it. You just, you know, you get one thing off your to-do list done and have six more things come in JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah, I can't imagine, man. That all sounds awesome, though, Dude. And I imagine that you're probably quite well adapted to that workload now, because you're a band that has been crushing it quite relentlessly for over 20 years now. And the vibe I get is that you're all a very hands on band. And as far as what, you've spent much of your career as an independent band. Is that right? Or have I got the wrong end of the stick? ROU REYNOLDS: No. Yeah, totally. Yeah. I mean, well, I think before we even released anything like properly, there was, of course, the sort of four years of touring up and down the UK and recording and releasing our own EP’s and things. But then, yeah, Take to the Skies was released on PIAS Play It Again Sam, who at the time were just full of people who who got it, you know, And they were like a great independent label. I think, like, now we're on, So Records who are pretty much the only truly independent record. You know, they're not a subsidiary of a larger major label, right? Which is Yeah, it's it's it's hard to do in, like, you know, the current sort of climate. But they're smashing it, and they're awesome, but yeah, in between those two labels, we've we've done all sorts and, yeah, tried all sorts of deals, but it's been an interesting run. JAMES KENNEDY: Well, I imagine it must be a very specific type of label that would be able to handle a band like you guys because you're also talented in in many different creative fields and you know very much involved in your own destiny. And in the driving seat of your own careers, I can imagine how that could be intimidating and frustrating for some labels. So it's great that you've managed to find a home, where you guys are able to to still maintain that level of control I mean, as far down the road as you are now with things Are you still very much completely involved in all aspects of things? Or you were able to kick back a little bit more now? ROU REYNOLDS: Yeah, absolutely everything. And and I think like everyone is to a degree, like, you know, often I find it funny when you see like bands saying, like, perhaps like sticking up for their favourite artist, who's done something like That's a bit shit or, you know, it started doing, say, for instance, like paid meet and greets, they’re charging their fans to meet them and then people their fans will go. Oh, but it's not their decision, You know, all their management or their label got them into this. Well, that's not, you know, you don't have to do anything you don't want to do, you know, like I think there's, there can be kind of wilful ignorance in that respect from the artist's position. But at the end of the day for us, it's very much, I don't know. You could call us control freaks, so I would just say it's kind of naturally what you want for your art. You know, you want to know everything about it. You want to know how it's being released. You want to, you know, be involved in everything. And certainly in terms of the creative kind of area of the band. Like, we've never let that go whatsoever. So even on that brief stint when we were on Interscope like, it was funny because we got on really well with the people there. Like, and I think they did, like, get what what we were trying to do and stuff. But there was, you know, there was some, like, funny situations where the A&R representative was in the studio with us. And he was like, Oh, what if the chorus like, did this? Or what if we got to the chorus quicker or you know, Right, Right, Right, right. JAMES KENNEDY: Fuck off, pal. ROU REYNOLDS: Yeah, we were like, Sorry. You do know who you're speaking to? JAMES KENNEDY: Jesus Christ. The gall of some people, man. I'm sure he meant well, you know what I mean. I'm always fascinated by people's relationships with their label because you hear so many bad fucking stories from bands you know about being shafted by their labels and stuff. So, yeah, I'm super interested to know how you guys are getting on with the new guys. And, yeah, tell us more about them. ROU REYNOLDS: Yeah. So it's So Records. Yeah, as I say, kind of the only real independent left. Self funded. They have like, a sister label, which does primarily classical music, like film soundtracks and things like that, which is awesome. And then they have Yeah, the rock label which does us, Placebo and they’ve just released the new 100 Reasons album. Which, oh, man, I'm just overjoyed that they're back there. They’ve always been one of my favourite bands. Yeah, a brilliant label. Like you get the sort of the attention and the passion that you want. I think you know, as an artist, you want your team to truly understand your message and what you're trying to achieve and be like, you you you don't want to have to infuse them. They should be enthused by the music. You want people who are going to bring that energy. And yeah, that's what we've got from them. We've only released one album with them. Well, about to be two albums with them with our with our new one. But yeah, it's been been going great so far. JAMES KENNEDY: That's wicked, man. I'm glad to hear that dude because the terrain has changed so much now, hasn't it? For artists, there's so many more avenues available for releasing your music. And you guys have been successful and have experience in several different models now, being independent or with a label or a combination of the two. But what is the overall most important thing that you need, regardless of the model as a band now at this stage for releasing your music? ROU REYNOLDS: Speed, perhaps for us. To give it sort of a broad term, like the real struggles we've had is when we've got an idea and, you know if - OK, so put it into, like, a solid example. I always remember the video shoot we did for our track that was released after our first album. It was like a bridging single ‘Destabilised’ and we had this idea and we were able to just get it done. I co-directed that with a friend, and it was just a few of us in this location and there's something about the energy when an idea is being conceived that it's just, like, really pure and really electric, and you get something done and you can get it out there quick. But the times when we've been in deals that aren't so perhaps, like, flexible or they aren't they aren't able to give you the attention that you want to get things out quickly, that's been the worst. You know when you have to go through layers of bureaucracy to like either, release the funding for, like, a video or, you know you want to release a single that isn't part of an album campaign, and it's just like there's always so many or sometimes in in some deals, there's just so many levels you have to like, go through to, like, to finally release some some art, you know, so it's just it can be incredibly frustrating. So, like, I think concentrating on the accelerated process, is something that's been key to us because it's then that the art feels a bit more pure. It doesn't feel stale to us, and you can still, like, go and perform it and be like, super excited by it when it hasn't been sitting in the cupboard for six months. JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah, a lot of people say that, Yeah, it's like the bigger the label, the bigger the bullshit, almost, you know, because you are not only horse in the race, you know, you got to wait for ages. I've had that conversation several times. So I guess there's like, a sweet spot, you know, which which it sounds as if you guys are in now where you can have the level of efficiency that you want. So it's still fresh and exciting by the time it hits the stage, you know? ROU REYNOLDS: Absolutely. Yeah, no, I feel very, very grateful for the position we're in at the moment. It does feel kind of gratifying and satisfying. I think there's a weird sense of, I don't know whether it's Moore's law or what, or kind of the just the general rat race and the hedonistic treadmill, whatever you want to call it, where an artist, when you get to a certain level, you just you're never satisfied and you always want more. You know, you get to the level we've been at for a while. Every band that we sort of look sideways and we see like our peers, they're all like striving to get bigger and like striving to make sure every tour they do is an arena tour. And it's just exhausting. And I don't think it's that satisfying, either. So, like I don't have some massive ambition to to be like, a huge, you know, like arena worldwide band like that's not really what we're about. So because that isn't in our ambition, we don't need a major label. We don't need that extra like serious, where you can hold the radio, those who pick radio playlists, you can hold them by the throat by the wall and go ‘you will support this band’. Yeah, we don't kind of require that. So yeah, I think we're in a really good position. And we we're comfortable with the kind of, what's sort of available to us, if you like, in terms of growth and sustainability. JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah. And I think you guys have got the most important thing. Which is you've got an awesome, loyal, passionate, hard core audience that fucking love the band that have followed you guys for a long time. That is something that no label can give you. And it's not something that any label can take away from you as well. Like you guys have built that, you know what I mean? And I'd be interested to know because, you know, not only is the band fucking kick ass and you've been, you guys have been working hard consistently and putting out good stuff for so long. But I mean, there's lots of bands who are good and work hard, you know? But they don't have that level of Enter Shikari shit happening for them, you know? So why do you think that is? What do you attribute that to? ROU REYNOLDS: Oh, it's a tough one, man, because it's like I don't know any different, you know what I mean? So I don't have a great deal to compare it to. Of course, I often thought it was something to do with our, the sort of breadth, if you like, of like the diversity in terms of our music. We've always tried to make music, well we've not tried, we just we always have made music that's like very, it has a great deal of variety because that's what I was brought up with. So it's like, very natural for me to make that kind of music. And so what happens when the music is varied is there's always a degree of surpassing or dodging people's expectations. And so it's, there's an element of not so much shock. It's not like what we're trying to do is shock people that doesn't massively interest me. But I think even our worst songs are interesting and like every like album we release, I'm pretty sure it's interesting, and so I think that what that does is it sustains a sort of core element of a fan base. You know, if you bring out the same album again and again, you can have massive success. But there is an element of loyalty that you gain from having music that takes effort to understand. It's not just, you know, Thom Yorke used to describe it as fridge buzz. You know this this kind of, If you're making music that's just completely bland and banal, you you may get a very enthusiastic following that like it, but they haven't put much into it into the sort of equation, if you like, to understand the music and so when you've got that, I think it gives you a greater deal of appreciation for your audience and then vice versa as well. It's just it's just a greater connection. I suppose if you've had to, like, think about what you're listening to, you're connected to it in a deeper way than if it's just like this background, middle of the road radio fodder. Yeah, and you know, I'm sure there's a load of other things as well. But, I suppose, consistency and like honesty I think that's really important to us. Like authenticity. Like I think we've never really tried to to be anything that we're not. We've never tried to sort of as I said before, like take over the world or, you know, the amount of bands that I've seen and that's been the headline, that's been the one-liner that they'll kind of tout on all the magazine covers that they'll get and they'll sort of come and go and yeah, I think people understand with us that they're they're getting something that's real. And, yeah, the passion and the dynamism is is real. JAMES KENNEDY: I completely agree with that. Yeah, I was gonna say that as well as all of those things. I think it's the, the lyrics as well. I mean, you guys have always spoken about things that are real, whether it's personal, social, political, environmental, you know, whatever. And I think that gives it that extra layer of depth and connectivity then that people resonate with isn't it rather than, like you say, the example of the, the 2.5 minute ear worm. That's an absolute banger for fucking three weeks and then, you know, that's it. It's over. You're sick of it. But you guys have got so many different layers of depth that that are real and mean something to people. And I think the words have a have a big part to play in that as well. ROU REYNOLDS: Yeah, yeah, I think, yeah, it's the same sort of thing. If people are thinking about the themes and the topics within a song, they they're gonna feel great greatly connected to it, and yeah, more so, if it was just something that was just a repeated line or, you know, the same old topics and lyrics that we've heard again and again and that's you know, that's that's just it's kind of just what we were brought up to think was normal. You know, I was first of all, brought up with with Motown and Northern Soul and that kind of, er, the the lyrics were often quite thoughtful and melancholy and kind of beautiful, but in a kind of aching way. And then obviously it got extremely much, much more sort of politicised as the kind of movement went on. And then, you know, I, as a teenager, I discovered, our local hardcore punk scene. And when you're running around like a headless chicken on the stage, shouting your head off like, it for me, it was the complete norm to for the music and the lyrics. So that obviously it would be about something that that singer believed in you. And so, yeah, it's it's strange for me and I've had some interesting experiences, especially over the last sort of five years. And I tried a bit of, like, pop songwriting and stuff, and it was I'm really glad I did it. And it felt like I grew quite a lot as a, as a songwriter. But like, it's a totally different thing. And it's very mechanical. Very, there's no sort of sense of soul or meaning to it. You are creating a commodity. JAMES KENNEDY: Factory music ROU REYNOLDS: Yeah, yeah, and that's just that's completely unnatural for me to do. Like music, for me is an incredibly emotional, you know, cathartic, kind of release. And it's a way of organising my thoughts about myself and about the world. And so, yeah, it's it's just been around something that's quite normal for us. JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah, I'm exactly the same man. I mean, when I grew up, it was always those artists that had something to say that I was I just seemed to be more drawn to. They were more interesting, you know, like Pink Floyd. Roger Waters. Frank Zappa. Rage Against the Machine, the Clash, whoever it was, I just you know, there's loads of cool bands that I love, but the ones that had fucking intrigue about them, who always had something to say, that had that edge, you know what I mean? And I think that counts for a lot. I wanted to ask, what role do you feel that art does play in advancing progress and change? Do you feel it has a role to play? And if so, how important do you think it is? ROU REYNOLDS: Yeah, I've kind of gone back and forth on this, like, over the years. I think What I can say with certainty, not just for my own experience as an artist, but my own experience as an audience member as a supporter of music and other bands and artists, is that it's fuel for the fire. You know, it's like if people are feeling disconnected or lonely or full of rage or, you know, whatever it is, whatever crisis of of the current many crises that we have that's affecting them, the music can be a way of channelling that, a way of thinking positively, you know, it can make you feel very activated as an activist, and I mean that either literally as an activist or as like, in more of a sort of broad term, it makes you feel like doing something. Even if that isn't like actual activism per se, it means that you might change something about your own life or think about some something in a different way, and that's what music, yeah, certifiably does it. So it's a fuel. It motivates you. It galvanises people. It's really the only thing that brings us all together indiscriminately left that we have. You know, I think sport does that to a certain extent, but it's not really indiscriminate because we have team quite divisive as well. It's very competitive, whereas music on the most on the most part isn't that and that's, you know, even like the modern day festival, it's just it's kind of the only thing we have left that just brings us together to celebrate our kind of, you know, when you look at it in a deep way, it's like our shared vulnerability. We're all impacted by this music that we're about to hear. It's gonna hit us in an emotional sense. It's gonna remind us that we're all the same. We all work in the same way, and that's something that's becoming increasingly more important to remind us of that in, you know, in a world that's just becoming more and more divisive and tribal. So yeah, I hesitate to make sort of very grand statements about it, music being this power that can change the world and all this. But it can be a galvanising motivating force for sure. JAMES KENNEDY: 100% man. Yeah, And brilliantly put as well. I mean, as you said, we need that now more than ever. I mean, Jesus Christ as we look at the state of the country and in fact, the world does not seem to be going in a very good direction right now, to put it politely, I mean, you're someone who's travelled the world. You're clearly tuned in and enlightened on these issues, and you've got an interesting perspective on it all because of what you do. What do you think are our main pressing issues facing us Not just as a nation, but as a global community. ROU REYNOLDS: Right now, I mean, it's it's thoroughly depressing and disorientating like the list of crises just grow and grow by the day. I think the main thing that, sort of frustrates me is that people often don't look at the links. It's the, you know, especially like in in the media. It's the most immediate, shocking thing that's plastered everywhere and there isn't sort of room or space or time to actually look at the core reasons that you know whichever crisis it is, why it's happening. And that's something that's just, it's just heartbreaking because, like, I mean, one of the things we've spoken about since since day one is is system change and it's amazing now, like seeing the kind of youthful energy and fortitude and galvanization that's coming through for actual system change. But it's some, you know, this was something that 15 years ago no one was addressing. No one was was speaking about. And what's happened in those 15 years is we've gone so far in terms of reaching the boundaries of of our planet. Really, that we cannot now expect to fix problems with just like, you know, like band aids. Like, Oh, we'll just change this law. We'll just do this little fix and this little thing. But that's just we're so far gone that that we need system change. JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah, 100%. I think your analysis is bang on. I do a lot of political episodes on the podcast and that is always what it comes down to. It's like, you know, yes, we can campaign for this cause of this issue and there and there are gains to be made in those areas, and they're all necessary in driving us in the right direction. But as you say, without the broader systemic change, we are not going to make any progress, certainly on issues like climate change, which is priority number one for everybody on this planet right now, the problem is is that the people in charge who are like behind the wheel of this fucking high speed burning train that's heading towards the edge of a cliff, hey have a vested interest in the system, staying exactly as it is and function essentially, as far as I'm concerned as a kind of collective sociopathic organism, that doesn't seem to care at all that they're heading us towards armageddon. ROU REYNOLDS: Yeah, well, I think the thing is, the system has a sort of inbuilt protective nature because it promotes and rewards narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths. Because, really, if you look at it, that's what it demands. It demands us from day one to compete against each other for our own our own stability and then our own profit. So a system that just at, you know, at its very core is setting us all against each other, like market based economics. At its very core, it sets us all against each other. And what is a kind of logical, rational way to survive that it's by becoming a self interested, narcissistic. So it's almost like a defence mechanism that the system has within it, that it's always going to promote the people who will most protect this system because it's kind of birthed them, and it's it's kind of given them power. It's given them wealth. And now they're obviously going to want to protect what they've built up. So it's this incredible kind of almost like a catch 22 just infuriating situation where change isn't gonna come from the top. And I know that's a bit of a cliche, but like, systems protect themselves. And so it has to, we have to, like, build, start building something new even before, like tearing this down. You know, we have to concentrate on the ways that we can start new kind of communities or organised communities differently, you know, start local and all this kind of thing. I think that aspect is is pivotal. nd then just like creating awareness of the deeper thinking, you know, thinking about systems theory, thinking about Oh, what is the core kind of problem? I think that's the only way. Really, like, kind of just education, and making people aware of just how bad things are. But just how kind of massively we need change and on such a deep, deep level, which in a way, it should be kind of exciting we're living at an incredible time where we need to change this juggernaut of a system that we've had for centuries and obviously capitalism has gone through very, you know, kind of morphed. And it's changed, from feudalism onwards. But like, it's now we're living in an era where we need such dramatic change. It's actually, it should hopefully it should feel quite thrilling. If you kind of put aside the fact that you know, if we don't achieve anything in the next 100 years, the prospect of the annihilation of human civilization is very much on the cards. You know, there's a lot we talked a lot about this on the last album, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible and I got to speak with Toby Ord, who is an incredible philosopher at, Oxford University. And he puts the chances, one in six, that we might, you know, have a have a complete, catastrophic, civilizational collapse. So it's yeah, not great chances, But, you know, the odds still are in in our favour, and we've got the kind of the ability, we've got the science, the technology, we've got it all. We just need to tear down what is so, so bad for us. JAMES KENNEDY: Amen. Man. And brilliantly put as well, man. I mean, I think you hit on a key word there, which is that of community because, as you said, the system is kind of self, it's a self perpetuating system, and the mindset shift that we've all had to have imposed upon us as a result of having to survive in that system is that we've also kind of become part of that transactional capitalistic mindset. Whether we realise it or not, it's invaded so many parts of our mind and as a result, our psyche that I don't you know, I think it's just a survival thing. In order to survive within that system, you have to kind of become it as well. You know, I think we’ve all been tainted by this, what I would call the Thatcherite Reagan, mindset, the cultural shift in society, you know that of the individual, whereas that's not always the way that it was. And I think the antidote to that and the counterattack to that is in actually coming together as a community and helping each other and working together on our shared solutions and of course, you know, harking back to what you said earlier, you know, music is a great catalyst for that and a great galvaniser of people and communities. But, man, we have got one hell of a fight ahead of us now because the enemies are clearly winning right now. And they've done a very good job of fragmenting us and dividing us and removing us of our collective power. ROU REYNOLDS: Yeah, yeah, I always find it fascinating like our, any audience of, any artist, really, even not just speaking about music. Specifically, that an audience is sort of a microcosm of what society could be or should be. You know, it's it's a very, very supportive, you know, we we talk about like, bands. They're like, incredibly supportive families, really, I mean, we we call our of fan base like the Shikari family because it's amazing. They're like, kind of, they step in where society has failed, you know, where the various ways that a state has helped its citizens and where they've been torn down and taken away like, sometimes like, these communities step in to just kind of fill those gaps. And it's amazing how you see these, you know, people offering each other such support. And and that's the beautiful thing about, community and about compassion is is incredibly contagious. Once you you you kind of relive it again and you experience it again. You want to you know, we we literally say this on on stage often like that you want to take this feeling that we've got inside the venue tonight and you want to bring it out into the world because it's like, Wow, this is what's been missing from my life. This sense of inclusion, this sense of togetherness. It's just something that's been completely sort of stripped free in terms of our of our society as a whole. JAMES KENNEDY: 100% man, beautifully put. I mean, yeah, it live music in particular really is that communion that reconnects us to our primal selves and our primal, you know, sense of community and all of the things that are kind of being deprived of us elsewhere in our lives and in society. We reconnect with that at a live concert, you know, and that's why I think it's just such a beautiful and powerful thing. You know, what a band like you guys give to the world and give to your fans. Because you, you know, you bring that joy and that reconnection to our primal selves and our sense of community. You know, you’re delivering that to people night after night, you know? ROU REYNOLDS: Awesome. Yeah. No, I mean, I think it's just it's the same with any, yeah, any artist to a degree. It's just it's something that, where you share that sense of, a sense of a story, that sense of togetherness, that sense of, feeling one and feeling connected to to other people is, yeah, it is beautiful and severely lacking in our in our society JAMES KENNEDY: 100% man. And speaking of that society, how do you feel when you look at the state of the country that we both live in at the moment? And what, if anything, do you think, we can do to dig ourselves out of this? ROU REYNOLDS: I don't know. It's almost like I feel a sense of exhaustion about even just talking about this stuff. It's like it's so hard to, you know, I have no sort of pithy, uplifting answer to that question. It's just, it's relentless. Yeah, for me, it's, I mean, the first thing, just getting rid of the Tories has to be the number 1 thing on everybody's plate. You know, essentially, it's a government, a government of criminals. It's just, it's gone so far now and for so long. And I think for the first time, it's actually, you know, in a long time it actually looks hopeful. You know, when you look at the polls and things, but then, of course, you see Starmer and you see someone who isn't exactly offering something that's massively different. So, you know, on one portion of this podcast, I'm talking about system change, and then now I'm talking about Kier Starmer as the, one step in the right direction. It's not really. All it is is a relief for those who have been beaten down so much by the Conservative Party. So I think there is, a sort of an ethical duty to to get the Conservative Party out just for that reason. But I don't think anything in a real big way will change. I think that as I say, that's gonna come from from other places. But yeah, it's, you know, it's just this fascinating, infuriating, criminal fucking circus at the moment. And it's, yeah, it's utterly, utterly exhausting. But I think you know, for me, for instance, like, I don't have a great deal to say at the moment because I just haven't been following it. I'm very lucky that I have this sort of bubble that I live in with the with the band. And there's so much to concentrate at the moment with the album that I'm just like I'm not following it. And I think sometimes that's important to say, because we all need to give ourselves a rest from it every now and then JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, Dude, I'm so glad to hear you say that, man, because I feel exactly the same, and we do all feel a pressure to kind of, you know, be as clued up as we can and to keep the fight going and to, not let these fuckers slip anything by us, you know? But it is fucking exhausting, man, and it's really bad for your mental health as well. So I think you saying that as someone that obviously is in the spotlight and is expected to have answers for everything all of the time, I think will make a lot of people feel better about their own situation because, yeah, man. Jesus Christ, it is, it's fucking exhausting. ROU REYNOLDS: Like, Oh, absolutely, yeah, because it it's it's a, it's a really, like debilitating, you know, you don't wanna be so plugged into it and so constantly enraged that you start to end up basically becoming a nihilist, which is is really is the the kind of worst of the worst? Because you're completely inactive. You kind of just step back from it all. And of course, people think that that's kind of, you're you're then just not an actor. You're kind of relinquishing, any sort of, ability or responsibility, and it's kind of a freeing thing for you personally, but of course, it's all it really is doing is just letting the powerful continue. Yeah, and so for me, every sort of few years I seem to take these, I'm about probably six months into it, and, as I say, I've had a lot of the music creation, all these things that I'm very lucky to be able to have, you know, in that I do have this bubble to go into this, this kind of dream world to escape it all. But if you don't give yourself those kind of months off, if you like, and thos moments of escape, whether it's being in amongst nature, reminding yourself of human connection and concentrating on the small communities that we have and that we can cherish If you don't do that, we will just become completely inactive. And essentially, that's what they, they being the most powerful people in society, the guardians of the status quo, if you like, that's what they want. They want us to be completely inactive, exhausted, useless. They want us to feel powerless. That's something that we talked about a lot on this, this new album, the more you're convinced that you're powerless, the less you will use what power you have, the more you will shrink and shrink. And so that's exactly how they want us. They want us, knackered and thinking of ourselves as small and up against this mighty thing. And, you know, every now and then it's very easy to to fall into that. So, yeah, I think having a break is an incredibly important thing. But I also understand, for instance, if this was to get that little clip was supposed to, edit it and presented by itself, I also understand that people would then say, Oh, but you're just lucky that you have somewhere to go and you can get out of the, you know, the way of the intensity of it and yes, I'm very aware that I'm you know, I'm incredibly lucky to have to have this band. JAMES KENNEDY: Shit, that was gonna be the clip I was gonna use as well. Shit. ROU REYNOLDS: Ha ha there's always a way to criticise anything, but, I think it's a relevant criticism. You know, I you know, I'm a very lucky person, But, hopefully I'll come back, kind of feeling much, much more rejuvenated and much, much more powerful. When you know, we start touring in and we can start being in the communities that we play in and we can start, talking to people and seeing what we we can do. JAMES KENNEDY: No, I totally agree with that man. I got a lot of activist friends who are very, very active all of the time, and they go through so many episodes of, like, just crushing depression and debilitation and apathy and nihilism and all the things that you've quite correctly mentioned. And it's a really detrimental effect on their personal life and their relationships and their health and everything, because they're just deep into this stuff all day, every day. And they're fighting an uphill battle every day and there's no off switch to it. You know, this is their cause, and this is what they're consumed by. And I just see the the detrimental effect it has on them as a friend, you know? And I keep saying to them, like guys you got to take some time off you. You're a human being. There's nothing wrong with doing that. Take some time off, and then when you come back, you're going to be fitter, stronger, you know, have more clarity. You're gonna be more resilient. You're gonna feel better. You're gonna have a lot more fight in you, and you're gonna be able to achieve a lot more if you just take some fucking time off. I know it's difficult to do because I've been in that hole myself. But I really think it is an essential part of effective activism. ROU REYNOLDS: Absolutely. Yeah. And it's almost like a sort of cliche now. But like, even a smile is a revolutionary act, you know, because you're going against the will to be, like, beaten down at the moment and fatigued and kind of just destroyed in terms of your your hope. You know, just if you if you don't have hope, you can't act. So it's like anything that builds, sort of resilience and community and hope is like, Yeah, it's just the most important thing. JAMES KENNEDY: Love it. And are you hopeful right now? ROU REYNOLDS: I think you have to be in order to be alive. You know, if you're not hopeful at all, then you are a nihilist or you are a fatalist or you are evil. You know what I mean? There's a glimmer of hope in all of us, even the most kind of bedraggled and, yeah, sort of frustrated, but, yeah, no, I think as soon as we get out on the road as well and we start speaking to people, I become my hope, sort of inflates if you like. You know, we did a book release, sort of, signing and talk thing for our biography that was released last year. And, I remember the amount of sort of real, like, incentivized motivated energy that that that night gave me, You know, like, one minute I was meeting an NHS. Doctor the next minute I was meeting this, Geo Engineering Student, and then the next minute it was, someone who was, like, surprisingly high up, in terms of, like, climate change solutions in in government. And you know, all these people, it's just like what music can bring. Like some, you know, people from all kind of backgrounds together and it's Yeah, and when you see them inthused by, music, whether it's ours or other people's, you know, like, it then inthuses the artists to make more. And it's just this lovely sort of cyclical, sort of structuring of hope. You know, it just gets passed back and forth and it builds and it grows. So it's Yeah, it's something that I'm really looking forward to with the album that we're about to release, because I just know once we start hearing from people, once we start playing it and getting in rooms in front of people, it's it's gonna be something that just blossoms. JAMES KENNEDY: I bet you can't wait, man. Well, look, let's steer out of the bleak waters of politics and let's get back to the music. One thing I want to ask you about as an independent artist is work life balance, because for me having to do everything myself, you know, working 24 hours a day, having to juggle 15 different roles at any one point. You kind of alluded to it earlier. You know that your your job, essentially at the moment is firefighting. Put one fire out and the six more turn up behind you. So as someone who has been doing this pretty consistently now, man, how do you maintain your work life balance? ROU REYNOLDS: Oh, it's It's incredibly hard. You know, I think you know anyone at the at the kind of any level that isn't being on a major label and having a massive team sort of has to become Yeah, like this multi tool wielding, no sleeping sort of robot where you do do so much yourself. I mean, I'm lucky that, you know, I've I've at least you know, I have I speak to a lot of solo artists, who you know, literally have to do everything themselves. But, like, I've got a band at least, and we all do have our strengths, and we all do chip in a lot, but yeah, it's it's relentless at the moment, you know, we're doing everything from, like, programming the lighting show for our next tour. And then we're planning the production for festival season, and at the same time we're doing I'm directing the videos on this on this kind of album campaign we've done two. We've got two more singles coming out with videos. It's just sort of nonstop. Then there's the artwork. Yeah, you just have to be brutal. You have to be, like, really stubborn and just like, make sure you make time for it. But it just means something has to suffer, you know, And you get to choose whether that's your own mental and physical health or whether that's something in, in in terms of your work. And it's obviously a hard choice to have to make that choice, but, you know, yeah, you know, that's not to sort of denigrate the amazing teams that we that we have around us, but yeah, there's a lot of, that essence of DIY, hasn't hasn't left us at all. JAMES KENNEDY: What I'm hearing here is you basically you don't have a work life balance. You're just working your ass off all of the time. Right? ROU REYNOLDS: But I suppose you know most people are, you know, it's that we're now entering the era of capitalism where any hobby has to be like capitalised on. You know, everything has to be a side hustle like there is. There's just no spare time. You're either studying or you're working or you know you're hustling in some way. It's just Oh, it's just it's all a bit gross, isn't it? Really, but, yeah, that's where that's where we're at at the moment. JAMES KENNEDY: I think that's a clip I'm going to use. It's all a bit gross, isn't it? But that's just where we're at. That's the clip, right? Well, you've just mentioned all of the things you do, and I want to get on to what's happening with the band because I don't want to keep it too much longer because I know you if you could do anything right there, you could probably do with some fucking time off interviews and working on the band, which, whether you'll do that or not, I don't know. But before I get into the what's happening with you guys, I got to ask you something, because I released an album in the lockdown called Make Anger Great Again, which was like a political punk rock record It was a new project. The band had broken up, so I was kind of, you know, going a solo route with a new band. So I needed, like, a new logo, new branding, all that sort of stuff. And I came up with this idea that I thought look cool as fuck on paper. It was like I took the hierarchy triangle and I inverted it so that it was like, the many at the top and the fewest at the bottom. And I framed it within the circle, you know, representing equality and the circle of life and all that sort of stuff. And I thought, man, that looks fucking kick ass. So I just raced ahead and put it on my CD and my merch and my fucking artwork and all that sort of stuff. Put it out there feeling very proud of myself. And then, the album comes out and I start getting, you know, a barrage of tweets from pissed off Enter Shikari fans pointing out in no uncertain terms that, hey, you do know that that's Enter Shikari’s logo, right? Wow. I mean, for fucks sake! ROU REYNOLDS: Ha ha I'm not sure that we can even claim, that we came up with that. You know, as you say, it's just like it's kind of symbology, isn't it? Really? And we're just using symbology to to kind of say it said, well, sounds like exactly the same thing, which is kind of beautiful. Yeah. No, I love it. JAMES KENNEDY: Was that the thinking behind the logo? ROU REYNOLDS: Yeah, you described it exactly. Yeah, right. I remember, God, which I think it was like our third album that we first used it. I mean, it was it was, firstly, just the inverted triangle and the circle was in a kind of addition. As time went on, but, yeah, because it was it was essentially a bit of a lighting production. At first, we had, these kind of LED bars that made the triangle for, flash for colour. And yeah, we kind of stuck with it ever since. Because it's it's just like a kind of It's not often that you get symbology, that is sort of concise, simple, you know it really, it says a lot, and it's like easy to to understand. So, like, yeah, we've stuck with it ever since. JAMES KENNEDY: So what do I do? Do I have to fucking bin my merch or am I OK for a bit? You're not gonna sue my ass? ROU REYNOLDS: No, mate, No. I mean, I've definitely seen other artists as well use, you know, an upside down triangle. Names escape me. JAMES KENNEDY: I've seen a couple. ROU REYNOLDS: Yeah, Yeah, I'm sure many of us have the same thought process and the same, kind of artistic licence. Really, don't we? So yeah. No, no. Go for it. Solidarity. JAMES KENNEDY: Thanks, man. And next time I get an ass kicking off your fans will say, look Rou said it's OK, all right! We're moving swiftly on. We got to end up by telling everybody what is coming up in Camp Shikari because you guys have got tonnes of cool shit coming up. So tell everybody what's coming up. ROU REYNOLDS: Absolutely. Yeah. Well, A Kiss for the Whole World is our new album. It's out on April the 21st, which I've finally memorised. It was an album that was written after a very prolonged period of like, not being able to write at all. So I was one of those people that over the kind of lockdown period just couldn't write. Most people, it seemed, were incredibly productive. But yeah, that was kind of a pretty grim time, it was a grim time for all of us, obviously. But then after we started playing shows again, I felt like I was refuelled and reenergized and felt that sense of purpose and human connection again. And that's what this album is. It's extremely like excited, I think, relieved album. You know, you can sense this sense of relief, like, oh my God, we can create again. We can put this out into the world. And, you know, that's why it's called The Kiss for the Whole World, which is also feels like what the the whole world needs right now. Really. But yeah, there's some, there's incredibly like excited, exciting songs on the record that we we're just starting to play live, and it's just so nice being able to do that straight away. You know, write a song, release it, play it live like instead of waiting a year and a half, which is what What we had to do on the the last album? Yeah, seeing them in their in their full form and And seeing that that cyclical energy in the in the live sense has been amazing. But yeah, no, we're just we're touring all over all over the shop this year and next I imagine. We're headlining Slam Dunk Festival in May. Yeah, and just gonna be all over the shop. Really can't. Can't wait to be doing the thing. JAMES KENNEDY: I was gonna plug the live shows, but they're mostly sold out already. ROU REYNOLDS: So a lot of, Slam Dunk is the only one that in the UK only, that that isn't sold out yet, But I've heard it's, it's well on its way. So, yeah, we'll we'll hopefully announce some some other stuff as the year goes on. JAMES KENNEDY: Awesome. Awesome. Awesome stuff. I know everyone is gonna be super excited, as is demonstrated by the fact that the tour is essentially sold out already. I know the album is gonna be an absolute banger, and it's gonna do just as well, if not better as everything else you guys have done. So I'm gonna let you go off and get some rest or, you know, jump on to the other six fires you've now got to put out after talking to my ass and, best wishes, my friend, with everything coming up. Thanks so much for taking the time out to speak with us today. I really appreciate it. It's been a fascinating chat and, yeah, best wishes and everything coming up. And I hope to see you again soon. ROU REYNOLDS: No. All good. Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. It's an absolute pleasure speaking to you any time at all man. JAMES KENNEDY: Thanks again for everything you do and everything you give. And hopefully we'll see you out there in the trenches Really soon. Cheers. Thank you, Rou. Best wishes, mate. Take care. ROU REYNOLDS: See you, man. Bye bye. JAMES KENNEDY: Rou Reynolds, ladies and gentlemen, put it together for him. What a cool Dude. What a generous Dude. What an intelligent, switched on and fucking annoyingly talented Dude as well as a super nice guy. You can hear the brand new single the absolute fucking banger Blood Shot, which is out now from the forthcoming new album. And I would urge all of you to immediately go and follow the amazing Enter Shikari on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and everything you can find at Enter Shikari at wwwEnterShikari.com. Those guys put up tonnes of awesome content from their amazing amazing live shows. I would definitely recommend following them, Super super cool stuff if you want to show some love as well check out his socials at Rou Reynolds on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. And basically just check out everything that Enter Shikari have ever done. I mean, I don't know who I'm talking to at this point because, like, everybody knows who Enter Shikari are but I'm doing my best to, you know, to do the podcast thing of plugging the guest. But in all honesty, who doesn't know who Enter Shikara, for Christ's sake? You don't need me to tell you how fucking awesome they are and why you should go and follow them. You're already following them anyway. But you know I gotta do my thing. And again, it's no surprise to me that Rou was so articulate and so informed and so well balanced in his views, because he's demonstrated that year after year after year through his song lyrics and his interviews and his general demeanour and his writings as well. But I thought he had some really interesting and useful and insightful points to be made earlier about activism and politics and the power of art and the music business and all sorts of stuff. It was a really, really interesting chat from a really, really cool Dude. And I know that he's really maxed out at the moment with with promo and, you know, putting out fires as he mentioned so again, you know, I really I'm grateful and thankful for him for coming on and giving us his time. Hopefully, we'll get him on at some point again in the future. And when that happens, you're gonna know all about it because you're gonna have subscribed aren’t you! You're gonna have hit the subscribe button. You're gonna hit the follow, you're gonna hit the ratings. You're gonna leave me a comment even if it's a bad one. I don't care. You're gonna give me something that's gonna help me stick it to the algorithm and start nudging this thing out there. So get clicking. Because we have got some awesome, awesome guests coming up continuing next week. We're not dropping the ball here, baby. So thanks for listening. Thanks for all the support. And I shall see you next week. Take care yourselves. Take care of each other. And don't forget what Rou said when it's all getting too much. There's no shame in just unplugging and recharging and reconnecting with what makes us all human in the first place so that we can get back in the trenches and start kicking some Tory arse with renewed vigour. Love you loads, guys. Take care of yourselves and I'll see you next week. Bye bye.
#44 - SIMON RAYMONDE - COCTEAU TWINS & BELLA UNION RECORDS
#43 - STEVE BARNEY - LIFE AS A SESSION DRUMMER BEFORE & AFTER BREXIT
Steve Barney is a session drummer who, for the past 30 years has performed with artists including Anastacia, Annie Lennox, Jeff Beck, The Wanted, Will Young, Gianna Nannini and many others. He is also the author of the viral open letter about how it all came to a crushing pause after Brexit as a result of the 90 in 180 rule. We chat about Steve's career, life as a session musician, advice for upcoming musicians, working with Jeff Beck and Annie Lennox and of course, the issue of Brexit and how it is drastically affecting the music industry as told through Steve's personal story. Hear our conversation at : https://linktr.ee/jameskennedypodcast TRANSCRIPT JAMES KENNEDY: Hello and welcome to the James Kennedy Podcast episode number 43. Who would have thunk it? How have you guys been doing? You had a good week. I don't know about you but I feel like my mojo is slowly kicking back into gear. It's been a long winter, man, you know, metaphorically and literally. But the sun is slowly starting to creep out from behind the clouds. I'm just feeling a little bit more of that kind of, optimism and positivity kicking back in of all the things that I want to do and all the things I got coming up this year musically with the band, Of course, the second book. And, of course, lots of more awesome guests on the podcast. As mentioned on a previous episode, I've been forcing myself to try and get a little bit more back on the health and fitness trip. Start doing the yoga again, trying to work on some, you know, breathing techniques, trying to get the old anxiety under control, because I seem to have developed this this weird anxiety disorder since the lockdown and everything with my father and stuff like that. It's almost like my nervous system is just on on mode all of the time. You know what I mean? So I need to try and get a chill vibe going on. And, more positivity and more creative activity once again, you know, But I just need to avoid getting ill anymore, because, you know, that seems to be my new pastime, which is crazy because I literally never got ill. Like I said, I was the guy that was like, you know, everyone else would be given whatever the cold and virus was going around, and they would never touch me. It was crazy, but yeah, my system is on the floor, man. So I got to rebuild myself, put myself back together and get back on the saddle and get out and see you, lovely folks and kick some asses on stage and make some noise together again. You know what I mean? It's been too long. Boy, I can't wait. Got a great guest lined up for you guys today. Speaking of making noise on stage, we've got a guy that's graced 1000 stages all over the world as the main sticks man for the likes of Annie Lennox, Anastasia, The Wanted, Will Young and the great Jeff Beck, as well as many, many others. This guy's got a lot of stories to tell and a lot of things to say. He's also the man behind the viral open letter on the issue of Brexit and how it's affected UK to boring musicians and crews in the Schengen area. post Brexit. An open letter that was read out in the houses of Parliament. And it's been a massive catalyst in amplifying and raising awareness on this issue and opening up the conversation more broadly with his case with his personal case study of how he was personally affected, which is absolutely shocking and tragic. And it's a travesty that this community and all of the industries associated with it, which are many, are still so badly affected by that ridiculously mindless decision that this country and this government made to leave the EU. So we're going to be talking the life as a session musician. We're going to be getting into advice for upcoming musicians. We want to get into the game the reality of touring what it's like to hang out with these superstars, and I want to get an update on how Steve has now been since posting that famous open letter and how things are looking in his side of the industry him personally. So we got a lot to get into. This is gonna be a great chat, So stay tuned before we get into it. I just want to ask you one more time. Have you subscribed to the podcast? If you haven't, please give us a follow or subscribe. Give us a share. Help you spread the word. This podcast is currently completely independent and advertising free. So all I've got is you guys to help me kick this out there. So if you give me a follow on whatever platform you listen to this on whether it's Spotify, Apple, YouTube, Stitcher, Castbox, on everything. Give us a follow. Give us a star rating. Let people know that it's some good shit happening here. And, and tell your friends to spread the word. So that's the nag done. Let's get down to business and bring on today's guest. Steve Barney is a drummer and session musician who has taught the world performing with the likes of Jeff Beck, Annie Lennox, Anastasia, The Wanted, Will Young and, as I said, tonnes of others, which we're gonna hear about. He's also been very vocal on the issue of Brexit and how it's affected our beautiful industry and that of many others. So we've got a lot to get into. So let's welcome him onto the show. Mr Steve Barney, thanks for joining us, man. How you doing? STEVE BARNEY: Good morning. How are you, man? JAMES KENNEDY: I'm good thanks, bro. How are you doing? STEVE BARNEY: I'm very good. I'm, I've been looking forward to this and good of you to ask me on the show. Thank you. JAMES KENNEDY: No, thank you for taking the time out to come and speak with us, man. We really appreciate it. And, you know, the listeners won't know they won't be able to see, But we are currently both sporting very winter wear black hoodies. Very stylish, I might say very in season. Anyone that follows me on Instagram will probably believe that I spend all of my life pouting in a leather jacket and ripped jeans. But the truth, unfortunately is is far, far from that. So we got a load of stuff to get into today when you've got a really interesting career and life story so far and there's there's tonnes of angles that I want to get through on this. But before we get into it, do you want to kind of, like, introduce yourself to those listeners that don't know of you yet or what you've been up to and give us an overview of, who Steve Barney is, and what's he been doing? STEVE BARNEY: Ok, well, my name is Steve Barney. And, yeah, I've been a drummer as far as I can remember back, you know, from when I was a when I was a very young kid and I just sort of grew up in a household with my Dad's kind of enthusiasm for music and his record collection and him kind of coming back from concerts and just generally smelling of music, you know what I mean? And a concert experience where I grew up in Norwich, there was a, there was a venue on the north Norfolk coast in a place called West Run, which is near Cromer for anybody that doesn't know. But my Dad would often go to this place called the West Run Pavilion, where quite a lot of bands would go to prior to the UK tour starting and kind of do warm up shows so my Dad would often go there. He saw people like ACDC and, you know, with Bon Scott and like, a lot of the original kind of great rock bands. So he would often come back from those kind of gigs and kind of, I guess wake me up to say good night. But then I could just sort of feel this kind of, I could almost hear and sort of, I don't just mean the smell, that sounds kind of a I don't mean a bad smell, I mean, like, the enthusiasm and the Yeah, Yeah, yeah, it's kind of love your music. So, yeah, As I said, I sort of grew up in a house where, you know, music was was kind of very at the forefront of the household, you know, and that my Dad's not a musician, and neither is my mum. But, I guess the real turning point for me getting into music was, in 1980 when I was nine. My Dad and my uncle got me or got them and me and concert tickets for Janitors. The band Genesis were playing, they were playing like a UK theatre tour. I guess even though they were like, arena sized band, they wanted to sort of reconnect to do like a, I think they did, like, a 40 day UK tour. JAMES KENNEDY: So you were, like, nice and up close and you could see the drums STEVE BARNEY: Yeah, and we, you know, like for the Genesis of all places came to Great Yarmouth on the coast, which is mad to think that that happens. But, yeah, I again, you know, I think I knew it was a big deal. My uncle getting the tickets for the concert kind of queued all night with the a sleeping bag and flask, you know, old school kind of ways of getting concert tickets. So even though I wasn't aware of like how special it was that we got these tickets, I kind of I think I kind of and even to this day can kind of sort of remember almost the feeling of, like, the Golden Ticket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So, Mate, just that night, seeing Genesis, you know, and Phil Collins and Chester Thompson, the drummers in in particular really hit a kind of a sort of really, really sort of struck a chord with me, right? And I pretty much left the concert that night going, I want to be a drummer, you know JAMES KENNEDY: Beautiful. Yeah, man, I could totally relate to that because I had a very, very similar experience at the same age as well, like when I was nine. That's when I came across the guitar and discovered my love for the instrument. And I was just obsessed, you know, ever since then, you know, I can still remember that moment, like, you know, it was crystallised in my memory forever. You know what I mean? So I can totally relate to that. So you knew right there and then that you were a drummer and that was your calling. And and you were in for life. STEVE BARNEY: I did. I was already playing, but that concert that night just sort of felt like I was sort of struck by a bolt of lightning, and that's so corny. It's so corny to say, And when you repeat these things, it just sounds like a cliche corny story. But I really, I can't be more honest about how I felt that night and subsequent kind of concerts that Dad took me to see. I saw the great Buddy Rich jazz drummer at the Theatre Royal, which I knew was kind of a special thing. We even kind of hung side stage trying to catch him before we arrived and we were waiting. And I said, Dad, you know what? We might as well just go in if he's not coming. And my Dad said, No, just wait five minutes. You know, like I said, the show's gonna start. We're gonna miss it. And then I think it was either like a BMW or a Mercedes or a Rolls Royce or something quite posh. And out steps Buddy Rich, and we kind of met him and I shook his hand. You know what? I think I was 10 or 11, so that felt special as well. JAMES KENNEDY: So you got a cool Dad then, fair play, your Dad, he’s responsible for all of this STEVE BARNEY: I did and do have a cool Dad. He's not in the best of health these days, but he's still a very, very cool man. And he's got a lot to answer for the way my life went JAMES KENNEDY: He sounds like a legend, man, and we thank him as well for the gift of music that you've given us over all these years. So fast forwarding, then from there into you becoming a professional session drummer. You know how How does that happen? How did it happen for you? Because I'm always interested in how people get into that world. STEVE BARNEY: Well, I'll fast forward through all the years of kind of being being in Norfolk until I moved to Liverpool where I live. I mean, now I've I've been in, next year will be 30 years since I moved up here, and it was it was a leap of faith. So when you say you're professional, I consider myself when I had a great grounding in Norwich and Norfolk, playing around the pubs and clubs and kind of cabaret circuit and summer seasons. I started very Young, you know, I was in quite Young bands doing talent competitions, you know, all sorts of stuff. Just playing mate as much as possible. But yeah, I consider from 94 is when I kind of left my normal job and I went, you know, I've got to give it a go. So I am I answered an ad in the NME and Melody Maker for an advert for a band up in Liverpool called Bully Rag. And it was a heavy rock kind of ragga rap, sort of crossover mishmash of styles with a very scouse kind of attitude about it. And I answer this ad and I came up to Liverpool for an audition and I got the job. So that was that was me kind of, make making or rather, taking the leap of faith. And I'm really proud of myself, man, that I'm sitting here almost 30 years later. You know, still, you know, playing drums and that was that's become my kind of job, you know? JAMES KENNEDY: So you were in the band. It wasn't a session gig. You were actually in in that band? STEVE BARNEY: I was in the band yeah. So I joined the band, as I said in in 94. 2000 we got signed to Mercury Records. We made one album, released, you know, about four singles. We did an awful lot of touring quite often. Supporting quite larger alternative rock acts, you know? I mean rock hadn't really broken on commercial radio as much as it did you know then And who knows what would have happened if we'd have been signed slightly later? You know, But, you know, I don't regret anything. And it was a great grounding being in that band. There was some great musicianship, and it was a great time. We made an album with a guy called Chris Hughes producing who was the drummer from Adam and the Ants. He went on to, produce Tears For Fears and Paul McCartney and Robert Plant. So that was very good. JAMES KENNEDY: Must have been awesome. STEVE BARNEY: Yeah, so that kind of brought me to Liverpool, Mate. And when that band kind of disbanded or imploded like bands do, I was kind of like, man, what am I gonna do? And I really didn't feel like continuing down the band kind of route. I sort of just reached out to various producers and musicians and managers that I've met and just trying to carve a route of getting something more freelance and and self employed, which does take a while when you put all your eggs into a band basket, you know, and you suddenly you tell people that you want to be a session drummer but yet you've got no previous experience of it. You know, they obviously people ask. Well, what have you done then? You go? Well, I've been in this band for six years. So it took a few people to really, God bless them, give me an opportunity. And strangely, I took a massive left turn musically from what I'd been doing. And, I got the job as a session player for the pop group called the Atomic Kitten. JAMES KENNEDY: That was your first gig? STEVE BARNEY: Yeah, that was my first session gig. And they were, they had a number one at the time with Whole Again. You know, the pop song. And we ended up doing a live Top of the Pops thing and, you know, wasn't played back. It was, you know, pretty pretty simple song. But it was a big deal, man. I mean, getting Top of the Pops for me was, as we all kind of remember, Oh, people of our age at least JAMES KENNEDY: Speak for yourself, Granddad. STEVE BARNEY: No, I'm probably a lot older than you, but, but no, Ultimately anyone that knows the Top of the Pops knows that was a great you know, boost for me, that was the one to have on the CV for sure. And I subsequently continued to play for them. The manager brought in a musical director, which is quite common as you'll be aware. And, but also, what you'll be aware and many musicians will be aware is that musical director tends to bring in their own players, you know, again, because of a previous experience that they're working with them or friendships with them. But it was I was fortunate enough that there was a guy who was brought in to do the MD for them called Mike Stevens. He's a great musician and subsequently became a great friend. And again, he was a real golden ticket for me. I didn't realise that at the time, But ultimately he, he came down and he kind of checked. I guess me and some of the other local players out and kind of kept me on board, you know? So I did that for a couple of years, you know, with them. JAMES KENNEDY: That's awesome, man. I mean, Jesus Christ, what an opportunity to kick off with? That must have been amazing. And is it like it is in other branches of this industry whereby, you know, once you've kind of got that first foot in the door, that it is a lot easier than to hear about other opportunities or other things that are going on to, you know, or to be offered things or be included in things? Was that kind of your experience? Is that what happened with you. STEVE BARNEY: I think it did. I think that sort of I think work work can breed work. And if people just see you about and on things, they can think of you. I mean, oddly enough, I I mean, I guess London being the kind of centre of, you know, things in this country that everyone kind of seems to think you have to live in London to be, you know, doing stuff. And for the most part, that that's kind of true. But I I never wanted to move to London. I've I've lived and worked in London on and off for various points, and I really love London. But financially, I wanted to see if I can make your work staying in Liverpool yet working in London and, well, that's not always been the case and doing these types of interviews that we are speaking now, and I kind of fast forward and edit my life. People may think that just because you ask me about my career that we go from one thing to the next because I'm trying to remember the good stuff and it is good and I've been incredibly lucky Mate, but, but there's a lot of kind of highs and lows, Mate, that there really is. I've I've been I've been, I've had times where there's not been too much work. So not I'm not trying to go off kind of a subject here, but I'm just trying to sort of get a balance. So when you talk about, once you're in kind of breed work, it kind of does. It definitely does. But I think ultimately for me in particular, meeting Mike Stevens, that musical director in particular and really helps me a lot. And he, you know, while he put other people up for lots of gigs, he definitely, you know, gave me a call for some really great work, which, you know, you know, which we can we can talk about, you know? JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, yeah, 100% man, we've got to get into all that stuff. But I think it's really interesting that you mentioned the balance because that's something that I'm personally interested in, as I've mentioned in previous episodes, because I think it's healthy for people who are coming up in the game who were starting out. You know they they're working their ass off. They're doing all the things that the rule book says, You know, be professional, be nice, be easy to work with and all that sort of stuff. They're doing all that stuff. They're talented as all hell, and they just cannot catch a break. For whatever reason, you know, they're just not getting any luck at all. And they're getting despondent. They're questioning their decisions. You know, they're struggling with mental health or struggling with their finances. They have to juggle a day job and stuff. So I think it's really good that you mentioned that it wasn't just one straight line from, you know, Atomic Kitten to Anastasia, Annie Lennox, Jeff Beck, win after win after win after win because that just makes other people, then think, Oh, shit, well, what's wrong with me then? You know, So I think it's really cool that you mentioned that reality because I'm sure in between all of those amazing successes you had, that there were periods when you were struggling or questioning your decisions or, you know STEVE BARNEY: You know what, I still do. I mean, I don't mind being honest about it, even to this day like I mean, I know we're going to speak about, my kind of situation that happened last year with regard to my open letter and the the the 90 in 180 situation I got caught up in. But so even to this day, there are struggles for us all with work. And let's be honest. I mean, I'm a drummer, So let's talk about drummers. There's some incredible drummers around. Many of them are my friends and peers and, like we're all eating off the same plate. So and you know there's everyone can offer something different. So there is. There's a lot of really good people around, and they sort of, sometimes it's Luck just being in the right place at the right time. Some people network like hell to try and get work off the next man or woman. Do you know what I mean and find out what's going on? Some people just wait for the phone call, and sometimes you get a phone call out of the blue that you've not tried to get a gig for, and it just happened. Some of the best bits of work I've had have come to me like that, which I'm very grateful for. It’s just whatever you want to call it, Luck or my name just kind of crops up at the at the right time. But no, I think I think it is important to speak honestly about this because I think no one likes, I think, for their own pride, nobody likes to talk about the down times. But if you just talk about as you just pointed out, you just talk about all the gigs and the high times, then people that and I do want to inspire Young people you know who are sort of up and coming and want to do, say, freelance or session work that it is possible. But, but maybe it will make them kind of understand that it's not all sort of stepping from one tour bus to the next, you know, on the on the motorway, without without even going like, wow, he's like he's literally just going from one bus to the next to a to a looks like and sometimes and sometimes Mate, it has been like that really lucky going man this is great. And then sometimes you think, man, have I upset somebody? It is a balance, and the irony is sort of self employment, and the word self is in there. And you have to believe in the self because if if no one, you know, if you don't believe in yourself, how how the hell is anyone else gonna sort of trust your self employment? So it's it's a constant, you know, It's a constant evaluation and trying to improve yourself. And I just try and be a decent person when I'm on the road with everyone. And, you know, I'm certainly not, you know, the best drummer in the world. I'm not even the best drummer in my house. My son started to play drums. You know, I'd like to think and hope that I've been a really solid, reliable, drummer for artists to kind of have with on stage. And I think that says a lot about my particular drum style is that I've been solid and reliable and hopefully make everything feel good on and off stage. JAMES KENNEDY: You know, I think that makes a difference as well, isn't it? Because it's not a meritocracy in the sense of it's just about how good you are, you know, you've got to be easy to work with. You've got to be reliable and professional and all those things as well, especially as a session player. So I think that's worth pointing out for, for up and coming session players as well who are trying to get into the game. And it's not necessarily just about being better than the next guy because, as you said, there's so many fucking great musicians out there, you know what I mean? And to think that we're in competition with each other, I think is is the wrong mindset. I'm not in competition with anybody in my community. We're a community of brothers and sisters, you know what I mean? But where you'll gain the upper hand, I suppose, is in those other things. You gotta be personable. You got to be reliable. You got to be professional. People have got to be able to work with you because it's tough on the road, man, in whatever capacity STEVE BARNEY: Absolutely everything you've just said. I agree with I mean you literally, if you've got all the most technical chops and ability with your instrument in the world. But you're a complete, utter dick and you have no you have just no sense of people around you and their their space and their well being. You don't know what people are going through on the road, you know? You know, obviously everyone's got individual lives back home, yet you're on a tour bus together and you're sharing each other's days and and let's face it, just stay in the obvious. There's an awful lot more hours off stage than there are on. So while the music and the stage and the show is ultimately number one, that's the reason we're all there. It's vitally important to give each other the respect and, you know, just trying to be aware of each other's kind of personal space and and actually just try and, you know, just try and be a good person to be around, and I'm sure I'm not that all the time. But I do try and I do like having a laugh, and I do like trying to, you know, make make the room happy. You know, but no, I think it's important, like, you sort of say to to find that balance with, with not just being a crazy technical musician, because that will not get you or that will not keep you the gig , you know what I mean, long term JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah. Oh, no. I know from personal experience some of the best musicians I've ever played with in my life would just be impossible to be in a band with. And ultimately, when you're on the road, especially when you're in an original band that's struggling on a shoestring budget, You know, you just haven't got the infrastructure to be fucking putting up with that stuff. You know, I'd rather go with someone who's not as good, but is fucking sane, you know? STEVE BARNEY: Yeah, Yeah, yeah, yeah, I agree. I agree., totally JAMES KENNEDY: Well sticking with the reality of of that this lifestyle for a second. Then let's let's let's pick a little case study. So what would say an average day look like you're in the middle of a tour with an artist at the level of someone like Anastasia. What would what does an average day look like? What's what's the reality of that life? STEVE BARNEY: Ok, so if you're, on a yeah, you'd pretty much be doing it on the tour bus as far as travel is concerned, unless there's kind of sort of long, long journeys where you've got to get it from one country to the next. If it's doable by bus, they will do it in that particular way. But your your average time and you would wake up in the morning in your bunk and, and this is gonna sound crude. But it's kind of true if you wake up And, the call of nature is calling, and I and I don't mean I don't mean a number one. Sorry. So, quite often, and and also, for anyone that doesn't know tour buses, you're not allowed to do a number two or another, so you might want to start your day. I mean, I'm being very prime and talking about you might be parked up outside the venue. You might be, you know, throwing some clothes on. You might be trying to bang on the door to try and get in the venue early, which is usually locked because you're trying to go to the toilet. I mean, beautiful, but no. So eventually you would kind of get up and, the catering would be there in the venue and you'd go in and you'd have your catering and, have a shower, and then you'd have sort of time throughout the day to do, you know, it's kind of free time if if there's nothing to be kind of, improved on or something to be learned with regard to the show, you would use your time to do that. But I would spend my day either, you know, sort of free, sort of like travelling around the the city that I'm in to, you know, sort of take a bit of interest in where I am or or catch up with the email, you know, or and then like before you know it, after having some lunch, you'll be kind of ready for an A like a mid-afternoon sound check. And then after sound check, you would you know, you would sort of, obviously, like the band would sound check first, and then the artist would stick. Say, Anastasia. She would come on and do whatever songs that they want to check from the night before stuff and then you'll have a couple of hours before the show do the show, and then you're back on the bus and and you kind of and you just really try and keep an eye on kind of your hours because after the elation of being on stage, even though the applause is connected to you, it's not for you. But you can't help but being caught up in the the the the emotion of a of of making people feel good, Mate, let's be really honest about what it is. JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah, when you're up there doing your thing, you're up there smashing shit out of your kit. You know, up in the lights, you got the applause. You got the adrenaline. You you're just as much in it as as anybody STEVE BARNEY: I think it's entertaining people. And when you come out of a room, say, for example, 5000 or or even one, you know, whatever 500 people, five people, you've entertained people it feels good, You know what I mean? And you and you've shared your kind of And you're talented people. So yeah, so it takes a while to come down from that, you know? So you might be on the bus having a few drinks, but try not to let that go to kind of sunrise. It's a bad balance, like with everything we spoke about. Musically, it's a balance as well, within how to look after yourself on the road, which people have been tested. And I'm, you know, I'm no angel with with regards to that, but me other you know, that's just one sort of scenario of the day. You don't always stay, you know, on the bus. You don't sleep on the bus in hotels, so you've got it kind of varies from gig to gig and artist to artist. There's, You know, I had a I had a great experience in 2019, going to Japan for the first time, and I was there working with a phenomenal guitar player songwriter called Hotei, most famous internationally for the soundtrack to Kill Bill. This instrumental that he did. But I'm sharing this because it was the absolute opposite of the Anastasia scenario. Or or that particular tour bus scenario where I was based in Tokyo in a you know, I had my own apartment in Tokyo for 3, 3.5 months, and, he predominantly worked in just weekends. So, like Friday and Saturday, you'll do a show. And we had the whole week off, which was just an absolute joy on me. Well, don't say that to my wife. It was really, really no. It was as far as like, you know, the way we could live and enjoy the country and that city was was a great experience, sort of. His particular music was seriously high energy and in a funny way, to sort of have a whole week off of not drumming and then having to go in once a week at that level was definitely psychologically more of a challenge. You know what I mean? So it was very different. Yeah, that's two scenarios. JAMES KENNEDY: Those are the true riches, I think, you know that we get because money comes and goes, you know, good times come and go. And I think When you look back on your life, though, and you've got all those stories and hundreds of others, I'm sure. And those memories, that's priceless. You can't put up price on that stuff, can you? You know, you've seen things that most people won't. And you've done it because of music, you know STEVE BARNEY: Absolutely. I mean, I you know, I'm so grateful to be able to say, you know, sort of, you know, a lot of the things that I've been connected to, you know, And I've been really lucky in my life, Mate. And, for example, like, we just talked about the to be in Japan with one of the biggest artists in Japan on the Japanese stage. It's just the best feeling in the world to be so far away from home that an artist are singing in a different language. Yet you're there. And experiencing that, it's just you can't be anything other than grateful to be there really, for it. That was a particularly special one. JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, I can imagine, man. Jesus Christ. What a trip That must have been. STEVE BARNEY: I was so lucky thinking about man. If it had happened a year later and the pandemic hit, it would have been God knows what would have happened. This was 2019, then the summer before. JAMES KENNEDY: Shit. Oh yeah, You were lucky! STEVE BARNEY: It was literally I got home middle of September of, you know, of, 2019 and who would have thought six months later it would have been like, What? What? What happened? JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, yeah, man, that is some seriously good fortune right there. I mean, to have to have lost out on that amazing opportunity and experience just for the sake of a few months difference before the pandemic. Jesus Christ, that would have sucked big time. So let's name some of the other guys that you've worked with and we've mentioned quite a few of them already. I'm sure, who have been some of the other notable and awesome artists? You've had the pleasure to pound the skins behind. STEVE BARNEY: Well, just just last year. So after the pandemic in the couple of years, which was a a particularly, you know, challenging time for everybody. Let's face it, but particularly the arts. But just last year, going back out and with an artist called Gianna Nannini, who's an Italian singer. And she, asked a friend of mine, a guitar player, British guitar player, A friend of mine called Milton McDonald to suggest, like some British drummer names for her to kind of think about it for a tour. STEVE BARNEY: So, yeah, I am. I I spent all of last sort of summer out with Jana doing doing stuff which is great again, being predominantly. Travelling around Italy with a with an Italian singing artist, you know, was another phenomenal. Especially after the two year pause that a lot of musicians have felt. I felt very fortunate to get it back out and doing doing what I did, but yeah, I mean, going back to the other names you mentioned, Annie was a phenomenal artist this year, you know, sort of stuff with, again going back to Mike Stevens, the guy that I mentioned earlier on He, he put me up for that after seeing me playing with Jeff Beck, the following, the previous year. And, I think you know, God bless Jeff Beck. You know who who we've sadly just lost earlier in this month. I was so, so lucky to to to spend, you know, a small period of my career with him making an album. Which came out in 2003, and then, it was during 2002 that I was recording that album with Jeff that he got asked to do, a three night career retrospective at the Royal Festival Hall. And I think just maybe because I was lucky enough to be on the session at that time playing drum drums on this particular record and this call came in for these, shows. He asked me if I would be the house drummer for that for that event. And I was like, Sure, yeah, and I thought about all the incredible drummers that have been, you know, with Jeff over the years who I would have to try and emulate, which is just when you got names like Simon Phillips and Terry Bozzio. And I'm not even gonna you know, I'm not even gonna I don't even belong anywhere near you know those guys. But the type of album we were making was more incoherent with Say what I play like, you know, I guess Heavy, heavy, groove orientated rock kind of beats is is the album that we were making. It was it was closer to say, Chemical Brothers and Prodigy esque from a rhythm section point of view. But anyway, I said yes. And I found myself in September of 2002 in the Royal Festival Hall with Jeff Beck for three nights and with a whole host of friends and guests of Jeff that that we got to play with every night from John McLaughlin, Roger Waters and we played What God wants. Do you know that song? JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah! STEVE BARNEY: Parts one and three or something. Great singer called Imogen Heap, Jennifer Batton, the guitar player to Michael Jackson, Mate, It was like, This is your life, you know, it's just unbelievable. But my friend Mike Stevens was in the audience that night watching me after seeing me play with Atomic Kitten, which is such a juxtaposition of, you know, it couldn't be more different from the pop gig I've done, but I think I think that showed my my versatility. And when he got the call the following year to put a band together for Annie, her first solo tour. He kindly put me forward. So I went over to Annie's house and, we met and we talked about music and she played me her new album. Yeah, that was the audition, just kind of meeting her and listening to her album. And then I fortunately got that tour, and I toured with her in 2003 and then 2010. We did promo for her Christmas inspired album called The Christmas Cornucopia. So and she's an amazing, amazing artist as you Oh, yeah, and everybody knows that there, you know, I absolutely love playing with a It was a probably one of the best tour in times of my life. Playing with her. You know, we did a tour in 2004, opening for Sting across North America. So, you know, to be on stage with Annie for an hour, go and grab a beer and then watch Sting play some police classics. It was the best. JAMES KENNEDY: I think I'm done with this conversation. Now, I don't want to hear any more. STEVE BARNEY: Mate there is high and low. I'm just sharing some golden nuggets and fortunate opportunities. JAMES KENNEDY: Well, you've shared, you know, you you've given us, you know, some of the realities of this life. So, yeah, man. I mean, these are the Like, I said, These are the rewards, man. So you got to revel in it because you have done this shit STEVE BARNEY: Apparently so. I mean, it's quite funny. I'm kind of like with a twist of irony. But quite often when you jump off these tours and it doesn't take long for me to get into sort of home life, then you think and you think, wasn't that me? You know what I mean? And it sounds kind of silly that I'm saying that probably. But it's, like, for example, even me reminiscing something with the great Jeff Beck, which was, you know, 20 years ago, and I and I did, and I think, did I really do that? And then you know, because I keep kind of stuff and I've got my memories. Thank thankfully. And I know I did that. Yeah. I'm fortunate to do it 100 percent, man. JAMES KENNEDY: You know that that does make total sense. Because, I mean, I had this conversation with Benji Webbe just a few episodes back, and he was saying, You know, when you're up there doing all these amazing festivals and stuff and there's, you know, fucking hundreds of thousands of people there or whatever you kind of for want of a better word, you are kind of working, you know, it's not You're not working in that sense. Like, you know, you just you're just punching in the clock or whatever, but you are immersed in what you're doing. You know, you're concentrating on that. And if you stop and soak it all up for a second, it throws you off your groove. You know what I mean? Or you start panicking about it. So you're kind of just in the moment doing it. And then it's only afterwards when the adrenaline dies down and it's like Fuck, man, did did I just do that? STEVE BARNEY: You know, you're right. I mean, when you when you're up there on the drum Riser, you know, as we're talking about drums, you know that Yeah, you You really, no matter what kind of, musical jobs I've had, whether it be some people might kind of, you know, might kind of smirk when we talk about Atomic Kitten, for example. But every single, you know, gig whether it be a pop thing or or a robust kind of rock thing, like or Bully Rag, my old Liverpool band I was in or Gianna Nannini last year, you know, playing sort of big, powerful Italian ballads. You really have to focus on every style of music that you're playing and be honourable to that music, as you would know. So you're right. I mean, in the moment, you really are focused on making things feel like, you know, you're the anchor of the band. Hopefully, and, just trying to make everything feel good. And But I have, unfortunately moved, about, 14 months ago and sort of trying to get sorted with, I've sort of held on to a lot of stuff for my career, being I know to be the instrument, but like, you know, and that sounds crazy, but tour passes, laminates, itineraries. I haven't thrown them away. Because to me they they mean so much to me. And like some people, just probably at the end of the tour would throw them in the bin to me, every single one of those passes laminates, bracelets, you know, around, you know, backstage bracelets, or you know, this. They're all gold nuggets of my career, and I don't know, You know, I just I've been actually sorting through them in the last week, which has been quite mad, you know, to look back on some of the stuff, and it reminded me of these things. JAMES KENNEDY: I think it's important to do that, you know, because yeah, like it so much happens in life. And, like I say, you've got, you know, your home life and stuff to deal with it as well. So they're your Mementos. You know, that's your kind of legacy, really, of all the things you've done. And it's a reminder for yourself as well, because, you know, then that fast paced lifestyle of stage to tour bus to stage and then another tour and stuff like that. You're bound to forget some stuff, you know? And these are precious memories, man. I mean, you know, you mentioned Jeff Beck. What was it like working with Jeff? I mean, obviously, you know, we lost recently one of the best guitar players you know the world has ever known. So I think we could to give a little shout out the nod to the incredible Mr Jeff Beck, and you got to work with the man himself. What was what was it like? That must be crazy. STEVE BARNEY: It was amazing. I mean, when I got the call from a producer friend called Andy Wright who I met while I was in Bully Rag, he was one of the guys I've reached out to after my band broke up saying, Listen, I'm looking for session work, you know, and and he kind of, and and he sort of called me maybe a sort of six months to a year after I first got in touch with him about trying to get work and he said, Mate, I've got a project for you which I think you'd be great for. And I was like, Oh, great. I presumed it would be a new artist or something, something fresh that he was working on. And I said Who is it? He said. I was, Jeff Beck and I was like, I couldn't believe it. I said, I said, Have you got the right Steve? He said, Oh, definitely. And he explained it like so And he had already done a, a really successful album with Jeff called You Had it Coming. And I think that was out in 2001, and it was quite a, quite a departure for Jeff. It was they had a really phenomenal cover version of Nitin Sawhney’s song called Nadia. I don't know if you've heard of it. You should check that out. It's amazing. So anyway, he said, Listen, we come down to Metropolis Studios in, we'll get you a great kits and you know, we we'll play the song for a couple of hours. Jeff will walk in, you'll sound great. He'll love you, and that's exactly kind of what happened. I kind of was playing this song that Andy put up for me to play, too, and then I kind of was so focused on the kind of drum of my head was done and I looked through to the control room. And there was Jeff Beck, kind of arms in the air, giving me a, it is Jeff Beck. He he was seen in, like, 85 with Terry Bozzio on the Guitar Shop tour So there I was. Somehow I don't know how. I mean, I I don't know how you get from being kind of a a teenager in an audience at the Birmingham NE C watching the guy to being in a studio, and suddenly he's on the other side of the I was just, you know, very, very lucky. But you know that he was, but he was great to work with. It was I ended up contributing, maybe to six songs on the those sessions, one of one of which won Jeff a Grammy. JAMES KENNEDY: Jeez, great work man! STEVE BARNEY: It's called Plan B. It's best in I think it won best rock instrumental performance. But Jeff was just and will always be, You know, the greatest guitar player I think this world has ever seen. I don't know. What can you say that hasn’t been said about him already? He was. I'll tell you one thing that maybe not people don't know about Jeff is that he He's a really funny guy. He had a He had a great sense of humour. I mean, we were always laughing and joking around, You know, one of the things, for some reason that came to sort of mind recently because I found a letter that he wrote to me after I did those Royal Festival Hall shows and he kind of he reminded me because he said, Oh, maybe we should do a Bum Gravy tour over the USA And I remembered that we were joking about coming up with the kind of band names funny names for our our bands, you know, our sort of And, one of one of the names was Funf, which is German for five I believe we we thought we'd call ourselves and, and then Bum Gravy was randomly one that Jeff seemed to love, and that's the one he remembered. But so no, he loved He loved to laugh, Mate, but he had a other worldly ability on the guitar was a real note, and it was, you know, to to play with him in a studio context was just enough to me. The guy would have been enough. But for me to get that experience of playing with him at the Royal Festival Hall was just something I'll never I'll never forget. And he was a you know, he was a He was a great guy, man. And, yeah, he's gonna be really missed, but I think forever cherished and listened to by people. Ah, 100%. JAMES KENNEDY: I mean, you know what an absolutely priceless experience. And of course, you know, big shout out and respect to Jeff, you know, rest in peace. Jeff Beck. What a loss for all of us. You know, it was for you. I mean, what an experience that must have been to have actually played with the man, let alone meet the guy. You know, totally well, things like that are, obviously they they're a dream gig, right? And so many of the things that you've talked about just sound like they've been incredible experiences both personally and musically. But I would love to know, for the sake of gossip, and I'm not asking from your personal experience because I know that Obviously you can't name names, but do you know of anyone in a similar field to yourself that's doing a similar thing? Who's had the opposite experience of working with an iconic artist who turns out to actually be a fucking dick? STEVE BARNEY: Oh, definitely. Yeah. There's definitely people that, people within our industry kind of know about that are very, very difficult to kind of work for and seem to sort of go out of their way to make your life a misery. It might be. It might be an incredibly well paid gig. It might be one that holds a great stature. So once you've done it and you're associated with that name, but ultimately, I don't know, especially the older I get. You know, would you really want to put up with being treated so bad by by somebody you know what I mean? Or just someone who's a bully? You know what I mean? Even in the you know, or just Yeah, yeah, but there are There are people out there, but I wouldn't say I hear about loads of people out like that. But But there are people that there's a there's there's definitely one name, but I wish I mean, I I'll, I'll tell you off air. There's one person who's meant to be, really just, you know, not a great artist to work for, but yet is held in such high regard, you know, but yet not not kind of great, but yeah, I guess you know, artists they have, you know, They, you know, especially, I mean again, no names, even with the people that I've worked with. But, you know, even some of the artists that I work with, I think in the build up to so during rehearsal period during that period, the incubation period before you go out for a tour when maybe the artist might be still trying to get comfortable with the band or comfortable with what they want. They may not. They may have an idea of what they want from a song or a show, but it takes trying to out every day and then any awkwardness they might have about explaining to you what they mean. You know, there's been scenarios with artist where they're feeling quite vulnerable during the rehearsal period, and you quite often feel way more than on the tour that you're really earning your money during the rehearsal period because because it's more intense, you know, basically. But, you know, that's part of the job. And you are there hired for the job, and you keep routine in the songs as many times as as an artist would need. But yeah, we just we all do our best, you know? JAMES KENNEDY: Right? Nicely dodged. I'll get some names here after we finish recording. Well, we need to shift gears now because we've been talking for the past 40 minutes about how awesome this line of work is, and this industry and this gift of talent and music and joy that we we've given to people with what we do. But you've also become known for an open letter that you posted on the Internet last year about how Brexit has personally affected you. And it went viral, didn't it? I was there in the houses of Parliament when your open letter was read out to the MP s and the Lords that were there and they couldn't believe what they were hearing. It was a real talking point. It became a central theme, actually, of the of the rest of the proceedings because they just couldn't believe what they were hearing. And you kind of really helped to amplify that conversation around this issue about how Brexit has been so disastrous for the music industry. Not just the musicians but the crews and the light and text and the sound text and everybody and so many different associated industries and, of course, completely unassociated industries. But it's just been bad all round if we're honest, right? But your open letter, which went viral, has really helped to, personify this issue away from cold facts and figures about how this actually affects real working people's lives. And we've heard about all of the wonderful experiences that you've had in your long, hard one professional career as a musician. And then you wrote about how all of that has come to a devastating and terminal end as a result of the British public's decision to leave the EU. Now some of my listeners might know about this already because we have done quite a few episodes specifically on this issue. Now we had Tim Brennan on, of course, from the Carry on Touring campaign. We've had Kevin Brennan the MP talking about it. We've had, our mutual friend Peredur Ap Gwynedd was on a few episodes back talking about this and several others as well. But as your personal stories has become so central to this issue now, I would love to reiterate it again just for those people who who need this repeated as to as to exactly why this issue is so important. So if possible, if you could if you don't mind going over this again, tell the listeners what happened with you in the Anastasia tour. What went down? STEVE BARNEY: Sure. So Anastasia is an artist I've been fortunately working with since 2009. And, you know, I was I was kind of, set to do her tour of late last year, which the rehearsals were gonna be starting in, late August. And, basically, what what happened was, after the after the two year pandemic that we that we all know about, I unfortunately got asked as I spoke about earlier to go on tour with Gianna Nannini and so So there I was back, back on the road, enjoying myself, playing these shows with this great Italian artist and sort of, you know, apart from the weirdness of just going back out there and being on the road And, you know, once once you'd got familiarised with how to play drums again and how to tour again and and how to wear a mask. And, basically, it kind of dawned on me. Hang on a minute. This Brexit thing has happened. You know, I obviously I knew it had happened, but what? It reminded me that there was a There was a kind of a 90 180 scenario with basically 90 days in every 180 days that British residents are allowed to be in the Schengen EU area. So I obviously was out with an Italian artist predominantly touring the EU. So I started to count my days up, and I flagged it with and the stages management and production manager saying, Listen, I'm out with this, Italian artist, and I'm just thinking ahead here, but in order for me to do the Anastasia tour, which was gonna be at least six weeks in the EU that I knew because I was with this Italian artist, that it was gonna be without without some type of visa extension on the 90 days, that we were going to run into trouble. So because this is a whole new dawn of this situation and like I've been going backwards and forwards, like all of us, to the EU for years without counting at all, you know, it's not a bit about counting or the end of freedom of Movement as we know it. So I was aware of, you know, the the more stuff I was doing with the the days are adding up and a sort of, you know, basically, in a nutshell, he came to a head when, you know, I was speaking to the production manager for Anastasia about visa waivers and stuff, and it really like the more we looked, the more the more we realised it doesn't there isn't a Schengen wide visa that covers all of the Schengen. It doesn't exist. There is individual, I think you can get individual visas for each Schengen state, but that's individually purchasing a visa, which they would need flight details, hotel details where you're staying, and quite often as any touring person will know. A lot of those details for the hotels and flights aren't confirmed or quite close to the to to the tour, you know? So it was gonna be now impossible. It's basically red tape. It would take me forever to kind of get that sorted. So without a full, Schengen wide visa, I was unable legally to do the Anastasia tour. So it came to a head where, Anastasia’s manager rang me and he had to make a call on that because it was getting closer and closer to the time when, she was going to be starting rehearsals, probably in about a month after when he made the call. I said, I'm really sorry, Mate, but we're gonna have to, you know, we're gonna have to make a call on this. And I said to him, Don't even say the words like I didn't even want him to say, You know, I'm afraid you can't do the tour. I just I didn't even want him to say it, Mate. You know, so And I think you and your listeners will be understanding. And when I say this, I kind of felt almost because I've been lucky enough to go back out. And let's face it, I was trying to make up, like all of us for the last two years of Yeah, No money, You know what I mean? With with with touring work and to have another tour? I was very fortunate to have that set to happen, you know? So it was really hard to lose that, Mate. And, you know, it was a It was a a sort of psychological hardship to lose that Anastasia tour and financial. You know what I mean? It was it was a loss, You know what I mean? Like financially and just, you know, even even now, I mean that that tour is still ongoing now, and I listen, we all know the expression. The show must go on. And I I have No, I have complete understanding, and I have nothing, but, sort of good vibes, like the stage and I and I definitely wish her well, it wasn't her fault. It was, they run a business, and they couldn't take a chance on having someone on the bus that if we would have got pulled over on a border and I'm and I'm on kind of day, whatever 110. But they I would have been, you know, well at work, she would have been given a fine. Or I've heard of potential kind of bands, a ban from the Schengen area and a black stamp in your passport. And I wasn't willing to take that chance no more than they were no more than they were there. So I came home from losing that tour and, you know, our mutual friend Perry kind of phoned me because he saw me kind of post about it. Well, I think he saw me post something which he thought, Hang on, something's not right here. And he kind of encouraged me to write about it. And I was, I'll be honest with you, Mate. I was in two minds because quite often in life, we don't want to put our heads above the parapet, you know, and and talk about these things, you know? But when Perry sort of said, You can't suffer in silence, man, it's kind of, you know, this is massive. What's happened to you and and and I I initially wasn't sure. But after a couple of weeks of being at home, I really started to think about what Perry had said and he was right and, yeah, put pen to paper, right? JAMES KENNEDY: Well, it's a brilliant letter. And it Yeah, it really has done the rounds. And it's been so important as well in advance in the conversation on this issue. So for those people listening who who who haven't heard the previous episodes where we've talked exclusively about this for the entire hour, what Steve is talking about right now is that crew members, musicians, lighting tech sound text, everybody in the UK cannot work in the EU area, in the Schengen area for more than 90 days at a time. So once you've expired your 90 days, nobody can hire you or employ you in the in the Schengen area for another 90 days, isn't it? It's 90 days or 90 days off, isn't it? STEVE BARNEY: Collectively, yeah. I mean, it rolls forward every day going forward. I mean, there's kind of the Schengen apps now that you can get on your phone to help you work out how many days. You've got for example, now I've been at home, for a period of time. I mean, I was fortunate enough to go after losing Anastasia tour, and I was fortunate enough to be able to go back out with Gianna and at the end of last year, just for a couple of weeks, which still was within my a lot of time because I've gained days from being back home was crazy when he kind of, but it kind of back and forth. It's like an egg timer situation, you know, and and thank you for, thank you. Me for kind of sort of speaking out about it. But I really it while the letter is about me and my scenario, ultimately, the reason I wrote it is because I wanted to speak on behalf of us all. And I encourage every single person affected by this to do the same thing. We can't just have, you know, I'm not saying I'm the only letter out there, but I'm certainly not aware of many letters of musicians that have written about this like I've tried to do. And I'm not saying that in any type of I'm the number one poster boy for you know I am. I'm not celebrating this at all. Trust me. I would rather be on the Anastasia tour, entertaining people and, of course, the shows. The show goes on and that's gone, you know, But I really do encourage other people to to speak about this because it's vitally important. Like, right now, even though I've written that letter and I didn't think from one letter change was going to come about, you know, we're still in the same position. Nothing has changed, even though last September when you were in the House Of Lords and you heard my letter, we're still in the same position right now. I mean, so there does need to be a conversation, you know, with Listen, I don't know. I mean, like the government, Whichever government is gonna be in the UK. Government is gonna have to go back to the EU with a tail between their legs because we know that the EU already offered, an ability for for, to people to come, but, to come to the EU. But we know that had to be reciprocated over here, which I believe that the government wasn't willing to do, which is to run indirectly. We shot ourselves in the foot, you know, by by doing this, so, I mean, I guess you know the only way I can see forward for a worker is literally stopping people from doing what they've always done. You know, right now, I'm still concerned about how I'm gonna move forward with this. I mean, you know, I've been home and I'm gaining days. You know, I can go back out there, and obviously you can work closer to home. There's nothing to say. I can't work here. You know where I live in this country and I love touring here. I've toured there many times, you know, But just having that kind of inability that freedom to tour is, I don't know, it's brutal, you know? It's brutal. JAMES KENNEDY: Well, it's important to point out as well that although all of the glamorous and amazing stories you've been sharing with us over the past hour, you know this is your job. You're not doing this for the crack of it. You know that you're a professional who gets paid to do this stuff and it's And as I just mentioned, it's not just the musicians who get to have fun on stage, you know, it is the all of the crew, the drivers, you know, the, the light in Texas in Texas is entire industries have been terminally affected by this. This is whole livelihoods of people who now can't do the job that they've spent their entire life doing. And we've got some of the best crews in the world in this country, and we can't export that now. Not everybody can be constantly on tour on this little island, You know what I mean? That's just not the way it works. STEVE BARNEY: And the way it works out when the government sort of sort of saying it would have to be reciprocated. So the fact that you know, by the sheer size of the EU and the amount of countries in the EU, you know, the fact that an EU band can come here and follow the same kind of guidelines you can get around by doing? Let's face it, the average band that would come here would do they likely play London, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, maybe a couple of other places and then they can go. Whereas for us to do a European EU tour, it's gonna take a lot more days because you've got travelling in between those countries. I mean, the MU is doing what it can, you know, Naomi Pole has been I think he was really strong in speaking out about it, and they kindly got behind. I don't know if you knew, but they kindly shared my open letter in the last magazine and the n U magazine, which is good of them. They wanted to share someone's scenario, you know, So again, I'm not trying to be a poster boy. I wasn't looking for sympathy, right? I just felt it was the right thing to say. And, as I say, I kind of really encourage people to to follow suit, you know, but it's not just that. I mean, obviously we're we're speaking because we're in the music industry, and that's our That's our kind of domain. But maybe you know the scenarios of people who ski instructors in the EU. There's people that are, say, travel bloggers that that that travel around doing travel, blog, You know, people I don't even know if the people know this. But it's not just when you're working, it's actually just literally stepping foot. So step foot in an EU country, your Schengen days start immediately, even you know. So again, I'm sure my my good friend Milton McDonald won't mind me sharing with you that that he went on holiday. Last year, he I guess he wasn't thinking it was connected. And but even being on holiday, you know, in the EU cuts and even into your Schengen allowance. So I know it sounds crazy, but I can't even think about going on holiday to any of the EU places. The places I love. For example, Italy. I would love to go with my family there. I don't know. I know I can't help but think that some people, you know might be listening to this thinking Well, you know what a sub story You know, lucky you go somewhere else, but I can't believe we've done this to ourselves. But it's done. We know Brexit is done, you know, not on my vote, but it's been done. And ultimately, we just have to find the government has to find a way out of trying to encourage, you know, a way of getting some type of visa waiver to encourage more days, you know? JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah, 100%. And well said, man, and do you feel that a visa waiver would be the answer to this? STEVE BARNEY: I do think that's the answer. Yeah. I mean, I don't know if I mean, of course, rejoining the EU would be the answer. And even with the most positivity in the world, even if we had a referendum tomorrow, which we're not And even if we did and this entire country voted to get, you know, back, back in the EU, we've got 27 countries to let us back in yet it's like gonna take. It's gonna take years, man. Yeah, you know, it might take, you know, it might. It might not. It might not happen. It's likely to not happen in my lifetime. And I just listen, The early part of this conversation was all the golden nuggets and parts of my career, and I'm I'm so fortunate to be able to talk about that. And, well, I don't think that's over and done and dusted. They were the kind of They were the good times of my career. And as you asked, I've shared them with you. But this is the reality right now of kind of, you know, God forbid this was the end for me, of my doing, something I've loved all my life. I'd be heartbroken, Mate, and I don't know where I would kind of fit in to to society after being a drummer for so many years. But I'm more concerned, you know. But I would think what I'm trying to say is that if it was, the end is like, you know, I've got so many things which I've done and I've been very, very lucky, you know? And but I'm more concerned for the upcoming musicians and artists that I haven't even got their foot on the ladder yet. I may not have that opportunity to get even, get out to Europe and tour. And yeah, 100%. It's a concerning thing, but we know our mutual friends, the Carry on touring campaign. They know an awful lot about this, and they're all forever daily updating people with information. So I'm sure you'll agree that the Carry on touring campaign with Tim Brennan and Ian Smith is definitely a campaign that people should follow, you know, because they're 100% on top of the the daily things moving forward with that. JAMES KENNEDY: Oh, 100%. Yeah. Big shout out to Tim and Ian again for the carry on touring campaign for getting it up and running off the ground and for everything that they've done. I mean, they they of gains on this conversation, through their tireless effort on this, you know, those guys are just around the clock on it. All of us owe a lot to those guys. I mean, you know, getting getting this issue heard in the House Of Lords, building a huge body of ambassadors both in the industry and in and the creative sectors as well behind this, educating people, the brilliant website full of resources that they've done so much, we all owe them a lot. But as you say, it's frustrating because, you know, we're still legally no further down the line. I mean, we are. We've made massive gains in awareness and education on this issue, but in terms of the legality and you know, the the guys in the houses of power there. We've made no no gains whatsoever, and it's so frustrating. And as you say, you know any meaningful change on this? It's likely to take years in bureaucratic minutia, and that's just not going to help. But I honestly don't see, and I echo what you said earlier. I honestly don't see why a Schengen wide visa waiver can't be granted to people who are working in those territories. That feels to me like something that could be could be pulled together quite quickly, you know? STEVE BARNEY: Well, it's a win for the British people that want to go out there and entertain the people that live in the EU. But surely it's also a win for the for the EU to be entertained by people. I mean this, let's make it clear the people that live in the EU didn't vote for this. We did 100%. I mean, so I think some people can get it twisted, especially some people that have misunderstood my letter. Not many people, but some people have thought, Well, hang on. It's like you did this to yourselves. I know. I know we did. I mean, I certainly didn't. But I know as a country we did. But it's trying to find a way out of it like you've said. Yeah, we're no further. I mean, like, as far as you know, any kind of extension on things in the EU, we are no further down the line. But we are further down the line in the case that people seem to be talking about it a lot more, but I don't know how much more we you know, Well, we just keep talking about it until something happens. But I just Yeah, it's, it's very frustrating. I mean, and going back to the early part of the conversation of being a freelance person and being like one tour leads to the next. I mean, for a lot of crew people, it it quite often does. And did you know, because they quite seamlessly go from one tour to another. But I think I I know of a, a great guy who runs a tour bus company, that he could have only been in the EU now for six months. Every year it's gonna kill his business, you know, it's like he used to be back and forth in the EU all year round. So there's so many scenarios. And of course I'm here talking to you. But, you know, it'd be great for more people to speak up about their experiences and not suffer in silence about it. JAMES KENNEDY: No, I totally agree, man. And you've made a lot of great points there, which I know. I I can't see anybody would find any any anything in there to disagree with. But what is your situation now? I mean, are you able to to to still keep yourself afloat somehow financially, you mean? Yeah. I mean, are you able, with what's available in the UK and within the sticking within your 90 day Movement within the EU, are you able to be able to to continue to survive as a musician? STEVE BARNEY: So, so, because of the way it works that that it gradually refills. I'm now on 76 days, that I could work in the EU for right, right from today. And I think it resets the 90 on the first of March. As I said, there's there's Schengen apps that kind of tell you that. So I've got I had some inquiries about some some festivals and some possible touring, later in the summer. So I'm waiting to see about exactly what's going to come in right now. I have nothing definitive, but I can to be honest, even without Schengen and the situation we're in, that that periodically has happened in my career before. You know where, as I say right now, there is a tour that I should be on. But it's quite hard to just land a tour overnight, You know, when you've lost something. I mean, there was another There was another tour that I did have. I mean, I didn't even speak about this publicly, but there was another tour that I was, could have done, or because I toured with this production called ERA, which is a French, show. And, I did that in winter of 2019, and they toured in in November, December, just gone of last year. But because that clashed with my offer of Anastasia, I had to turn that down. Then, of course, the Anastasia thing had gone. I actually probably could have done it because I would have been home for these type of knock on effects are really You know, they they're difficult, Mate. So, but you know what? I haven't You know, I haven't We haven't given up hope. You gotta just keep marching forward. But I'm definitely part of the want to encourage your way out of it for us all, you know? JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah. Likewise, man. It's frustrating as it is. And what's doubly frustrating as well is that you know it. It obviously it will eventually rectify itself, however long that is going to take. But in the meantime, there's gotta be that generation of people who are going to be the first victims of this, and in our case and in our situation, that's us. STEVE BARNEY: I think so. Yeah, I do think that I wish I had a definitive answer, but it seems hearing from the carry on campaign that the Schengen visa is kind of the way to go. But obviously we got to get the whole of the EU to kind of agree to that, really? You know? JAMES KENNEDY: And what would you like? People listening to this who may or may not be connected to this industry in any way at all. What would you Is it? Have you got anything you could say to them that they could do to help? STEVE BARNEY: I think I mean, anyone that can write to their MP about their whether it's their experiences or even saying that they've heard about friends or work colleagues or family that have been affected by the post Brexit scenario and and getting caught up in the travelling side of things. I just think people should put pen to paper and speak out about it. If you're a if you're a ski instructor, if you're a travel blogger travelling around the EU and you've not been able to continue doing what you do or you work for a holiday tourist kind of company and you're you used to do six months, you know, in a block or whatever in the EU and you can't I think I just encourage people that are either caught up in it and have lost work because of it, or people that care. You know that other friends and family have lost work to to speak up and to write about it to their MP s or, you know, to the government. But really, I think that's all we can do, you know? I mean, we can, you know, it's one thing to just sit in a corner and moan to each other about it, but I think we have to be proactive. And that's why I was even into, two minds. As I said to you earlier, until Perry kind of lit a flame under my backside and says, Mate, you can't feel quiet about this And that's why I wrote what I wrote, you know? But, here we are. JAMES KENNEDY: No, I think you made the right move and I think you're totally right as well. I think we we all need to be screaming about this. I mean the problem is there's so many issues, especially right now in in in, in the sorry state that we find ourselves in in in, you know, Tory Britain of 2023. There were there were lots of things to be pissed off about and a lot of distractions, So people got a lot of worries. So it is easy for issues to have their moment and then to die away. But I think and I suppose for many people they they might see this as not being a priority issue when you know, most people can't afford to turn their fucking gas on. But and I totally understand that as I'm sure you do. But it is important to keep the pressure on this issue because you know it. It it is, it is a light right now, and I think it's important that we keep that going. And I think outside of like you say, pressuring your MP pe people can help by keeping the narrative alive as well. Keeping, keeping it going, telling people what is going on and like you say anyone that is affected by this tell your story, put it on social media and let it spread. STEVE BARNEY: I agree. I totally agree. That's that's my main thing. It's, it's a repeat, you know, it's not a my open letter. While it was about my scenario, it's not about me. It's sharing my scenario, but actually trying to encourage others to do the same and and speak about this, you know, 100% and we have to maintain hope as well, because without that, we got nothing. JAMES KENNEDY: I mean, you know, we got a difficult struggle ahead of us. I'm hopeful that we know we will get some kind of resolution on this issue. But in the meantime, you know, we've got to keep the They've got to keep the fire alive in our belly, and we've got to stay hopeful, you know? STEVE BARNEY: Absolutely. You have to be. JAMES KENNEDY: And you said it right to start the show must go on always well on that note. Steve, thank you so much for doing this. Mate. I really appreciate you coming on and giving us your time today. It's been amazing to hear about your story and all of your amazing adventures with these iconic artists that you've worked with and thank you so much as well for being so open and honest and putting yourself out there on the issue of Brexit that we've just been talking about. All of us really, really appreciate you for doing that. Hopefully, it's not gonna be too much longer before you're back out there travelling far and wide doing what you were born to do. Bringing joy to people all over the world smashing the skins under those red hot lights and doing your thing. STEVE BARNEY: I can't wait, Mate. And thanks for giving me this opportunity to talk to you. It's really nice to, share a wide range of topics. JAMES KENNEDY: Yeah, we got your whole but not not your whole life. But we got some of the some of the highlights, some of the greatest hits in there. So, thanks for doing it. And hopefully we'll see you again soon. STEVE BARNEY: You're welcome, man. Thank you. JAMES KENNEDY: Cheers, Steve. Thanks, man. Bye bye. Steve Barney, Ladies and gentlemen, what a dude. You know what? That lifestyle sounds pretty good to me as someone that spent all of my musical life basically like slumming it in the back of a transit van, eating pot noodles and having to try and find oxygen amongst the drummers farts. The life of a session musician sounds pretty cool. I got to be honest. I mean, unfortunately, I am nowhere near good enough as a musician. The idea of ever being a session musician, I can do one thing and I can do one thing only, and that is you know, the thing that I do, but, I definitely think in terms of comfort level the session musician definitely sounds as if they've got a way cushier deal than the average punk rock band out there desperately trying to, make it to the next gig without breaking down or getting to completely fucking screwed by their manager, booking agent, fill in the blank. But as Steve said, You know there are tonnes of great musicians out there. Not everybody catches a break, you know. So I'm not trying to make out that it's any easier on that side of the fence because I'm certain that it's not so. Yeah, I love it when people are honest like that. Those are my favourite types of conversations. You know, when people kind of give you the, you know, the the pros and the cons, rather than just trying to, like, protect their ego or their pride. But I said, Hey, guys, no, it's all amazing and everything I've done has always been awesome. I don't see anything that anyone can gain from that. It's certainly not helpful for those coming up under us. You know what I mean? Who who are trying to learn from the people who've been over the trenches first, you know? So when someone like Steve comes along and he's just completely open and honest, he answered everything I asked him. He gave us the good and the bad and some advice as well. And yeah, you know, I really respect it when people do that. I haven't forgotten that he's going to tell me who the asshole is in the industry that nobody likes to work for. I haven't forgotten, and no, I won't be telling you. But if you want to leave some guesses in the comments, please do so I'd be interested to see what you think. And another thing you could do if you want to get involved like Steve said is get involved in the carry on touring campaign. Some of you may already know about it already from listening to the podcast or elsewhere online. Those guys are doing amazing work that in an issue that affects not just the music industry or the or any industry connected to it, but every industry that has any interest outside of this country's borders, then get get behind those guys because they really are doing tireless work and and that that's not their job. You know, Tim and Ian are both guys from the music industry, you know, or or the the video industry. You know, they This is not their area of expertise. They're just working blood, sweat and tears on this issue for all of our benefits. So please go and give those guys some support if even if it's just amplifying their tweets or their posts or anything like that And outside of that, as, Steve said, you know, you you can keep being a pain in the ass with your MP. Keep saying right, what do you think about this issue? What are you doing about it? What, are you going to vote on this issue and as well as that? What you can do to help us out? I mean, you like me music, right? Everybody likes music. I'm sure you like music. What you can do to help is amplify the issue. Keep it alive, talk to people. Tell people say, guys, you won't fucking believe what musicians are going through as a result of this stupid fucking Brexit thing. You're not gonna believe this. Wait till you hear this and you can share tweets share posts like Engage. Let us know that people are listening. Let us know that people are hearing this stuff as well. You know, that all helps. Like I said, to keep that flame of hope alive so that we can keep the fight going, you know, it's it's hard enough in the creative industries as it is. I mean, I know it's hard enough for everybody right now, you know, like fucking over a decade of the Tories, absolutely rinsing this country from every fucking conceivable angle as I like. This is it's never been worse in my life. I've never It's known it to be worse on any front in my life, so I know that it is tough for everybody right now, and there are lots of things to be pissed off about. But if you want to get behind this issue, all of us in the music world and elsewhere would really appreciate the support. So a big shout out to Mr Steve Barney you can follow Steve at Barney drums on Twitter, and if anyone's listening out there that he's a kick ass drummer for a, preferably UK based tour. Look no further than the tub thumping ass kicking dude, that is Mr Steve Barney, Get in touch with him. Drop him a line and get him behind you. Thanks to you guys for listening. As always, if you haven't subscribed yet or clicked, follow or like or give me a star rating or a review or anything at all, then now is your chance to go clicking. And I will see you next week for another awesome episode. I got some cool guests coming up, man. Jesus Christ. This diary is looking pretty fucking impressive right now. Let me tell you. So, have a good week. Take care yourself. Look after each other and I'll see you next week. Love you.