I was on tour in Brasil in January 2020. While I was there I got messages from family members, asking if I was ok. Was the new virus from China affecting the tour? I didn’t know about any new virus. There was no virus there, except the song called Virus that was in my set list. Everything was normal, but the Brasilian normal, which is crazy, exciting, emotional, surprising, funny, sexy, and sunny. I love my tours of Brasil. While the long dark damp nights of January make the north of Europe unpleasant to tour, Brasil, in the southern hemisphere, has bright sunlight most days. If it rains, it’s just a couple of hours usually at night. The warmth, hospitality and generosity of the Brasilian people and my fans feels so good.

After Brasil, I had some nice festivals booked this summer. Between the festivals I had planned to be at home working on new songs for my next studio album, and work on my Infinite Entanglement book. Just one gig in March; Burrfest in London. Gigs in France were stopped and we thought this may be stopped too. But it went ahead, was sold out and amazing! Now I feel totally lucky and privileged that my last tour and my last show were so good. Now we have no clue when the next live show inside a venue will be. So, I cherish the memories even more.

As the virus took hold in UK, the government said we all have to stay at home and work from home. For me the problem was they were telling me to do what I was already doing!  Immediately I wanted to go out. The lyrics to Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name of” started going through my head.

I won’t do what you tell me!

I won’t do what you tell me!

I won’t do what you tell me!

But of course I still have to do this even though the metal rebel in me objects to them telling me to do it. I actually want to write my new songs. I’m very excited about what emotional shapes will come, and what feelings fans will have when they listen to them. That song and a handful of others have been important in these difficult and strange days.

It goes like this… I’m feeling low from all the bad news. I wallow in those feelings for a few minutes. Then I think of one of my very favourite aggressive songs. After that I’ve got the song playing loud and I’m lip-syncing and miming all the parts and acting out the whole thing and I really don’t care what anyone thinks about me. For a few minutes I am the music. In the best possible way I am possessed by it. It is a feeling of liberation and power. And yes I’m very lucky that my neighbour has a hearing problem and doesn’t phone the authorities. So, for these moments of abandonment I am remembering every great gig of my life and even the rock discos I went to and I’m not doing what they told me. I know you understand that feeling. It isn’t just that song by that band. I’m a holy diver, a warrior of the world, and so many other metal things.

Photo by Christophe Orchal

In the beginning I watched the news every day. Now it’s just sometimes. I’ve found that if anything really significant and meaningful happens, someone will tell me about it. There is another unexpected and interesting thing, Facebook and Instagram friends in different countries tell me things that are not even on the news in the UK.

I’ve learned that my favourite music is as important as I always thought it was. Those of us that love and live with rock and metal music can be sustained by it in ways that those who don’t will never understand. Spontaneous head banging is good for you. I know because it happened to me.  Some days I am grasping for, clinging to, and trying to hold firm to sanity during this hideous point in the history of metal and live music. Perhaps most of us are.

My wish for you is good health, metally, mentally, and physically. I hope you can allow yourself to be possessed by your favourite songs and escape this world for a few moments. Forget everything and everyone for a few minutes. And if the non-metal ones try to make you feel anything less than heroic, if they tell you to be sensible and to calm down and to behave, I hope you can  remember why you love and live for music and say…

“I won’t do what you tell me!”

“I won’t do what you tell me!”

“I won’t do what you tell me!”