Interview by Barry Egan
“We all have. It’s called living” — Hogfather, Terry Pratchett.
Be-hatted rockstar-to-be Andrew Mann had a near-death experience in Dublin in September, 2007 that changed his perspective on life.
Before he became a full time musician Andrew slipped from the ladder and fell twenty five feet. Andrew recalls that the fall was so long that he was able to process the fact that before he hit the ground he knew it was going to hurt.
He managed to break both of his ankles “horrifically” — the day after this interview, Andrew emailed me a picture of the X-ray of his ankles and indeed it is horrific — and his head had barely missed a concrete ledge “by millimetres when I landed.”
Andrew spent months in St Vincent’s hospital being rebuilt; and then months in a wheel-chair.
“What made it worse was the fact that during that whole time no one able to tell me whether or not,” he says, almost a decade on from his fall, “I would be able to walk again.”
“ Eventually when I did get back on my feet I was filled with a sense of gratitude at just being alive. Even though it was the lowest point of my life it completely changed me. It was like my brain had been completely rewired or rebooted and ever since then unconsciously all I can see are the positives in my life and I rarely ever concentrate on the negative like I had up until that point. Basically I was genuinely happy just to be alive. I felt like I’d been given a second chance and the anxiety I had suffered with up until then was gone.”
The psychological pain Andrew endured —and was released from it by the fall — is not to be dismissed.
“I suffered horribly with anxiety throughout my childhood, teens and twenties,” he remembers.
“Everyday of school was a terrifying experience for me. The biggest problem with anxiety is that you think its normal — you think everyone is experiencing life the same way. At least I did, and you just learn to live with it.”
“I think I’m a pretty intelligent guy, I devour books now and I love learning and developing my mind and skills but I barely scrapped 300 points in my leaving cert and that was a complete miracle.”
“You spend every day in fear and dread but you don’t have the first clue what you are so afraid of. It wasn’t until I reached my thirties that all that settled down and I finally became comfortable in my skin but up until then everyday was a struggle. I was utterly consumed with the negative and blind to all the incredible positives I was surrounded by. I could have seriously done with someone professional to guide me through those dark times and made me realise that being fearful all the time is not normal.”
Andrew, whose as yet untitled album is soon to be released, has just finished performing Dakota by The Stereophonics for The Windmill Lane Sessions on Independent.ie Asked what goes through his head when he sings, he says: “Performing is a pure joy and its deeply satisfying. “
Andrew adds that the reason he taught myself to play guitar aged twelve was to escape from the anxiety he felt — “and it was a brilliant release. It still is and I’m as obsessed about making music as I was when I started. When I’m singing I channel all my happiness — all my rage all my confusion in to every song and it always tears the roof off,” he says. “When you are that committed to expressing emotion I think people get it on a subconscious level. People love honesty and passion and all the music I’ve ever loved is full of that.” It shows.
For the full interview, plus two exclusive performances, see the Windmill Lane Sessions at independent.ie You can also watch the Sessions on TG4.
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