When it’s deeper than just music
Here’s the tape three of our Hope For The Day feature. This time we got the opportunity to chat with Alex “Woody” Woodrow from Our Last Night, before one of their latest European dates at l’Empreinte, in the Paris suburbs. The bassist nicely shared his thoughts on Hope For The Day’s cause and its founder Jonny Boucher but also his views on life, music and how yoga helped him through tough times.
Last time we told you about the non-profit organization, we highlighted the fact that Hope For The Day uses band lyrics to convey messages of Hope, focus on suicide prevention and educate about the strong issues that are depression and mental health. This time we went a little further to give it another perspective and show you HFTD puts a lot of effort and time to expand its cause and to remind you, you are not alone. We’ve decided to put on light Our Last Night, and how they got involved with the non-profit, talking specifically to Woody, who did a yoga challenge last May for the Mental Health Awareness Month. We’ll go further in on that later but thanks to what he had to say, you may see Hope is everywhere, and it’s pretty much all about empowering yourself and finding the real you.
If you’re a fan of Our Last Night, you surely know how kind-hearted they are, taking time with their fans after the shows and connecting a lot with them on social media. It even reflects in their music, always so meaningful and with a positive touch. The bands latest release “Younger Dreams” definitely confirms the “Our Last Night vibe” and we were interested in knowing what inspired the band to put out such a record, filled with Hope. Woody explains: “I feel like we’ve always tried to bring positivity to our music through our lyrics in different ways just writing about things that we’re passionate about but this time we were going through a lot of changes in our lives, we were moving across the country and doing a lot of cool stuff; we moved into a new house together in California, it was a lot of community vibe together, band wise. “Younger Dreams” came from places that were really meaningful to us; the songs were about experiences with family/friends, our relationships with our fans, on tour and all this stuff. We wanted to give out something that had a meaning to it, on a deeper level and we wrote from a place that we wanted to write from.”
When it comes to Hope, the band had to face ups and downs like anyone else, especially when they decided to do music on their own, and do it without the help of a record label once their contract with Epitaph ended. Woody explains how it all went down and how their first cover triggered everything and led them to the band they are today: “It started when we did our Indigogo. Backtracking I guess we also found out a bit more about ourselves when we did our first cover ever (Adele’s Skyfall). That was when we found out there was another way of doing things, as far as the music industry is concerned. It developed into doing an Indigogo because we had finished our contract and we wanted to be set free a little bit.”
Although it turned out to be a perfect combination of events for the band, the truth is they had to struggle a bit not really being sure what to do, having to face reality. Woody adds: “As being a band is concerned, we had toured so much that at some point we didn’t really know if we wanted to do it anymore. I mean you can do it for the love as long as you can but when it comes down to it, you have bills and it is a business. We weren’t really seeing anything coming in there so we decided to be realistic and asked ourselves what to do. We weren’t sure so that’s when our manager convinced us to try it out, and do the cover thing.”
Therefore, we asked him if anything in particular kept them going. It is simply that around the same time, they got offered to join the Sleeping With Sirens tour in the UK and the bassist admits it was a complete refresher to them, to go on tour with people that are their friends, that play music they look up to and respect. He even adds: “We found a lot of hope with them and they also took us on tour that November in the US. We’re forever grateful for that, that was a good reminder and it helped us stay positive.”
The fans also had a huge impact on the band’s positivity and projects: when the Indigogo campaign was launched the band aimed for $15,000 dollars and as a crazy response they reached nearly $50,000. Woody told us it was really refreshing to have such support from people when you have been working for over 8 years to provide good vibes for. The band stays very close to its fanbase and insists on treating everyone like a human being, he explains: “I think it’s really important to invest in people because people never forget how you made them feel. So when you invest in people that’s something that can live on past your existence and Music is something also that transcends time and it helps people to make them feel good. So that’s also kind of a piggyback. It’s really important for us because we can’t do what we love to do without the people that support us. You can’t be onstage and being in a band unless you have people that watch you, it’s not going to work out otherwise”
Therefore, the band with their songs, and even more on that record, fits perfectly with Hope For The Day’s spirit and message. So when it comes to talking about the non-profit and the people behind it, Woody only has nice things to say. In fact, he met Jonny (Boucher, founder) on Warped Tour; they had been friends on an acquaintance level for a while because of the band’s music genre and Warped Tour, meeting here and there.
He tells us: “I think that bringing suicide awareness to people is a super powerful thing and super necessary because when you lose the positivity you lose the hope and it’s easy to do that with all the shit that’s going around in the world whether that you’re in school or you read news, if you don’t have the vision or the tools to be empowered it’s really difficult” Talking to Woody, was really interesting as he has an interesting view on the medical system in America, highlighting the importance of having a balanced energetic level. He explains: “They look at people as needing to be treated for symptoms. And when you look at somebody that has a bunch of symptoms and you treat them for those, there’s usually something else on an energetic level that’s out of balance. So when you treat somebody with a running nose, what if it was your body telling you something else is out of balance? So you’re taking things and acting like you need to take all these pills and you have this all backwards business investing to keep people sick and that’s a very unfortunate aspect. I just think that we treat symptoms on an ideological plan and I think we need to think about treating the whole and I see a lot of awesome non-profits that do that”.
So when asked about the way he views Hope For The Day, he truly underlines the fact it is an awesome organization that brings hope to people, to empower them and to bring good vibes to them, so they don’t feel alone; a platform that creates an environment for people to open up and be honest and where people can ask questions: “A lot of times you don’t know the things that people are going through next to you. Just even looking at a stranger and smiling at them can be as powerful as asking one of your friends if they’re ok. Those kind of things are really powerful. And we’re not all separate, it’s an illusion. We’re actually really connected so when you look at people and treat them that way, like a reflection of yourself it lets people open up. It creates an environment for people to be open and honest. That let people step up and if we don’t create that environment you have people that shut off. I see Hope For The Day as a platform that allows people to be open and talk, almost like a support system”.
And in fact, Our Last Night, as a band really is all about what Hope For the Day is discussing. An example of that is what they did for Sunrise, which was highlighting the issues of bullying mostly but at the same time it’s true that often enough suicide is unfortunately a consequence of being bullied. The message behind the song and why it resonates so much to the cause is simple: “It’s very near to all of us, especially myself that you empower people to bring them back a little bit. Step back, it’s all good. You’re going through some shit right now? It’s totally fine, everybody does. But the tools are what’s most important, to give people tools. In an awesome way music is a tool so music helps people.”
The fact he loves the organization and its founder explains why he was so involved in doing a yoga challenge to bring awareness and let its support base discover not only Hope For The Day but also what it is all about. The bassist admits one of the reasons he was drawn to working with the non-profit organization was because of Jonny’s good-hearted nature, the fact he’s so selfless and does so much work for a great cause.
Surely, Hope For The Day is mainly about music as a way of expression but not only. It’s about passion and all ways of creativity. Anything can give you Hope, you just need to find it. We asked Woody if music had always been a way of expression and a passion: “It definitely has, without me knowing. It’s almost just a tool that makes you feel badass. So whether you feel like shit and you put on something that really picks you up or you want to feel a gangster badass and you want to put some rap cause that’s what I used to listen to, then so beat it. It’s empowering and has been for me for a long time. I grew up listening to rap and hip-hop for some reason and I still do love it. And reggae. But sometimes your mood changes and you want to listen to something that’s more stimulating and motivating or sometimes you want high energy, or more sentimental. I think that there’s music for everything. I’ve used it and continue to use it everyday for so much including yoga and things to take my mind away like meditating or playing…”
He continues telling us about the importance of empowering yourself and finding those things that make you the real you and so unique. And he insists on the fact that it’s no wonder he’s so drawn to both Music and Yoga as it’s empowering and a tool to help people. He explains the strong connection between the two: “I use Music in my Yoga classes a lot. When you’re instructing people to breathe and to move their bodies it becomes a lot more demystified when you have music that they can relate to, and music you love too. Because when you instruct yoga and you use music as a tool, since it already is a tool, to chill out and relax then it becomes even more powerful. And they all react more spontaneously that way because they like it and that’s the relaxation response that happens in your body because of the power of music.”
Yoga For Hope Challenge
Which leads us to the Yoga For Hope challenge. The videos are still available and you can check them on here: Yoga For Hope – to have a look and you can donate if you feel like it. Or simply try it for fun. Here are some details behind it and how it happened:
“Jonny reached out to me a few months back, I think around February, right before the UK tour with Tonight Alive. He said he had this idea for Mental Health Awareness Month that was coming up, for me to do a yoga challenge. He’s seen me do yoga challenges, there’s nothing new to me I’ve done it for a long time, like way back with a bunch of yogi friends. He asked me to host one and I was so down for that because I hadn’t done one in a while. I’m all about the good vibes and I’d like to bring yoga and consciousness to my support base because it empowered me so I’d want at least someone to try it. If it doesn’t work for you, so be it but at least try. He just reached out to me and do that so we didn’t have further plans at the time. It kind of evolved into a full frontal machine because when he asked me he was just thinking we’d just do the instagrams and the write-ups. And we thought about it more, we had calls once a week to talk and decided we needed more people involved so I reached out to a couple of yoga friends of mine and some couldn’t because they already had challenges, which was fine but I think it was the universe conducting us to do it the way we did because I had already talked to Joel [Tyrrell – Hands Like Houses] and Jenna [McDougall – Tonight Alive] and they were both super down. I was just trying at that point to get a couple more involved so it wouldn’t be too much. Then realized it’d be more fun that way because it was people from our music scene and it makes it real for our fanbase. When we did it we thought we’d just empower people and bring these pictures to them through Instagram. And then Jonny brought the idea of a website, as a database that people could go to afterwards, and always access them. I thought it was a good idea and would shoot studio shots, and write-ups to also put them on the website alongside the Instagram posts. And then I was doing yoga, thinking and all of a sudden; I had the idea of doing a video with it. I was planning it every week and realized I could do better so I challenged myself to do one everyday.”
“I had to do that because we study youtube, it’s our job and we know that when you commit to a weekly video then your subscriber base goes up so much so if you do a daily video you can crush it. We see these families that record their kids on youtube everyday and they have hundred of thousands, millions of subscribers and make a living off it. That wasn’t the monetary aspect I was going for, I was trying to grow my youtube channel a little, which I did and it’s awesome but it was more a commitment, a test for me to see if I could do it.”
“I got the keys to the studio in my town and I was there from 9 to 4.30am one night and filmed 35 videos in one night, I just went for it. I filmed a new video for everyday and on top of that I filmed a video for every week and then put them all together so it made into a sequence. Kids weren’t just learning these poses and what they were about, and the benefits of it but also how you could build it into a home practice if you want it. It is intimidating to go to a class if you’ve never been before and I wanted kids to feel empowered and have a home practice to really try it and have a sequence so they understand the flow, because a lot of the yoga I practice is about the flow and not just one pose. It’s about how you move in between each pose and not just the actual poses. It is about life and you’ve got to enjoy the journey to the destination more than the actual destination. I think that’s necessary to enjoy those movements. So I did all those and was super proud of myself, I had them all ready to go and it was super rad and I told Jonny so he put the videos and studio shots, along with the write-ups on the yoga for hope website.
That’s still up, you can scroll through that and see all the videos at any point and I have them on my youtube channel as well, and on top of that we shot separate Instagram pictures which was so sick because Jenna and Joel crushed it and they had a great time and it was amazing to see the interactions with people. As far as doing something further in regards to myself, yoga and Hope For The Day we haven’t really talked about it too much.”
He insists that it’s probably a collaboration that is going to happen again someday: “It was such an awesome thing, and it was so relevant for the month of May being Mental Health Awareness Month that maybe in the future, I’d say most likely we’ll do something together like that. It’s just homies backing good-vibed homie, so it’s not something you’re done with. This is something that’s going to go on for a long time and what we created is, in my mind, like a legacy and that’s something I’ve been striving to create myself, you know something that when you leave the Earth stays behind and can benefit people because our time is limited and it’s about empowering other people and leaving a legacy that people can go back on and think “oh wow he did that and I can still remember him.”
Woody wanted to underline the way he sees this special bond with people and have a special message to the fans:
“We’ve been through ups and downs as a band, as everybody else and we’re really grateful for the fans that endlessly support us, especially when we come over so far away from where we live and people don’t even speak English. It’s almost like you guys welcome us with open arms every time and the amount of emotions you give us onstage is second to none. We play all over the place and when we play to Europe and Russia it’s Love all over the place and it’s surreal for us, because we’ve been doing it for so long. We’ve been given the ups and downs for a reason, to appreciate these moments. I don’t think we take it for granted, we acknowledge our fans and look at them as human beings, which I don’t know enough bands do. Everyone is a human being and I can’t see people as a number because you have energetic feels, you have gifts you have talent you have all these things and I think it’s important to acknowledge those and empower people. Like I said before when you empower people they’re not going to forget how you made them feel and they’re going to be more capable in their own life. At that point if you make someone capable and you give someone a tool, whether that’s Yoga, meditation, music, anything… That’s something they’ll remember, they’re going to come back and they’ll keep supporting you because you invested in them. We’re lucky to have such awesome fans that are very humble and awesome. It picks us up. Like when people bring us gifts, say things that are meaningful, have funny jokes for us, treat us like human beings we’ll treat you the same”
Thanks to that challenge and Hope For The Day’s continuous efforts to bring awareness and help others in various ways, we can only be proud to put on light that great cause through the eyes of bands we love. As last words, Woody wants to thank you for all your energy and good vibes but most importantly to remind you to not take yourself too seriously and to keep breathing!
Endless Love and yoga vibes coming your way.
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