I’ve been moving mountains that I once had to climb – Hope For The Day x Ben Barlow (Neck Deep)

Neck Deep, Paris 2016 – © Alisson Nilsson // www.plugin-mag.com

If you’re a Plug-In reader you know we take some time to talk about causes that mean a lot to us. And Hope For The Day is truly one of them. We’ve already told you about the US non-profit organization but this time we wanted to go a little further and find out how it goes from a band’s perspective.

As 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, it was important for us to see how they work with bands and put music and creativity at the heart of their campaigns.

Back in March, on the UK/Euro leg of their world tour Neck Deep lead singer Ben Barlow took the role of ‘ambassador’ and nicely spent some time with us to talk about the organization, the people behind it but also about his inspirations and views on different things, along with the band’s latest success that resonates with an incredible positive vibe.

What’s important to state is that Neck Deep surely is one of the most involved bands with the non-profit organization. We noticed it on Warped Tour last summer, as they did signings with them and Hope For The Day’s representatives made a speech before each ones of their sets on tour. The collaboration went beyond that as the organization recently released a collaborative Neck Deep / Hope For The Day t-shirt. Therefore, we were wondering where it all started, why as individuals and as a band Neck Deep decided to take part with Hope For The Day and spread the word that “IT’S OK NOT TO BE OK.”

Ben Barlow remembers that day on Warped Tour when he met Jonny Boucher (HFTD‘s Founder). That’s how he started supporting the cause and eventually working with it. The reason it all started? A US Postal t-shirt stating, “You’re a priority. Have Hope” that Ben loved. He explains: “I immediately thought that it connects with us on a whole new level. That’s what we’re trying to put out there, to try to get kids and our fans and just people in general to be more positive. Suicide is the most extreme option to anything you’re going through and if we can prevent that, then it’s awesome and that’s what we want to do. I feel like it’s a super important message and people are not pushing it enough”. It’s true that it’s not easy nowadays to find a way to get help when you lay at rock bottom and nothing helps. Ben proudly insists on the fact that what they do is pretty amazing and that everyone at Hope For The Day works their ass off to try and spread the message. And it is very important for young people to know that they can trust them and that they truly care. We could tell Ben is completely behind the organization and defends the cause.

Never Say Die! 2015 – © plugin-mag.com

As you know, Hope For The Day connects with all the bands that want to spread the message and connects with the fans that want to hear it. ‘Life’s Not Out To Get You’, Neck Deep‘s latest album is a good example of how bands can be a platform for the organization to touch more and more kids and spread hope and positivity. The album shows real Pop/Punk influences, it’s faithful to the Neck Deep sound and talks about very personal things. Ben Barlow told us why this positive mindset all throughout the record was something really important to him: “I just got to a point where I was so sick and tired of feeling like shit, so I convinced myself everything would be just fine. And slowly but surely everything did start to get better. The more I change the way of seeing things the better it all got and that’s what I wanted this record to sound like.

As Barlow said, the strong lyrical content was what they wanted: to spill his rough experiences onto a page, give an input on how it got better and mainly getting better by having a positive attitude. However he confessed: “I wanted to spread a positive message and let people know that ‘Life’s Not Out To Get You’ sort of thing so I thought of the various ways I could say that and metaphors to put it. I was worried that people didn’t want to hear it and would be like ‘what’s all that posi bullshit?’ but it turns out it was a message a lot of people wanted and even in some cases needed to hear so that was great”.

In the end, all this led the band to hitting the charts, conquering the world and creating not only their biggest success thus far but also one of the best albums of 2015. And yeah, it was pure Pop Punk confirming us that the genre is definitely making an amazing comeback (for our very own pleasure). Surely Hope For The Day uses a lot of bands lyrics from the alternative/rock scene, as it is full of positivity and obviously, feelings. Regarding the genre, Neck Deep’s singer explains: “When it comes to our music you listen to it and you know what it’s about. What I’m trying to do with my lyrics is that when you listen to it you figure out what you’re going to do. A very pop punk thing is that you don’t really hideaway too much you just generally write about life. It’s very relatable, always has been and that’s why it’s so popular, because people connect to it so much.

Neck Deep by Alisson Nilsson // www.plugin-mag.com x Hope For The Day

Nonetheless, working with such an organization and being an important part of the pop punk “scene” means the band can be an inspiration to some. So we asked him how it felt to give hope with his songs and to be a sort of role model for younger kids. The answer is that it’s a bit unexpected but “to hear kids who have suffered some very hard times say that Neck Deep has helped them is the greatest feeling in the world, I wouldn’t change that”.

The band takes the organization very seriously and although they just wanted to write about their past experiences and bring positivity around, it seems that now fans really have Neck Deep’s back and rely on the band, quoting them and relating to their music. As we’ve seen with their latest release, the band have a very privileged connection with their fans, which also makes them good people to spread a message of hope, encourage kids to talk and get help but also to grow Hope For The Day’s community. They’ve done a lot of acoustic shows, meet & greets and signings last summer so we figured it was very important for the band to connect to this fanbase.

Barlow explains: “Your fans are the reason you are a band and a lot of bands just overlook that and forget about it, even completely disregard it. I think that’s lame because fans are the reason you do what you love. We know that and we try to do whatever we can for our fans. We’re always happy to do anything extra for the fans no matter if it’s pictures/videos or acoustics and signings because at the end of the day, without them we would have nothing and wouldn’t be doing this.”

Neck Deep, Paris 2016 – © Alisson Nilsson

With an album so personal, to which fans can relate to a lot, their work with Hope For The Day makes even more sense today. It’s clear that Neck Deep wants to spread the message, help kids with their lyrics and that’s when “music as a therapy” takes its full sense. The singer told us: “If we can say that we stopped a kid from committing suicide, cutting, running away from home or anything major that’s awesome. I never ever thought I’d have the power or influence to ever change anyone’s life and if people are saying that we did, awesome. Keep listening to the music. If that’s what helps when you’re going through a tough time, do it because I know how tough it is sometimes to feel like nothing helps”.

Since Hope For The Day really highlights art as a therapy and as a way of expressing your emotions, we asked Ben what helped him through his dark times and if he related to any bands himself.

We found out that the two things that help him out when he’s down are: a skateboard and a guitar! Now we know that music helps people a lot but we thought Ben’s views on the question were interesting: “Music probably more than anything has help me out through my rough times. The reason I think so positively about life is probably through bands like Blink-182. Most of Blink-182’s songs are stupid, kind of childish but at the same time they do have some songs that really resonate. I’ve done some stupid things in my times, I was feeling like a piece of shit for everything wrong that I did but I listened to Blink-182 and felt so much better […] Because I relate to it so much I feel like there’s someone who’s been through it too and who’s telling me it’s all going to be alright”.

Besides, Ben insists on the fact that positivity is key to their music today as mentioned earlier. When talking about his musical references, we realized Blink-182 shaped his views on what he was going through at the time along with his musical envies with Neck Deep: “That’s what we want to do, to make lyrics as relatable as possible and to let people know that there is someone who’s been through what they’re going through and it does get better. That is the main thing. It gets better, it’s not going to last forever, especially at such a young age.’

The thing to remember is that you’re not going to be stuck in this rough time forever and has he said it himself, past experiences can be lessons: ‘You learn, progress, move on and you simply grow from all the things that happened.’ And to illustrate that Ben was sorry to confess that (breaking news!) the girl he wrote A Part of Me for doesn’t have a part of him anymore.

So on this last note, here’s Ben Barlow’s advice to anyone who feels down: ‘Just stay positive. Truly, stay in that positive set of mind. People don’t expect you to be happy all the time. But if you ever feel like life’s getting too much just remember that it’s not going to be like that forever. Always look on the bright side, find happiness in the smallest things. Listen to good music; hang out with your friends. Talk to somebody and just do what makes you happy.

We’re glad we had that chat about Hope For The Day and it’s always nice to share people’s views on how much music can help whether you’re 16, 24 or 43. We surely all have in mind a couple of bands that has helped us grow and become the person we are today, helping us survive some rough times ourselves thanks to their lyrics and positivity. That is something very common to the genre and that makes me want to cherish it even more.

The good thing about life is that it is an inspiration for great songs no matter what genre you’re into. It is filled with positive vibes and mottos, even in the saddest stories. Remember that if that guy is singing about what you’re feeling and he’s okay then you can do it too. So, as Ben spreads the good words all we need to remember is to stay strong and positive but mainly to surround ourselves with good people, talk to them, listen to good music and do the things that make us happy.

Mistakes only make you grow and seeing life with a positive state of mind won’t hurt anyone. It truly does get better and you’ll be fine. HAVE HOPE.

« When you’re smilin’, the whole world smiles with you. When you’re laughin’, the sun comes shinin’ through » – Frank Sinatra


More about Hope For The Day : hftd.org
More about Neck Deep : official Neck Deep website / ‘Life’s Not Out To Get You’ review

Always on a train to London. I’m that cheerleader who loves pop/punk and pizza too much. I follow the music and sing in the rain. Everything happens for a reason. P.S : I hate everyone.

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