To round out our month of discussing anxiety, I asked Ethan Luck to answer a few questions for us. Probably most known for drumming in Relient K, Ethan just released a solo EP, Hard Seas, that tells his story of living with anxiety. You can pick up Hard Seas here and check out our interview with Ethan below!
by Elizabeth Tolbert
Open Our Eyes: Your EP Hard Seas contains a lot of personal subject matter. Do you find it more stressful or more freeing to share that with the public?
Ethan Luck: It’s a bit of both. When writing the songs and coming up with lyrics, it can be stressful. I might feel fine, but I have to put myself back in that place that I don’t like. I know that once it’s done and I’ve gotten out what I want to say, I will feel much better. Once the music is out there, it’s definitely freeing. Putting music out with this kind of subject matter is like talking it out with someone, to me.
OOE: You said on your website that writing these songs about your anxiety was a very therapeutic process for you. At Open Our Eyes, we also believe in this healing quality that music has. Why do you think that music is such an important coping mechanism for so many people?
EL: It’s definitely therapy! Music always has been that way for me. Writing and listening to it. Like I said before, writing these songs is like talking it out. Music of all types can have such an impact on me, no matter what the mood. The lyrics don’t even have to even relate to what I’m feeling. Sometimes, it’s just the mood of the song. The style of a song can pull things out of you so fast. It’s kind of like a score to a movie. If you saw some heartbreaking scene and put fun music over it, it probably wouldn’t make you feel what was happening in that scene. Music can do that in our daily lives. I’ve dealt with moments of anxiety before and I put on upbeat and “happy” music. My mood starts to change. I can be in a great mood and then it can change if I listen to a sad song.
OOE: What bands/artists do you listen to when you need that type of support?
EL: The main artist that comes to mind is my long time friend, Jon Foreman. Specifically his solo EP’s. There’s a lot of pain in those songs. One that I love is called “The Cure For Pain.” It’s sad, but there’s hope in there as well. I’ve listened to that song so many times. The mood of it is sad, but it’s a very calming song for me. The song gives me hope and drive.
OOE: I imagine that being a touring musician presents its own form of stress and anxiety. How do you overcome that when performing?
EL: There can be a lot of stress and anxiety while touring. Honestly, performing is one of the best drugs for anxiety for me. I feel at home while playing. I’ve been working as a tech for the last year and a half, so I’ve toured less as a musician than ever before. I hope that changes one of these days. I miss it a ton. I try and play around when I’m off the road and hope to get shows here and there on my days off, on the road. I’ve played music since I was 10 or 11, so it’s weird for me not to be touring as a musician.
OOE: What advice do you have for others who may be struggling with anxiety?
EL: First, I will say that I know there are people out there who have it way worse. I wish I knew a surefire way to rid yourself of it. I’ve tried out so many things to deal with it, without using any medications. One of the best things anyone can do for themselves is exercise and change their diet. I’ve been vegan now for about 5 years. I’m not saying everyone needs to go vegan here. As a vegan, there are plenty of things I started cutting out. Soy, for example. I’ve lost about 12 pounds recently and I think that’s also playing a big role in feeling better overall. I’m taking supplements as well to compensate for what I don’t get not eating meat. I also realized I need to keep myself stimulated. This has become something very helpful for me. If I sit on the couch and watch TV for too long, I’ll feel anxiousness coming on. I play guitar, bass and drums often, write music, get outside, ride my bike and just force myself to be productive. Making good use of your downtime is so satisfying and rewarding.
OOE: Hard Seas is your solo project but you’ve been in a few different bands; do you prefer the group dynamic of a band or the self-sufficiency of working as a solo artist?
EL: I love doing the solo thing because it’s just me. I can do what I want. I do miss the dynamic of a band though. I miss playing with other people on a regular basis. There’s something special about playing music with someone, night after night, for a long period of time. Not to sound all music nerd, but there’s a language there. Sometimes to the point where you can predict where someone is gonna go with what they are playing. I miss the collaboration part of it as well. I’ve written with other friends of mine and it’s been great. Music should be shared. You learn and grow off of each other. I hope to do more of that in the future.
OOE: Why did you choose to release your EP as “name your price”?
EL: Well, to be blunt, I have a job already. I didn’t need to survive off of my EP’s. I would like to one day. I like the idea of someone listening to my music and deciding what it’s worth to them. There was someone who paid 50 cents for my EP once. So, to him, my music is worth less than anything on a dollar menu. That’s cool. I thought it was funny. I can guarantee that my music is healthier for you though!
OOE: Do you have any plans to release a full-length album in the future?
EL: Possibly. I like the idea of EP’s because I can get them out faster. I write a lot on the road, on days off. So when I come home, I’ll have 5 or 6 songs to record. I’ll track them at home, send them to a friend to mix and master and then put it out. I don’t like waiting for a label or someone to tell me to wait. A full length could be cool. I just get really excited about what I just finished and want to put it out right away.