When you watch a videoclip or listen to a song on your streamingdevices, you only witness the finished product. When you visit a concert or a festival you witness the live music and the stage performance of your favourite artist! But before all that can be enjoyed, there are alot of things taking place to make it all happen. Artists, musicians, bands, venue directors, they all have their own story to tell!
In this series Im going to talk to several different people, to find out what the stories are behind it all! From a “big shot” artist, all the way to promotion and record company’s.
In this episode I had an inspiring chat with Tony Netterbrant, a talented musician who can be known for his work in bands like Slashy Sue and Zephyra. But did you know this 39 year old Swedish native has been facing mental health issues? About his work as a muscian, the influence of mental health issues on his music and some other things, I had a great talk with Tony!
Hey Tony, Thanks for making some time for Maizter Underground! First of all, how are you doing? Covid and all? How are things in Sweden?
Hello! I´m doing fine! I have had a couple of mentally bad days, but I have bounced myself up and I’m on top of things again!
Youre a musician and can be known to people for your work in Zephyra and/or Slashy Sue. Can you tell me a little more about the history of both bands?
A little? That´s hard ha ha. ZEPHYRA was my and my wife’s (Åsa Netterbrant) love child for better part of 10 years. We started that band in 2009 and broke (the band) up in 2019. We released three albums and toured through Europe. We ended that band because we both felt kind of burned out. The music business can be a hard place. The music was at its core Melodic Death Metal with lyrics mainly about mental health issues. SLASHY SUE was kind of a direct result of the the ending or at least the beginning of the end of ZEPHYRA. SLASHY SUE was created with a more loose and ”fun” state of mind. No serious lyrics, we do everything in the band ourselves, everything from recording, mixing, videos etc. The music could be described as Industrial metal with a touch of death and thrash.
Besides these bands, are there other projects/bands etc that you are part of?
Nothing that is on a regular basis. I have released a couple of songs under the name NETTERBRANT where I also try to sing 😉 And in my day job as a Music Coach I’m involved in smaller musical things, not so much metal though.
I want to talk to you a little bit about mental health issues and their influence on life and music. You are very open to the world about having depressions. Can you tell me a little bit in general what depression means for you and youre family/lovedones?
I have had anxiety and sometimes depression all my life. It is just in the recent years I’ve really made some good progress. Right now in this point of time, I am kind of at peace with my mental health. I still have my problems. Days can be challenging at times. Sometimes I win the battle, sometimes I loose. The difference nowadays is that I’m not so hard on myself on the days when I “loose”. I know its okay to not be okay all the time. In the last 6-7 years or so I have been very open regarding my mental health. It`s not to gain any pity, it`s to be honest to let people know why I am the way I am. I am also equally open on social media and I have got a lot of positive response to that. Many people have contacted me through the years and said its ”nice” to see that you are not alone. I can maybe give a voice for those who don’t or can’t be open about their problems
How do things like depression (or other mental health issues) influence your life as a musician?
A lot I would say. I am a very sensitive person and I feel A LOT! I think that music speaks the words that you sometimes cannot say in an ordinary way. Doesn’t matter if you have written the song yourself or listen to someone else’s song. Music seeks out the emotions in you. I have mainly got support from music colleagues through the years with one exception. I have had one person (I don’t want to name any names) that got afraid when I opened up about my problems. That person had a bad experience in a previous relationship so that’s why the person acted that way. At the time it made me feel like the plague, like I was disgusting. But now I have left that behind and I see it more from another angle
What part does music play in your life to coop with depressions?
It all comes down to the feelings for the music for me. I feel a lot when I make music or listen to music that I like. How many of us haven’t listen to a sad ballad and cried? That shit heals man! When I feel down I really am drawn to sad, melancholic music or at least something that has a melancholic vibe to it. Bands like Evergrey, Kamelot, Paradise Lost are a few examples. But the number one is the band Savatage and their ballads. Those songs speak so genuine to me. Besides that I have some artists that are not metal that I listens to. Marina is one of them.
You write music yourself. Do mental health issues have an influence on that and does this help you coop with “dark periods”?
It has always had influence on the music. But not every time for the better. I write best when Im a little bit down. The best lyrics comes about then as well. But the opposite side of that is that I am very critic of my own work. I can be very hard on myself at times and think that Im not good enough. It has got a lot better though. Music has meant so much for my mental health through the years but at the end of the ZEPHYRA period, music became more and more of a job than fun if that makes sense. Thats why nowadays we prioritize to have fun with SLASHY SUE and other projects so not the joy of music disappears.
I takes alot of nerves to be open about things like these. On a normal day you come accross like a nice bloke. Once on stage you turn into a real stagebeast! I can imagine it can be very intimidating as well as very satisfying to go on stage. Does this feel the same for you?
Not intimidating at all actually, at least not in the last 5-6 years. I’m surprisingly confident on stage, and that’s kind of strange because I’m not as confident off stage. Private I am quite low key and don’t make a lot of noise, don’t really want attention. I am also very anxious about a lot of the things that I do. But on that moment on stage, I am very in the zone so to speak. Of course I can feel insecure at times, but then its often about some technical problems. That can make me a little anxious and nervous on stage, but other than that, I feel at home on stage. But after or before the show I can sometimes feel out of place. My brain gets easily tired from being around a lot of people. And you can’t really get away from that when you’re in a band ha ha. I like talking to fans, other bands and so on, but I get very mentally tired from it.
The fans and audiences only see the stage part of Tony. What made you decide to share with the world that you experience “dark times” and how did people react to that?
Well, like I said earlier. I have always been kind of open about my problems. But the reason why I first started to talk about my problems on social media was that I wanted to show that I am not perfect, I also have my problems. I felt that I as a musician that have released albums, toured and all that stuff, I sometimes got portrayed as someone who has ”succeeded” and was happy and everything was good. No one really told these things to me directly, but I could sometimes feel that that was the case. So, I just wanted to share more of myself, both my happy times, but also my bad times. And I am not a super famous guy or anything, but I have been told several times by ”ordinary” people that they appreciate me being open about my mental health. If I could help just one person not to feel alone with a post a make, then its worth it <3
Several (wellknown) musicians have had similar problems but sadly didnt get the proper help. Do you have supporting people that help you, not loosing yourself?
My wife is there 200000%! Without her, I don’t know what would have become of me if I’m being honest. She has been a stable rock to lean on in bad times. Of course, the real work I have to do myself, no one can do it for me, but she has always been there. For that I am super grateful. Besides her I have one more close friend that I know who is there. Other than that I know that there are many people, especially online, that care about me, but no-one that I really open up fully to. A part of my mental health problems is that I don’t want to be a burden for someone, so that makes it harder sometimes to talk to someone other than those two persons when I’m down unfortunately.
Lets circle back a bit. A couple of weeks ago, you asked people on social media if they wanted to help you putting together a videoclip about this very subject. How did people respond to that and what is your general idea whit it?
It basically started from a nice clean riff that I wrote. I felt immediately that this wouldn’t work in SLASHY SUE. So I came up with the idea to make another NETTERBRANT song for fun. I finished the song as an instrumental and thought it would stay that way, but lets say that that changed ha ha. The whole feeling of the song is very melancholic and it was then I came up with the idea to make the song about mental health problems. In ZEPHYRA I wrote about that stuff almost in every song, but nowadays with SLASHY SUE, I don’t write about so serious topics so this was another chance for me to let this side of me out. I remembered when I made another song last year with NETTERBRANT called Metal ´Till I Die . For that video I requested small video clips from people where they looked in the camera and did horns up. That song was a tribute to metal music and the Facebook group Hårdrockare För Livet, a Swedish awesome metal community group. And I thought that I could do something similar but for another topic, namely mental health. I have received so far ca 40 clips, so that’s kind of overwhelming, It makes me happy <3 . The plan is to release it on World Mental Health Day on October 10 2021.
Thank you so much for your honesty and willingness to talk about things like this! Is there any more new material (besides the mentioned music+video)or shows that we can expect in the (near) future from you or the bands that you are part of?
The song about mental health will be out as NETTERBRANT on 10/10 and its called Aldrig Ensam (Not Alone)
And for SLASHY SUE we are still working on our debut album. We are making progress, but unfortunately I don’t have any kind of release dates just yet. But follow us on our channels and you will know when we have some news 🙂
Are there any things you want to add or say to people who read this?
Whatever you are feeling and whatever you are going through, you are not alone. Keep fighting and don’t be afraid to seek help. Your life is valuable <3
I couldn’t agree more with you Tony. Thank you!
On behalf of the entire crew at Maizter Underground I want to wish you all the best with all you take on in the future and thank you for your time and willingness to talk about the mental healt issues you face. It takes alot of nerve to be this open about such personal issues.
Mental Health issues are a serious condition that have to be taken serious. Life can be hard at times and feelings can go their own way. We (Tony Netterbrant and Maizter Underground) feel it is very important to tell this story and to make people aware of the fact that mental health issues can be a part of your life no matter what the background is. We sincerly hope you enjoyed this read as much, as we enjoyed making it. If you recognise yourself in the things being said, or if you face any other mental health issues, please know that you are not alone. When you need help, please contact a doctor or professional near you. Next to that we will list some website’s where you can learn more about mental health issues and how to get help! And most importantly: mental health issues are NOT a joke! Its very serious and it can ruin people’s lives. A random act of kindness can make a difference, be nice to the people around you, and give love, trust and comfort to those who need it.
If you dont want to miss anything Slashy Sue announces or releases, make sure you follow them on their socials and/or website!
MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES:
World Health Organisation:
Mental Health U.K.:
Swedish National Health Origanisation:
BUT MOST IMPORTANT!!! You can always seek advice from a doctor or specialist near you. If you can, please discuss mental health issues your are facing with relatives and lovedones. Try to not be afraid and open yourself up to the people you love. It can be hard, but in the long run you will benefit!