Tonic was privileged to join Andy Bell of Ride, Hurricane #1, Oasis, and Beady Eye fame, on tour in across the UK in October 2023.
Throughout October, Tonic has been on tour with Andy Bell as he presents new music under the name GLOK. An electronic, largely instrumental project mixing sweeping synths, samples and Andy’s trademark wizardry on guitar.
The partnership has been in the works for a little while after connecting with Andy at Peter Doherty’s Royal Albert Hall gig. “It's the first time I've ever known of a charity to deal with music mental health and I felt very touched that someone would think of doing that. It is so important, especially now, because musicians have been shafted so badly via the pandemic. We didn't get any kind of help through that, we were just left to get through it ourselves, so to have someone say ‘we are a mental health charity for you’, really meant a lot to me.”
Tonight, we’re in Bath at Moles. The legendary venue that has seen everyone from Radiohead to The Smiths perform. Over the years Andy has shown us iterations of his musical personalities, soundtracking our lives with Ride, Hurricane #1, Oasis, and Beady Eye. But today, we’re here for GLOK. The electronic alter ego that Andy’s fans are just as passionate about as he is; evident in the sweeping up of merch to bag every variant of vinyl or CD not yet in their collections.
We discussed various points in Andy’s career before the gig, wondering how different the industry is for him now compared to the last 10 or 20 years with the lack of discussions surrounding mental health.
“Even a few years ago it might have been seen as uncool or “that's a silly word”, maybe something to keep hidden or deal with yourself, but times are changing and everything seems to be a lot more raw. The world is a lot more raw, but also people are a lot more open.
We need to carry on talking about these things, bringing them into the open and just acknowledging that we're not all made of steel. Ironically, musicians aren’t always built for the music industry. We're just people. We have bad and good days. We might have underlying problems for years and not have realised.
When I look back at some of my musical heroes, I wish there had been someone around to help people like Syd Barrett in the late 60s before he self-medicated himself into a different place completely. Or Peter Green. A lot of people whose music I love were in really dark places.”
GLOK became a creative outlet for Andy during lockdown. "I had more time and more mental space to look at it all, plus I needed something to do as well. Home-school here, doom-scrolling there. A bit of music in the middle.”
Which is all too relatable as we know so many of us turn to music in times of need. But what is it about music that nurtures us so much?
“There's no denying that it does. I know when I've been down, sometimes music has become massively important to me, even more than normal as it's my life. There have been times in my life when I've been really down and I've been leaning on it heavily as a therapy almost.
So I know from experience that it does touch a nerve because it comes from emotion, doesn't it? Music to me is about emotional connection and if you're a listener, you're at one end of that connection and the person making the music is the other end of it.
A piece of music can be life changing and it can reinforce the truth that you're about to realise. It's a bit like the I Ching - it’s full of good advice but whether you believe it's random or whether it’s throwing the dice - whatever you do to get the I Ching, it’s just as valuable either way.”
Having developed from previous GLOK shows, the aim for this tour was to create multiple ways in which the audience could connect. “I was looking for a way to humanise my GLOK gigs a little bit because when I've been out doing this sort of thing before, I've done it all instrumental as one long piece of music. So I wanted to create gaps to talk (to the audience) and have some vocals, so it makes it easier for people to find a way in”
Guiding us through a journey of sound waves, mesmerising projected visuals by Innerstrings and layers of vocals, both live from Andy and a beautiful blend of pre-recorded, haunting tones from C.A.R, who supported GLOK at his London show.
The Audience are gifted with an emotive juxtaposition between light and dark, where everyone can meet in the middle, and it’s this connection that is prevalent throughout the evening. As well as musically, there is deep personal connection with Andy and his fans, and the openness we experienced when speaking with them just reinforces the need for programs like Tonic Rider.
After some much needed family time to end the year, in 2024 Andy will take to the road with Ride touring the release of their new album, as well as a joint tour with the Charlatans.
Tonic are excited to see future work from Andy and we look forward to working together again on future tours.