For Assimilate’s Jake Aston, the pandemic and his own mental health have been a huge driving force behind his music. Struggling with his own mental health prior to the pandemic, the subsequent lockdown had a massive impact on his writing and inspiration. These struggles can be heard through his lyrics on the band’s new album Suffer In Silence, so we spoke to Jake about the album and what he learned about himself from his own mental health struggles.
Thanks for your time; how is life treating you today?
Jake Aston: “No worries! Right now, as I’m typing this on release day, there’s quite a mix of emotions going on but mostly good, thanks!”
So, the new album is out, how does it feel to finally be able to put an album out after a challenging two years?
“It feels very surreal, to be honest. When you spend over two years working on an album (almost 3 years in our case) it feels very strange knowing that you’ve actually finished and it’s out there in the world.”
It’s your second full-length album and this one has been inspired by the last two years. Are the songs written from a personal perspective?
“Technically, most of the lyrics were written about my mental health struggles just before the pandemic started. However, being trapped inside your house because of a lockdown can exacerbate all those issues and so it definitely had an impact on the rest of the writing and how I wanted to express the songs.”
On that note, what have you found most difficult about life on a personal level over the lockdown?
“I’ve been in bands for over 10 years at this point so the lack of live music and band rehearsals did make it harder to stay positive. Plus, the uncertainty surrounding how long we were going to be in lockdown caused me a lot of anxiety as I’m the type of person that strategically plans out everything.”
What did you learn about yourself as a person during that time?
“Even though it was tough sometimes, one positive thing lockdown did for me was it forced me to do a lot of introspection. It made me realise that I had a lot of unhealthy thinking habits that I needed to fix and so I’ve actually taken a step and started speaking to a professional about it. I probably wouldn’t have done that if there wasn’t a lockdown so there were definitely pros and cons!”
What about as a band, especially an underground band? How challenging have those times been?
“The most challenging part of the album process was trying to get it recorded while some of our members were shielding vulnerable family members. We had to reschedule the recording sessions a couple of times and even after that we had to record it sporadically between March and June. We got it done in the end and we’re incredibly proud of the result.”
How did the writing process work for Suffer In Silence?
“The writing process was a little different this time around as it was our first time writing an entire album with Matt, our guitarist. He actually brought a lot of riffs to the table which was super helpful with getting the ball rolling. The process usually started with a few basic riff ideas, which I would use to write the vocal melodies and lyrics over. Once I knew what the song was going to be about, we would all work on it together in a rehearsal studio so that we could all add our own details and try to give the song the right vibe to suit the lyrics.”
Mental health plays a big part in the inspiration of the record. What did you do to keep your own mental health in check during lockdown?
“Being creative is the main thing that gives me focus and calms me down so I tried to do that wherever possible. I wrote dozens of song ideas for this band and other projects. Worked on cover songs. Started a podcast with my friend Laura Hill from Ill-Informed. But most importantly, I made sure I spoke to my friends regularly as I wouldn’t have been able to handle the isolation without that!”
A lot of people have struggled with mental health and isolation, do you think enough was done to support those people during lockdown?
“Personally, I think more could have and should have been done. Obviously, the main priority was preventing people from being hospitalised, but if our government had reacted to the pandemic more swiftly, it would have helped people’s physical and mental health a lot more.”
For you as a band, how did it feel/help to have music as an outlet for your emotions and feelings?
“I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say that being able to come together and finish writing and recording this album earlier this year was very much needed. It’s always better to let your emotions and frustrations out and music is our way of doing that.”
As a race, what do you hope we have learned coming out of the lockdown?
“To listen to the scientists. If it wasn’t for the vaccines, we’d still be locked down right now. And also, I hope people learn that we need to start changing our behaviours as a species or else a pandemic like this will eventually happen again.”
Now that live shows are returning, what are Assimilate’s plans for 2022?
“We’ve got some more videos and ’content’ to release following the release of the album and then we’re also in the process of booking some shows from February onwards so we’re really looking forward to that!”
Thanks for your time and good luck with everything. Over to you to wrap this up…
“Thanks for the interview! We’re really proud of our new album Suffer In Silence and we hope the album does well and that lots of people get to hear it so make sure to give it a listen on streaming services and keep your eyes on our socials for more in the future!”