TRANSCRIPT Depresh Mode Ep. 133: Kevin Drew on Making Beautiful Music Out of Grief and Aging

The Broken Social Scene musician and singer tackles big issues on a new album

Podcast: Depresh Mode with John Moe

Episode number: 133

Guests: Kevin Drew


[00:00:00] John Moe: We know about children’s music. Catchy songs, songs that sometimes go much deeper than expected. You know, you’re row, row, rowing your boat, doing so merrily, and it turns out life is but a dream? That’s pretty deep. And sometimes children’s music gets darker than you might expect. London Bridge collapses, a baby in a cradle in a treetop, and when the wind blows, the baby comes down. We also know about the idea of the inner child: the idea that we are influenced as adults by who we were as prepubescent kids—how we lived, what love meant, our traumas, our joys. So, we know children’s music, and we know inner child. Have you ever heard Inner child children’s music?

Welcome to the show. It’s Depresh Mode. I’m John Moe. I’m glad you’re here.

[00:00:55] Music: “Don’t be Afraid of the Dark” from the album Aging by Kevin Drew.

Don’t be afraid of the dark

The lights have just been turned off

The lights are not on

They’ve been switched off

But don’t be afraid

(Music fades out.)

[00:01:32] John Moe: That’s “Don’t be Afraid of the Dark” by Kevin Drew off his new album, Aging. Kevin is a Canadian musician and songwriter and part of the acclaimed band Broken Social Scene. Aging is Kevin’s fourth solo album, and it’s about aging and grief and loss and love. And it’s for adults. Let’s be clear; it’s not a children’s album. But if you’re familiar with the notion of inner child, it’s in there.

[00:01:59] Transition: Spirited acoustic guitar.

[00:02:06] John Moe: Kevin Drew, welcome to Depresh Mode.

[00:02:09] Kevin Drew: I’m glad I’m here.

[00:02:10] John Moe: How are you feeling today?

[00:02:12] Kevin Drew: I am feeling pretty good, thank you very much for asking—even though everything seems to be awful outside of this house I live in.

[00:02:19] John Moe: Mm, yeah, that’s the world you’re referring to, right?

(Kevin confirms.)

Well, let’s talk about this album. How did Aging come into being?

[00:02:28] Kevin Drew: The record itself is—I’ve been doing this now for 27 years, making albums. And over the time of the pandemic, eventually I was finding things to do. And I made a lovely album that I enjoyed very much for myself under the name KDAP Influences, where I went in and I made this sort of instrumental soundtrack where I sort of found this program that I could use called Endless on my phone, and I wrote all these songs and went in the studio and rerecorded them and played over top of them. And I did it at a place where I’ve spent a lot of time in this last decade, and I did it with a gentleman named Niles Spencer, who I’ve spent a lot of time in this last decade just recording albums, recording bands, recording records.

So, in 2021, in the fall, I needed something to do. And with Broken Social Scene—which is the band that I am in—I’m always trying to find sort of work or ideas for these guys, because they’re so talented and incredible. And there was an idea of a children’s record that I had been associated with for quite some time now and talked to some people about making. And I just called up Niles at one point and said, “Hey, I think I’m just going to come over for a few days and bang out some children’s songs off the cuff. Let’s—are you into that?”

And of course, people weren’t coming to the studio that much because everything was shut down. So, he said, “Come on over.” And I went over there, and we started recording these hilarious children’s songs that I—in my opinion, I found them quite funny, and it was quite hilarious. And then, we put down this song called “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”. And within that, I was writing these songs for other people to sing, and I said to Niles like, “I don’t feel I can emotionally back this song. I want a woman to sing this.” And he threw my voice through autotune, and the narcissistic, egotistical side of my emotions said, “Oh, you sound amazing!” And then the next day I came in with more songs and said, “Uh, I think I want to sing about friends who’ve died. And then, I think I want to sing about my mom who’s sick. And I think I want to sing about the element of trying to constantly fix yourself through self-help books and loving relationships.” And then that’s—two weeks later, it was finished.

[00:04:43] John Moe: What was it about the song “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” that triggered that shift for you?

[00:04:48] Kevin Drew: I think it was the aspect of you always are fighting with your inner child. I think it was the maturity of realizing that there’s so much darkness around aging, within the illnesses that come about with not only our friends but obviously our moms and dads, our parents, our grandmothers, our grandfathers. And just the aspect of lullabies, or what we neurologically were first introduced to, to soothe us at night through the nightmares, through the fear, that I sort of felt that song was something that my mother would have sung to me, my grandmother would have sung to me.

So, it kind of opened up my colonialized UK Irish lullaby. And I thought, alright, well, what else is there inside the, you know, the lungs to continue with in this recording? So, we just kept going.

[00:05:48] John Moe: Yeah. In my notes here, I’ve written down, “‘Don’t be Afraid of the Dark’ What dark are you talking about?”

[00:05:54] Kevin Drew: Well, I think from a children’s perspective, you’re speaking about when the lights get turned off. And then, I think within an adult sort of society perspective, you’re thinking about the evil, the darkness out there, the world, the shame, the depression, the—everything that holds you back, the suicide hotline, the government, the leaders, the fall of all that’s financially crumbling around us within the middle and lower class. I’m speaking about the dark.

[00:06:23] John Moe: Do you maintain that we shouldn’t be afraid of these things?

[00:06:28] Kevin Drew: Well, we shouldn’t, because then we’ve lost. So, there are extremely difficult ways to get through them, but I’ve always believed it’s within community. I’ve always believed it’s within conversation and connection. And I’ve always believed it’s within trust and truth within yourself. But that’s difficult. As you know, John, that is extremely difficult. It’s hard to get out of bed. You know this. This is what your show is all about.

[00:06:56] John Moe: Yeah. Yeah. You mentioned your mom. Tell me what’s going on with your mom.

[00:07:02] Kevin Drew: My mom passed away July 18th. My mom’s body started to shut down on her, and then my mom’s mind started to shut down on her, and then my family—for four to five years—we went through a hard time trying to figure out all the ways to have her body stay with her and have her mind stay with her. And I was very close with my mom, because my mom became supportive to me. And my mother saw that I was not a kid who paid attention. I was a kid that had, you know, a list long of learning disabilities. Put me in a troubled child’s school. Fortunately, the teachers were smart enough to see that. They said, “Look, this kid doesn’t do homework. He doesn’t like to do things he doesn’t like to do, but when he does like to do the things he likes to do, he soars at them.”

So, my mom saw that I loved drama, and I loved art and music. So, she pushed me to get into programs. And then, she pushed me to go to this high school called Etobicoke School of the Arts, which would probably be the monumental thing that changed my life. And around 17/18, we just decided—because obviously I was a very sexist, angry little kid when it came to my mother. And then I realized that isn’t any way to live life. And it’s also not a way to be with the ladies. So, she came to me and said, “Look, can we be friends? Not just mother and son?” And I said yeah, we can. And it was around 17/18. And from that point forward, I had her in my corner, and she brought my dad along. And I was very, very fortunate and very privileged, as you know, to have these parents support my drug habit.

No, I’m kidding. My art. (Laughs.)

[00:08:43] John Moe: There’s some overlap to those.

[00:08:45] Kevin Drew: Yeah. It’s like, “Mom, listen, I gotta be high or it doesn’t sound as good!” (Chuckles.)

[00:08:49] John Moe: Oh no. So, then you became friends with her. Then you had a new relationship.

[00:08:55] Kevin Drew: Yeah, well, the interesting thing is—and this is something that I say a lot in this last sort of few weeks. I think it’s very hard on parents when they’re told their kid has learning disabilities or they’re autistic or they have OCD, they’re dyslexic, ADHD—which was coming up when I was in high school. We didn’t really know what it was at that time, but you were definitely asking your friend who had it for speed, and then you’d go off dancing at some high school parking lot. But the point is, is that it’s a gift. And I think the conversation is changing on that, but these are kids that don’t know how to get programmed. These are kids that are thinking outside, and they’re thinking in a different way. So, I try to encourage all my friends who are struggling with their children or struggling with their reading or their arithmetic or their English.

I was in grade 12, John, and I was tested for English. And I was at a grade six level—grade six level. And I slid through the education system, but there is other things to focus on than what we traditionally are told to, especially with the learning disabilities out there. I look at them as learning possibilities. And I definitely feel successful because of all the learning disabilities I was told I had.

[00:10:10] John Moe: So, then how old were you when your mom started getting sick?

[00:10:14] Kevin Drew: Oh, I was—I’m 47, so I was about 42/43. I remember she showed up to one of our festivals in Toronto on a cane. And I had been on tour. I guess it was 2016, and I was—or maybe 2017, actually, John. It was 2017. And I had just come back from Europe, and we sort of flew in that night to play this prominent Toronto show, and everyone was showing up from the band, and it was getting organized. And it was kind of—it was a big deal. Such a big deal that I was in Barcelona the night before, and I skipped the Aphex Twins show at a festival where I really regret doing that. I should have stayed for Aphex Twin and just not slept and done—but I felt I needed to rest myself and rest my voice. But Slayer was also playing before Aphex Twin, and I just think to myself, “What was I—what was I thinking?! Why did I go to bed? It was Slayer and then Aphex Twin.” When can you ever say you saw those two bands together? Well, I can’t, because I was trying to be responsible.

I showed up and she was on a cane, and she had said that her leg and back had been hurting her. And it just sort of came—it just went from there. And it was very hard, because we kept thinking that she was going to get better, but more to the point, she kept thinking she was going to get better. And it was tough, and it was tough on my parents who had been together now 56/57 years. And when you see one become the caregiver and one become the sick person, I don’t think there’s anyone who’s listening to this who understands that who would say that that’s not an easy thing. It’s quite tough to be around.

[00:11:56] John Moe: There’s a song on the album, “You’re Gonna Get Better”. Is that who you’re talking about?

[00:12:02] Kevin Drew: Yeah. Yeah, I am.

[00:12:04] Music: “You’re Gonna Get Better” from the album Aging by Kevin Drew.

I think you’re gonna get better.

I think you’ll be back on your feet soon.

No matter how hard they tell you.

I know you can win back the room.

(Music fades out.)

[00:12:35] Kevin Drew: I also think in the aspect of just addiction and shame, right? I just thought writing that song was like a kid’s song in a way too, and the idea of we all live with this pain, and some of us have more trauma than others. And some of us obviously have way more pain than others, but there’s this pain. And I don’t know if you ever saw that show Dopesick. It was this wonderful show about the Sacklers, and it was Michael Keaton. And just whoever put that thing together, incredible show. Acting, writing, direction, production, music supervision. Oh my gosh, I’d love to hang out with that music supervisor. The music was incredible. And there’s a great speech that Michael Keaton’s character gives at the end—I’ve watched it twice now. It chokes me up every time—where he discusses addiction and he discusses pain, living with pain, and how every day we’re just trying to let go more of this pain that we live with.

That’s kind of where “I Think You’re Gonna Get Better” comes from. You know, I know you can win back the room. You can do this. Because having a support system that’s not based around getting told how you’re supposed to live, not based around getting judged on how you lived, and not based around being shamed  how you live. That, I guess, is what they call love. And it’s pretty incredible when you actually experience it and you’re actually around people that are not shaming you for who you are, the mistakes you’ve made, or the things you could have done, all that.

[00:14:13] Transition: Spirited acoustic guitar.

[00:14:17] John Moe: More with Kevin Drew in just a moment.

(Music ends.)

[00:14:26] Transition: Gentle acoustic guitar.

Back with musician Kevin Drew of the band Broken Social Scene. We’ve been talking about his solo album, Aging, and the conversation has turned to addiction.

Have you lost people to addiction?

(Kevin confirms.)

Who have you lost?

[00:14:44] Kevin Drew: Myself, at times. (Laughs.) I think about that a lot. I think about the career I could have had if I actually was successful in putting the bottle down. I see friends of mine who I love who are struggling, who internalize it. I see friends of mine that are not living to their true capacity because of all the wounds that have happened in their lives. I say this thing now when I’m on stage and before I sing the song “Lover’s Pit” and I mean it. I say, “Listen, there’s two things that I think can help you in life. One, forgive your parents. And two, realize you’re gonna live your life with a broken heart.” And what I mean by that is you’re going to have your heart broke. And if you build a wall around that heart and you build it out of plasticine, you’re going to waste a lot of time and a lot of other people’s time.

And I spent quite a bit of time being in denial about having a broken heart. And there were repercussions for that, and there were mistakes made because of that.

[00:15:49] John Moe: It’s interesting to me that we started talking about addiction, and then you turned to the broken heart pretty quickly.

[00:15:57] Kevin Drew: (Laughs.) Well, the knee bone’s connected to the…

(They laugh.)

[00:16:01] John Moe: All rivers lead to the ocean, right?

(Kevin agrees.)

Why do you go to that when you talk about addiction?

[00:16:08] Kevin Drew: Because I realized I—look, I’m a celebrator. I love to celebrate life. Recently with my mom, I realized that I was picking up the wine. You know, I love a great glass of wine. I love a couple of great glasses of wine. But I saw myself out one night, and I didn’t want to be there, but I went. Which is, first of all, a red flag. If you don’t want to go somewhere, don’t go. But we always feel like we’re supposed to do these things. And I knew I was not in a good state, and I knew I was hurting, and I knew I was going to get triggered going to this event I was going to. And it kind of woke me up the next day, because I didn’t handle myself to the best of the ability that I could. But it was alright, because I’m a high five kind of gentleman, and I go around high fiving people.

And I love the karaoke party in the sky. I just do, and I always have. But not at the expense of trying to hide feelings. And it wakes you up to the idea of what is making you do this? When you’re under an extreme light of your mother’s about to leave, your mother’s about to go, and you kind of know that this is it, but you also think you might have so much more time. So, you’re living in this semi state of denial while you’re working and hanging with friends and going to events and doing this stuff. And within that aspect, I could see there was a big part of my mom who had a broken heart. And it’s not in the revolving sense of my father in any way, shape or form, but in the sense of her life and her family and her emotions and being British and being so uptight about the history. And I could just see she wanted to be a little girl and just go and be free of all of that.

And it kind of rocked me. It rocked my sense of what I was doing, reflective-wise. Is this actually a podcast, or are we just talking…?

[00:18:06] John Moe: Well, podcasts have very, uh…

[00:18:08] Kevin Drew: Do people wanna hear all this? Is this really what they tune in for?

[00:18:10] John Moe: I think they do. I think this is what they come here for.

[00:18:13] Kevin Drew: I just got confused. I’m like, wait a second, are you my therapist, John? Or are you—?

(They chuckle.)

[00:18:18] John Moe: I’m just an interviewer. I’m just somebody who’s curious.

[00:18:22] Kevin Drew: I’m an open book, and I don’t mind that. So, when I heard about this—as soon as I heard the title, I went, “Oh shit, I gotta do that. Depresh Mode? Are you kidding me?!”

(John chuckles.)

But I’m a very happy person, John. I need you to know that. And I need you to know that, yeah, I’ve been—I’ve thought about it. I’ve thought about leaving. And every time there’s something that makes me stick around, and it makes me stronger, and it makes me understand more. It makes me understand why people leave. It makes me understand why people can’t get out of bed. There’s a power to feeling this way. There’s a power to depression. I think it’s really important that people feel it and get through it so that they can be a community and help others. It’s super important.

[00:19:08] John Moe: What does the power feel like to you?

[00:19:09] Kevin Drew: An understanding! What is one of the most powerful things in the world? Understanding. What is one of the things this world is lacking more than ever now? Understanding.

[00:19:20] John Moe: Yeah, we try to do the—we try to do some of that around here, certainly. You talk about your mom being sick for a really long time and with her body and her mind. Did you grieve her while she was still alive?

[00:19:34] Kevin Drew: No, I cried a few times about the state of where she was, but I have had friends who’ve been sick, and I realized that the living funeral doesn’t work. And I was most happiest in the end when she was up at my house with me. I think with grief, I didn’t realize how much of a virgin I was with grief, even though I’ve lost people in my life who I love dearly and have wept for. But this took a piece of me, and I wasn’t prepared for that. It was—I had Irish shiva right afterwards. I was just like, “Come over to the house.”

I was celebrating that she was not in pain anymore. And I was very happy about that. And about a week later, I kind of went down. And I also have to be very respectful in how I’m talking about this, because—not that my father’s an avid listener of Depress Mode, and I’m sorry about that. Depresh Mode.

[00:20:30] John Moe: We’ll work on that.

[00:20:31] Kevin Drew: Yeah. (Chuckles.) Pops, you want to listen to me talk about Mom? But I do want to respect my brother too. Like, this is his mother as well. And I’m out there. I’m talking about her a lot, because it was just the strangest aspect that she died right as we were about to release a song off this album. And I almost said should I stop all this? But then there was something powerful in the idea that here was a record I kind of put on the shelf for a couple of years, because I didn’t feel like putting it out and I didn’t feel like getting behind it—emotionally getting behind it. I felt a lot of just “I’m not sure I wanna do this anymore” kind of stuff. But not in a—not in a salty way, but just in a way of how we calculate what we’re gonna do in life as everything changes around you.

So, I was just wondering, maybe this isn’t the right thing. And I also knew that Social Scene was getting back in the ring to get out there and fight the good fight. So, I felt a sort of—an allegiance to being there for them. And I was very happy with what I made, but I didn’t need to put it out. I was okay with it just staying as it was. And it was two guys, Brendan—who I’m partners with. He said, “You should put this out. You’ve made something, put it out.” And it was a guy from my label, Cameron Reed—’cause I did not really share it with many people. And also, I’m at a point now where you do send your record out, and no one listens to it. Whereas back in the day (chuckling) when you used to send your album out, people would write you letters like, “Oh my god, thank you so much.”

But these friends that we have, it’s interesting how we’ve all just sort of forgotten what we used to care about in terms of our art and our friends’ art and what they feel and what they say. And I guess that comes with age, but I see it all around me with a lot of the artists. We used to be way more supportive towards each other, and social media is something that really made that apparent to me. Because it becomes so self-focused, and it becomes such a self-marketing tool. Whereas before, there was a much better jukebox that you could go to.

[00:22:37] Transition: Spirited acoustic guitar.

[00:22:40] John Moe: Just ahead, is grief a form of madness or a form of sanity? And other questions that people don’t face on other podcasts.

(Music ends.)

[00:22:51] Transition: Gentle acoustic guitar.

[00:22:52] John Moe: Back with Kevin Drew of the band Broken Social Scene. We’ve been talking about addiction and music and mental health, and we’ve been talking about grief.

You talk about grief, about grieving your friends who you’ve lost, about grieving your mom. A I always kind of struggle with the topic—I struggle with the topic of grief, but I struggle with the topic of grief within the context of mental health. Because in one sense, it feels like madness to me. When I’ve been in really deep grief, it feels like I’m just losing my shit and everything’s falling apart. But in another sense, it feels like, well, this is a rational response to a horrific event, and this is a sign of health. You know, that this is a sign of how deeply I love this person that I can be so torn apart by their loss.

Where do you come down on the mental health aspect of grief?

[00:23:49] Kevin Drew: I guess it depends on how long you carry it with you. I know that everyone I’ve talked to—and I knew people who lost parents before. I didn’t—I couldn’t connect the way I suppose I could now, but I’ve seen some people who haven’t been able to move on. And I don’t think within that stereotype and fridge magnet you ever move on, but I guess the mental health aspect—which I’ve never thought about, because I do believe it’s very, very natural. And I’m not a big—and we can get into this, because I’m sure you’ll love this next statement—I’m not a big mental health excuse sweater wearer when it comes to how things are approached these days through all that is going on and all that’s getting marketed and sold and bought when it comes around mental health.

So, I suppose to answer your question, it just—I guess the mental health aspect of grief comes into the idea of how long we carry it around with us. Obviously, we’re going to carry that memory around with us forever, but we don’t want to carry that anger and that sadness around with us forever. But I love and agree with you that it is so important to feel those things. And once again, there’s a power. There’s a power to it. There’s a power to understanding that sadness and understanding that loss.

[00:25:16] John Moe: Yeah. I’m curious how—you know, a lot of people go through grief. A lot of people go through—you know, everybody goes through an aging process. Everybody finds, you know, that time is slipping away more and more all the time. And everybody has to deal with that. Not a lot of us make an album influenced by those thoughts. Like, how do you decide what becomes a song out of this vast tapestry of feelings and experiences? How do you turn that into verse/chorus?

[00:25:52] Kevin Drew: I don’t think about it much, John. I don’t think about much when it comes to directing or writing, writing songs, producing. I try to get it done very quickly so that there’s no real thought put into it. Obviously, lyrically you need to. But for me, I won’t write lyrics for years. And then, if suddenly something comes to me, I’ll write it down quickly and get it down quickly so that it’s finished. And I think that I maybe have gone a little too far into “let’s just get it done quickly”, but I feel that that captures that moment of where you’re at and what you’re feeling, and then you can figure it out later. I also think that when you have time and money to figure out what you’re creating in a studio—I’m not going to go after filmmakers, but even in any art, if you have a budget, then it limits you to be on top of your game and just try to make executed decisions that are all about feel very quickly. You can’t really think.

So, I didn’t call this record Aging until after it was about—I did it in 2021. So, I listened to everything, and then I said, you know what? Now I’m going to call it Aging. And then I did put it on the shelf, because I guess I needed to age a little bit more. And timing is—you know the expression. Timing really is everything. Timing is what guides you in your life. I believe. It’s just an opinion, but I felt as if you’re taking sort of a journal. I mean, I had written some of these songs already. “Out in the Fields” is a song that I wrote in 2014. “Elevators” I wrote in 2018, along with “Party Oven”.

So, I just said—I just started gathering things that were sort of lingering in my life. Because as a songwriter, you’re always throwing ideas down and forgetting that they exist. So, I sort of went back and looked around and thought, Oh, I love this. I love this. I should just see what this is.

And when you’re making something just to make it, then you don’t have any real objective except to just be in that moment and see what happens.

[00:28:08] John Moe: So, you’re not writing a song or creating a song, recording a song to process something or to teach a listener about something? It’s a snapshot of the moment?

[00:28:21] Kevin Drew: I think the listener is the teacher. The listeners, they’re the ones that have to figure out what they want to teach themselves from what they hear and use it. I’m definitely that way. I think I would be lying to you if, “Awful Lightning”, I wasn’t writing about how my mother’s body was shutting down on her. And that just came out of nowhere, and that was me obviously processing that. And it always feels alive when you’re singing from a place that you don’t really know of. I always say if you can do 30 seconds of transcendence a day, you’re doing something right.

And but as far as—especially with Social Scene and everything that I’ve done, I’m never a teacher. I would never—I mean, I love teachers. I’m not going to say I would not love to be a teacher, but I’m not approaching anything from teaching. Music for me was always if I could identify with what that human was saying to me or what that human was playing to me, if I could feel it, then it meant something to me. And sometimes when you figure out—someone tells you what the song’s about, that was not what the song was about to you at all. (Chuckles.) And that’s the gift of music. It really is yours as a listener. You can take that and make it what it means for you in your life. And that’s so important!

[00:29:38] John Moe: When you’ve been dealing with some of these issues and some of these feelings and themes related to aging and related to loss and grief, what is some of the music by other people that you turn to?

[00:29:52] Kevin Drew: Oh my gosh, everybody! From Stars of the Lid, to Rod Stewart, to like Sonny Sharrock, to today I was listening to—who was I listening to? Like, Psychic TV came on, and then suddenly Magnetic Fields was on, and then next thing you know you’re listening to your buddies. You’re listening to Star’s new record, and Feist’s new record, and Metric’s new record, and MurrayLightburn’s album about his father. You know, who he lost. And you’re like, “Geez, my god.” And then my dear friend Ariel has a wonderful record called Skeletons by her artist’s name is La Force. And I’m deep into that.

But no, reggae is the music that brings me life. Beastie Boys always makes me smile. New Order is how I want to live my love life. And you know, if you put on some Tribe Called Quest, you’re going to see me move a little bit. And it’s all it’s all how it is. And then you can get into the opera, and you can get into the Górecki, and you can get into the Bach, and you can just… you can chill with Charlie Parker. It’s beautiful when you love it all. It’s just beautiful when you love it all.

[00:30:58] John Moe: Do you find when you’re creating an album that you stop listening to other things so as not to be influenced?

[00:31:06] Kevin Drew: Yeah. It’s not something I do, but I’m very careful of what I’m influenced by. Because I’ve seen a lot of artists think that they’ve come up with something that they didn’t. And I’ve also—I play in a band where, you know, you show people chords and the next thing you know, they don’t remember how you showed them those chords, and they came up with it themselves. So, I’ve always been very eyes wide open about making sure that I’m not taking—not so much—obviously, I’m influenced by everything I just told you about. I can go into U2 and Dinosaur Jr. and Tortoise, Jeff Buckley for five hours if you wanted me to. And I’m always paying homage and respect, but I’m trying to always approach things in a different manner. And there’s ways that you can do that.

I just saw Bob Dylan the other night and it was very—I had no idea that he was playing “You Gotta Serve Somebody” until he started singing it. I thought, oh, okay. And he was doing all these songs differently. But when you have a verse, chorus, verse, chorus—and this is what’s so cool about pop music and the stuff I hear on the radio today is it’s very innovative. It’s very wild in how they’re presenting songs that aren’t traditional but still kind of hits, whether it’s the Biebers or the Shawn Mendes or the Drakes or the, you know, the Swifts and all that. There’s a way of not going verse, chorus, verse, chorus, and singing within moments where you’re not supposed to sing.

A song like “All Your Fails” off Aging—I really wanted to just sort of try to sing as long as I could without really taking a break and to see how long my breath could go, trying to puke out all these lyrics. And there’s still so much room for breaking the tradition. And I mean, my neighbor down the road sent me a song—a beautiful 2 minute and 37 song, 2 minute and 37 second song. And it was heartbreaking, and I heard that song, probably 97,000 times in my life, but I’d never heard his version. And it was stunning, and it was beautiful. So, I still believe there’s originality in what we’ve—our memory muscle surrounds us with when we pick up musical instruments. There’s still originality in that.

[00:33:23] John Moe: Is there a craft or a technique to getting comfort from music? Is there a method by which you can be comforted through something like grief and heartbreak?

[00:33:38] Kevin Drew: That’s a good question, because the answer for me would say yes! I mean, I’ve given records away. I remember the Jonesy and Alex album that came out. This is the Sigur Rós—excuse me, the gentleman from Sigur Rós and his partner at the time made probably one of the most beautiful, stunning instrumental records. But! I realized for two months, I had this CD in my car, and I wasn’t changing it, and I was getting really sad. So, when (chuckling), said, “You have to take this away from me or I’m never gonna get back out there and pick myself up.”

So, there’s ways that you can get there. You know how sometimes you worry am I not emotionally mature enough and am I not in tune with myself? Or we feel like we don’t know how to feel things. Music is what can get you there, and you can push yourself forward when you listen to the melancholy soundtracks or ambient composers. They take you through your window watching soundtrack for you to just look outside and try to feel the feels. Because you know, as we get older, we’re taught to harden ourselves. And you know the innocence of that kid gets fucking squashed. And you know that some of this pain I talk to you about is self-inflicted by decisions we made that we regret. So, you harden yourself to say, no, no, no, I’m okay. And you start to build these, as I say, concrete walls out of plasticine. And when they crumble, it’s usually one of the most comforting things is music. Because then you’re not alone. Then, you’re there with this duvet that’s there to protect you and show you that, “Look, this music is how you feel. This songwriter is singing about how you feel.”

And I kind of think it’s therapeutically one of the most important things out there.

[00:35:35] John Moe: You mentioned plasticine walls. Can you explain what you mean by that?

[00:35:43] Kevin Drew: (Chuckles.) Well, they’re not built to last. And I suppose that that’s kind of the denial of how we protect ourselves. And trust me, I’ve been given a lot of self-help books. I’ve read half of some of the self-help books. I’ve gone online. I’ve seen all the Instagram and social media teachers out there and everyone grabbing the microphone and saying, “Listen to me, listen to me, listen to me, listen to me.” I’ve seen people get worse because of it, not better. And there is a responsibility that doesn’t exist now within the realm of helping each other out, because there’s just too much information to hold onto anything.

And our minds are not programmed to obtain as much as—and this is all known fact, so I’m not speaking—I’m not giving a TED Talk right now by any means, but we know that our minds are not programmed to take in all that information, but we forget to remind ourselves of that. We forget, neurologically, what we were actually taught that we can obtain. So, I am the worst at that, because I just forget. And I’ll find myself suddenly taking in so much information that I can’t tell you what’s what, and I feel the same way I felt when I went searching for something to make me feel better.

[00:37:09] John Moe: You mentioned the responsibility that people have when they get on a microphone or when they… what is your responsibility to your listeners?

[00:37:20] Kevin Drew: I am taking the stance of an entertainer right now—especially as everyone is so loud and has so much to say about the whole entire world—that I’ve always put it into my songs. I put it into my lyrics and put it to my music, and that is where it will stay. The responsibility of having a microphone is, for me, when we go out with Social Scene, is I try to get everybody into a room. And I try to make that divide go away, and I try to just say, “Here we are in this moment.” And my hope is that people leave feeling lighter, feeling better, and have a little more patience for each other, because we just had this joyous New Year’s Eve moment.

Because Broken Social Scene is a New Year’s Eve band every time we show up. And we’re reaching for every fucking emotion we can get from you. And we’re not on stage; we’re there together. We’ve always done it. It’s probably why our success has stayed where it’s at and not gotten any bigger, but yet not gotten any smaller, because we try to be with the people. And there’s no light show; we can’t afford it. You know, there’s no explosions; can’t afford it. And there’s only so many band members that we can afford to come out at that time. And all our show is is us playing our guts out. And playing these songs that we all had written over the last 20 years. And these songs are the light show. These songs are the explosions. And you, as the audience, are there to just sort of try to be a strobe light and a disco ball.

[00:38:51] John Moe: If Broken Social Scene is a New Year’s Eve band, what holiday is your solo album?

[00:39:02] Kevin Drew: (Laughs delightedly.) Oh, I love that. Thank you. That made me laugh. You hear that? That was lovely. What holiday is my—oh my gosh. I don’t think there’s a holiday for it, but…

[00:39:17] John Moe: Just random Thursday in August. (Laughs.)

[00:39:20] Kevin Drew: You know what? Exactly. It’s a PA day somewhere in there. Yeah. But thank you for that. That really—I’m going to remember that. That really made me smile. Really made me laugh. Thank you, John.

[00:39:30] Music: “Out in the Fields” from the album Aging by Kevin Drew.

(Music continues under the dialogue.)

[00:39:36] John Moe: Kevin Drew’s album, Aging, is available where you get music. Let’s go out on another song from it. This is “Out in the Fields”.

[00:39:43] Music: “Out in the Fields” by Kevin Drew.

People are so scared

They don’t know why they’re scared

So, they try hard to act like they’re not scared

So, you should roll out in the fields with your girl

People, they don’t care

They don’t know why they care

So, they try hard to act like they can care

So, you should roll out in the fields with your girl

‘Cause you don’t like living alone with the hurt

Baby, you’re the one

You know they’re the one

We gotta find the one

Everyone is dying for the one…

(Music continues under the dialogue then fades out.)

[00:40:28] John Moe: Depresh Mode survives and exists because people support it. If you are already donating to the show, you are helping people, and we appreciate it. We appreciate your support. If you haven’t yet contributed, now is the time to do so. It’s super easy, only takes a minute.

(“Building Wings” fades in.)

Just go to, select a level that works for you. You make that call; I’m not gonna make that call for you. You decide on your own budget, and then select Depresh Mode from the list of shows. The holidays are just around the corner; that means time to shop the Maximum Fun merch store. We have all sorts of Depresh Mode items. We have I’m Glad You’re Here mugs and shirts. We have Depresh Mode sweatpants. Just go ahead and shop. You can find something that’ll make a perfect gift. That’s at, Be sure to hit subscribe, give us five stars, write rave reviews. That helps get the show out into the world.

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline can be reached in the United States by calling or texting 988. It’s free; it’s available 24/7.

Our Instagram and Twitter are both @DepreshPod. If you’re on Facebook, look up our mental health discussion group, Preshies. Our Depresh Mode newsletter is available on Substack, search that up. I’m on Twitter, @JohnMoe. Instagram, @JohnMoe, also. Please use our electric mail address,

Hi, credits listeners. If I released an album called Aging, it would just be me making various groans and grunts as I move about the house but set to a really fast dance beat. I think it’s best for all of us that I don’t release such an album. Ooh, my back hurts! (Mimicking the beat.) Yeah, I’m not going to do that. Depresh Mode is made possible by your contributions. Our production team includes Raghu Manavalan, Gabe Mara, Kevin Ferguson, and me. We get booking help from Mara Davis. Rhett Miller wrote and performed our theme song, “Building Wings”. Depresh Mode is a production of Maximum fun and Poputchik. I’m John Moe. Bye now!

[00:42:34] Music: “Building Wings” by Rhett Miller.

I’m always falling off of cliffs, now

Building wings on the way down

I am figuring things out

Building wings, building wings, building wings


No one knows the reason

Maybe there’s no reason

I just keep believing

No one knows the answer

Maybe there’s no answer

I just keep on dancing

I’m always falling off of cliffs now

[00:43:14] Unica: This is Unica from South Africa. You’re not doing it wrong. This stuff really is hard.

(Music fades out.)

[00:43:24] Sound Effect: Cheerful ukulele chord.

[00:43:25] Speaker 1: Maximum Fun.

[00:43:26] Speaker 2: A worker-owned network.

[00:43:28] Speaker 3: Of artist owned shows.

[00:43:29] Speaker 4: Supported—

[00:43:30] Speaker 5: —directly—

[00:43:31] Speaker 6: —by you!

About the show

Join host John Moe (The Hilarious World of Depression) for honest, relatable, and, yes, sometimes funny conversations about mental health. Hear from comedians, musicians, authors, actors, and other top names in entertainment and the arts about living with depression, anxiety, and many other common disorders. Find out what they’ve done to address it, what worked, and what didn’t. Depresh Mode with John Moe also features useful insights on mental health issues with experts in the field. It’s honest talk from people who have been there and know their stuff. No shame, no stigma, and maybe a few laughs.

Like this podcast? Then you’ll love John’s book, The Hilarious World of Depression.

Logo by Clarissa Hernandez.

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