Canadian singer-songwriter Leeroy Stagger says he has come “out of the fog of depression” with his new album Love Versus – an album which asks whether love is enough.
“It is like my 11th or 12th album, but it feels like it is the first album with my own voice.
“It is the first album where I really feel like I am not trying to be somebody else.
“I don’t know whether it is because of the validation of my peers, but it is actually a pretty raw record.”
The record with which he leaves his depression behind…
Leeroy plays Oddfellows Arms, Pulborough on January 20 and The Chapel, Petworth on January 21.
“When my first son was born, that was amazing, but it held up a mirror to my own childhood.
“It was like a big wake-up call to the things that I hadn’t dealt with from my own childhood, namely abuse.
“My son’s birth just suddenly brought all these things into action, and it started to affect my career and travelling. I started to have these really bad panic attacks.
“It was all part of my alcoholism.
“I had been sober for five years already at that point, but I had not dealt with these things, so I went into therapy and got myself sorted out and felt like a new human being.
“I think I was just lucky who I got to help me.
“There was one fellow who was pretty (tough), not your typical therapist, and he wouldn’t take any **** from me. But he just let me be me as well, as well as not letting me get away with anything.
“For me, it was really just the start of my spirituality and meditation that I have got into.
“I grew up on Vancouver Island where there is this mixture of hippie bohemians and redneck hunters and fishermen.
“And I always knew that at some point in my life meditation would be part of it.
“Even when I was a hard-core punk rocker, I would pass something about meditation and always knew that I would one day get there.
“I guess it was just about waiting for the right time.
“In a way, it seems like a lot of the therapy was Buddhist, like about embracing suffering and learning to live with it.
“And so this record was about coming out of the fog.
“I just feel that there is something about it.
“I think it has given me a true lens on what is really important in life. I am making a record right now, and when I went into this record I had a picture that it was going to be really positive and upbeat, and when I got there, it wasn’t.
“There is a lot of beauty in these songs that I am recording right now.
“But I think there is still a fairly healthy dose of darkness in the songs that I am writing, and I just think that that is what life is truly about, that there is no joy without the suffering and that that is just the way that everything is.”
The cornerstone for the album project was Pete Thomas, long-time drummer for Elvis Costello, who came up from LA for the sessions, joining guitarist Paul Rigby. keyboardist Geoff Hilhorst and Leeroy’s long-time bassist Tyson Maiko.
“Something happened over the course of making this record, with all of us being at my house, totally immersed in what we were doing. I think you can really hear that in the music.”
“I was going to call the album Love Versus Hate originally, but I shortened it because the Latin meaning of versus is ‘against,’ so it made more sense to me to think of the theme as love against everything, essentially.
“I think the idea with these songs is whether love is enough to conquer the struggle.
“I’m not a particularly religious person, so I don’t have a lot to fall back on in that regard, apart from love itself.”