Rus­sell Brand

Co­me­dian, 43 Ad­dic­tion can be re­garded The more time you can spend

Esquire (Singapore) - - Contents - In­ter­view by Ben Mitchell Pho­to­graph by Steve Schofield

Space­ships.

as a spec­trum. All of us are form­ing at­tach­ments to external be­hav­iours or phe­nom­ena that are gov­ern­ing our lives. Of­ten neg­a­tively.

If you have an im­age in your head of Noel Gal­lagher’s 50th birth­day party, that’s prob­a­bly right. From the cul­tural ephemera that he has given us, you could con­jure a pretty good idea of it. He’s a re­ally gen­uine man, Noel.

There’s al­ways been so much chaos that it’s dif­fi­cult to spot pat­terns, you know, but I’m ba­si­cally calmer. Phys­i­cally, I feel a lot more still. My hair is go­ing grey.

You can’t make peo­ple like you. If peo­ple don’t like you, it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter as long as it’s not as a re­sult of some­thing that’s trans­gres­sive of your own moral code.

My cat, Mor­ris­sey, is still go­ing strong 14 years on. I used to look at him when he was a lit­tle kit­ten and think, “Gosh, where will we go? What will hap­pen to us?” I still won­der.

The rea­son I think I’m in a happy re­la­tion­ship now is be­cause I man­age my ex­pec­ta­tions. I don’t see my part­ner as a carer or some­one who’s meant to gen­er­ate joy for me, but as an in­de­pen­dent per­son that I share my life with. The prob­lem is that we don’t recog­nise the pa­ram­e­ters of con­sumerism. I don’t think we see how en­trenched it has be­come in our men­tal­ity, that we look at all ex­pe­ri­ence as some­thing we can some­how de­vour or use.

I don’t mind talk­ing about the past. Some of it’s bloody fas­ci­nat­ing! I just don’t feel par­tic­u­larly con­nected to it. I sort of feel like an ob­server of it now.

Be­ing an only child gave me a lot of time to re­flect. Some­times, I would dream about hav­ing a brother. I kind of liked those peo­ple in the dreams.

think­ing about other peo­ple, the bet­ter you be­come. The less time you think about your­self, the bet­ter you be­come.

My life phi­los­o­phy is to try to re­main present. Try to ob­serve what you’re think­ing and why you’re think­ing it. Treat your vis­ceral and anatom­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence as a series of warn­ings—like, “Ah, you’re be­com­ing anx­ious”, or “You’re be­com­ing ex­cited”—and take the ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion to be­come un­ag­i­tated. I sup­pose a lot of it is ba­sic atavism. We are so sel­dom in grave peril but we op­er­ate at a level where we think, “Uh-oh, some­thing se­ri­ous is go­ing to hap­pen. I’d bet­ter re­act.” But mostly noth­ing se­ri­ous is go­ing to hap­pen.

Fa­ther­hood has made an­other per­son the cen­tre of my world. In other ways, I still can be me; I can be looking at my phone while my daugh­ter’s in the room but I didn’t re­alise I would have such a sud­den and pro­found sense of pur­pose that was to do en­tirely with some­thing that is ba­si­cally or­di­nary, like a lit­tle per­son. It’s not grandiose, is it, fa­ther­hood? It’s ground­ing.

My dad’s a work­ing-class man. He’s dealt with a lot. He’s de­ter­mined and he’s funny. When I think of the great loves of my life—West Ham and com­edy—these things are in­her­ited. We talk a lot and I feel like he’s enor­mously proud and adores me.

I’ve stopped defin­ing my­self by things like vices and what I want to do. In short, I’m looking at the world from the per­spec­tive of... what would broadly be re­garded as spir­i­tual. Look, I’m still wear­ing this stuff. I care that this is a nice shirt. It’s not like I’m float­ing around in a blan­ket high as a kite, but I’m in­ter­ested in, like, what is im­por­tant? What is go­ing to be of value? Who is it I ad­mire? It’s an in­ter­est­ing change and it still has to oc­cur quite reg­u­larly over the course of a day. I might think, “Oh, it’d be ever so nice if I got those shoes.” Then I’ll re­alise those shoes are mean­ing­less.

When I was per­form­ing at a lot of big US cer­e­monies I’d talk to dear Paul McKenna and go, “I feel quite ner­vous about this.” He would give me his tech­niques to man­age those feel­ings. You vividly rec­ol­lect all the times you’ve done sim­i­lar stuff and it’s gone well and you place them—in Paul’s tech­nique—in TV sets or VDUs of some kind. Then you bring up the colour, bring up the vol­ume. For your fears and anx­i­eties, you do the re­verse. It works.

When there are bi­o­log­i­cal im­per­a­tives, it can kind of usurp all other forms of en­joy­ment. So it’s like, “Ooh, it’s pretty bril­liant to have sex.” It feels good and tied into it is the idea of peo­ple ap­prov­ing of you. It can take a lit­tle while be­fore one recog­nises that it is tran­sient and fal­li­ble. For me, be­cause my model for looking at things is an ad­dic­tion model, I would ap­ply it to sex­ual be­hav­iour, other peo­ple’s ap­proval, drugs and al­co­hol, gam­bling, food. Al­most any­thing that’s adrenaline­pro­duc­ing or what­ever it is.

What scares me? Death. Ob­so­les­cence. Some­times, I don’t re­ally want to do hard work.

Once I was fa­mous I thought, “Oh, this is it, then.” That was about a week in. It’s a mer­cu­rial, float­ing thing. Sud­denly, a beau­ti­ful boa drapes about you, like some gar­land of won­der. It’s not ac­tu­ally go­ing to do any­thing. There are satel­lite and or­bital phe­nom­ena that are also en­joy­able to a young man but they, too, are ul­ti­mately un­ful­fill­ing. For me, now, I still think fame and all those things are en­joy­able but I’ve got a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive be­cause of hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced them the way I have. I’ve been very lucky like that.

Re­cov­ery by Rus­sell Brand (Pan Macmil­lan) is out

now.

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