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Season 1 Episode 11 – Andrew Scott

Andrew Scott is a drummer with the Toronto-based band Sloan. Three of his songs, “500 Up”, “People of the Sky”, and “I’ve Gotta Try” have been released by Sloan as singles.

In this interview he shares, “The question is, does anxiety consume you or do you have control over it? There have been times in my life where it felt like it was consuming me.”

John Bateman (JB): Next up is someone I’ve known for most of my life. It’s a Andrew Scott drummer from Sloan. Andrew, how’s it going?  

Andrew Scott (AS): Going on rights on. How are you doing?  

JB: I’m doing fine. It’s great to hear your voice. It’s been a little while.  

AS: Good to hear yours too.  

JB: Yeah. I, I appreciate you coming on. To give people a little background, we went to high school together. We might’ve gone on a couple of double dates together. And then we ended up at college together.  

AS: That’s right.  

JB: And then we played in rock band band Sloan together. Is that right?  

AS: That’s right.  

JB: Haha no, I wish!  

AS: Still, we have a lot of anxious history together.  

JB: We sure do! I actually didn’t know until I messaged you a month ago or so – it didn’t dawn on me that you might have anxiety. So, what is your anxiety story?  

AS: Well, I mean, where does one begin? There’s too many to to nail it down to one. I mean I, like everybody, have it. It’s a survival mechanism, right? The question is, does it consume you or do you have control over it? There have been times in my life where it felt like it was consuming me. It hasn’t been like that for quite a long time because I now know how to recognize it and take steps to mitigate it spinning out of control.  

JB: Did you experience it as a kid?  

AS: Not as a kid. The first time I experienced it really was when I was 19 years old. I was working at a bar in Halifax. I was a DJ.  

JB: Right, right. I remember that.  

AS: One night I just started feeling like I was in tunnel vision.  

JB: Right.  

AS: Yeah. And walked out and thought I was having a heart attack.  

JB: Is that right? So that was a panic attack.

AS: Full on panic attack, yeah.  

JB: Interesting. That’s happened to me before. My first panic attack that I really remember was when I was little and I was watching TV and this commercial came on for this movie that was a Christian message kind of movie called the Late Great Planet Earth. And it talked about prophecy. ‘Cause you and I, we were under the nuclear button, right. That was what we were afraid of, or I was at least I remember having that sheer panic feeling about it. But you having a panic attack at the age of 19 out of nowhere, that must’ve been pretty disorienting. Did it last long? Did you have any after that? Did you question it? What was the process afterwards?  

AS: The process for me at the time was pretty undefined. I’ll went to the Emergency hospital. The ER doctor told me it was an anxiety attack and here’s a couple of pills that will sleep it off  

JB: Really? And that was the extent of your treatment at that point?  

AS: Pretty much, yeah. I was very dismissed. Considering I’d felt like was going to die.  

JB: Yeah.  

AS: And isn’t that the ultimate human fear?  

JB: It sure is.  

AS: I fly so often and have done for so many years, I used to really just turn white and sweaty on planes, and then I don’t remember at what point I just told myself, well, what’s the point in winding yourself up into this state? Once that door closes on the plane, whatever happens is going to happen.

JB: Yeah. Anxiety has robbed me of that feeling of control because you have no idea what’s going on.

AS: This is a very timely occasion for you to be reaching out to me on this subject because I’m just about to embark on a very large tour with a rock and roll band and I am not mentally, um, prepared for this whatsoever. So I harbour a great deal of anxiety about what the hell am I doing? Why am I going away for so long? What am I leaving behind? Yeah. Not in terms of material stuff, but my family.  

JB: Yeah, for sure. Interesting you mentioned flying because I didn’t have a fear of flying until I had kids and I think our kids are similar ages and then man, I was afraid to fly.  

AS: Yeah. It’s funny. My son was never scared to fly. My daughter was, so I felt like I really had to be her rock whenever we were on planes together.  

JB: Yeah. And that would probably in turn help you  too, 

AS: It doesn’t at all. I’ve overcome whatever that was.  

JB: I’ve overcome it, but the reason I’ve overcome it is because I did an online fear of flying course. And it actually worked. Touring in a rock band, there’s being away, being in hotels and stuck with the same characters for that period of time. And now of course, you have a family. Being away from the family, you’ve just told me that you feel mentally unprepared. So how do you get through it?  

AS: Again I think it’s just surrender, right? I know what I’m getting myself into, more or less, here. I’ve done it a million times. But I when I lay eyes on a tour bus, I don’t get excited. My hands get sweaty. I just basically feel like running in the opposite direction.  

JB: It’s interesting because a couple years ago, you guys were doing the tour from one coast to the other. So I stopped in and hung out with you on your tour bus into Nanaimo, British Columbia. Yeah. And when I walked into that bus, I saw what I thought was a huge coping mechanism for you, which was you had the whole place wallpapered with magazine cuttings.  

AS: Yeah. Because these buses are like a dentist’s waiting rooms on wheels.  

JB: Yeah. And do you do that because it gives you something to do? Because it makes it your home? What is the result? Why does that happen?  

AS: Well it’s all the above. Yeah. It takes the dullness off the surface that we all have to endure for however many weeks. And you know, my anxiety stories are, there’s nothing particularly remarkable or, or unique other than they’re mine. It’s not like there’s anything special about me. Because everybody’s got to deal with it.  

JB: Yeah, for sure. I mean, you’re special in the sense that you are willing to go on air and talk about it. That’s something not everybody’s able to do.  

AS: In this day and age I think that’s the best way to deal with it is to talk about it.  

JB: I was pretty closeted about it for awhile. I think a lot of people knew what about me just because I’m an easy book to read. But yeah, again, once I had kids and I started seeing them having anxiety reactions. That’s what really turned the tide for me. Like, I want to speak up about it and be more transparent about it; because that was my first course of action with the kids was to say, I’ve been through this my whole life. It’s been an interesting process getting ready for this gig because anxiety is just normal for them. I messaged my daughter yesterday that I’m nervous about doing this and she just wrote, ‘you’re going to be great’. For you, does the whole band cope pretty well with the whole thing? Do some cope better than others? 

AS: The band is literally another family to be a part of and to manage and to contribute to. Everybody’s got their limitations. And everybody’s got other things in their home that they’ve left behind as well. It’s what we do. The show must go on.

JB: And your band Sloan has been together since the lady eighties or early nineties, right?  

AS: Yeah. We’re coming on 30 years together as a group. Pretty ridiculous.  

JB: Yeah. That freaks me out because I remember when you guys became a thing. It’s reminding me of my age, haha – thanks Andrew!

AS: Haha me too.  

JB: Thanks again.

AS: Bye.