Holding Absence’s Lucas Woodland: We must stop telling guys to ‘man up’

Lucas Woodland has boldly opened up through Holding Absence’s music – and he encourages male listeners in particular to be honest with their struggles, too…

Holding Absence’s Lucas Woodland: We must stop telling guys to ‘man up’
Lucas Woodland, as told to Jake Richardson
Bethan Miller

“All my life I’ve been an emotional person, but growing up I experienced that whole ‘man up’ attitude a lot. Seventy-five per cent of Holding Absence’s Spotify listeners are male, but at shows, the people who come up to me and talk about their issues are, the majority of the time, female. I love that fans are keen to talk about how the music has helped them, but I’ve been thinking about that dissonance between our male and female fans a lot. Maybe women do feel more comfortable talking about their emotions? It’s hard to explain.

“With our music, I try as much as possible to talk about mental health in a way that feels genuine, and I do that by doubling down on my personal experiences. Being open with the listener is important to me, and it taps into the problem of masculinity and mental health because I’m a person who cries when they listen to music and has had to lean on musicians for support. I feel in the minority in that regard, and I shouldn’t. The male suicide rate in this country is so much higher than that for women, and it remains the biggest killer of men under 40.

As It Is released a song called The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry), and even back in the ’70s The Cure released Boys Don’t Cry, so this has been a subject in music for over 40 years. The best way to quash this problem is for males to feel they can be more open with themselves, and that’s often the hardest part, because sometimes you don’t want to admit your problems to yourself. Taking the time to think about why you might feel that way – rather than shrugging it off because you’re supposed to be a ‘strong’ man – is important.

“A charity I hold close to my heart with regards to all this is Heads Above The Waves. They’re really good at promoting the narrative around mental health, and they’re not preachy in their approach. I’d definitely recommend people check them out for information and advice.

“In the end, though, it’s important people realise that it shouldn’t matter what gender you are: you can cry if things make you feel sad, and you should never feel like you need to bottle up your emotions.”

This interview originally appeared in Kerrang! issue K!1768

If you’re struggling with your own mental health, don’t suffer in silence. Talk to someone you can trust – a friend, a family member, a teacher, a doctor or a counsellor. Find more information on how to look after your mental health at the Mental Health's Foundation.

And if you need help immediately, we recommend these organisations:

  • CALM: thecalmzone.net or call 0800 58 58 58
  • The Samaritans UK: samaritans.org or call 116 123
  • Or, in the U.S., the Samaritans helpline: (877) 870 4673 (HOPE)

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