Speaking to Kerrang! on the eve of the Sheffield quintet’s much-anticipated UK arena tour, Sykes admits that adjusting to new routines during the global lockdown put in place to combat the spread of Covid-19 played havoc with his mental health and forced him to confront a host of negative thoughts and practises in his life. An intense period of reflection initially threw up more questions than answers, the singer recalls.
“I was like, ‘Who am I?’ What are my values? Who am I without the band, or writing music and making stuff? What do I like to do? What do I do in my pastime? And what is the point?’ It was a bit of a rollercoaster at first.”
“A lot of older problems came back, and I kind of realised that there was a lot of stuff that I hadn’t worked on,” Sykes admits.
“I didn’t like myself very much,” he tells writer Nick Ruskell. “I don’t have much confidence in myself. I had a lot of shit like that, where I didn’t like when people said my name. [I was] embarrassed. I couldn’t even talk to people – things like going to a shop, I’d be embarrassed and scared. I didn’t ever want to put myself out there. I just wanted to remain hidden all the time.”
The singer reveals that it was only after a month-long stay in a Hare Krishna ashram in Brazil, his wife’s country of birth, that he was able to truly unpack his feelings and deal with negative thoughts which had been tormenting him for years.
“It was really nice,” he says, “because I could just stay there and figure out how to be a normal person and not worry about the band every single day.”
“I basically became a Hare Krishna for a month,” Sykes reveals. “I’m not Hare Krishna, but I thought, ‘Fuck it – these people are the happiest people in the world, they’re just so content.’ I’d get up at 5am and chant with them and pray to all their gods and gurus. We’d listen to their gurus, and readings from the Bhagavad Gita. I learned a lot. For them, the worst thing ever is jealousy and ego and all this stuff. It’s basically all about being content with whatever you’ve got.”
For more from Sykes, and his BMTH bandmates, see Kerrang.com.