You don’t have to be sad to make great music. That is Punk Talks’ slogan, a project which aims to provide mental health services to touring musicians and industry workers in the DIY scene.
BTR had the opportunity to chat with Punk Talks’ founder Sheridan Allen, a social worker based in northern Kentucky who utilizes her education and skills to assist a community that has always welcomed her.
“My main goal is a simple one: to help the people who have helped me and shaped my life through their music,” Allen tells BTR. “I, like many others in our community, have struggled with mental illness and I have used punk and emo music as a way to help me cope with those feelings of negativity.”
The idea for the project began when Allen witnessed the sudden rise of Philly-based emo band Modern Baseball. Impressed by the fact that all of the band’s members were also full-time students, Allen contemplated the difficulties of balancing a music career while also tackling life’s intricacies.
“I felt that a service like [Punk Talks] could be so beneficial to all young people working in a community where making money for your art seems like a betrayal,” says Allen.
Not long after Punk Talks was established, Brendan Lukens, the lead singer and guitarist of Modern Baseball, announced that the band needed to put their Australian tour on hold due to his worsening anxiety and depression.
In a Facebook announcement posted to Modern Baseball’s page, Lukens addressed his fans honestly.
“I’ve spent most of my life struggling with anxiety and depression,” the 23-year-old guitarist wrote. “After the last few months it’s evident that it’s time to put everything else aside to focus on making steps towards positive mental health.”
Punk Talks works to assist musicians like Lukens through several different services. Allen finds mental health professionals who accept a musician’s insurance or who offer rates within the musician’s budget. In addition, Punk Talks offers video sessions as well as written ones that will see a sincere and supportive response within two days. Beyond this, Allen spends her time educating people on different types of mental illness and the important ways one can practice self-care.
Recently, Punk Talks released Silver Linings, a charity compilation that features over 50 bands and 60 songs, all which were donated by record labels and bands. All of the proceeds benefit the project and its mission.
“The support by contributors and the community was something I never expected,” Allen tells BTR. “One year ago, I did not know a single person in the music industry. I came to know people solely through Punk Talks, which is truly a testament to how welcoming and wonderful this scene is.”
Photo courtesy of Punk Talks.