Taking influence from a myriad of genres including emo, post-rock, and dance, Former Hero’s music is as complex as his emotions. On August 27 we get a look inside the world of Mike Jones through his debut album, footpaths. The ten-track collection is beautiful, emotional, chaotic, adventurous, and a major breakthrough moment for the rising UK producer/guitarist.
With each new track he pens, Former Hero lifts a little more weight off his shoulders by channeling his frustrations into a melancholic intensity of resonant guitars, honest lyrics, and glimmering breaks in his soundscapes. “I use writing as a way to cope with a lot of the stresses the past few years have brought up” he says, “specifically about love, depression, addiction, bereavement, and trying to become more comfortable as a queer dude who lives in a super sheltered part of the UK. I’m so proud of how the album represents all this.”
The first two singles, Helvellyn and Foxgloves, saw Jones process experiences around his personal mental health and alcoholism, on Gone Dream he lingers in the fleeting moment of a dream about a lost loved one, and on the focus track, Surround Me, he lets himself explore the thought of falling for someone. It’s “a celebration of finally starting to feel comfortable in my own skin in my late twenties, and wanting to express that with someone,” he adds. Each song is beautiful, explosive, and their off-kilter tendencies are undoubtedly symbolic of what he’s been going through.
He closes out ‘footpaths’ with Viaduct singing “I spent the last year in suspension / Harrowed by the thought / Of opening my blinds / Letting go of lesser times. You’re better off.” Former Hero’s found resolution one track at a time, giving listeners a masterclass in vehemence and resilience.
Though the subjects are deep, Former Hero envelopes these sentiments in upbeat music that’s intended to make you want to dance through the sadness. “I like to write about my mental health and heavier topics, but I also want to make sure that those topics are brought up in a way that’s powerful, loud, and fun, without diminishing any of the emotion by pushing it into any position other than complete sincerity,” he explains. “It’s pretty recent that I feel that I’ve been able to achieve this, and I’m really excited to keep exploring that.”
On September 4 he’ll solidify his debut album accomplishments with a footpaths Festival release party hosted on Twitch. The online festival will feature a performance from Former Hero along with 15 other artists, including sets from San Holo, Flaws, and Aiobahn. Earlier this summer he participated in a URL event in support of the JED Foundation—a non-profit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for teens and young adults.
Former Hero aims to be very open about the battles he’s fighting in hopes of giving others facing similar struggles something to relate to. Everything he’s poured into ‘footpaths’ proves that he’s developed a meaningful personal character and refined his artistry on a profound level…and he’s only getting started! Give the debut album a listen from start to finish and become engulfed in the mind of Former Hero.