WHEN it comes to singing the blues, musician Tristan Mackay, who plays The Met this month, draws much of his inspiration from real life.
“I write a lot of love songs and about overcoming life’s challenges,” he says. “I struggle with anxiety and depression, so I write about picking yourself up when you’re down and carrying on regardless.”
In fact, the singer admits he uses one of his own songs to cheer himself up.
“I wrote a song called Still Here about depression,” he says. “At my lowest ebb I stick that on an remind myself how I felt at that time.”
That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom, of course — Tristan also writes plenty of joyful tunes.
“And drinking songs!” he says.
Tristan, whose latest single Last Love can be heard on BBC Radio 2, fell in love with the blues after hearing Eric Clapton’s Unplugged album.
“It became a bit of an obsession through my teens,” he says.
Before becoming a professional musician, Tristan had an array of jobs, including working as a magician at VIP events. Unfulfilled, he took to busking .
“I had no idea what I was doing,” he says. “Someone told me I should have an amp and lent my his, in my first week I made enough to buy a new guitar and a new amp. I thought, ‘this is it!’”
While busking, Tristan released two EPs which he recorded in his bedroom, and also had a song featured on Skins which “didn’t do any harm”.
The new single, Last Love, will be released on May 28, just before Tristan’s Bury date.
“It’s the big ballad on the album, the one we spent all the money on,” he says. “The guys on the on the Evening Standard said it outwept James Blunt — I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not.”
Blunt isn’t an influence, although Tristan says he enjoys listening to John Mayer and Ray Lamontagne, as well as older artists such as Dylan, Neil Young and Springsteen.
“I love Rufus Wainwright as well,” he says. “I find him so inspiring as a songwriter, he’s so clever. He makes you as a songwriter want to be less lazy. Whenever I go to see him, the next day I want to sit down and write.”
• The Tristan Mackay Band play The Met, in Market Street, Bury, on Thursday, May 31. Tickets cost £8 advance, £10 on the door. To book, visit themet.biz or ring 0161 761 2216.