Songs for Black Days: Austin Carlile | Revolver

Songs for Black Days: Austin Carlile

Former Of Mice & Men singer shares 11 songs that've helped him through dark times
austincarlile2016creditjimmyhubbard.jpg, Jimmy Hubbard
Austin Carlile, Brooklyn, New York, 2016
photograph by Jimmy Hubbard

"I really, really miss being onstage and giving it my all. That was my headbang therapy," says Austin Carlile, former frontman of Of Mice & Men. "I hope the musicians out there touring now don't take a moment of it for granted."

The singer addressed his struggles with depression, anxiety, chronic pain, surgeries, loss and much more across four albums with OM&M. His last LP with the group, 2016's Cold World, which reached No. 20 on the Billboard chart, included the lead single "Pain," a brutal breakdown of his debilitating experiences with Marfan Syndrome — a rare health disorder that affects the body's connective tissue — which ultimately led to his early departure from the band.

But he's a fighter, and over the past year, Carlile has been speaking at medical conferences, such as those run by the Marfan Foundation, and giving inspiration talks at high schools, as well as working on new music.

As his music has positively impacted many fans, Carlile himself turns to certain songs when navigating through dark times. For Revolver's ongoing "Songs for Black Days" series, presented in partnership with Hope for the Day, we asked him to share a few of those, along with his thoughts on how they've helped him.

No Warning - "Short Fuse"

"Everybody knows and everybody talks/Everybody sees but no ones saying nothing!" Sometimes it's nice to vent negative emotions. This song and this record, Ill Blood, does just that for me. Plus there are too many that "know" much and see the wrong in the world, but don't speak up or act on it. This song lights a fire for me every time I listen. One of my all-time favorite albums.

Herbie Hancock - "Cantaloupe Island"

This song was released in 1964 and I'm a massive fan of jazz. From the melodies, rhythms, time signatures and simply the raw talent some of these legendary artists have really inspired me. Listen to this song and tell me it doesn't inspire you to smile, or at the least bob your head. Some of Herbie Hancock's songs are also the most sampled in the world of hip-hop. His work is untouchable. One of my favorite artists.

Staind - "Mudshovel"

"Cause you can't feel my anger/You can't feel my pain/You can't feel my torment/Driving me insane." Anger, rage, pain — get it out! Don't keep it in, don't let it lead you to decisions that will only bring more of it on. Don't take it out on someone, don't take it out on yourself. "To feel is to be human. To minimize or deny what we feel is distortion ..." Having these emotions, positive or negative is OK, what defines us and what defines our character is what we do with them.

John Coltrane - "I'll Wait and Pray"

I have played the saxophone since I was 10 years old. Coltrane has always been one of my favorites to listen to when feeling down. Blues and jazz music puts into songs the emotions we often can't express well enough verbally. Music is emotion, or at least it's supposed to be, and that's why I'm so drawn to blues/jazz. It's real and it's from the heart. 

Guns Up! - "Won't Change for Me"

"I won't change for time/I've healed myself/Won't give it credit/No thanks to you." This song is only one minute and 34 seconds long. 1:02 through 1:34 will absolutely make you bang your head. It's medically proven that a good cure for any dark day is to turn up the music and headbang away.

Filter - "Hey Man, Nice Shot," "Welcome to the Fold," "Take a Picture"

These first two songs rock. Period. I first heard of Filter when I saw them play live on TV during a fashion show, Fashionably Loud, in 1996. Richard Patrick, the singer, was screaming into a mic while rocking out with a full broken arm sling as models continuously walked around them. I was 11 or 12 at the time and my mind was blown. Then their radio smash hit "Take a Picture" most know the band for, is great as well. Always a pick-me-up when I listen to it: "Could everyone agree that no one should be left alone?" 

Nas - "Doo Rag," "The World Is Yours"

Illmatic came out in 1994 and is still in rotation for me. Sometimes I listen to "The World Is Yours" in the morning, it gets me going, gets me pumped to conquer whatever life throws at me that day. But The Lost Tapes is my favorite Nas record. Here is why "Doo Rags" made my list: "Needles in arms of veterans instead of bigger fortunes." Then later on: "Turning nothing into something, is God's work/And you get nothing without struggle and hard work." Lastly, my favorite lyric: "The hardest thing is to forgive, but God does/Even if you murdered or robbed, yeah it's wrong, but God loves/Take one step toward Him, He takes two toward you." The rest of the lyrics may not be "appropriate," but these I selected speak truth, and speak to me personally too, because they are in fact, true.  

Impending Doom - "More Than Conquerors"

If you don't like faith-based music, don't worry because from 2:16 to 3:14, not a single word is spoken. Listen to just that, it's my favorite part. Headbang-therapy prescription filled. Also, at the end, the lyric: "We will demolish this religion that you have made" … religion, feeble attempts to reach up to God. Religion, often attempting to control, twist, conceal and sometimes even mislead it's followers away from the truth. End it. End it all. Yes, I said it. Jesus Christ, His life, and the gospel look very much different than how many churchgoers do today.

Every day in America, 121 people complete suicide. It only takes one to break the silence — take action in your community and sign Hope for the Day's mental health pledge.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to for a list of resources.