Singer/songwriter and generally all-round thoroughly nice chap, Kirk Brandon, has kindly responded to a Q&A I sent him. Kirk is currently on tour around the UK with his band, Spear of Destiny, so a big thank you for taking time out and answering the questions I put to him.
Kirk's experience of Seroxat mirrors that of many others and it's unusual for someone in the music business who actually has the gumption to come out and speak about it all. Speaking out about any product manufactured by pharmaceutical companies brings threats of lawsuits, particularly when that person happens to be in the public eye. Kirk's attitude is, seemingly, a middle finger salute to the likes of GSK ~ Something that has to be applauded.
I, like Kirk, experienced horrific withdrawal at the hands of Seroxat ~ I decided to write a blog (and later a book). Kirk wrote a song about Seroxat (video at foot of his Q&A's) ~ it's a song that resonates and one can hear the passion through the lyrics and delivery.
Kirk and I met a few years ago. He was playing a gig in my hometown and we chewed the cud before he hit the stage ~ I'm sure we will meet again at some point in the near future, hopefully shoot some pool, have a few drinks and chew the cud some more. Who knows, maybe even set the seeds for some sort of awareness gig,? Sometimes an apathetic public need music in their lives to drive home the message. The music industry needs more lions with courage, it needs more Kirk Brandon's.
**Hands Holy lance to Mr. Brandon**
Here's the Q&A
Full name: Kirk Brandon
Q: Kirk, first off, thanks for taking time out for this Q&A with me. I know you're currently on tour with your band. Can you tell me about your projects of late, ie; Spear of Destiny, Theatre of Hate, your project with Sam Sansbury and also if you plan to record and tour with Dead Men Walking again?
A: Currently on tour with Spear of Destiny. A band I have had since 1983.
Later this year, November I believe we are releasing a new album of Theatre of Hate music. This album has been over 9 years in the making. Theatre of Hate pre dates Spear by 2 years. We'll also play a handful of shows at its launch.
Apart from this, I have recently taken up a new endevour, a recording and tour of myself on acoustic guitar accompanied by cellist Sam Sansbury. The success of this has actually surprised us all. It has been a very new way of interpreting the music I have written. We will do some more live shows later in the year.
Q: Tell me about your experience with Seroxat (Paxil)
A:Seroxat came at my very lowest point in my life. I went to the Dr and asked to speak and talk things through with someone but instead he put me on Seroxat. I took it for 10 months until ultimately going 'cold turkey' from it as it is highly addictive.
After initially taking it, I quite quickly entered a hallucinogenic world. This was pretty scary a place to find yourself. I saw things that obviously were impossible and experienced thoughts and emotions I had never experienced before. At one point I felt I was possibly becoming insane. The things I felt and saw were things I had never before or since experienced. It was the drug without doubt.
On two occasions I contemplated suicide on a very serious level, but realised that I could not do this to my two year old daughter and mar her very young life.
Alongside these traumatic thoughts and feelings I was overwhelmed with feelings of rage. I contemplated murdering people and it's my belief that at the end, when I went through the truly harrowing experience of cold turkey, I was in fact a short time away from actually killing people.
Q: Your album, 'Dutch Masters The Story So Far - II', featured a track called 'Seroxat', the lyrics are very powerful. Can you tell me what prompted you to write this?
A: I wrote the song 'Seroxat' as way of telling people of the dangers of addiction to the drug and also as a message to GSK. I knew they would view the song as an irrelevance as they would me but, the public need as dire a warning as possible on the subject of Seroxat. People kill themselves on it and kill other people as well. Especially in America where guns are easily accessible.
Q: Do you know many people in the music business who are unaware of the side effects that drugs, such as Seroxat, can cause?
A. I do meet people, musicians who have have had their brains and lives altered by the drug Seroxat. Generally people tend to find out about it only after having taken it.
Q: This question is in two parts Kirk, would you ever consider doing a benefit gig for victims of Seroxat and other antidepressant-type drugs and do you think that by raising awareness through the medium of music is a way forward with regard to holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for unsafe and potentially dangerous drugs they manufacture?
A: A concert for the dangers/awareness of Seroxat? Yes, absolutely.
The public need an awareness of the frightening consequences of taking this mind bending drug.
As for the pharmaceutical giant GSK, again yes. Their sinister policies/practises especially with this drug needs exposure.
Q: You have a pretty huge fan base, would you say that the majority of your fans know about your struggles with Seroxat?
A: I think they know I went through a very bad experience with the drug, yes. They know I have very strong feelings on the subject.
Q: Would you recommend writing a blog or public diary to people who had suffered severed antidepressant withdrawal events?
A: Yes. It may help with life after Seroxat addiction and act as a warning to others that even at low points in their lives, to stay well away from this hallucinogenic terrifying drug.
Q: Do you have any more songs in the pipeline that have either Seroxat or GlaxoSmithKline as the subject matter?
A. At the moment no.
Q: Have you ever considered writing a book about your time and subsequent struggle with Seroxat?
A. This part of my life is well documented in my memoires I am currently finishing up on.
Q: What do you say to people who believe that antidepressants are safe and effective?
A. If they are safe, explain the suicides and violence done whilst people have taken the drug. If a flag doesn't come then these people are blindly leading themselves into a hell world, easily accessible but ultimately extremely difficult to escape from.
Q: If you could ask GSK's Andrew Witty three questions what would they be?
A. Would he give Seroxat to his own children? As his company once recommended to Dr's via their reps?
Does he believe drug induced suicide is viable as company policy?
What will he personally do for atonement for the deaths of people on his watch as steward of GSK?
Q: Do you think that Seroxat and other SSRis need to be banned or do you feel that they do benefit some people?
A. Ban them immediately. Release all data from the companies into the public domain.
Q: What is your opinion with regard to the way prescription drugs are regulated in the UK, do you think the British drug regulator, the MHRA, are doing enough to protect patients from harmful drugs?
A. The MHRA are not fulfilling their purpose if no action is taken regarding Seroxat and GSK.
An investigation should be launched into all policy regarding GSK by them. An independent governmental one.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
A. I hope still alive.
Q: Finally Kirk, some personal questions...
1. What book are you currently reading?
The Greek Tragedies
2. What was the last CD you listened to (in full)?
'Blackhawk Down' from the film
3. What is the best movie you have seen this year?
Any good 'space film'.
4. What country would you most like to visit?
5. If you had the choice of being either a defence or prosecution lawyer, which would you choose and why?
Questions need answers. The public needs information. Accountability.
Kirk's website - kirkbrandon.com
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