Mental health concerns abound in the climate of anxiety and isolation prompted by the novel coronavirus, a reality not lost on musician David Wang. Looking to counter the negatives, he’s now revived Critical Mass, a local Christian rock group that’s been fairly idle for about seven years.
Wang is one of the founding members of the group, which was formed more than two decades ago. Wang started playing in church choirs as a boy, and he slowly progressed in his playing ability and artistry and began creating music alongside his friends under the name Critical Mass. The first demo recording, entitled Faith Looks Up, was released in 1997. The act is now six albums deep.
During the band’s career, they’ve been blessed with many opportunities, including being able to play for a million people in 2002 for the arrival of Pope John Paul. The group received Canadian Gospel Music Association awards in 2000 and 2005. In 2013, the band released a compilation album and had been on a hiatus since.
“Ian Tanner, a friend of mine, had this piece of music he had written years ago just sitting around. I had gone through a low point in my life, and I am writing for therapy for myself. So, I wrote the lyrics, and at the time, I had been going through depression.” Wang decided to personify depression as “that friend you have that you don’t really like and just hangs around and wrecks everything.”
Wang chose to name the character of depression “misery” in writing the track. Andrew Horrocks, Canadian gospel music producer of the year, produced the song.
“My own father is a senior, and I am looking at how lonely and isolated he is – he had dementia, and to see how much he is suffering. … Then I started hearing stories of frontline workers committing suicide,” said Wang, who decided to release the track along with some resources for people to access if they feel like they are spinning out of control.
Like many of us, Wang has been spending most of his time at home. He’s taken this opportunity to reflect on experiences in both his life and how the world functions. “I think as society, this has been a moment of reflection for the world. I think about how we treat the seniors. It’s a double-edged sword we hear about domestic abuse skyrocketing and then seeing families reconnecting without social media.”
On the band’s website they have the suicide hotline number. At the end of the music video for Misery, My Friend, there is a message encouraging people to talk about symptoms people may be experiencing without realizing it. Also, on the website, there is a free download of the track.
In addition to the new single, Wang was recently featured in a video by Salt and Light Television. “They chose the song Be Not Afraid because of what the world is going through.”
Wang wasn’t sure what to expect from the track; however, in just a couple of days, it had three quarters of a million views. Other Christian artists involved included Dan Schute and John Michael Talbot.
“I had no idea who was going to be on this compilation, and those names came up, and I realized it was going to be big,” he said, adding words of encouragement to others dealing with the current situation.
“Stay mentally healthy, seek help, and don’t be afraid.”