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Compton Vaults Lives on.

Compton Vaults Lives on.

On a mild, rather damp October evening we sat down with the mighty Juan Christian, over a bowl of lentil dhal, to talk about Heavy Mental Health, a project that’s very close to his heart. For those of you who don’t have the pleasure of knowing Juan, what can we say… Lively, passionate, fun, Manx, kind, thoughtful, and unexpectedly wise, he’s always got energy, even when he says he hasn’t.  He’s the kind of whooinney that just wants to make other peoples’ lives better.

A man on a mission, and inspired by the islands ability to come together for its community, the Compton Vaults founder has high hopes for his latest fundraising ventures – Heavy Mental Health 3, and a ‘Tip to Tail’ island Run.

So what’s going on? What is Heavy Mental Health and how did we get here!?

 We started Heavy Mental Health a couple of years back; and it’s all about heavy metal gigs that highlight and raise money for mental health. We’ve done a couple of great gigs in the past, raising around £600 for REACH and £1,000 for Isle Listen. This time we are going bigger and better, with bands from all over the island playing for 12 solid hours, from 12pm to 12am, down at Secret Pizza on the 26th November , it’s going to be a great day and we’re hoping to raise lots of money for some really important causes.

 12 hours of music is it?? Who’s playing? I hear you’ve got some Doormats playing, haven’t you? (cheeky plug)

 Yeah, we’ve got a great line up! A couple of bands from Rock Project will be there. One thing that I was super super proud of at Compton Vaults was that we gave bands like The Scrubs and Night Time Tennis a little bit of play; it was always something that was quite important, that young musicians get a space to plat, so yeah Rock Project are getting involved this year which is great! Then it’s going to kick off with Shady Acres, Dusty Plankton, Persian Doormats, Moder. We’ve got the island premier Motorhead tribute act, Motorlegs - Who else… AEONS, those guys are absolutely phenomenal. I think that’s it. 

[it’s not, there’s loads more but Juan’s memory isn’t great – full line-up in poster below]

Heavy Mental Health 3 Line-up: Taking place at Secret Pizza on 26th November

 Fair play, that sounds amazing! And am I right in thinking the gig isn’t the only thing you are doing to raise money?

Yeah so I’m also going to run 58k from the top of the island to the bottom, I was originally going to do it the day after the gig, but my partner Mux (rightly) said you can’t do that after an 18 hour gig, and actually now I’ve had to move the run back to 21st January due to a Patella tendinitis injury anyway so it’s all worked out.

I’m not an expert or anything but running uphill is harder than running on the flat
— Juan Christian

Juan’s epic running route from the Tip of the Island to the Bottom

I tried to do some cool thing when I did Race the Sun. I had a packet of wine gums, and I nearly died about nine times, because I choked! Have you ever tried running with a gummy sweet in your mouth!? But I didn’t learn, I had one and I was like yummm… empty packet at the end! 

 58k!? That’s some distance, is that the longest you have ran?

Well yeah, I really want to raise as much money as I can, so I thought, what else can I do? And there’s only really a couple of things that I’m really any good at, and I’m not even really a very good runner,  but I’ve been doing it for three or four years now so…. why not.

This will be the longest I’ve ran yeah, I’m hoping to do it in about six and a half hours. Start at 6am and be home for lunch time, for a bit of soup.

And I’ve tried to keep it as flat as possible. I’m not an expert or anything but running uphill is harder than running on the flat (laughs) I’ve figured that out!

Yeah, and any head wind is a killer, it makes it so much harder

Yeah, I’m a bit concerned about the conditions. But yeah, I’m fat and a recovering addict, so if I can just push myself and show that a) exercise makes you feel good and b) giving to charity makes you feel good, I should hopefully be able to raise some money and a bit of awareness.

 Are you going to do it on your own?

It’s going to mostly be me but there’s going to be a load people jumping in and running bits with me. Some of the Southern Nomads are going to come along, the Castle Rushen first 15 rugby team will run a bit with me, Dan Wade is going to come down, my friend Mully, Katie Lawrence said she’ll run a little bit with me…So yeah, I think there’ll be few people about, my sister will probably drive behind me. I didn’t want to drag Mux and the kids all the way up there, but I’ve asked if Mux if she can get the kids to run the last little bit with me – they won’t do it but, you know (laughs).

Juan with some of the fam at Dark Horse Festival… Will the kids turn out for the final stretch?

You know, we’ve just had two years of people doing some amazing things to raise money... there’s been some serious fund raising going on

Juan showing just how much love he has to give

 the only way you’re going to get 10 grand is if you go around telling people you want to get 10 grand – if you say you want a grand you’ll get a grand – so I want 10 grand! 

What trainers are you going to run in?

I’m going to buy some new ones

oooh risky

I’ll break them in first. My favorite ones to run in at the minute are New Balance, which according to the kids are grandad trainers but they work. Or Mizuno, I have these for my road running and I’ve got New Balance for trail running.

So you’re going to swap half way!?

Yeah I might bang them in a bag… when I did Race the Sun there was a woman in front of me that changed her trainers yeah, but I beat her (laughs) because she was changing her shoes!

 Will you have breakfast?

No. I ran a half marathon yesterday on three cups of coffee.

Wow, and no snacks?

No snacks. Now I’ve read around and the more reading you do the more scared you get. I tried to do some cool thing when I did Race the Sun. I had a packet of wine gums, and I nearly died about nine times, because I choked! Have you ever tried running with a gummy sweet in your mouth!? But I didn’t learn, I had one and I was like yummm… empty packet at the end! But I do need to look at my nutrition, I need to look after myself. Like all I’ve had today is toast and a cheese bap. And the lovely dhal you’ve just cooked me!

 Will you be listening to music on the run and what will you be listening to?

 Like Rocky?

Yeah do you like to run to rock or dance music?

No, like the soundtrack - Eye of the Tiger! (Laughs)

No, I’ve started a playlist where I’ve just downloaded everything I like. So yesterday I ran to Soul Asylum, Queens of the Stone Age, Black Crowes. In the past it’s been Manic Street Preachers, because it’s all about the beats per minute. So if you think about it, I don’t want to run too quick, so I’m not going to be listening to Prodigy. I need to find that mid-tempo. Should probably stick some local tunes on there too…

And then when I get to the Sound I think that’s when I’ll need the Rocky tune… *dum dum, der dumm, der dum, der der dumm.* (laughs) and it’s just me rolling down the hill (laughs)

Juan ‘Rocky’ Christian running down towards the Sound

 How much are you hoping to raise this time?

I’ve said to my mates, I’d love us to get 10 grand, and I’ve thought the only way you’re going to get 10 grand is if you go around telling people you want to get 10 grand – if you say you want a grand you’ll get a grand – so I want 10 grand!

 Yes Juan – let’s do it!

You know, we’ve just had two years of people doing some amazing things to raise money; like Karl Staniford, he raised some serious wonga by kayaking around the whole Island [over £10k for mental health charities Quing, Isle Listen and Cruse Bereavement.] And yer man there that ran all of those Marathons, Christian Varley [subsequently raised over £100K after running 19 marathons in 19 days] – there’s been some serious money raising going on.

 Have you chosen your charities?

With it being close to Christmas time and what with the cost of living crisis, we have gone with the Food Bank and Isle Listen, they really make a lot of difference in our community.

We supported Isle Listen a couple of years ago, and the £1,000 raised helped support one young person with whichever means of therapy needed to make their life a little bit better. So to be able to support Isle listen again would be great, then we know we’ve been able to contribute to helping one person at the very least. It’s about making a difference to someone’s life, even if that’s one person at a time. 

Isle Listen are a charitable initiative that provides support and training in schools, the workplace and community, helping people to recognise that mental health is just as important as physical health.

Our mission is to remove the stigma that surrounds mental health and for everyone on the Isle of Man to feel emotionally empowered and effectively supported with their mental health.

Times are hard – and getting harder. Sometimes it can be a struggle to put food on the table, especially when the unexpected happens.

Isle of Man Foodbank was set up in December 2013 to meet precisely these sort of needs.

Why is mental health a subject close to your heart?

Deep. I think mental health and music for me, probably always have come hand in hand and really, I don’t remember the initial thing for why we associated heavy mental health. You know a lot of massively creative people are on the edge. And music and art get people through some seriously dark times, it gives you the light and the dark doesn’t it. I remember being like 13 and reading about Kurt Cobain and thinking about the profound influence he had on my life - without it really registering that he killed himself at the time.

The thing is about mental health is that it encompasses everybody doesn’t, and there’re people struggling everywhere obviously. But at the time when we were trying to figure Heavy Mental Health it was for those people that didn’t have anywhere else to go. So yeah that’s kind of where Heavy Mental Health came from. And you know at the time Castletown had a couple of tragedies and Douglas had some tragedies. It was really important that community came together and it was all about that awareness thing again. And I like music!

Ro: And I guess for that genre – coming from someone that isn’t super into that genre – from the outside it looks like it’s definitely trying to express their feelings and their rage and the frustration and anger and sorrow. Which is kind of what we want people to do with their own mental health isn’t it, you know, talk about it. Talk to their friends, express yourself. And that as a genre really does express itself.

I suppose yeah going down them lines, yeah, you’ve got modern pop music that is not really designed to give you anything. Whereas you’ve got all these sub-genres of music that are really here to tell you something, or give someone an outlet for their emotions.

I was only talking about this the other day, that it’s only just becoming part of the normal for people to now look into themselves and make sure that they’re doing things that are good for their mental health. Yeah, I think if you treat yourself right, you end up treating everyone around you right.

How can anyone read this help?

You can sponsor me here…

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/juan-christian2?utm_source=copyLink&utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=juan-christian2&utm_campaign=pfp-share&utm_term=d5ac059d82f4458781492a23efa47670

Come along to the gig on the 26th November, it’s going to be great if you like metal or not! Tickets available here…

https://www.tickettailor.com/events/comptonvaults

If you’re a business, get in touch if you want to sponsor or support us. Shoprite and Co-op in Castletown have already been great and we’ve also spoken to a few hotels who are donating prizes for the raffle.

And spread the word about the gig, the run, and of course about the importance of looking after your mental health!!