Tōth: 10 Things I Do To Feel OK

With his solo debut Practice Magic and Seek Professional Help When Necessary, Alex Toth, of indie duo Rubblebucket, dreams up something rare: a breakup album centered not on woundedness, but the healing that comes after pain. The songwriter and trumpeter conceived the record while in convalescence, recovering the end of a relationship, the emotional aftermath of confronting addiction, and more literally, a foot busted up on-stage with his punk project Alexander F. It’s an age-old story: “Musician retreats into solitary space, returns with a powerful musical statement.” But as Tōth, he subverts expectations, spanning vast emotional territory via direct lyrics and amorphous, genre-resistant pop soundscapes, which feel like a lost Beach Boys session produced by Brian Eno or Arthur Russell on a jazz bender.

“This is annihilation,” he sings in opener “Down for the Count,” contrasting oblivion with a simple list of needs in “No Reason”: “I want to be happy for no reason…I want to be touched, but softly at first.” Over and over again, Toth attempts to name emotions and feelings that are as difficult to pinpoint as the album’s pop charm is to properly name. Today at Aquarium Drunkard, the singer/songwriter joins us to examine a few of the items in his emotional and mental toolkit, and his observations reveal that his album’s title is more than a clever comment on the self-care movement we all find ourselves considering, but rather, a code of openness and directness that finds careful application in his life and creative work. words/j woodbury

Pick up the phone and talk to people

It’s intense and uncomfortable being in your body sometimes. When you talk to another person it can calm your breathing and lower stress hormone levels. Even more effective if you meet in person.

Dance in front of a mirror

For me, the stranger the dance moves the better.

Make a gratitude list

Listing off five things you’re grateful for everyday can shift the negative mental state.

Drink water, consume ginger, get exercise

Your muscular core is what holds you up. Keeping it strong, hydrated, and well-circulated is crucial. I consume ginger in some form every day.

Practice little rituals

Short daily silent meditations. Read a page from Tao Te Ching. Light sage and palo santo. Wish the world and specific beings in it well.

Light candles

I have a bag of them I bring on tour with me. Instant mood shift. It’s like I’m saying to myself “I care about you” and giving myself a hug.

Listen to and/or create drones

I often sing along with drones and sometimes pace around and do abstract body movement stretches.

Tarot, astrology and other divination arts

There’s only so much we can “figure out” in our lives with logic and reason. I find utilizing these alternative divination methods to be helpful at laying things out sometimes.

Remember you don’t have to be “crazy” to see a therapist

The objectivity and depth of professional perspective you can get by seeing a therapist is huge.

Meditation and spells

You kind of “become” what you think and feel about. I believe my best work and biggest personal transformation has come from all the hours I’ve spent in silence, meditating.

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