Overcoming a life-changing health scare, Paul Brace throws his life and passion into his debut solo album, Liars & Actors
Folks around the music community in St. John’s are well familiar with Paul Brace. He’s a respected talent, possessing a welcomed attitude, a cutting sense of humour and relaxed, chill demeanor. Moreover, he’s a friend to everyone he meets, which is rare in an industry that often demands competition and selfishness.
But for the talented young man who has plied his trade as a member of Hot X Proxy, Another North and Waterfront Fire, even the most positive outlook and heaps of optimism could scarcely prepare him for the shock that would befall him in November of 2017.
On November 5th, just a day removed from songwriting with his Waterfront Fire bandmates Ben Thistle and Andrew Boyd, Brace discovered a chain of lumps descending down his neck.
Numerous tests, including a needle biopsy would reveal the shocking reality. Brace was diagnosed with stage 4AA Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which had spread throughout his body into his stomach and upper chest.
Wasting little time, Brace began an aggressive regime of chemotherapy, 12 rounds of ABVD.
Not Wasting Time
In April, severe complications saw him admitted to the hospital for a week. It was there that Brace nearly lost his battle with cancer. Though staving off the worst of a life-shaking scare, Brace left the facility determined to check one thing off his bucket list.
“When I got out of the hospital I decided that enough was enough,” he said in a sitdown with The Herald. “I’m not going to waste anymore time. Even when I’m sick I’m going to do stuff. One thing I need to do is make a solo record. My life is music, and everyone knows me as the guy who backs up other bands.”
With the steadfast support and dedication of Waterfront Fire behind him, Brace pieced together what would be his debut solo album, Liars & Actors.
“It was really a special experience to be with a bunch of friends and make a record,” he recalls. “That’s the only time through this whole process that I didn’t think about cancer. When you go through cancer treatment it’s on the top of your mind, cancer. You wake up you think about cancer, eat lunch and think about cancer, go to sleep and think about cancer. You wake up and you repeat that process. The process of writing and recording music was the only time I didn’t think about it.”
The entire concept behind Liars & Actors mirrors Brace’s battle with cancer, and his innermost struggles on how to deal with the sobering reality, while putting on a brave face for friends and family.
“It’s a pretty interesting thing when you go through a cancer diagnosis,” he begins. “For me, I had an incredible amount of support – my family, my band, my friends. Sometimes you feel like people are putting on a bit of an act for you just to feel better and make that social interaction a little less awkward. When you’re down and you’re in a dark place, you see that really, really easily. Do you call it out? No, you don’t call it out because people are just trying to be sweet and nice. There’s a lot of ‘you’re going to be fine’ and ‘thinking of you’ and those are sweet words, but when you hear them over and over and you’re dying inside, it’s kind of hard to hear that.
“On the flip-side, I was also acting to people, telling people everything was fine. I use humour as a defence mechanism, so I’m always that happy-go-lucky guy, so I was also a liar and an actor during that process. I felt it was an appropriate name to name the album, because it’s pretty much a concept album about my process and treatment and questioning mortality, life, death and what comes after. All of those questions. I’m a very positive guy, but this experience made me very negative at points. If you listen to the record, you can put it in your head when you listen to it this is written by a guy who kind of thought he was going to die. I felt that way the whole way through.”
On June 1st, Brace underwent his final round of chemotherapy. On July 9th, it was revealed his cancer was in remission.
Expressing his entirely new outlook on life, Brace aims to live each day to the fullest, adopting poster clichés made all the more poignant after rising above a mortality-shaking event.
Quota of Sickness
He has worked diligently with Young Adult Cancer Canada, attending seminars and retreats, and also aims to give back much of the albums proceeds to young adults who are affected by cancer. Liars & Actors is dedicated to each and every one of them.
“I’ve reached my quota of sickness,” he laughs. “I want to run, I want to drink green juices, be outside, spend time with my friends and family. I want to tell my friends and my family I love them as much as I can. Everything is changed.”
Liars & Actors is available now digitally through various platforms. Stay tuned for an official local release date. For more visit Brace on his official Facebook page and at hyperurl.com/paulbrace