In November last year, not long before he was announced as the winner of the 2019 Brits Critics’ Choice Award, 24-year-old singer-songwriter Sam Fender appeared on BBC Radio 5 to play a live version of his single “Dead Boys”. He explained on air that the song was inspired by the suicide of a close friend and by other young men in Fender’s hometown of North Shields who had also taken their own lives. For at least one listener, the song arrived just in time.
“Somebody emailed the studio to say that he had been on the way to kill himself,” Fender tells GQ. “He was listening to the radio. He said he stopped the car and just cried for ages, then he drove back and got help.”