On March 5th at Sheffield's O2 Academy, people from all over the country will come together to commemorate the life, work and death of musician Alexis Matthew Gotts. The charity show, a unique and one of a kind event, has been organised by Rob Graham - the withstanding member and singer/guitarist of Wet Nuns- and is in aid of Mind and the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust.

Formed in 2009, Wet Nuns spent four years tearing apart venues up and down the country as some kind of punk-rock, blues-rock and roll whirlwind. They managed this with a hearty dose of self-depreciating wit, a true DIY ethic, a beautiful energy and lashings of Jim Beam and Bombay mix. Wet Nuns sadly split in October 2013 to much dismay from their fans and anyone lucky enough to experience their live show.

In November 2014, Alexis 'Leki' Gotts committed suicide at his home in Sheffield after struggling with mental health issues for a considerable part of his adult life. A year-and-a-half has passed, during which friends have spent a difficult time healing and coming to terms with the huge loss and shudder it sent throughout those who knew him, both personally and creatively. However, those closest to him have decided that the time has come for the silence to be broken, and a conversation to be started. On March 5th, Rob Graham or 'Wet Nun' (as he has dubbed himself), will share a stage with Creedence Clearwater Review, Sievehead, Baba Naga and Wolf People, to headline a final set of Wet Nuns songs as a memorial and tribute to his friend and bandmate. Using the catalyst of losing someone, Rob hopes to provide a platform that people can use to discuss their experiences or problems without the fear of judgement and shame.

Rob Graham
Photo by Emma Evelyn.

I hung out with Rob in the Sheffield Academy, took his picture and discussed his experience and reasons for organising the show.

"There is a distinct lack of public understanding around suicide as a cause of death. I look back on the struggles my friend Alexis suffered through, and as far as I can see he had a disease. He died of depression, and although there may not be any physical symptoms to speak of, the status of this illness is no less significant than say cancer or gangrene. If there is failure to treat this abstract infection then it grows, becomes unmanageable and can lead to people taking their own lives. I watched my friend grow ill and pass away like this, and I hope to shed light on a subject, which for so long has remained hidden and stigmatised, to enable people to feel they can ask for help."

Photo by Emma Evelyn.

The idea for the show is to celebrate the life of someone who provided the world with so much, but also to welcome those who never knew Leki to become aware of and start speaking about the health issues that eventually lead to him taking his own life. Only by opening up about these subjects can we begin providing people with the treatment and care that they need. Despite this, it is not to be a sad or mournful occasion.

"Yeah it's happening as a result of someone's death, but when I look back at the pure unadulterated joy that particular someone brought to people I think that should be the main thing that everyone there should be thinking about. In fact, I hope there's plenty of people there that didn't even know Alexis. I'd definitely come to see this bill of bands without any other prompting than the fact they're all really fucking good.

"It's set to be a party. Alexis was one of those people that somehow managed to make a huge amount of fun out of next to nothing. Give him a balloon and he'd have you entertained and crying with laughter for a good hour."

Photo by Emma Evelyn.

In a really short space of time, listening to Rob talk about his bandmate, it is clear to see just how much love and respect there was between the two of them, which obviously translated to their fans and friends,

"We used to write our ridiculous and sardonic responses to any email interviews sat on Leki's bed in our pants drinking 'Shite Russians' (1 measure crystal skull vodka, 1 measure Tia Maria, top up with chocolate soy milk) and rolling around in fits of laughter. These are the things I remember about the guy and it's that kind of spirit we should inject into the night. I'll be pretty pissed off if I don't wake up on the Sunday with some kind of strain injury in my face and abdomen purely from belly laughs. It'd be an injustice to the cause."

Rob Graham
Photo by Emma Evelyn.

Regardless of whether these issues affect you directly, please come down to the Sheffield O2 Academy on March 5th to raise some money for charity and help us progress to living in a society where mental health is given as much weight as physical health. Hopefully, in years to come, we can look back and be grateful that things have moved forward so far, and reflect on how difficult it must have been for certain groups to function within the climate we now exist. Event's such as this will only aid that progression. Speaking from experience I can tell you that a party organised by Rob is not one to be missed - the music will be loud, there will be booze in abundance and the invitation is open.

Tickets can be purchased here.