Things were proving tough for Harry behind the scenes
The drummer was left struggling with anxiety, panic attacks and paranoia for two years during the group’s early days after becoming hooked on weed, something that was a world away from his public image.
’In the early days of McFly we had quite the clean-cut image. We didn’t like to think of ourselves as a regular “boyband”, as we wrote our own songs and played our own instruments,’ says Harry, 31.
‘Behind the scenes, however, things were a bit different. My room in the band house was thick with the fog of marijuana smoke.
‘I loved my weed. Smoking was a daily occurrence. Sure, being out there with the band was a blast, but even when I was playing to thousands and lapping up the adulation of the fans, it always felt good returning to the band house so I could roll up and spark up.’
Soon Harry’s habit was called out when the band’s manager, Fletch, caught him smoking and he vowed to kick it – but he didn’t, something he admits was ‘the worst mistake’ of his life.
‘I was on the hard stuff,’ the dad-of-two writes in his new book Get Fit, Get Happy as serialised by The Sun. ’A few puffs of it and you’d be away with the fairies.
‘I remembered how my friends had told me that marijuana was not addictive. I hadn’t been on the skunk for very long before I realised that this simply wasn’t true.’
Harry’s addiction had a major effect on his mental health which in turn began to have an impact on his working life.
‘The more I smoked, the more anxious I became,’ he explains. ‘The knot in my stomach became a regular morning thing. More than that, I began to experience crippling panic attacks, which started to affect my ability to do my job.
‘In 2005, at the Brit Awards, I felt like passing out. Walking up to get that Best Pop Act award, I felt crushed with anxiety. I was a panic-stricken mess. I needed space to sort my head out, but there was no let-up in our schedule.’
Eventually in March 2005 Harry received treatment at The Priory and says he’s never touched drugs since.
The musician – who married partner Izzy in 2012 – admits the battle to recover from the mental health issues took a little longer though, but taking up exercise helped him to turn his life around.
‘It was my go-to weapon in the battle to stop smoking. It helped fill the gap left when I stopped drinking alcohol,’ says Harry.
‘And it massively improved my ability to do my job as a musician. The more active I am, the less I find myself in the grip of these strange compulsions.’
He adds: ‘I have come to accept that anxiety and OCD are issues that will probably be with me the rest of my life.
‘Every day I am aware of the need to take care of myself. If I don’t, the demons banging on the door might find a way in.’
Harry’s new book Get Fit, Get Happy is published by Coronet on 19 October.