GQ Hype The first... with Sam Fender Every week, we ask one artist a set of quick-fire questions that all start with ‘the first’, from their first shows and paychecks to the first time they got drunk. Here, the winner of the Brits Critics’ Choice award for 2019, Sam Fender, talks heartbreak, punch-ups and the first time he made money from music By Kathleen Johnston 1 minute By Kathleen Johnston Social Content Editor, GQ. Follow her on Instagram at @k.m.johnston and Twitter at @kmejohnston Friday 21 December 2018 W hen Sam Fender played his track "Dead Boys" on Later... With Jools Holland in October 2018, we immediately starting listening. It's a song about male suicide and toxic masculinity, set against a backdrop of soaring guitar riffs, with the catchy but haunting hook "Nobody ever could explain all the dead boys in our hometown". The lyrics are rooted in Fender's own experience – two friends from his home in Tyneside took their own lives in one year – bringing a personal slant to one of the most pressing societal epidemics of our times (see our State Of Man survey results for more). It's this tendency towards social commentary that has marked Fender out as one of the young musicians at the forefront of the indie-rock revival. Fender makes proper guitar anthems. Think The Smiths meets The Vaccines via Arctic Monkeys and Oasis. The 24-year-old singer-songwriter was on BBC's Sound Of 2018 list, has his single "Play God" featured on Fifa 19 , supported Catfish And The Bottlemen as well as George Ezra and has racked up 13 million streams on Spotify. Oh, and he's also the winner of the 2019 Brits Critics’ Choice award. Here he talks to GQ about his formative first times, from heartbreak and punch-ups to playing live and paychecks. The first time you realised you wanted to be a musician? Advertisement "I messed around with the guitar from the age of about eight, but when I hit 13 it was the only thing I wanted from life." The first time you played in front of a live audience? Read next The History of Cool: Balenciaga ‘Triple S’ Trainers The History of Cool: Balenciaga ‘Triple S’ Trainers The coolest, most provocative artefact to come off the menswear catwalk in modern times By Jonathan Heaf "Probably around 13. I used to get up at my brother's buskers nights and play covers of Jimi Hendrix songs and noughties indie bangers." The first time you got very drunk? Advertisement "Again 13. I was at my friend's dad's house. All the adults were drunk, so I amalgamated a pile of stolen drinks with my friend Ross and we just nailed the lot. Ciders, beers, vodka, ouzo, it was disgusting. I crawled up to his bedroom, passed out, puked all over myself and puked all over his room. There was puke in the floorboards and puke all over my clothes. I tried to lie to my dad and say I had eaten something funny." The first time you fell properly in love? "I was 15 and completely smitten with this girl. We were in a big group of mates. We did everything together. We used to terrorise the local community centre, egg the Co-op, get chased by community support officers when drinking cider in the parks. It was great fun. We went out for about six months, which at the time felt like years. She dumped me and started going out with my best mate days after – he was kind of the leader of our group. I never hung out with any of them again. I ugly cried for about a month. It was brutal and embarrassing. I formed my first band after that." Read next 15 not-boring questions with... Miles Kane 15 not-boring questions with... Miles Kane From the most important item on his rider, to his greatest extravagance... By Charlie Burton Advertisement The first time you put together a stage outfit? "I've never really been a stage outfit kind of guy. I once wore an awful suit jacket when I was 15. My dress sense was appalling." The first time you threw a punch and meant it? "I had a fight with one of my closest mates, which I still feel bad about today. We were both sat with frozen peas after. He had a massive black eye. My hands were smashed. There's a hole in the door in my kitchen still to this day. Both soft as anything, cuddling after it. Something happened that changed my perception of life in my early twenties, which made me a lot less scared of getting hurt. But I've calmed down now that I have music. I pour my unresolved emotions in to that." Read next Why Ezra Miller is your style north star for 2019 Why Ezra Miller is your style north star for 2019 Ezra Miller’s style ascent By Teo Van den Broeke The first time you made money out of being a musician? "When I was about 18 I started playing restaurants for £150 a night. I felt like a millionaire." The first time you blew your paycheck frivolously? "Every time I did that restaurant gig I would go straight on the lash after and come back at 7am with no money and a kebab." The first time a politician made you mad? Read next Inside the El Chapo trial, the most high profile trial in America in recent memory Inside the El Chapo trial, the most high profile trial in America in recent memory With it has come an extraordinary level of security By Alex Hannaford "Pretty much every prime minister since I can remember has made me mad. The negative effects of greedy politicians have haunted the North East for years, it's very apparent. I'm not an expert on politics, but there's a bunch of bad people at the top who care about lining their own pockets before creating a society that looks after the vulnerable." The first time you met a fan? "I think I got stopped on the train once by a kid and that was the first time I realised I had fans. He was shaking. I just reassured him that I'm an idiot and nothing special so he didn't have to be nervous. It was very sweet. Since then, I've had hysterical kids with crazy gifts, from roses and chocolates to customised pillow cases." The first karaoke song you always want to sing? "Me and my guitarist, Dean, do a duet of Anastasia's Left Outside Alone ." The first time you got given a rider? What was on it? Read next Bringing your partner round for Christmas: the rules Bringing your partner round for Christmas: the rules The complete guide to making sure embarrassment is at a minimum.