BC Camplight, Komedia, Gardner Street, Brighton, April 18

THAT Brian Christinzio will perform in Brighton in two weeks' time is pretty extraordinary. At one point it seemed like he would never write music again, never release albums, never tour. Due to what he calls “a dangerous, explosive cocktail” of factors, the future of this gifted pop songwriter was unclear.

“It got to a point when I didn’t even consider, you know, doing music,” says Christinzio. “I was delusional in thinking I was still relevant.” The musician experienced these thoughts in Philadelphia, his home during this dark time (he was born in New Jersey). He was squatting in an abandoned church and battling with deep depression after losing his record deal. Critics had written positively of his two albums but they hadn’t sold well.

“Creatively I had nothing going on in my head. I was getting more and more into my fantasy world, drinking too much and doing lots of awful things. I was bitter and and angry about the music industry. One day I literally woke up and thought ‘I have to leave’ because I’m not doing what I’m here to do.”

That last line brings to mind something Christinzio says later in our interview, about living with clinical depression: “you feel it the second you wake up”. He is commendably candid about the debilitating impact of his mental issues. “It’s right there in front of your eyes. It’s not just being down – the world looks completely different and everything changes. The way you speak and interact changes. I have a billion things going through my head the second I open my eyes; I make Woody Allen look like Cool Hand Luke”.

On that particular morning in Philadelphia, though, it seemed it was a sense of clarity rather than intense anxiety that the singer woke up to. He left Philadelphia – where he had “burned every bridge possible” – and it proved a good decision. He moved to Manchester and rediscovered his musical spark; 2015’s How to Die in the North is a collection of melodic gems.

“I’d had too much pain in Philadelphia. I’d started to think ‘am I still a musician?’ I had to get the hell out of there and prove to myself I was what I thought I was. I showed up in Manchester with a suitcase and absolutely no plan.” You might presume that Manchester’s musical heritage – The Smiths, Joy Division, Oasis et al – was the motivation behind Christinzio’s decision, but in reality the singer says the city’s people were “receptive to my party lifestyle”.

“Every time I would have a Manchester show I would end up at some crazy party. I remember being topless at a guy club with some guy wearing my bowler hat. I just thought, “why not move there”? While How to Die in the North isn’t directly about Manchester in lyrical terms, Christinzio credits the city with “waking me up from an eight-year drug and ego induced coma...the place certainly had a profound effect on me”.

But then, in early 2015, just as he was getting bedded into the local culture, he was told he’s overstayed his Visa and was deported. The bad news came literally one day after he’d released How to Die in the North. It was a significant setback. “The last few years have been tough. From the time I moved to Manchester to the time I was deported was the happiest I’d been in a long time. I didn’t feel in a constant fugue. I don’t know if it’s just because of the deportation stuff, or because the album went into the charts and disappeared. I’ve been on code yellow – not awful, but it’s been difficult.”

After winning an appeal, he is once again a resident of Manchester. “They finally let me back in, I think on a permanent basis.” If his return to his adopted home has been good for his mental state, so has touring. As Christinzio points out, the strain of being on the road can break certain musicians but he says playing music on stage is “the only thing I do well in life”.

While Christinzio admits to possessing an “incredibly self-sabotaging” side to his personality, he somehow rediscovered his faith in his capacity to write songs after a stretch where the motivation had deserted him. There was “no real epiphany”, he insists, but a little friendly rivalry helped no end. He shared band members with American rock band War on Drugs, who have since gone on to achieve mainstream success. “My inner competitor woke up and was like, ‘wait a minute, I’m not letting them have all the success’”, laughs Christinzio.

The narrative of Christinzio’s last decade is clearly more nuanced than a simplistic rags-to-riches story. There are still dark days, but at least he has remembered what he is on the earth to do (in his words) – make music. He calls How to Die in the North a “cathartic” album.

“I had to write that record so that I could have a functioning brain and spirit. I had to get all of that remorse and anxiety out of my system.”