*Names have been changed for the protection of associated parties.
Fiona apple, Russell brand, Johnny Depp, and Colin Farrell are just a few big names who have struggled with self-harm throughout their lives, and come forward to discuss it publicly. For some it sparked from the pressure to be great. For others, it came from a larger voice telling them they would never be great. Whatever the initial incident, it led them down the dark path of self harm with catalysts such as drugs, binge drinking, physical harm, and more.
“and this is me in the green room, getting druuunk.”
Meet “Anthony”. He recently left a band he’d been playing bass in for about 4 years. They lived in a couple different cities, toured with big name bands; Anthony achieved all his goals at an incredibly young age. They mingled with the likes of Cute Is What We Aim For, Silverstein, and MuchMusic VJ Jesse Giddings. We’ve known each other for quite a while, and he’s catching me up on photos from his band’s time in Toronto , and life in Vancouver. I asked him if we could talk candidly today about his experience with self – harmand how it developed out of the band’s lifestyle. Here’s the interview:
So you recently decided to walk away from a band that was on the cusp of international fame, signing with one of the largest labels in the world?
That’s a pretty massive move, what led you to such a drastic decision?
“I’ve had this question asked all the time since leaving the band, and I always tell them the exact same thing – the lifestyle just got too intense. Where I didn’t even have to pay to get drunk everyday or get drugs everyday – it was just given to me. To the point where every single day we were at MMVA parties, Juno parties, dragged out to by our management to mingle with other industry pros and it got too intense.”
Wow. Was it through these times you started realizing you valued a healthier lifestyle?
“Once I was in it for a while, it was just ordinary, that was my lifestyle. Woke up everyday, knew what was gonna happen and it happened. After a while I realized that wasn’t what I was meant to do. Coming from a Christian background and having those moral beliefs, it was going against what I used to stand for.”
It’s fair to say things started moving for your former band when you kicked off on your first cross-Canada high school tour.
“Ya, at that point I smoked seldom, never drank, but it was after we made the move to Toronto that people started to take notice.” He pauses as a voice-mail comes through about an upcoming show, but is insistent on leaving the call back until later…
“That tour was all about telling kids they had purpose and were worth something.”
How did things take such a turn from that?
“This is gonna sound really cheesy, but it was from a really, really terrible, intense break up. And that led to…well since at that point I was already offered drugs and alcohol like daily, the offers went up since I was going through a rough time so I was like…why the hell not.”
Would you say you had tendencies toward harmful behaviour before being a part of the industry, or was that the first?
“That was the first time using substances to block out my actual reality. There was one time when I actually was in my room by myself, everyone in the house was asleep, and I was texting the lead singer’s girlfriend about my situation, like what I was dealing with, and so she texted the lead singer about a bottle of wine she’d left in his room. He brought the bottle of wine from his room to mine. Everybody else was asleep, and I just sat in my room knocking back this bottle of wine, alone.”
Other than the breakup, what about the environmental pressures led you into this lifestyle, when you had so much attention, and were achieving your dreams at such a young age?
“It just kind of goes hand in hand with being in a professional rock band. If all your friends are the people you’ve ever wanted to know in the music industry…it’s what people do in the music industry. They get drunk, they drink. It’s how you mingle. Every time we had to go mingle with label reps, it was alcohol non-stop, while throwing around business cards. It’s how you mingle.”
How have the other band members reacted to your resignation, and how are they currently living within the rock and roll lifestyle?
“At first, well I think still to this day, my old bandmates resent me for it. Well even the lead singer said to me he resented me for it, cause they all wanted to keep doing this band stuff full time. And then I decided to peace out and they said they didn’t wanna go on without me, so I basically killed the dream of my band mates, managers, and everybody else working for the band. If that band kept on being successful, it wasn’t just us 5 band mates, it was management, agencies, label people.”
You’re currently working on a few different projects with some up and coming bands, including managing one, what advice would you give to them, or how do you think you’ll approach things differently this time?
“You need to be 100 percent confident in yourself as a person. Know who you are, your morals, your limits, and don’t test that.”
(Hollywood’s phone goes off again. He’s still an in-demand bass player.)
What strategies have you considered using or are currently using to make healthier lifestyle choices?
“I’m currently on the verge of changing my surroundings, and hanging out with people I guess better you and keep you accountable kind of thing.”
What do those healthier lifestyle choices look like?
“If I go out with people I try to limit myself with beer, and not surround myself with people who just wanna drink.”
Since leaving the band you’ve done some work on set for some big movies. How would you say that environment varied from the stage?
“Being on set I wasn’t getting drunk every day, but you’re still performing. I still enjoy it cause it’s performing.”
Was it more positive or negative being in the film industry as opposed to the music industry?
“It’s all in the entertainment industry. All those things are still there, the drugs, alcohol, promiscuous lifestyle, it’s all in the film industry obviously.”
What’s the moral of the story?
“Know your morals, know who you are as a person, stick to it. Being true to yourself is very important.”
End of interview.
If anybody’s interested in a peak into substance abuse within pop culture, check out the MTV documentary: Steve-O – Demise and Rise. [Warning: it contains graphic images of substance abuse and self harm. May be a trigger for some viewers.] Steve-O is best known for his stunts and work on the MTV Jackass TV show, and following 3 movies. It begins with a look into his childhood where drinking was already prevalent, how it carried into substance abuse during his chase for fame, and how he escaped it after being in the spotlight.
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