2011-05-08 - Examiner.com (U.S.) - Dave Gahan says it’s a myth that musicians need drugs to be creativehttp://www.examiner.com/rock-music-in-national/dave-gahan-says-it-s-a-myth-that-musicians-need-drugs-to-be-creative
Dave Gahan says it’s a myth that musicians need drugs to be creative
By Phyllis Pollack
Artists don’t have to suffer to create art, said Depeche Mode’s lead vocalist Dave Gahan, as he discussed drug addiction on the red carpet at the 7th annual MusiCares MAP Fund Benefit. Later in the evening, Stevie Ray Vauhan presented Gahan the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award on behalf of the organization.
The May 6, 2010 event was held to raise money for MusiCares MAP Fund, which provides assistance to people who work in music and need help for drug and chemical dependency issues. The Musicians Assistance Program assists those in the music business who have substance abuse problems by providing access to healthcare professionals that are intervention specialists and qualified to treat chemical addiction.
“I mean, look you know,” reflected Gahan when discussing addiction with Examiner.com, “Thing about drugs and rock and roll, it’s that old idea that it is kind of like they goes together. And with that idea, the trouble is that a lot of kids now get into the drugs, and the rock and roll comes after that,” he said of performers whose main priorities are getting wasted, rather than focusing on their art.
“To be honest,” said Gahan, “If you go down that route, drugs are going to take command over everything you’re doing anyway, and that’s been my experience anyway.” The U.K. born vocalist offered the revelation, “I went through a period before I got clean where I don’t think I played a record for like two years. I just didn’t care.”
Despite Depeche Mode selling over 100 million albums, sobriety is among Gahan's greatests accomplishments. Gahan, who experienced a harrowing heroin addiction, has also released works independently of Depeche Mode, including “Paper Monsters” and “Hourglass,” noted, “I hope that by doing this, and by being a part of this and giving MAP support, that it influences musicians.”
Gahan told Examiner.com, “There was a time when I thought I couldn’t perform, that I couldn’t do what I had to do if I wasn’t high, or wasn’t in that kind of state, if you like, but it’s kind of a myth. It’s rubbish.” While going through addiction, recording artists believe they would be unable to function without their substance of choice. Many non-addicted users also share the same belief, simply because of their lack of confidence. The belief that drugs are a necessary as part of the creative process, or what Gahan referred to as the “myth,” has long pervaded, also partially due to the fact that many iconic rock and roll, blues and jazz artists that have created classic works while immersed in a state of drug or alcohol addiction.
Many artists have fought their addictions and won, including Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, Grace Slick and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Famously, others were not so lucky, and lost their lives due to drug and alcohol related mishaps. Had it been formed previous to 1992, the MusiCares MAP program could have saved some of those lives, with its addiction recovery services.
On the red carpet, Neil Portnow, President and CEO of MusiCares and The Recording Academy, addressed MusiCares MAP services and necessary funding by noting, “The need always grows.” He stated, “We always need more resources in order to be able to say to everybody who needs help that we can give it to them. The need grows. We’ve gone through an incredibly difficult recession, which has not, on any level, helped the music community. So raising the money is part of what we need to do to make sure people are okay.”
The problem of addiction is not limited to those who work with rock and roll. It has long struck people who work in other genres of music, as well. Portnow pointed out that substance abuse is clearly not limited to the music business. “Substance abuse and addiction knows know boundaries, whether it’s music, dance, theater, art or John Q. Public,” he noted. “We have a major problem in this country, and certainly around the world, which needs to be addressed. Our mission obviously is for our own community, so we really specialize and will help the music people that need our help, and we’re there for them.”
When asked if MusiCares MAP services have encouraged more musicians to come out and get help, because the organization has helped reduce the stigma in the music community of having a substance abuse problem, Pornow affirmed that accomplishment. “No doubt about it,” he said. “And that’s the idea and the theory behind having honorees, like we have Dave Gahan tonight. And we’ve had Steven Tyler, Anthony Kiedis, and on and on, people who are well known and have beat this terrible affliction and are on the other side, enjoying life, and want to talk about it.”
The effects of MusiCares' MAP services extend way past the music business, Portnow pointed out, by noting, “So when millions of fans can hear these artists talk about it, then they have hope, too. Those that are suffering and struggling and don’t know what to do, they can say, ‘Well, one of my heroes has made it,’ and this sets an example of someone realizing, ‘If he can do it,” or “If she can do it, then I can do it.’
‘Celebrity Rehab’s’ Bob Forrest, was also present and spoke at the event. A drug counselor, he is no stranger to music. Forrest's work in music has included fronting bands and penning works for two bands, The Bicycle Thief and Thelonious Monster, as well as releasing a solo album. Forrest, who also seen on ‘Sober House,’ with Dr. Drew Pinsky, has lived life both sides of the fence, having had issues with alcohol in the past.
On the red carpet, Forrest told Examiner.com that the popularity of ‘Celebrity Rehab,’ has created a rather strange issue. “Well, it’s pretty crazy,” Forrest said. “Now it’s getting to the point where people just want to be on a TV show that aren’t even drug addicts, and we kicked one of them off.”
As far as how he feels about celebrities going public about their substance abuse problems, Forrest responded, “The whole secrecy and privacy and shadows and anonymity has got to go. It’s just a disease like any other disease. And when you participate it when you’re a well person, by participating in the secrecy and all that, you’re participating in the disease, itself, is how I feel about it.”
When it comes to the secrecy and open secrecy that permeates the music business, Forrest feels so strongly against enabling addicts that he added, “Yeah, we should call people out. I’ll call people out. Steven Tyler calls people out. Let’s start calling people out.”
When asked whether he had any experiences with the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, who had overcome alcohol and drug dependencies, Forrest was quick to reply. Forrest recalled, “I met him the first time he ever came to L.A. When his first album came out, he played at a place called Cathe de Grande, a little bar in Hollywood. It was so packed, you couldn’t see, you had to stand on chairs. This friend of mine Bill, was friends with him, and we went out drinking with him. And it was just this guitar player from Texas, and there were a million of them, but he was amazing to watch him play. To see the legend he became is pretty amazing.”
When Examiner.com asked about the death of ‘Rehab’ alumna and former Alice In Chains drummer Mike Starr, who died of a drug overdose on March 8, Forrest replied, “Nothing good can come of something like that, unless it has some impact on somebody else. That’s why I’m so against the secrecy of it.”
He emphasized, “Mike Starr died from drugs. And there’s a lot of kids doing drugs, a lot of other musicians doing drugs. Two of the people in my band died of drugs.” He added, “One of my best friends,’ his band’s guitarist died of drugs. Most of my friends almost died of drugs. People die of drugs.”
Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins was among the many artists who showed up to support the MusiCares MAP event. Corgan told Examiner.com that addiction is about control. He noted, "I think with (recovery) programs, you have to accept that there are powers in the world higher than yourself, and I think particularly for people who are successful in music or in the movies, it's very difficult for them, because they've built themselves up with their ego." He remarked, "That's very hard for artists to accept. So I think once they can accept it, that there is something bigger in the universe than us, whether it's a construct or a God, I think that's where the healing actually begins."
The evening was capped by a benefit concert at AEG's Club Nokia in Gahan’s and Lyman’s honor. Vans Warped Tour originator Kevin Lyman was also saluted at the star-studded event by receiving the Heart Award.
Those present were treated to a sets performed by Ozomatli, Paramour, Jane’s Addiction, and Linkin Park’s vocalist Chester Bennington.
Gahan’s notable performance included a rendition of David Bowie's "Crack Actor" and Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart." The long performance culminated in a surprise appearance from Depeche Mode’s Martin L. Gore, for a rendition of the band’s hit single “Personal Jesus.”
Paramour's set included their hit "That's What You Get," with the bands vocalist Hayle Williams stating Lyman has been "the Godfather of our band since day one. That's why we we're on the Warped Tour again next year."
Jane's Addiction's loud, powerful, hyperkinetic performance of material showed that Perry Farrell and and Dave Navarro are still in top form.
Linkin Park's Bennington performed a song called "The Message," a song he wrote for his daughter, noting, "I think the lyrics of this song can also be applied to recovery."
Gahan relayed a story about Tyler. "I was in Chicago, I think, in a bar. I was drinking. He (Tyler) wasn't." He confessed that Tyler was "annoying me. He was f*&^$%# with my drinking."
A video tribute to Lyman was also shown, featuring the likes of TSOl's Jack Grisham, "Fat" Mike Burnett of NOFX, Katy Perry and Joan Jett, who thanked Lyman for "creating this amazing tour," adding that the trek "forced record companies to take this music seriously."
Forrest indtroduced Gary Tovar to make a speech honoring Lyman, as well.
Staffed by qualified chemical dependency and intervention specialists, MusiCares Safe Harbor Rooms offer a support network to those in recovery while they are participating in the production of televised music shows and other major music events. MusiCares holds weekly addiction support groups for people to discuss how to best cope with the issues surrounding the recovery process. The MusiCares Sober Touring Network is a database of individuals across the United States who can take music people to recovery support meetings while on the road.
MusiCares offers programs and services to members of the music community including emergency financial assistance for basic living expenses, including rent, utilities and car payments; medical expenses including doctor, dentist and hospital bills; psychotherapy; and treatment for HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, hepatitis C, and other critical illnesses. MusiCares offers nationwide educational workshops covering a variety of subjects, including financial, legal, medical, and substance abuse issues, and programs in collaboration with healthcare professionals that provide services such as flu shots, hearing tests and medical/dental screenings.
Those wishing to make a donation to the MusiCares MAP Fund may do so by going to their website at www.grammy.org/musicares/donate