When people find out that I’m a singer-songwriter who is sober, they usually have one main question for me.
“How has being sober affected your songwriting? Can you still write?”
One of the major concerns I had about committing to a sober life was my songwriting. I wondered how it would affect my writing. Would I still be as creative? Would I have enough juicy stories to tell? Would I feel inspired as much? Would I ever write another song again? When the drama of constant partying, dangerous situations, and the highs weren’t there anymore, would I still feel compelled to write music and lyrics? This was a major concern for me. Being a songwriter is something that has always defined me, not only that, it’s my true passion.
During my first month of sobriety I penned a few songs. They were about leaning towards sobriety as a lifestyle, anger, uncertainty, and my past experiences and how I thought of them, but now with a sober mind. During the first year of my sobriety I finished writing my Soul Sounds LP that dropped in 2015. It came out before I even celebrated a year of sobriety. In my first month or so of sobriety I wrote the songs “Jump Fence”, “Alone”, “Recover Me”, “Save My Soul”, and “Face on the Ground.” Not only did I pen these songs, I was driven enough to get into the studio and record them too. The music flowed. I had written many songs since the release of my previous record The Rhythm (2012) but most of them didn’t make it onto the full band album. Some were scrapped, and some were released on live acoustic EP’s during the years between The Rhythm and Soul Sounds.
5 out of the 10 of the tracks on Soul Sounds were written before my commitment to sobriety. However, they were my favorite songs from over the course of the last several years. The songs that I wrote sober, and there were more than what made the album, came quickly to me. They hooks felt just as strong as my other songs and I felt just as good about them to put them on the record and release them to the public.
We recorded the album really quickly and got it out. My fans really enjoyed it. After the release I played a date on the Vans’ Warped Tour after winning the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands contest. I did a long interview in VICE and I would have my first write up in Billboard, among other press. Being sober didn’t seem to negatively affect my songwriting at all, not only that, but I also became more motivated after getting sober and my success as an artist, public figure, and songwriter grew.
Now I have over 5.5 years sober. I have written hundreds of songs since getting sober. I like many of them. When I go through a few weeks of not writing a song, the thought does come into my head “Oh, I don’t write well anymore because I’m sober.” The real truth is that I wrote half of Soul Sounds (and released it), wrote, recorded and released Shine (my most successful LP yet), and a bunch of singles including “Daughter” which has been streamed over 1 million times across all platforms. Not only that but I have written another LP, been able to finally do co-writes, and am currently recording that LP. I have lots of material that has yet to be recorded that I feel good enough about to record as well. So has being sober affected my songwriting abilities, creativity, or inspiration? The answer is no.
I’ve also been on several successful tours sober, but I’ll leave that for another article…