Redemption can be a long — and sometimes lonely — road for anyone. When you’re a famous, with thousands of fans, it can be even tougher. Mad Child, of the popular Canadian hip-hop group Swollen Members, knows from personal experience just how hard of a fight it can be to overcome one’s personal demons. Plagued by a drug addiction that started spiraling out of control around 2006, the Canadian MC knows the highs and lows of the entertainment industry.
After a hellacious bout with drugs, Mad Child finds himself completely clean for the first time in years and Swollen Members find themselves at full capacity for the release of their long awaited, new studio album, Daggermouth, which is promised to be a return to their traditional and loved trademark sound. While the journey back has been a tough one for Mad Child, it was truly worth the trouble, as he finds himself focused and ready for the future for the first time in years and is looking to make a personal comeback … both in music and life.
BallerStatus.com: When and how would you say your addiction problem really started to get out of control?
Mad Child: Basically 2006 was the end of an incredible wave of success that Swollen Members was having. We were doing festivals in front of 20,000 people almost every weekend, we were winning awards left, right and center in Canada, and we had achieved worldwide notoriety on an underground level. I mean, we were on a high, a natural high, and some things took a left turn. We had signed to a major label and that didn’t work out, we got dropped from our management, because of my associations that I had and it was just kind of a year of bad things happening. Looking back, I think we just decided we were tired. We had done like 280 shows in one year and we had just needed a break.
I think me having that dead time — that alone time — I was looking for that next high. I never did drugs in Swollen Members when we were in the group, up until that point. We had drinks at shows and stuff, but drugs weren’t a part of my life or my scene. I got more plugged into a social life again and started going out to clubs and going to strip clubs and meeting girls, because I was single and hanging out with the guys, going to mansion parties and all this. I got really plugged into that type of party scene just because I had all this free time that I wanted and I had money in the bank and didn’t have to work or worry about anything. It was just like my time to “reward” myself and that tumbled and spiraled into a very dark, bad situation for me.
It went from popping Percocet and drinking beer at parties to me starting to take 20 Percocet a day with the blinds closed everyday to all of a sudden trying Oxycontin because there was less aspirin in the pill. From that, it turned into eventually four years later and me doing 80 Oxycontin a day, which is like 340 Percocet a day. I became basically just a drooling, fat, walking zombie who lived in my theatre room. I had become a completely different person. My left arm was numb, every day, I feared dying of a heart attack, my skin was peeling, my lips were blue, I was really a f***ing walking dead straight up. But, my guys from my group stayed by my f***ing side and my family stayed by f***ing side, and all of my real true friends are here today. I cut out all the bullsh** friends that were just here for the ride and I thank God everyday that I’m living a normal life now and making music, doing what I love and I’m on the right path again.
BallerStatus.com: Was there ever a time when the drugs and the music overlapped or did you always keep them totally separate from one another?
Mad Child: Absolutely. I was on drugs the whole time we made Armed To The Teeth. I was on drugs when we were on tour and promoting that album. I was f***ing on drugs when we were doing interviews during that time. I was a real f***ing mess. I went from being overweight, when I got off pills and doing cocaine and pretending like I was ok, and I looked like I was 110 pounds. I look back at pictures and a tear comes to my eyes because of how sick I looked. It was like I went from one drug to another, but its whatever because it ended up getting me sober.
I wished I hadn’t gone from one drug to another, but that’s the way it went. Anyway, I finally realized everything out ten months ago and life has been full of rewards since then. The first four or five months were tough and I was in a dark place and there was a point where I was suicidal, but these last five or six months have been so amazing and so incredible. It’s just like the littlest things that before weren’t a big deal to me, I notice these things now and they’re rewards. I swear, it’s like everyday there are little rewards that happen just from staying on the right path, just from being in God’s light and making music and doing what I love to do. I’m not like some guy that goes to church and goes to AA; I just live life like an artist and make music every day. I stay home a lot, but that’s what I’m supposed to do with my life. You know when you’re doing something and it just feels right, that’s just the way I feel in life now.
BallerStatus.com: During that time in your life, when you were on the drugs and messed up, how did it affect your music and how would you compare that material to what you’re doing now with the new album, Daggermouth?
Mad Child: I would say I was making wrong decisions left and right while I was on drugs, so it only makes sense that I was making wrong decisions in music. We got some great songs on Armed To The Teeth, some real f***ing bangers that are certified dope, but the lyrical content wasn’t necessary. Promoting negativity and promoting violence wasn’t necessary, we already have enough of it in the world. Because I lived a certain lifestyle at that time, yeah it was ok for me to talk about that stuff because it was true, but I had never brought that stuff into our music before because it’s not necessary and you don’t have to promote that kind of sh** to the youth. That’s nothing that Swollen Members was ever known for; that’s something that really separated from a lot of other acts.
So getting better allowed us to finally get a chance to sit down and say “Ok, let’s stop talking about that stuff and go back to doing what we used to do”, and we just looked at ourselves and said “Mad Child is back. He’s himself again after a long road to recovery, so let’s get back to making music again”. That’s what we did. We started making music with our heads on straight and we started going back to being ourselves.
I would say the difference is that Daggermouth is a reflection on what we’ve always done with Balance and Bad Dreams. It’s a 2011 version of what Swollen Members was doing in 2006, just because we’re back to ourselves again. We are who we’ve always been. During Armed To The Teeth it was a time of trials and tribulations. I was hanging out with different crowds and living in a different city, so it was a different situation and a different mindset. There was a lot of confusion in that album, but still looking back at the songs, there’s a lot of dope songs on it. But, I can stand behind Daggermouth like I stand behind Bad Dreams, Balance, etcetera, and say this is going down as a classic Swollen Members record for us and our true swollen army fans.
BallerStatus.com: Looking back now, what was it that made you finally want to get clean and get your act together after such a long bout with drugs?
Mad Child: Nobody quits doing drugs for one particular reason; I think a series of events has to happen. I knew that it was getting to the point where I was going to die. It got to the point where I had lost $3 million to my addiction and I had all three of my houses were going into foreclosure, but more than that, things started happening. We had just signed to Suburban Noize Records and I was supposed to fly down and meet the guys to do a big show in So. Cal and meet Kevin Zinger for the first time, and I missed my f***ing flight. I would have never missed my flight for something that important being sober. I just remember that as being one of the things, but it just a series of events like tha,t where I was just f***ing up in every way and letting everybody down.
When you’re a part of a music group and you f*** your own life up, you’re not really just f***ing up your own life up, you’re f***ing up the guy’s in your group and the guys who depend on you … their lives too. If I’m not thinking properly and on the road working and making music and making a living, their lives are being put on hold as well. So, it was just a collective of happenings and a whole bunch of stuff that came together and it got to the point where enough was enough.
I talked to my mom and told her I’m ready to get off it and we set a date and everyday in that month I reminded myself that I was living in a trap that I couldn’t get out of by myself. They took me to the doctor and I went through the gnarliest 111 days of my life. I’m never going through that again and I thank God that it’s over. I’ll tell any addict out there or anyone who has an addictive personality, it will be tough at the beginning, but everything is a memory once it’s done and life gets so much better that you can’t even explain it. I just feel I’m at a point of clarity in my life again.
BallerStatus.com: Do you see yourself being an advocate for drug abusers who want to get their lives together?
Mad Child: Absolutely. At almost all of the shows that we do, I talk to fans, I call them friends really. After the show, basically I talk to fans or friends that have been helped through my situation and that is a crazy ass reward right there. To know that me sharing my experience and sharing information about how to get off drugs, I didn’t even know that it would affect that many people like that and that is an incredible experience. That’s one of the things that keeps me going and keeps driving me because not only do I have a responsibility to myself and my group and my family, but I have a responsibility to my fans who are living a better and cleaner life because of me being one of the things that have helped them realize that it’s not for them. Like I said before, in any situation, a person with an addictive personality needs a number of things to make them realize that doing drugs is no longer for them, but I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say that my experience is definitely one of the reasons that helped them decide to get of drugs. It’s very important for me to keep that going. I’ve spoken at some high schools about drug addictions and that’s something that I want to continue to do.
Daggermouth is out now! For more info on Mad Child and Swollen Members, visit SwollenMembers.com.