If you had asked me two-and-a-half years ago, I wouldn't have guessed I would be releasing my second album with my best friend just a few weeks from today.
I was on the brink of losing everything.
Music had ceased to manifest itself in my head. I did not feel like I had a place in this world, and I was drinking. Boy, was I drinking.
So much that I would barely make it up the stairs in the morning because my knees would shake so badly. I was throwing up blood multiple times a day and drinking afterward.
I was losing grip on reality.
I was going insane.
See, I knew that alcoholism ran in my family. I knew that a lot of the people in my family had this thing. But I did not know the gravity of this disease until it nearly drove me to the grave. I did not know how it consumes every waking moment. I did not know how it would damage my family. I did not know how much it would take me away from myself.
It was February 11th, 2014. It was well below zero and the snow covered the ground in a lead blanket. A few months earlier I had bought tickets to the show of a lifetime. This was the day. Neutral Milk Hotel. I recall my sister showing me the song "Two-Headed Boy" when I was in the 6th grade. I envisioned myself within the song.
This boy was an outsider, existing as a circus freak in a world of norms and expectations. Although I looked like everyone else in my school, inside, I was not.
There was a disconnect.
I found solace in that song.
I filled my water bottle with some boxed wine from a friend's birthday party the night before. I met with a different friend and we made the pilgrimage from a snowy Duluth to a less-snowy Minneapolis. I was passed out the whole time. By the time I awoke, two and a half hours had passed, and I had found myself at our destination.
I stumbled out of the car, an off-axis human. Zombified. My target was Jeff Mangum, the man who had written the song I so desperately loved growing up.
We got to the front entrance and were waiting not-so-patiently in line. I was swaying and nauseous. I did not feel the bitter wind on my face. I was empty.
I was denied entry. I tried the other bouncers. I received red X's on my hands. The sign of an untouchable.
At this time, my sister had no idea what was happening. She was waiting inside of the venue. I had not talked to her in months. I knew that if she asked me what was going on, I would not be able to lie to her. So I stayed radio silent. She was about to know my secret. The weight I had been carrying for a few years now. My other half.
I wanted to stay in my friend's car while the show was happening but my friend and my sister insisted that I would freeze to death. I did not want to ruin their night, so I agreed to have my Brother-in-law pick me up. In his car, I was broken. I did not know what happened. I did not know what I had done to deserve this total feeling of emptiness. I knew something needed to change.
"I think I need to go to treatment."
The next day, the feeling remained. And the day after that, too. Nearly every day since February 11th, 2014, I have strived to become better in every way I can.
So, when asked why this album means so much to me I can only say that it reflects everything I was feeling during my late stages of addiction and into my early Recovery.
In closing, I am incredibly grateful to be alive. I hope you can join us in this celebration. I hope this album can help an addict hiding in the shadows–waiting for their oil to run out. I hope it can draw attention to Addiction, and why it is something we need to address.