There Goes My Hero
5 Surefire Ways To Kill Your Career, Ruin Relationships & Lose More Than Just Fans (Courtesy of Dave Grohl)
Mike Schwartz B.a P.Sci & MGSO, HLC, PTS, Pn
If it was you, you’d likely be fired. But for Dave Grohl, it’s just part of the gig. The music business is a strange environment. As a CHEK Certified Holistic Lifestyle Coach, Nutrition Coach and Certified Personal Trainer, my role as the Trusted Authority of Musician Wellness means I work very hard to clean up the stigma of what it actually looks like to be a successful artist in this industry. It’s been my mission for nearly four years to educate, inspire and help other artists achieve a level of personal and professional development they thought only existed in a magical place like Narnia. I’m an artist myself: professionally touring, writing and recording as a drummer for the past decade, so I’m cut from the same cloth. I get it.
However, Dave Grohl, one of my now former heroes and someone who I would consider a role model for young, developing artists has gone and thrown a grenade in the wardrobe. I thought something sounded fishy when a friend of mine posted on Facebook his disappointment about the Foos having to reschedule their show back home in Calgary last month because Dave was on vocal rest…hmm… makes sense now.
Last week we were graced with Mr. Foo Fighter’s insight on how to succeed in the music industry. Ironically enough, I was speaking on the topic of Mental Health and Wellness in the Music Industry at the Folk Music Ontario Conferences in Mississauga, Ontario. I opened up my email and found an article in Alan Cross’ Newsletter that left me feeling sick to my stomach.
On a recent radio interview for 95.5 KLOS, Dave gave us the dirt on his pre-show ritual with the Foos, but if you’re paying attention and reading between the lines, what we really got was a cry for help. My professional opinion is that Dave is dealing with a lot of pain. If you haven’t seen the video yet, the three minutes will blow you away. I read the transcript last week and I couldn’t believe it. I had to dive in deeper to see the interview for myself. What I watched was …well… really disappointing. Check it out:
For those of you who are in the industry… maybe you’re trying to make it as a band… maybe you’re struggling with the physical and emotional demands of the lifestyle… whatever it is, I hear you. If you think this is as Dave says, “How to do it”, I urge you to reconsider. While some may argue that Dave didn’t really mean it and the message of party hard is embellished for the role they serve as rockstars, I’m sitting here trying to wrap my head around why on earth someone with such influence would categorically abuse that privilege.
Call me crazy, call me straight-edged, call me a killjoy, but with the fact that we’ve lost an overwhelming number of absolute legends from similar shit in the past 4 years, I rest my case.
As a professional, it’s my due diligence to ensure people listening to Dave know the consequences of following his example. So here are 5 Surefire Ways To Kill Your Career, Ruin Relationships & Lose More Than Just Fans (Courtesy of Dave Grohl):
1. Mix Booze & Advil To Increase Likelihood of Death or Death-Like Symptoms
Duh, right? We were taught this as children: treat medicine with respect. It’s powerful shit. Asides from the obvious, one very dangerous side effect of mixing booze with a non steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) such as Advil is that the blood thinning properties of the drug can cause gastro-intestinal or stomach bleeding. Sounds like fun. This is amplified when booze is involved, as studies show. Advil actually makes a disclaimer on their website that with 3 more alcoholic drinks the chance is higher. So you’d have to be …uhh.. pretty bold to put this to test. Or just a superhuman rockstar, like Dave Grohl…
2. Drink Alcohol To Effectively Ruin Your Voice
Vocalists, pay attention! From a physiological perspective alcohol is a diuretic. That means it dehydrates you and makes you pee more. Side effects of this include but are not limited to dehydration (obviously), headaches, muscle cramps, loss of electrolytes such as potassium, dizziness, and increased blood sugar. Why does this matter? Your vocal chords need to be hydrated in order to work effectively. Your body needs to be in an optimal state to perform. These side effects hinder all of that.
3. Pressure Others into Making Choices They May Otherwise Have Not Agreed To
This one dives into the psychological behaviour of the social dynamic, so I’ll try to keep it brief. I’m not a Psychologist or Psychiatrist however, it’s been studied and proven that we are highly influenced by the actions and behaviours of the social circle we maintain. Ever heard of the theory that we are the product of the 5 closest people to us? Imagine 5 Dave Grohl’s shoving beer and jag in your face for 3 months at a time while on the road. If that’s not really where you wanna be with your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, you’re likely going to resent that part of your life over time. This is why I make the claim that this kind of behaviour will ruin your relationships. Over time, people will start to blame the booze and the party and the people that were influencing their decisions for the shitty circumstances they’re in. It’s one thing if Dave drinks uncontrollably because he’s addicted, but it’s a whole new ball of wax when he starts to exert his influence on others. Pretty shitty thing to do as a human.
4. Become a Shitty Role Model To Alienate Your Fanbase
Hey, it worked for Hedley… Maybe that’s what Dave is trying to do? It’s troubling to me that alcoholism is glorified in this recent interview. The radio hosts are enabling this behaviour and that’s off-putting. Addiction should be treated seriously. When we normalize it in the industry it only serves to increase the likelihood of its existence. I alike many music lovers follow bands for more than the music. I like or dislike the artist’s attitudes towards life, how they interact with others and how they
conduct themselves. I have to say, I’ve lost a lot of respect for Dave and his music. I look at it differently now knowing what I know about his personal life. I sincerely hope he gets help, and that would really restore my respect for him. I also know I’m not the only one that feels this way… so multiply that by whoever and do the math. Might not be huge numbers, yet… but still something to consider.
5. If You Really Want to Derail Your Career, Try Disrespecting Yourself
If this sounds drastic, it’s because it is. Addiction is oftentimes just filling the gap for a lack of self-love. If you don’t love yourself, why would you expect others to love you? How many careers have ended either in part of or directly because of addiction in the past 4 years in the music industry alone? I mean, we’ve got Bowie, Prince, Cornell, Bennington, O’Riordan, the list goes on… I really don’t wanna see Grohl’s name added or any of his bandmates’. We have to start emphasizing care and compassion for ourselves and for one another.
And with that, I hope I have struck a chord you. No pun intended, musos… We shouldn’t accept that this kind of behaviour is cool. And Dave, if this is an embellishment and meant as a joke, it’s twisted and you gotta come out and say it so as to not confuse the people that look(ed) up to you. My heart goes out to you man. You've done a ton for the music world and now I really hope you seek the help that you need so your incredible talents can continue to shine.
It’s my fear is that we’re all sitting by thinking, “Yup, that’s the rockstar lifestyle…” and we are again ignoring the often subtle outcry for help. Unfortunately for a guy like Dave Grohl, he’s on top of a mountain with so much at stake. At those heights, the fall is that much worse. However, it’s this kind of press that provides obstacles to other artist’s and guys like myself who are committed to changing the framework and prioritizing Musician Health and Wellness. It puts a weird fog over what's really going on.
As creatives, we are susceptible to feelings of anxiety (fear of the future) or depression (fear of the past) simply due to the gruelling nature of the business. There are plenty of resources out there for Music Industry Professionals, such as Unison Benevolent Fund (Canada), MusiCares (USA), Support Act (Australia) and Help Musicians UK (United Kingdom) to help support the artist in physical, mental and emotional wellbeing as well as financial assistance and with other lifestyle crises. Reach out if you or someone you know needs a hand.
Until next time,
Stay healthy and reach out to a professional if you are facing tough times.