To start, when I talk with career musicians, I always like to go back to the beginning. What was life like for you in the early 90s? You were part of Swollen Members and it was a different landscape. What was it like for you back then?
I was always a hard worker; I was a hustler. I knew I wanted to achieve something more in life than just getting by. I was always an artistic kid, so, I made a decision after I got out of school to get into rap. I met Prevail when I was living in San Francisco. I was actually homeless at the time and was working at a store called XLarge [owned by the Beastie Boys]. Prev was doing the same thing in San Diego, and he came through the store on his way back to Canada and that’s where we met.
We both ended up moving back to Vancouver where we met again at a house party and started free-styling back and forth. There were 150 kids at this party and everyone got quiet just listening to us go back and forth. That’s when I knew there was something special there. We went for a walk afterwards and decided to start a group. I was selling a bunch of weed back then to fund things; I was a bit of a cowboy back then. We didn’t expect things to get as big as they did. Winning our first Juno for “Lady Venom” is what really kicked things off for us. Things just took off from there and we rode that wave for five or six years, playing to twenty-thousand people a night doing stadium tours. It was nuts.
How does it feel to compare back then to now? You’re still seeing success but it seems like it’s more of a DIY thing.
It’s a whole different dynamic; it’s a whole different game. I’m now just getting my finger on the pulse of how important social media and Internet presence is. If you don’t adapt, you die.. The new music I’m making is very current but I’m still snapping on it, in that I’m still very lyrical. I enjoy what’s happening today; I enjoy the landscape. For a long time I felt boxed in but I was like, fuck that man, I want to have fun too! I’m having so much fun making music; I’m learning and having to teach myself, which is something I haven’t had to do in a long time. I had my style and now I feel like I am pushing boundaries again. To be honest with you, I feel younger and I feel happier. I’m off drugs and I’m in love; life is amazing. I’m so thankful that I get up every day and know who I am and what I need to accomplish that day.
I listened to the record (his fifth, titled Demons) and it comes across as almost a self-help record for you and your audience. Was that something intentional or did the creativity just point you that way?
True art comes from within. It wasn’t intentional. I did want to make a safer record coming back after my Xanax addiction, with music that I like, which I knew would resonate with the fan base that has stuck with me. I don’t really pre-plan projects or think about music that way. I get the beat and write to it with whatever comes from within. Whatever place you’re in in life is hopefully going to come out in your music and your lyrics. I think that’s what happened with the whole Demons album.
There are so many lyrics on the album where you think, yeah this is Madchild dealing with his shit. From what I can see on the Internet, you’re celebrating 10 years of sobriety this year?
No, not at all. What happened was I was sober for a few years off my opiate addiction, which nearly totaled me and ruined my life financially and my health etc. Unfortunately, then I got addicted to Xanax. I had to battle my second addiction in life. I had to come back to Canada from LA and press restart. I had to battle those demons myself; it’s a super gnarly drug to get off. I had to battle to get off it, so last April marks 12 or 13 months. I still have a few drinks at shows, so just to clarify, I’m not what you would call a sober person, as far as, AA or NA is concerned. I have no desire to ever go back to drugs though. I’ve had enough drugs for 10 lifetimes and I’m super thankful my brain still works.
Thanks for the clarification and congratulations on getting through that. It sounds really tough.
Thanks. For anyone reading this don’t worry about the pain you’ve got to go through, it’s the result that matters.
Switching gears a little bit, the last Swollen Members album came out five years ago, are there any plans for another album?
I think that’s always an open door. It’s not something that’s going to happen right now. I’m just rebuilding my own career and my own life. But, I love the guys and if the vibe’s right then I’m all for it and I’m sure the guys [Rob and Prevail] are as well.
I see you tour a lot with Robbie G. What can you tell me about him?
He’s this really cool guy. He’s been supportive throughout my whole career. He’s got his head and heart in the right place. He’s a businessman and an artist and a very appreciated person in my life, as far as a promoter. I respect his hustle very much.
To wrap this up, Demons has been out for just over a year, how does it feel to look back on it all?
It’s great! It did exactly what it’s supposed to do. It was not disappointing in any way shape or form and it actually surpassed my expectations. There’s no complaints. I’m just starting to climb back up that mountain again.
Madchild performs at Warehouse on Dec. 8 with Robbie G.