ANTHONY GREEN IS BACK IN SAOSIN, AND BACK IN CONTROL OF HIS LIFE
By John Hill
"Anthony Green is back in Saosin" is a sentence many retired scene kids never thought would make it into their Facebook statuses in 2016, and yet here we all are. In 2004, after touring off of their pipe bomb of an EP, Translating The Name, and landing a record deal with Capitol, frontman Anthony Green left the group after an overall dissatisfaction from where the band was headed. Saosin then took on a new singer, Cove Reber, and released two records to middling success, never really able to capture the magic of that first EP. Reber left the band in 2010, which put them into hibernation for about four years until Green rejoined. During his absence in which he played in Circa Survive, Green went through a hell of a battle with heroin, eventually sobering up around the same time he was asked back into Saosin. This gave the band the push they needed, leading them to write and record their first full-length record with Green, Along The Shadow.
Today the band is premiering their newest song, "Racing Towards a Red Light," one of the record's most forwardly aggressive tracks. Green's throaty screams intersect with the guitar work of Beau Burchell, arriving at spots of harmony and beauty. The song, along with the rest Along The Shadow, never tries to recreate what the band tried to do 13 years ago when they were much younger. Instead, it celebrates in what they've done since then, the ways in which they've developed as people through music and outside of it. All throughout the record, Green makes silver-tongued references to the passage of time and what happened to the band.
We spoke to Green about addiction, and his return to Saosin.
Noisey: So where are you at today?
Anthony Green: Right now we're at the Beacon Theater in Orlando. And it's funny because this is where we've been playing most of the time. Like, we don't play House of Blues, we'll play this or the Social which are right next to each other. And it's right next to this huge police station, so I'm sitting in this alley right now and it's by these little fire escape steps and I've been coming and hanging out in this little alley since I was a 20-year-old touring down here. I always remember sitting down here back in my fuckin' drug days, smoking weed right next to this police station. It's such a fuckin' weird spot for a venue. But it's a beautiful sunny day here today and I'm making and playing music with my friends and drinking a green juice and just fucking loving life.
I've been sober for about 11 months now, this is personally why I'm excited to talk to you. I remember trying heroin for the first time and reality just not being the same.
It's the same thing as when you're using, meeting somebody else who's using, you're like, "Oh God, thank God somebody understands what I'm going through." And along the same lines, when you get clean, you search for that same type of thing where it's like, "Oh God, finally, somebody that understands." Because people really can't understand the complexities around addiction. Especially when it comes to heroin, because it's such a tricky thing. It rewires all the pleasure points in your brain. It changes you.
It sucks because, for me, it was like, "This is heroin, this sucks." Growing up you hear everything terrible about it and then a friend's like "Try this, really quick." Then it's fucking downhill from there.
It's weird. I was attracted to it for years before I even tried it. I think it had to do with knowing about Hendrix and Cobain and other artists that did it. I don't know. Even though all the negative stigma came around it... everybody can relate to the idea of wanting to get through a problem or get away from a problem. And I think for people who are passionate about music or art or whatever you want to put there, I think it goes hand in hand. It's just one of those things. "Oh yeah, this thing will make you feel good and take you outside of yourself." I don't know. It's really, really tricky. And it's fucking evil; straight evil.
Definitely. How's sobriety going for you these days?
It's fucking great. I love it. I have issues once in a while. There's definitely times. And it's mostly the good times. Mostly the good times I find myself wishing I could have. And I don't even really think about heroin as much as I think about, like, "Ah, wouldn't it be nice to have a drink." You know? "Wouldn't it be sweet to have a fucking beer with everybody right now?" But I'm only three years clean, so I'm still very easily and swiftly reminded of how awful that shit was. I'm still close to it. The further and further you get away from it, the easier it is to forget about all the awful shit. Like when you break up with a girl, years later you don't think about how she tried to stab you and how she wanted to take you from your friends and change you, you just think about how great it felt to sleep next to her. So I'm still really fresh with it. It gives me a disgust kind of a feeling in my stomach and in my head when I think about it.
But I like my life like this. It's way better for me on all levels to be living like this as opposed to living as a functioning user. I'm way happier. But that being said, it's something that on a daily basis I'm reminded of and I'm dealing with. And it's not even that. I eat like a junkie. I try to eat healthy but then I splurge and I fucking go crazy and I can't just have a cheeseburger, I have to have three cheeseburgers and french fries, two different milkshakes. It's the same thing with sex. So, I love it. I love my life and I love being alive. I love being a father, I love being an artist. And it's all stuff that really suffered when I was using. I sometimes get really angry at myself that I can't function on moderation, that I can't do this a little bit and not just get sucked back into a whole life. I get resentment with myself for it. But I quite prefer being sober.
I remember a couple of months removed from when I started being sober... I think I started using originally, kind of like you said, because you want to get away sometimes. But I forgot how nice it is to just be present.
Dude, that's so well put. It's the real feeling you get from being physically present in your life and actually getting over something as opposed to distancing yourself from it for a minute chemically to get the feel-good and then to have it still be there. There's something so profoundly relieving from actually being there and actually working something out and having it actually be worked out rather than it being covered up with another feeling for a minute.
I forgot, anyone I was using with or drinking with or whatever is like... I realized that I wasn't actually close to them in any sense. You're just doing the same shit.
Commiserating, sort of.
Exactly. Shit, this is a good talk.
Dude, I'm mega-proud of you. I know we don't know each other, but as an addict to another addict, I feel like I can relate to you in that way even though I don't know you that well. I just want you to know, I think it's really inspirational. Not trying to sound like a total fucking lame-o, but it's really inspirational to talk to somebody else who is able to say, "Yeah, it's really nice to be present." Because a lot of people I think are clean for decades and they still don't know how to be present.
Talking to you is the fucking weirdest thing. I've been a fan of you and Saosin forever. I remember one of my first introductions to post-hardcore or whatever the hell you wanna call it, was my friend giving me a burned copy of Translating the Name at summer camp and being like, "Yeah, this guy is never coming back to the band, but he's so good." I remember following you for all these years, and learned you were sober not too long ago, and I was really happy. I feel like at that stage I wasn't at the point where I could get sober. But it was still like, I was really happy, too.
I think if there's one thing I'm super proud of in my career, it's at this point, being able to talk to people a bit, listen to the music about sobriety. When people come up to you and they're like, "Dude, I love your music so much," whatever. That's whatever. I try to not pay attention to that. I take that as much as I take the bad shit. It doesn't really matter. None of that's real. Other people's admiration or illusion of what you're doing isn't real, so you can't really let that affect you. [If] you do, your art's going to suffer. Whether it's good things or bad things, I've learned to distance myself from that. But if there's one thing I really do appreciate, it's when somebody comes up to me and they're like, "Dude, I used your shit so much when I was getting sober to help deal with this shit." That makes me so stoked. Music has been such a huge part of becoming more present in my life and helping me deal with things for the first time, feeling things for the first time again after years and years of using. So I fucking... I get a mega-proud feeling from that. Or if some dude is like, "I've been trying to get sober and I heard you were dealing with it and it gave me this" whatever, that shit makes me so pumped. Because that's the real shit. Somebody could be like, "Oh you're my favorite singer, I love you," and you're like, "Yeah, that's cool." It doesn't make you feel good. There's just something so insane about... I just love it. I wonder if there's people on the other end of it, like junkies, who are like "fuck that guy, he's sober."
I don't think people realize how fleeting these moments are. Obviously drugs and music are going to be synonymous until the end of time unfortunately, but I interview musicians who do drugs and you can tell shit isn't going well, and obviously it's not my place but like, fuck. Everything is so fleeting and temporary. You're in front of all these people and you should live in that for a little bit as opposed to being...
Dude, you know how many fucking people there are out there that would do anything to have that feeling of performing their art that they feel passionately about in front of people? And sharing that? And you go ahead and you do it and you waste it, you can't feel it, you're not actually there for it. It's disrespectful, in a way. And I was guilty of it for years. There's a Circa Survive live DVD that I'm on heroin the whole time. I hated it. I didn't want to put it out. The guys from Sumerian kind of convinced me that it would be good. Like, we weren't going to get this deal unless I was willing to put this DVD out. And I had it re-pressed and re-cut a hundred times, but I'm ashamed of it. I was smoking heroin until ten seconds before I went on stage.
What was the first show you came back in either band sober?
I played with The Sound of Animals Fighting, which is a project with me and RX Bandits, and those were the first shows I played right out of rehab. I had my wife and the guys from... I wasn't alone by myself for months. I didn't even have a cell phone. But it just felt so good. I've heard of artists not being able to get creative and not being able to experience the same feeling, but for me it was hyper-opposite. I was so much more involved. Writing is easier and I feel more confident about the shit that I'm doing. Dude, I remember being on stage in Philadelphia. It was intense. It was in Philadelphia, at the Trocadero where I saw one of my first concerts, where as a kid I never thought I'd be playing shows there. It was just this full circle thing. God, I had so much energy, I sounded good. I was proud of everything about it.
Is it scary for you to think about when your kids are going to grow up and look at your lyrics and ask you about that kind of stuff?
Nah, what scares me is that my kids are going to have the same issues. I would hate for my children to have to deal with the addiction stuff that I dealt with and the mental health. I used to have a really hard time with it, but I have mental health issues. I have mental health issues. And I think that it was something I was really embarrassed about for a really long time, but I get worried that I passed on my tendency, in my genes, that I passed on my addiction shit or my mental health shit to my kids. That scares me about it. I've been trying to make decisions in my life that I've been proud of standing by, whether it be my family or some random kid on the street. So when that shit happens I can be like, "Well, this is how I dealt with it and I'm proud of how I dealt with it, even if it meant I fucked up a whole bunch." So at some point when they're old enough to read the lyrics, I'll be proud to say, as long as I keep making the right decisions, you don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow. But I wanna make those decisions and I'm proud of being able to say, "Yeah, this is what I went through." But the idea that I've passed on this evil gene, that no matter what I do they're going to have to deal with mental health stuff or addiction stuff or all that stuff, it terrifies me. It terrifies me.
I'm a third-generation addict at this point. I think I got fucked over by being Native American, being predisposed to all this shit. And it's weird, the idea that you can pass on addiction or any kind of mental health problem.
I believe that in a way, no matter what anybody says about something being encoded in our DNA, at some point you make a choice. I'm scared for my kids to grow up in this world and at some point just have to let them go out there and get hurt and get taken advantage of and go through that shit. But it's out of my control. I could die of the stress of knowing that at some point they're going to get their hearts broken and they're going to get robbed and they're going to get taken advantage of. That's the fucking way life is. All I can really do is be their dad and be their friend and love them unconditionally. And that comes real easy, I can do that. I can't save them from the world, but when it comes down to crush them I can be there to rub their backs.
You a good back rubber?
I'm a great back rubber, dude. I have had great practice. I rub their backs every night when I'm home for them to go to sleep. They have different types of back rubs. Like, James will ask me for angel wings which is I'll just be real light, gentle, tips of my fingers. And then Itchy and Scratchy where I'll scratch a little bit more and go all over. He'll ask me for foot rubs now. Crazy. I love it though. I love everything about being a dad. It's like one great, giant meditation on selflessness. I never knew how happy I could be. I honestly believe that in life the key to happiness is living in the service of others, and doing things selflessly for other people. That's what's made me most happy in my life. Having children is one great meditation on selflessness and patience and futility and it's been the greatest thing from my emotional health and my spiritual health and my creative health.
Anthony Green (Saosin) . 04.06.2016 . Noisey.Vice.com Interview (03.23.2016)
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