Reduce stress and support each other to beat substance abuse in the music industry — say those who have kept it together
The music industry is no stranger to substance abuse. Last Friday, 48-year-old Scott Weiland (the former frontman of renowned bands such as Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver) was found dead in the tour bus of his current solo band, Scott Weiland and The Wildabouts, where a police report stated a small amount of cocaine was also found. The Wildabouts’ guitarist, Jeremy Brown, had also died on March 30 this year due to multiple drug intoxication. Swedish keyboardist Mats Olausson is perhaps best known for being the keyboardist for guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen. On February 19 this year, his body was found in a hotel room in Thailand by a hotel employee 24 hours after he had passed away. Reports said that he had died due to alcohol abuse. We speak to popular musicians from our country, and find out how they keep it together.
The resilient hero
Jishnu Dasgupta, bass guitarist, Swarathma, shares that though stress is a cause for many people to give into drugs, “We as a band are completely averse to substance abuse. It is important to minimise all the unpredictable elements from our lives. Plus, as Swarathma, we are a unit. We are there for each other, and before every show we actually spend some time to come together almost like a huddle. And that’s meditative and extremely helpful.” Dasgupta adds that music is a key factor. “I can understand that when you’re playing two or three concerts a week, and the same songs over and over again, it can get monotonous. The whole idea is to innovate on stage, and create a sense of energy so that your show ends on an exuberant high,” he says. Pointing out that back to back road trips can take its toll, Gaurav Vaz, bass guitarist and manager, The Raghu Dixit Project, says, “All that travel causes fatigue and physical tiredness. One has got to learn how to handle it. And as a manager, I have to help to reduce as much stress as possible. We have a blanket ban on drugs in our band. In fact, none of the members from the current line-up even smoke.” The musician does concede that finally, “It also depends on the kind of person you are.”
— Arka Sengupta