The Creative Independent

Sober 21

This is a compendium of essays by, and interviews with, sober musicians:

Annie Truscott, Chastity Belt, Routine
Brad Truax, Interpol, Soldiers of Fortune
Cait O’Riordan, The Pogues
Darryl “D.M.C” McDaniels, Run-DMC
Elia Einhorn, The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, Fashion Brigade
Emily Kempf, Dehd
Jay Dee Daugherty, Patti Smith Group
Jenn Champion, S, Carissa's Wierd
Jennifer Cardini
John Grant
Katie Lau, Painted Zeros
Lindsay Sanwald, Idgy Dean
Mix Master Mike, Beastie Boys
Natalie Ann Yepez, aka Maluca
Nile Rodgers, Chic
Nimai Larson, Prince Rama
Patty Schemel, Hole
Peter Hook, Joy Division / New Order / Peter Hook and the Light
Richard Hall, aka Moby
Richard Lloyd, Television
Tyler Pope, LCD Soundsystem

It’s a free resource for musicians who want to begin the journey, or are new to the path of getting clean and sober from drugs and alcohol. Our goal is to help other alcoholic/drug-addicted musicians see the amazing freedom, and benefit to our art, that we found in sobriety by sharing our own experiences. We also hope to help them understand how widespread sobriety in the music industry really is.

Few professions are as incessantly perilous to the potential alcoholic/drug addict as that of being a musician. You are literally paid to be in rooms with alcohol every night you perform, and are plied with drink tickets and booze in the green room. Alcohol and drug abuse is quite often not only normalized, but expected, encouraged, and even celebrated. A booze company’s sponsorship of a tour or campaign can make or break an artist’s financial bottom line. Your night on is the audience’s night to let loose. Outside of the current pandemic, these are realities we live with every day.

While there are shelves of truly wonderful books dedicated to sobriety, a dearth of material exists that specifically addresses the unique challenges musicians face in getting clean. Sober 21 isn’t going to tell you how to sober up—you’ll need to find that key foundation elsewhere. (Check out the list of resources we’ve compiled at the end of this book, and if that isn’t enough—remember that bookshelf I just mentioned?) Instead, its intent is to help you more easily navigate your new reality, and hopefully avoid dozens of potential pitfalls along the way. In this collection, there is wisdom shared that anyone hoping to get—or actively working on getting sober—can certainly incorporate into their recovery. Many other insights that these clean and sober artists share are specific to the quite unnatural lives that musicians lead. Many of us, when getting sober, fear we’ll never be able to work in music again. Stage fright; being in bars for work; being away from your sober community while on tour; being infamous for intoxicated excess—these are real situations that our community faces. In this project, sober musicians share our hard-won experiences so that you don’t have to feel as alone, desperate, and scared as we did when we first got clean. And we want to share how fucking amazing life can get once active addiction is over!

Sober 21 brings together a group of musicians that varies in age, gender, race, sexual orientation, musical styles, amount of time sober, and years in the music industry. What they have in common is that they were actively addicted to alcohol and drugs, and that they share here that they are now free from that addiction. The contributors are all—save one, included intentionally—professionally active in music.

We hope that the experiences we share here can aid you as you turn your life into something more amazing than you ever dreamed it could be.

Let’s go!
Elia Einhorn

NOTE: Sober 21 is available as a free PDF download in The Creative Independent’s library. Print copies will be available at events related to Sober 21 and at other locations TBA. Please contact us if you’d like copies in bulk for your own event. In the coming months, individual copies will also be available through the mail. More on that soon.

Download PDF →
Title: Sober 21
Author: The Creative Independent
Year: 2021
Publisher: The Creative Independent
Editor: Elia Einhorn
Designer: Mikki Janower