We recently asked Jack Grisham, the former lead singer of pnk band T.S.O.L. five questions about his latest book, A Principle of Recovery
An Unconventional Journey Through the Twelve Steps. The book "cuts thorugh the myths and misconceptions of what it is to live in recovery and gives a glimpse into the freedom that being sober can bring.' Grisham has also written An American Demon, a more traditional memoir. Here's what Jack had to say to us.
No — I mean some of the stories are fun and it's well-written, but I think you’d have to be in a certain headspace to enjoy that piece. That book is about change. It’s about a willingness to look at yourself and those around you and adjust your actions accordingly. Some people would read it and think, “I already do this” while others might read it and think, “this book doesn’t apply to me.” Either way, Principle is a book for those in the middle of a shift or teetering on the cliff of change.
What has been the reaction to your book and its’ views from the establishment, which you often challenge and call “cult practices”?
Luckily, I’m big, aggressive, and don’t take much shit. Some of the most open-minded, loving, intelligent people I’ve met were in in recovery. They’re searchers, artists, and lovers — in the sense that they’re healers. I’ve also run into a veritable clown car of assholes, close-minded controlling pricks, and bullies, who are so fucking afraid of losing their “sobriety” that they refuse to think for themselves and attack others who do. I’ve had a few of them grumble about me but I know their literature and I know that their ways of fear and control can’t be backed up by their book so they steer clear and quite possibly sit and wait for my “fall.”
Your earlier memoir, An American Demon tracks your life and career in the hardcore punk band T.S.O.L. through some violent extremes, and ultimately, salvation. What does your new book add to those earlier lessons?
Well, there wasn’t much salvation in An American Demon. I basically pulled my life down around me and hurt anyone that stood nearby. Demon ends however where the main character could have picked up the Principles of Recovery book and used it as a roadmap to escape from his “Hell.” An American Demon was a life of selfishness — lived until my 27th year, and Principles was written when I was 54 and speaks on how I’ve learned to think of others. The only real lesson that I learned in An American Demon was, “Your present way doesn’t work. You’re fucked.”
There are reams written of the connection between musicians, bad behavior, violence, substance abuse, etc. In a nutshell, why do you think it’s such a common thread, and is there anything society can do to stem that behavior?
I’m not a therapist but I do believe that in artists, the world of dreams encroaches on the reality of life and that sometimes those dreams can be quite unpleasant. And I’m not sure we want to stem that behavior. If you look at the gifts these “crazy fucked up self destructive” humans have given us, why would we want to stop that process, so in our selfishness we can squeeze more from them before they expire? The world of the arts is a world of quick and instant blooms that flame and then burst, yes, we occasionally get those that last well past the expiration date for a creator but I can’t imagine what daily hell they must live in.
Is there more music in Jack Grisham’s future?
T.S.O.L has a new record that will be released in January, It’s called The Trigger Complex and I plan on working until or releasing the nightmare until the plug gets pulled — either by me or by a fickle deity that finds my earthly presence no longer necessary.
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