Last night Twisted Wheel’s frontman Jonny Brown spoke to Radio 1 from the back of a tour bus in Italy (the band are currently on tour with Liam Gallagher around Europe). The brutally honest interview tells the highs and lows of his career which included a period of heroin addiction, drug overdoses, suicide attempts and homelessness.
Headlines about musicians checking into rehab are not uncommon and substance abuse is synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll music. Why do so many musicians turn to drugs? A number of reasons exist, rock musicians look like they are living they high life and a lot of the time they are, but it can also be laced with gruelling schedules, feelings of depression/anxiety and that constant pressure to be their best all can take its toll. Many musicians who have sought addiction treatment and come out the other side have gone on to release more music, reinvent their careers and live healthy lives. A true punk at heart, Jonny is one of these people, having succeeded in getting clean before reaching the point of no return, he is living proof that you can fight your demons, turn your life around and successfully get back to doing what you do best.
Whilst others may choose to stay silent and hide their truth, Jonny is not ashamed to say this ‘Yeah, I hit rock bottom this is what happened to me, but here I am, still going’. One thing is for sure, out of life’s biggest struggles can come some of a creative persons best work and with new album ‘Satisfying The Ritual‘ dropping on 22nd of March, I can guarantee that the Wheel are well and truly back to their best. Despite any difficulties, the cream always has and always will rise to the top.
RADIO ONE INTERVIEW
Forming the band way back in 2007, Twisted Wheel was named after the Paul Weller track “Into Tomorrow”. The band shot to fame quickly with their gritty rock ‘n’ roll sound, reminiscent of the early Jam.
“We started the band at the end of 2007 and our gigs started filling up and the next thing we knew record labels are calling and we’re recording an album in LA. We made our album and we was on tour with Oasis, we was on tour with them when they split up which was crazy.”
The band signed to Columbia Records in January and released a series of singles, an EP and recorded a self titled debut album in LA, all receiving high acclaim by the likes of top critics including Radio 1’s Zane Lowe, NME and Q. 2009, the year of their debut album release, saw Twisted Wheel play nearly 300 gigs; support shows included Paul Weller, Oasis, The Courteeners, The Happy Mondays, Ian Brown and Kasabian.
Things were moving fast and the lads were living the high life. When asked by Radio 1 how things took a turn for the worse, Jonny explained…
“It was just part of the business really, you know late nights drinking and drugs but eventually it did get hold of me. Someone introduced me to the heavier drugs and I went from been on tour with Oasis and selling out shows and recording in LA to literally being on the street and begging for money and stealing, just really bad things that wasn’t in my character but that’s what the drugs did, they ruined me and completely changed me. Ruined my career and my personality, I was sleeping rough and being beaten up by people. Literally one night I woke up and I was being urinated on by somebody it was really bad.”
Many rock stars sadly have similar stories to tell, with nearly everyone in the “27 Club” passing away of a drug-related issue—most of them from heroin. If you’re unfamiliar with the 27 Club, it’s a term that’s used to recognize the vast number of musicians and artists who have died at the age of 27, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Amy Winehouse to name but a few. Jonny told Radio 1 how life was on the streets and how he came close to death himself…
“It was absolutely brutal mate, it was so bad there was quite a few times I accidently overdosed but thanks to the NHS and the wonderful people like paramedics I think I was saved like ten or times and one of those times I actually tried to end my own life, purposely I wasn’t happy about it at the time when I got saved and got woke up I was really annoyed about it. Looking back now I’m so grateful.”
Now returning to music Jonny was asked how it felt to be back on stage playing to thousands in arenas on tour with Liam Gallagher…
“Ah man, its that adrenaline it beats any drug its beats any drug its one of the strongest emotions I’ve ever felt. I feel proud of myself, but I feel like I’ve got a lot more to do yet there’s a long way to go but I’m well up for it and I’m well equipped for it.”
Promising epic guitar solos and a more classic rock n roll feel to the new album, the new tracks which have been released so far show Jonny and the band have certainly found their creativity again. Recently talking about one of the unreleased tracks off the new album ‘Satisfying The Ritual’ – ‘I Am Immune’, a track that was inspired by Paul Gallagher who told him dj’ing one night ‘Don’t let the bastards get you down’, Jonny is determined to push forward and not let anyone stand in his way and the band are yet again starting to get the attention and credibility they deserve.
Check out DNA, Nomad Hat and my personal favourite Black and Blue below.