Punk Musicians and SIngers In Recovery Share Their Stories

Dehd’s Emily Kempf: Youth is no obstacle to sobriety, music, art or anything else

August 24, 2020
Emily Kempf

The Chicago indie rock band Dehd is, from left, Jason Balla, Emily Kempf and Eric McGrady. (Photo courtesy of Alexa Viscius) There’s a saying in the rooms of recovery that has proven to be a blueprint for Emily Kempf’s life. “Lost dreams awaken and new possibilities arise.” As the bassist-vocalist for the Chicago-based lo-fi indie rock band Dehd, she’s living proof that sobriety opens doors she never thought possible. Eating dinner over a Zoom interview with The Ties That Bind Us, her life is full beyond anything she could have conceived of 14 years ago, when she got sober at 21 years old. Then, the only thing she knew was that she wanted the pain to stop. A career as part of a band that gets profiled in a cachet indie publication like Pitchfork … a side hustle as a respected tattoo artist … even the ability to embrace new…

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Good Riddance to destructive habits: The sobriety journey of punk provocateur Russ Rankin

May 18, 2020
Russ Rankin

Courtesy of Lindsey McGuire | Lindsey Lu Photography It’s not surprising that Russ Rankin got clean and sober — after all, a lot of his peers found that doing so was a lot more preferable than the alternative, he told The Ties That Bind Us recently. “As time goes on, people who are kind of from my generation of punk rock either sobered up, or they died,” Rankin, the frontman for the West Coast punk outfit Good Riddance (along with a handful of other projects), said. “There are actually a lot of people I know in and around bands of varying sizes who are in recovery, because if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be with us. “I remember going on Warped Tour, and we started a (recovery) group on the tour. It turned out there were a ton of us in recovery, and to deal with the stresses of an eight-week…

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Killradio’s Brandon Jordan: ‘If you want to stay clean and sober … you have to believe in something’

April 29, 2019

Growing up, drugs and alcohol seemed like one of those old “road closed” signs in horror movies to Brandon Jordan, a harbinger of danger lurking on the other side of a distant hill. He was 21 before he even picked up, mostly because he saw the havoc they inflicted: He lost his father to a heroin overdose when he was 4, and his grandfather died from drug-related complications as well. As much as those tragedies might have kept him on the straight and narrow throughout his childhood and adolescence, however, they were no match for the blaring klaxons of discontent that sounded constantly in his head. “I had a lot of issues previously to doing drugs and alcohol,” Jordan told The Ties That Bind Us recently. “There was abuse, and I’m a survivor of a couple of teenage suicide attempts, and I didn’t ask anybody for help. I kind of…

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D.I. guitarist, Rock to Recovery administrator Clinton Calton: Thanks to recovery’s promises, ‘I’m living the dream’

April 15, 2019

Courtesy of Jason Cook Drugs led to Clinton Calton getting arrested in front of a crowd of his peers, an incident that became the stuff of urban legend throughout the rest of his school days. It was only weed, but Calton was in the seventh grade. And, he told The Ties That Bind Us recently, he was already well on his way to the bitter ends of addiction. “By sixth grade, I was already smoking weed, and I got arrested for the first time in junior high,” said the long-time guitarist for SoCal punk outfit D.I., who now serves as one of the program administrators for Rock to Recovery. “My first drug deal, and I got busted. It was very traumatic, because it was in front of the whole school, but it was also kind of cool, because I got some street cred, too — or as much street cred…

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On the other side of addiction, Brandon Parkhurst helps others become recovering artists, warriors and kings

March 18, 2019

Brandon Parkhurst didn’t so much come to the end of addiction’s road as he did drive through the guardrail, his life hurtling into the abyss in so many shards of flaming debris. That he managed to grab the edge with a couple of fingers is a miracle in and of itself, he told The Ties That Bind Us recently. That he managed to pull himself up — with the help of a sober network and some recovery tools — is something akin to divine intervention. “I had been trying to get clean, but then I went on a nine-month free-for-all, and I was literally about to die,” Parkhurst said. “I rolled into this meeting that I had been going to for a year, and my skin was this greyish-green color, and my eyes were yellow and sucked way back in my head. I was always sweaty or freezing, and I…

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