About 5 years ago I was feeling exceptionally sad (I was sad often back then) and pulled out my guitar to grind out some of my frustration. Within the span of 10 minutes I had jammed out and written a song, the first I had ever produced for guitar.
It wasn’t a very complex song and mostly consisted of power chords and harmonics, but I was proud of it, if only because it was my first one.
Over the next few years I would continually play this song to myself. I never played it for other people because I didn’t think it was very good but I kept playing it alone because it brought me satisfaction. I had been longing for days past when I was the bassist for another band and this was the closest I could get to that experience.
I eventually began working out and gathering more energy. I searched for a drummer and started rewriting it with an emphasis on the drum parts. The structure stayed very similar to the original idea, but with a few flourishes. Over the course of six months I watched as this idea turned into a legitimate song, an experience I hold very close to my heart. I was no longer simply a “wannabe” in my own mind but an actual “musician.”
I should probably point out that the impetus to finding a drummer began while I was high on MDMA. I was with a group of friends and thought it would be a good idea to play my song for them. It was the first time I’d ever seriously played guitar in front of anyone. Usually if I knew someone could be listening, I’d dumb myself down so they couldn’t tell how much I was feeling it. Not this time however. Given the circumstances, I gave the performance everything I had. I played the song as if there were nobody else listening.
And a beautiful thing happened: I let go. I stopped holding in. I stopped hiding my love, my fear, my frustrations, my worries. I channeled them into music and emerged reborn.
At the end of the song everyone was praising my playing and letting me know how good it was. I still didn’t believe them but I trusted that they were sincere.
Fast forward to 6 months of playing, working and reworking the song with a drummer. Eventually we got it to a point where I felt satisfied that the song was not only good, but complete. We set out to record it as you would in a studio: break up the song into chunks and then build it piecemeal. First the drums. Then the guitar. Then more guitar overlayed. Then bass. Eventually it’s at a point where it sounds like a full band, yet it’s only two people still. Right as I’m putting the finishing touches on this piece I get ahold of some 4-aco-dmt (a synthetic analogue to psilocybin mushrooms) and get an idea.
We started off by splitting it in half and each consuming a piece. I plugged our instruments into the recorder and then we started playing. There were no words spoken as to what we should play, but we ended up playing some of our best shit ever.
First we started with some jams. It was mostly just noise and intensity, but we enjoyed playing them and had fun with it. Near the end of our last jam I realized it needed to wrap up somehow so I went into the ending of our aforementioned song and we ended up spontaneously coming up with a neat new way to playing that ending. We noted that this ending could be used instead of the way we had previously written it.
The intro was previously written with a drum part that plays a tribal beat. But when we played it under the given circumstances he was inspired to play it a new way. I immediately fell in love with this new rendition and just went along with it. We played the song passionately and with many improvisations until we came to the ending. The ending we had previously come up with during the earlier jam. I had completely forgotten that we were going to try this so that when the drummer started playing it I just played along as best I could. We ended up writing the perfect ending right there on the spot on our first go.
So my point is this: this song, from inception to finale, could not exist as it does now without the use of drugs. The ecstasy alleviated my fear of inadequacy and playing in front of others, and the 4-aco-dmt enabled us to reshape the texture of our songs in the heat of the moment. I believe these songs are objectively better because of our experimentation with these chemicals.
I grew up being told “drugs are bad” and believed them. For a while. But the older I get the more I see how wrong they were. Drugs and music can be a beautiful union and I will fight for our right to use them until I die.
And even then some.