If you are serious about your indie/underground hip-hop then you know about Swollen Members. Swollen Members have been the hard hitting ambassadors of indie hip-hop from across the Canadian boarder. The group combines hip-hop sensibilities with a heavy rock attitude. “I think we freak out a lot of hip-hop groups backstage…before we go on to get pumped up, we listen to AC/DC, Nirvana…we just listen to a lot of different stuff”, says mc Mad Child. This openness to music makes Swollen Members one of the few hip-hop groups able to tour with Nelly Furtado, Ghostface Killiah and Nickelback (yeah I know…maybe it was a contractual agreement). The group has been off the grid due to some personal and professional issues but they are getting ready to drop a new disc this fall, (Armed to the Teeth) they have added a new member to their “Swollen Army” (Trey Nice) and they will also be touring to support the new disc.
You can’t help but hear and feel the excitement in mc Mad Child’s voice as he talks about the group’s new disc. “I think this disc is the best work of our career! For our long time fans it might be a little tough to take at first. This disc is a little grimier. It’s a bit more street.” When asked if the tougher sound has anything to do with the issues that surfaced during their off period, Mad Child simply replies, “Our record label Battle Axe is still around in spirit, it just began to take on a lot of serious issues. When the group and record company started I was around all the time. Once I had to go on the road, we had to leave other folks in charge…they were good people but they just made some decisions that I would not have made. I ended up calling some folks at Suburban Noize and we decided to go with them. It has been great. They have been a great fit for us so far…Battle Axe just went into a different direction. That plus the advent of downloading really hit Battle Axe hard. For now, Suburban Noize is where we need to be.”
The record company woes were not the only thing that has kept the “Members” from recording and touring. Mad Child makes not bones about the other complication that has kept his group off the radar. “What can I say; OxyContin is a hell of a drug!” Mad Child laughs at his own exhortation and then becomes a bit more serious as he explains, “I was a walking zombie for a couple of years. I had some success, I had some money…I wanted to party, I wanted to have fun. I started taking percoset. I had no idea what this stuff even was, but what I did know, is that I could party hard on it and still go about my day the next day…it just became a daily habit.”
When asked how we was able to beat back this addiction and get the help he needed, Mad Child laments, “I was up to 20 percosets a day. I detoxed a couple of times and I was miserable. I stopped doing percoset but then I discovered OxyContin and that’s when things got very dark for me…I put on a ton of weight, I just sat in the movie theater of my place…I didn’t deal with anyone…my life really began to fall apart. Once I really had a sense that things were bad with my life and my career I decided to get the help I needed…the thing about being an addict is, if you are not ready to be helped you won’t get the help you need. People around me tried to help me but I was not ready.”
With the recent death of DJ AM the question of how one can remain sober comes into play. Many believe once an addict, always an addict and most doctors are quick to back up that claim. Mad Child’s voice begins to exude confidence when he explains, “I know what I am. I am an opiate addict. My therapy for keeping sober and staying away from that stuff is my work…it’s my group. The guys in Swollen Members are very supportive. I mean when I put myself on hold the group was on hold…they have gone through this with me…I am dealing with some personal trauma and I am on some medication to help me deal with this…I also have my friends and family with me.”
Mad Child seems to be in good spirits on his road to recovery and he is indeed back to work. The group has a three week tour schedule with label mates the Kottonmouth Kings and they will be making an appearance at the Cypress Hill Smokeout. Mad Child states, “I am excited to get back on the road again. I love touring in the states! We will also be hitting Europe too”. Mad Child’s exuberance truly is infectious and one can’t help rooting for him. I hope he can do what it takes to stay clean and sober. Swollen Members still has a lot to say and much to prove but without a doubt, the hip-hop world is a much better place now that they are back and ready to rock the mike and various stages again. Catch Swollen Members this fall. Square one will be the place to be when Swollen Members take the stage again!