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Sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll have been a package deal since the baby boomers were babies themselves. Rock music wouldn’t be what it is today without booze-fueled hotel parties and piles of drugs available around every corner. However, if we’ve learned anything from the dozens of world-class musicians who lost their lives to substance abuse, it’s that drugs and alcohol aren’t always as glamorous as they seem. “My first experience with punk rock was going to Warped Tour at 14,” Tyler Posey says. “I was walking in the parking lot with my friend and an older dude was like, ‘Hey, you guys want a beer?’ I just chugged the beer and that was my intro to punk rock. I started associating punk rock with getting high and getting drunk. A lot of my time spent at punk shows was almost throwing up every time I got into the mosh pit because I’d just chugged, like, five beers.”

As Posey got older, his use of drugs and alcohol developed, both as a means of pleasure and as a coping mechanism for mental illness. He was able to hide his addiction well, finding success both as an actor in MTV’s “Teen Wolf” and as a musician. That is, until he reached his breaking point while working on his debut solo album. “This started out as any other album with my band Five North and then halfway through, I decided to go solo,” Posey says. “This EP is called ‘Drugs’ and it’s all about me becoming sober, dealing with sobriety, dealing with depression without turning to substance abuse, dealing with missing getting fucked up and starting this new life.”

Photos by Dylan Schattman

Photos by Dylan Schattman

Posey didn’t set out to make an album about sobriety from the get-go. The idea formed organically, in part through his relationships with Goldfinger frontman John Feldmann and singer-songwriter Phem. Posey became close to both of them through the writing process of his EP, however, this wasn’t “officially” their first encounter. “John Feldmann has Christmas parties every year and he has a stage where Goldfinger plays in the backyard,” Posey says. “I played bass for Goldfinger when their bassist didn’t show up—which is the coolest thing I can say I’ve ever done. [Phem] was at the party and [Feldmann] brought her up to sing the chorus for ‘Superman.’ I just remember seeing the back of her green head and that was it. At that point, I was really fucked up, so I was happy we didn’t meet, because I was in the worst of my drug binges.”

At the time, Posey had no idea how influential these two would become in his life. Several months after Feldmann’s Christmas party, Posey decided to write his first solo EP and he received guidance from Feldmann throughout the process. “I got sober after recording the first two songs and I was really having issues,” Posey says. “I leaned on [Feldmann] and it was hard to admit I had a problem at first. We didn’t plan on writing songs about sobriety, it’s just what was prevalent in both of our lives at the time. This album turned out to be one of the heaviest and most weighted albums—I had no idea it was going to be this important to me.”

“Drugs” is the end result of a collaborative process between Posey and Feldmann, with the pair working closely on many of the tracks. Feldmann wound up introducing Posey to Phem to help with writing a few songs and at this point in his life, he was finally ready to properly meet her. “This is the first album that I brought another writer on and it’s Phem, who’s this incredible artist and beautiful lady—she’s my girlfriend,” Posey says. “Feldy was like, ‘Hey, I’m bringing in this artist Phem to help write,’ and she and I wrote very similarly. I wrote with one of my new favorite artists and I’m in love with her, so there’s a lot of specialness to this EP. We have a song called ‘Kerosene’ and it goes, ‘making out at a sex party,’ and that’s where we first kissed—at some sex party. I just tried to throw in little random moments of my life.”

Photos by Dylan Schattman

Photos by Dylan Schattman

Posey’s entire life is an open book on the EP. He holds nothing back as he not only shares details of his latest love and newfound sobriety, but also covers how he got to this place. Many who deal with substance abuse have a history of addiction in their family. “‘Don’t Try and Fix Me’ is about my family’s history of drug abuse,” Posey says. “I just tried to tell the whole story of what’s going on in my life, how I got to this point and why [substance abuse is] so prevalent. I was just writing what I knew. The way I listed the tracks is a full-on story and I think it’s really cool that we didn’t have that in mind when we started recording.”

Ending the cycle of substance abuse is never an easy chore, and during the making of this EP Posey experienced both the highs and lows of getting sober. Not only does he explore the darkest depths of his withdrawals, he reflects on the beauty of sobriety. “In my song ‘Past Life,’ I give you the whole history of why I started using,” Posey says. “It talks about how I felt so alone as a kid and then at the end of the bridge it goes, ‘I feel fucking everything and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.’ It’s very uplifting because not only does it show you why I got addicted, it shows that sobriety is awesome.”

This six-month period of writing and recording the EP proved to be immensely cathartic. The project is more than just a pop-punk record fans can scream along to, it also acts as a helpful tool for dealing with sobriety. “I’ve always felt deep inside of me that I do have a purpose, I want to inspire people and help progress humanity—I think this album really does fall in line with that,” Posey says. “For a while, I felt lost as an artist. I was doing pop-punk, but it wasn’t really as popular at the time. Becoming sober has definitely given me some clarity. It just took away my doubts and taught me to really follow my instincts.”

Posey has taken the conviction to help others with music and has infused this newfound purpose into every aspect of his life—including his tattoos. Over the last 10 years, Posey has curated a collection of American traditional pieces from artists around the world. For the most part, these tattoos have been flash designs that don’t carry a personal meaning, but his journey with sobriety has brought his latest tattoo—a large portrait of Jesus on his back—into a new light. “Since becoming sober, I’ve become more aware of wanting to help people and being an inspiration,” Posey says. “Jesus is very symbolic in American traditional and I’m really taken by how he sacrificed himself for the greater good. I’m not a hugely religious person and I’m not comparing myself to Jesus, but I do want to sacrifice some part of myself to help others.”

Tyler Posey may not have intended to make an EP about sobriety, but through his own trials and tribulations, he’s crafted his most dynamic work to date. Posey has proven that you don’t need drugs and alcohol to create compelling pop-punk music and through this discovery, he has opened the door for fans to address their own struggles with substance abuse. The world of rock ‘n roll is changing for the better and Tyler Posey is helping to lead the charge.

Photos by Dylan Schattman

Photos by Dylan Schattman