I fell in love with hip-hop when I was 10. Young MC’s “Bust a move” was the joint that got it all started for me. Now of course there was some other shit I was into that didn’t have the… we’ll call it the retro-cool of “Bust a Move” (Salt n Peppa, BBD, ABC, and Vanilla ICE!!!). My first group was a rap quartet called Electric Touch. We were 10 and had a keyboard… “Lets be rappers,” we thought! Looking back, it’s funny. The group was my brother, Joey Eppard (singer of prog-rock band 3), two kids from the neighborhood, and me. Depending on how you look at it, fortunately or unfortunately—I’m gonna go with fortunately—for music listeners everywhere, Electric Touch never played a show or recorded any music. The group disbanded and for me the next 20 years became a crash course in life, the music biz, drugs, money, and fame. Shit, it was all right there when I was 10. I always saw myself as an MC; or maybe I’m just naturally drawn to the things that people say I can’t do. I guess that became the running theme of my life.
My brother and I started a rock band when I was 11. The band 3 (I know, I know… the same name as his band now) was a pop-rock group with sugar sweet choruses and major hooks. All before I had turned 18, we had played the main stage at WOODSTOCK ’94 (age 14), signed a management deal with famed Woodstock promoter and owner, Michael Lang, and signed a major label record deal with Universal Records. Pretty awesome, huh? Wait for it… BOOM! …We got dropped from our deal, Michael Lang’s brain was fried from years of whatever it was he was doing, and playing WOODSTOCK ‘94 to over 400,000 people seems like a good idea in theory, but I was so damn nervous I sounded like Michael J. Fox on the drums! (Get it?… from the shaking). Ok, long story short I was never happy in 3 anyway. It was too sweet and saccharine filled for me, so I quit. I’d been writing rhymes for years and always dreamed of making a rap record. I didn’t know if it was time to focus on that, but I knew it was time for me to leave 3. Just to give you an idea of how big of a thing this was to my family—my mother threatened to disown me and my father (who was part of the management team) told me I was throwing my life away. They said that we’d get another deal and this was a minor bump in the road. Corny as it sounds, even then I knew I had to follow my heart.
Half a year after leaving 3, and really starting to wonder if my parents were right, I got a call from a friend and bass player of a local band called, Shabutie. He told me that his band wanted to play with me for some time and wanted to know if I was down. I was. I was in the middle of making a record (my first rap record) called Newborn, but was seriously excited to play with Shabutie. God, I can still remember the looks on the faces of my friends when Shabutie played our first show. We were AWFUL! I think we even had to restart a song after messing it up so bad 5 minutes in. We started it from the beginning again and needless to say, people were not stoked! Anyway, while I was into the Newborn record whole heartedly, I knew we had something with Shabutie, even if we were the only ones who thought so. Again, long story short, Shabutie became Coheed and Cambria, and was signed to a small independent label, Equal Vision Records. As I write, this my two gold records from my 7 years in Coheed hang above me on my wall. And to this day, it’s been the corner stone of my career in music.
In 2005, Equal Vision heard some of my rap demos I had made at a friend’s house. The entire time I was in Coheed, I was constantly writing rhymes and making demo recordings under the name WEERD SCIENCE. Apparently someone at Equal Vision thought the demos were good enough to release, and obviously I was more than happy to finally put out a record of my raps and beats. That summer, Friends and Nervous Breakdowns was released. Also that summer, I watched Coheed grow and grow till we were selling 25,000 records a week and playing to thousands of screaming fans every night! And while all this was happening—and my dreams were literally coming true—I didn’t watch; I hid, and cowered, and lied to myself as a pill ‘habit’ spun out of control. It eventually led to a full on addiction to any and all opiates. Man, as I write this the phrases, “what the fuck is wrong with you,” and my personal favorite, “How could you be so STUPID?” dance through my brain. The next two years are a bit harder to remember. I was using about a thousand dollars worth of prescription pain killers and heroin a day. Oops. I approached drugs with the same zeal and passion I did music and not that I need to tell you, but that’s a bad combo brotha. When I think back to the many friends that have died over the years—friends that tried to tell me that I was “doing too much” and to “slow down”—I have what I can only describe as survivor’s guilt. Friends that still walk on this Earth are only shells of what they once were and can’t find their way out. Damn, this is hard to think about…
I left Coheed in early ‘07. I was so far gone that I left a two month European tour on the third day. In only the last two years was I able to admit to myself that it was because I was horribly sick from heroin withdrawal. You know, it’s funny… to this day I don’t know how much of my unhappiness in Coheed was due to creative differences (and yes, some of it was) or how much of it was chemical. The sad truth is, it was probably 90% the drugs. The other shit could’ve been a ten minute talk and been resolved. I sent the singer and front man of Coheed, Claudio, an e-mail at 2:30 a.m. telling him I was done with the band and not coming to rehearsal. Recently, I got to tell Claudio the embarrassing truth that I was so gone from the drugs that when I looked at my phone and saw it was 2:20 a.m., I thought that I had missed rehearsal which was slated for 2:00 p.m. I didn’t know what day it was. I saw the date on the phone and thought it was the afternoon. I would block up the windows with towels and stay inside for days at a time. This is when and where I began writing SICK KIDS.
SICK KIDS is real. I began recording it in ‘08 while still doing the dance of on drugs, off drugs. Now that I’ve been sober for almost two years, I have thoughts about re-cutting the takes where it’s clear to me that I’m high. But then I think, “NO”. This is the real story of a man trapped in that darkness. I want to do justice to the struggle of addiction… love, hate, pain, deception, and all the themes on the record. The production team had to endure my on and off drug use and for that, I always feel ashamed. Normal people don’t go to the bathroom every fifteen minutes, do they? I doubt it… Anyway, it is all part of the story. It’s truly the pinnacle of my creative work. I’ve never been more proud of or believed in something so much. I feel lucky to not only be alive, but to finally be home where I knew I belonged…at least since I was 10. I make Hip-Hop. I AM WEERD SCIENCE, bitch.