2013 seems like a long time ago. For Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, 2013 was a big year, though. Their album, The Heist, went platinum, propelled by their chart-topping songs “Can’t Hold Us” and “Thrift Shop,” as well as the poignant “Same Love.” “Can’t Hold Us” was the most streamed song of the year on Spotify, and the duo took home Grammys for Best Rap Album and Best New Artist. Now a year and a half later, you’d be hard-pressed to not find a sporting event that doesn’t employ “Can’t Hold Us” during a game.
You’d also be relatively hard-pressed to find Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. It seems as if they’ve dropped off the face of the Earth; their absence even more noticeable given the amount of exposure they had in 2013, spilling into 2014. But the duo have reappeared with a cover story in the August/September issue of Complex. In the story, Macklemore (real name Ben Haggerty) and Lewis talk about working on their new album, dealing with fame, give updates on the homefront for both, and, sadly, discuss Haggerty’s relapsing with pills and marijuana.
Here are some of the story’s more interesting quotes regarding Haggerty’s relapse.
On the cause of his relapse…
“I held it together for a while,” he says. “But, eventually, I stopped going to my 12-step meetings.” “I was burnt out,” he continues. “I was super-stressed. We weren’t sleeping—doing a show every day, zigzagging all over the country. In terms of the media I was getting put into a box that I never saw for myself. The pressure and the fame—everything. All the clichés, man—like not being able to walk around, having no privacy, and from this TV appearance to this TV appearance, and the criticism, and the lack of connection, and the lack of meetings—all of that put into one pie was just…I just wanted to escape.”
On the summer of 2014, when his relapse was in full swing…
“I’m in meetings with management with sunglasses on and I’m rolling around like a 15-year-old trying not to get caught smoking weed in my car. Straight up, driving all around here, like I was 15 years ago. Same sh*t. I felt so dumb. I felt like I’m just wasting time. What am I escaping here?”
On his life now that he’s sober again, which was kick-started by learning his fiance was pregnant…
“I’ve gotten back to what makes me happy,” he says. “Not in the immediate moment, [but] what’s going to make me happy in the long run. None of the money, the fame, the attention, the touring, the endorsement, the Jordan shoe, the TV appearances—none of that, literally none of it, comes close to the fulfillment and gratitude that I feel showing up to a meeting and being sober today. The sobriety was the wake-up call that I needed,” he continues. “And, as it always works, the minute that I start actively seeking recovery—not just sobriety, but recovery—music is there. It always has been. Songs write themselves. My work ethic turns off-to-on in a second and I get happy again. I get grateful again.”
With his relapse behind him, Macklemore has gotten back to work with Lewis in their Seattle studio. There’s no word on when the new album will be released, only that it’s about three-fourths finished and is still supposed to come out before the end of the year.