Madchild (real name Shane Bunting) is driving from Montreal to Quebec City in the middle of an 80-date tour run. The Swollen Members emcee is juggling radio appearances, interviews, business calls and setting up European dates. Work has become his new addiction. The former opiate addict has been vocal about his struggles with drug addiction both in his music and also in his day-to-day life. Four years in, he can use his addictive personality to his advantage, but still has to tread lightly.
“I find that my music and my work is my therapy so the only challenges for me is when I go home and have too much downtime,” Bunting says. “That’s when my addictive personality can affect me in the wrong way. When I’m working, it’s good. Right now I’m doing 80 shows in a row until Christmas and will probably book another 60 shows after that. It keeps me so busy. I love that. I love working. My addictive personality can be a very positive thing, but it can be a very negative thing.”
He refers to his lifestyle today as “normal.” Sometimes there’s an occasional slip-up or he allows himself a glass of wine with dinner, but, as he puts it, it doesn’t make him want to get “an 8-ball and a hooker.”
Frankly, he doesn’t have time for that. Bunting found an abundance of success with Swollen Members. Along with Prevail, the group catapulted to fame in their native country of Canada. They won Juno Award after Juno Award (Canada’s version of a Grammy Award) and became big time celebrities. With that came a lot of pressure. Around 2007, he found himself immersed in an addiction that quickly got out of control. For four years, he was a slave to Oxycontin, which in turn destroyed his life. He was 55 lbs. overweight, had lost nearly $4 million dollars and basically disappeared from friends and family.
“When I was on drugs, I was pretty hard to get ahold of,” he admits. “When I got off drugs, Evidence flew up to see me. He stayed with me for a week. We worked on music a little bit, but more just walked and talked. I think he just came there to make sure his brother was ok. I know Evidence was looking out for his friend and that’s why he came up.”
The Dilated Peoples emcee pops up on Madchild’s latest solo album, Silver Tongue Devil, on the song “Devils and Angels.” Evidence was one of the only people there for him the minute Bunting said he wanted to kick drugs. It gave them the opportunity to finally work together.
“He’s one of my best friends,” he says. “My whole next album is completely produced by him. “Devils and Angels” is actually a track from that album. I wanted to put something on Silver Tongue Devil to give people a little taste of what the album is going to sound like. He’s one of my only real friends. It’s something I’ve wanted to happen and he just offered so I guess it’s one of those things I can check off my bucket list.”
As he continues to navigate through the rough waters of life, he finds it’s easy to avoid all the temptations he encounters on the road, including drugs.
“When people come up to me with their eyes popping out like the Cookie Monster, it doesn’t really make me want to do chopped up cocaine with whatever rat poison the put in it,” he says with a laugh. “It doesn’t make me want to get in the state they’re in when they’re grinding their teeth uncontrollably with their eyes bulging out. Then when people are drunk acting like fucking retards, I’m like, ‘I’m really glad I’m not acting like that right now.’ I find it super easy to be sober on the road.”
Bunting is surprised by the outpouring of love and support he’s received from his fans who can relate to what he’s been through. While he’s grateful for the fame, album sales and everything that came along with being a Canadian superstar, success looks a little differently these days.
“I lost $4 million dollars because of my drug addiction so I’m not going to lie to you and say rebuilding my life financially isn’t something of importance to me because I’d be lying,” he says. “There’s a lot more to it than that. I had no idea that sharing my story and talking about my experience, whether it be abstract or songs where you can follow the story from start to finish, would affect so many people’s lives. Literally, every day, I get direct messages, letters and emails from people crying from how my story or music has helped them get clean off a certain substance or whatever. It’s a lot of emotional stuff, but it’s so rewarding.”
Madchild, October 20, at Moxi Theater, 802 9th St., 7 p.m. Tickets are $15/ADV and $20/DOS. Visit www.moxitheater.com for more information.