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Beware the Binge Phantom

Getting arseholed constantly does bad things to bands.
September 19, 2014, 8:00am

Jason Williamson is the frontman of Sleaford Mods. This is the third instalment of his VICE column.

The perils of substance accompaniment are just that: perils. "Peril" isn't a silent flick with crap makeup and shit lighting from the 1920s. Peril is a fucking pain in the arse. It won't reveal itself straight away, as it settles into your life while you float up the road on a Sunday afternoon in 1991 still tingling, K-Klass pounding through your Walkman. It will be a breath of fresh air almost and it will dance with you, it will usher you into clubs on Saturday nights, covered in life, Italian house, puke in the loos, bananas, petrol stations and all the people you thought your life would never see – the smell and feel of another town and city, confident friendships, all 'ere.

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But substance accompaniment will also introduce you to the virtues of The Twat Hotel.

The Twat Hotel is a massive complex and it caters for your every need while you're resident there. It's got a thick cunt on reception, a thick cunt in the lift, a thick cunt in the bar and a thick cunt in the customer carpark. In fact, it's run exclusively for and by thick cunts, and it's all-inclusive, so you don't need to leave – not that you ever really feel the need to. You kid yourself into thinking that the world beyond The Twat Complex is pale in comparison. You furiously believe that to somehow expose yourself to the pastel-coloured painting of sober harmony is wrong. You don't want harmony or reason; you want grief because that looks better, it feels better. The trees and the shadows and the street lights at night, the sense of self-destruction, the leather biker's jacket and rough cuts, the strained, angst-ridden guitar pose next to the valve amp: this is what you fucking want. You couldn't care less and that's better than reason, because it's fucking exciting as you revel in guts and bullshit. The shit on your shoes slowly becomes the norm.

In reality, and in the new smell of a sharp morning, grief is what comes to meet you. It was always going to. Grief is that fucking wet, heavy-knitted jumper you see hanging from the fence on the main road near the park as you walk to work. Grief is the lone high heel flattened in the bus lane. Grief: it's shit. I used to think that being younger suited drugs more, that you could get away with it, so to speak. But no, you still think and act like a cunt. You still look like a fucking chicken who's just had a shave. You are a fucking big bald chicken called Thick Cunt. Grief: the creeping light through the window. The horror of dawn, of the ushering in of car engines again. The fear of life is your fucking grief and you are not Hunter S Thompson. Hunter S Thompson hated being Hunter S Thompson, so what do you think you are going to do with the fucker?

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If you're looking to cut down on the binges and poly-drug benders, the key is to get your relationship with alcohol sorted. If you're trying to kick the gear, reducing the level of beer you drink is obviously far better than increasing it. The deception is always ushered in by lager; it allows you to loosen up, makes you think you can get away with four lines in the dressing room on a cold night, tricks you into thinking that a chemical intake is easily dealt with. You're Mr Slick Operator, the gigs are going well and you've arrived at the "you deserve it" stage. Wine, beer, sambuca, beer, spliff, line, beer – bang, bang, bang. Of course, you don't deserve it at all – who deserves that kind of fucking mind terror?

The "you deserve it" period is tricky. The "you deserve it" period pops up a lot. It takes me about four or five hours to calm down from a gig and in that time, I will drink. You have to be careful; you find yourself tip-toeing like an Elmer-Fudd type character round the venue, eyes in the back of your fucking head, a moment's dread whenever you go for a piss in case a fan is swaying at the end of the urinal keying up a block. It's the fast talk and large pupils that you start to cringe at, the almost grime MC-like delivery of the coke shooter. Like a ravaged carcass ready to fuck everybody with its super cock. It's World War Z and you are Brad Pitt banging out the bagheads before they eat your wife and kid.

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That said, drink can have its benefits. If you're in a place where you've genuinely started to understand why you're using drugs frequently, you may already be replacing them with yet more booze. Medically, this is an awful long-term gameplan but hangovers, from my experience, are the shoplifting chancer compared to the drug comedown's fully charged armed robber. The comedown is ferocious and it attacks you relentlessly for weeks. It will steer your decisions into unnatural areas. I'd rather tip up to a soundcheck hungover than stomp in with a woobly jaw and that familiar smell of liquid fucking plastic falling out your pores.

"When you're on drugs a lot, the Binge Phantom is the guardian awarded to you by the Sod Gods of Bollock Land"

You can work on your alcohol consumption, refine its delivery. You can switch from lager to spirits – neat – for a kick, then back to lager and so forth. In this way you can get fucking arseholed but without the vomit, or the eating of car bonnets that can happen when you're the type of pissed that has you falling over in a series of storyboard moments. You learn how to fine-tune your enemy as you pour it into yourself. You forge on ahead, into the barren land laid out for you to rule, the avenues never free of traffic, the route to its centre gridlocked with users all pissed and sniffed and mindless, fast and insular.

When you're on drugs a lot, the Binge Phantom is the guardian awarded to you by the Sod Gods of Bollock Land. You receive this ghostly cunt after a sustained period of doing gear 'n' stuff. It's almost like a fan club package with a club card and wallet that you're awarded with if you marry yourself to habitual gear use.

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The Binge Phantom is a thin metal coat hanger that's lodged into your neck. It's the hooded claw laughing at your "clean time", ridiculing your attempts at cognitive behaviour, because it knows it can infiltrate eventually. If you have music to do – or anything, really – you need to start thinking about how you're going to manage your intake and eventually cancel it out of existence altogether. Because it has set up home, make no mistake about that, and it will turn into a pus pool at the end of your woobly chin. It will start to become a large iron weight sewn into your ankle. You will become aware of this through a series of events that, on reflection, made you look like a cunt. Eventually it will need to be tackled with the razor sharp vision you realise you must acquire in order to view the mechanics of this mental tumour and the meaning of its existence in your being.

'Why does this happen?' you will ask yourself over, and over, and over. 'Look at what it does to everything around me,' you will observe, a lot less frequently.

Ultimately, the binge will serve your music to the dogs. It will strip you of your assets first: your band, your manager, your home life and then – when you scrabble to start afresh with a new band – it will take your trusty musical capabilities and get to work on the rest. The binger, the frequent hoarder, the weekender: just one level of grief in its many forms.

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An Audi A4 will always look and feel better than the silent mind in chaos.

@sleafordmods

Previously – This Is What Happens When Your Band Starts to Get Popular

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