Addiction is the worst.

It leaves us reaching for help in the very thing that is destroying us.

We all know people dealing with it and the majority of us battle our own demons every day.

Last week ThatKidCry sent me his new video. His song Surfer Jack is a tribute to this familiar destruction and an honest reflection of someone who understands the need for change but is still unable to put away the bottle.

For those unfamiliar, Cry has been one of the most active members of Oregon’s hip-hop community over the last five years. His NW Hip Hop Monthly ran for three years, until its final show last year. He also has nine (!!!) complete albums available on Bandcamp.

This is the result of a man dedicated to his craft.

Enjoy the video and interview.

Espi: Aaron, ThatKidCry, I’m sure you have other nicknames. I’ve been listening to your music for awhile. Your grind is insane. Tell us what you have coming out in the near future.

ThatKidCry: The lengthy list of stuff we’ve got coming out of GroundUp Studios has been insane lately! But of my own work, up next is The Sun & The Moon.

I’ve been putting energy into this particular project since 2014! Just dropped the first single “Surfer Jack” with a music video on Friday.

Let’s talk about Surfer Jack. You bring up a very relatable love/hate relationship with alcohol. Tell us about the title and what inspired the song.

Surfer Jack was titled based off the wave of emotions one with an addiction goes through. You’re basically in a tug of war with yourself deciding whether a certain type of emotional pain is worth being sober for or not.

A lot of addiction starts from a real place though, not all of it. There are cases where it’s emotional trauma and you’re just surfing the tide waiting for those good emotions to come. I’m explaining the struggle of quitting, I’m also holding a bottle in my hand and enjoying this relieving conversation I’m having. In this conversation you’ll notice other people are present but I’m doing all the talking. I’m making sure people know that my opinion is the only opinion when it comes to the topic, which is how someone addicted may act. Letting the ones in the circle know they can’t speak and I won’t budge.

I also wanted to show the resistance one has toward themselves. I even blame my lack of success with my dream of being a well known artist/writing on the booze, when really it’s probably myself in this particular tale.

It came from a time in my life where it was easier to forget things than for me to solve the actual issues.

The song suggests that trying to forget left you feeling broken. How’d you end up getting through the tough time? So many people deal with very similar struggles.

Writing. I think that’s why I incorporate the concept of being an artist while fighting with alcohol as well. The two things went together so seamlessly when I thought about them. The whole song reminds me of a Wax line, “I drink to forget and I write to remember/it’s been like that since my high school tenure!”

The concept of performing at bars for drunk people often becomes normalized as an artist. We’re just entertainment for people who may not remember us. It’s a thought that’s easy to get along with because alcohol really does change your perspective and puts you in a different mental state. You just don’t realize it’s the wrong one while you’re in it – and once you’re out of that mode you’re just wanting it to come back.

Life was hard and drinking was often. But yeah, writing emotions down can really be a huge stress reliever and it has always been my go to. Also, talking to your wifey late into the night until it’s too late for both of you to get any sleep.

Having a lifetime supporter to talk to always helps pull you out of a bad spot.

I’ve been reading Beyond Addiction recently, and something they talk about to help people with addiction is distracting themselves. It sounds like writing was your distraction and a place for your to focus your emotions?

Absolutely. I’ve been addicted to writing for quite some time! It has always helped keep me out of trouble in one way or another. Not just with alcohol.

I had gone through a lot as a kid. Things like getting kicked out of my home at 15 years old and just having to figure it out. Maintaining my school work through the home drama and my lack thereof. I was going through all this stuff and making all these scary decisions that I feel even today a kid shouldn’t have to go through. I grew up fast, ya know? I was a little troubled in some ways. I always felt defensive and like everyone was against me. This showed in how I behaved as a kid I think, but I felt misunderstood. Even while going through break ups in young love, not being able to feel like I could fully rely on family, moving to new cities and working my jobs and couch surfing, it was always writing that made me feel better.

I took my first drink when I was 21. I fell deeper into actually drinking after a few shows. My writing relief had to have a full blown battle with my liquor relief during a time in my life where everything was going wrong. I spent as much time writing music as I did drinking, until eventually life was just okay again. Hardships died down and things got better. Things turned around and I just kept writing until getting drunk wasn’t always part of the musical agenda anymore. I still drink today to be real with you. We’re talking one at home with the lady when I’m being lazy… or a couple while I’m kicking back at a show. I can’t remember when I last got “wasted” though. Been quite a while and my writer mind has been grateful for it.

That is kind of an interesting dynamic, where the art form that in some ways had an influence on your decision to start drinking, which eventually became an unhealthy habit, is what also provided you with an escape from the negativity. 

What did you mean by the line, “Jealous of all the boats, I really just need a lighthouse?” I’m wondering if there is a connection to the influence of the art and alcoholism.

That line to me was like, I’m reaching out for help and nobody is helping. Meanwhile, I’m seeing all these other people being helped and thinking, “How can THEY have a lighthouse to help their storm ridden boat find the shore if I don’t have one? Where’s MY lighthouse when I need help?!”

It was me showing resentment honestly. I feel like resentment of anyone who isn’t immediately able to drop everything and help you out is a big blocker when you’re reaching out. Your patience is gone when you’re broken, and you’re just wondering who the hell is going to step up and save you, when really your greatest help in getting out of these addictive situations is yourself.

I couldn’t have made this song if I hadn’t gone through what I did. I went through what I went through silently as well. I was dumb and off in my own world. This was before I had my first child when I wrote this even. I just didn’t know what life had in store for me and was in a dark place where it was easy to ignore anything that was going wrong. I’m not sure if I solved my issues the right way, but I do know I love my life now.

And to me that is what makes the song beautiful and inspiring. Even though it is a song about being defeated by an addiction, we are able to infer that you grow from it and are now in a much healthier.

Yes, indeed. Life isn’t so bad now. Swimming in family and babies and making a ton of music from my home studio. What more could I need?

Stay in touch with ThatKidCry on YouTube and Instagram.

Follow Espi on Instagram.