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Maybe this world's not for me, because I don't know what I'm doing here anymore. I feel nothing. I think that that's the hardest part. I haven't really spoke about this. It's um... Yeah, I'll just say it. I mean... Back to Mark! The man behind our favorite hits. Music superstar. Grammy Award winner. We're just getting started. You have no idea. Where does the desire to be on stage come from? Michael Jackson. I wanted to make music. Art with melody. That was where I felt an escape from my head. 14 year old taking 12 shots of vodka, you know, on a school night by myself. Running from the police and doing drugs that never stopped. I've read your wife had taken a pregnancy test. Yeah, we were in our home and I'm there, I'm high. Her period was late. Went and got her the pregnancy test and I'm just like... Praying. Let this be a negative pregnancy test. I'm not ready to give up the drugs. And then I heard the tears. I remember walking outside and it just started balling. Because I couldn't feel any sort of happiness. And I knew what that meant. If you were to go back and be able to have a conversation now with young Ben at 14 years old. Before that first drink. What would you say? It's a great question. It's going to cause way more pain than good. But at the same time... Would you like to go for dinner with me and my guests here on The Dior of a CEO? We are holding dinner parties all around the world over the coming months. And our subscribers on this YouTube channel are invited. We're inviting 20 subscribers to every dinner. So if you'd like to come for dinner with me and my guests here on The Dior of a CEO. I have a favour to ask you. All you've got to do is hit the subscribe button. And I hope to see you at dinner somewhere around the world very soon. Ben, when I think about people's lives.
Deep Dive Into Your Personal And Professional Life
What’s inspired you to become this person sat in-front of me (02:05)
And I think from doing this podcast. This has become more sort of clear to me. I see their lives as like a series of dots. You know like or a series of dominoes that fell to lead them to where they are today. And if you go back to the very start of that series of dots. To understand the most influential moments or things that inspired you to become the person you are today. In every sense of the word. What are those first dots? Those first experiences that I need to know in order to understand you? My first dots. My first dots I think. Would be. Listening to the radio. Outside. Summertime. Next door neighbour's yard. And being introduced to music. And loving music. Falling in love that summer. I believe I was six years old. And you know I had an older neighbour who was maybe four or five years older than me. And he had a bunch of you know my best friend was next door. He was five years older than us. It was like a collection of kids in the neighbourhood. And I remember that summer being this magical introduction to art. To music. To listening to the radio. And falling in love with melody. With sound. That was my first. That was my first dot. And then my next dot, shortly after that, was falling in love with hip hop music. At the age of seven. And those were the first two dots that really set me on a path, a trajectory. And this desire to be on a stage. People can listen to music, have that summertime experience. They can listen to rap music but not have the desire to be on stage. Mm hmm. Where does the desire to be on stage come from? Michael Jackson. I think it was MJ. I think that you know like everyone else that grew up in the 80s there was something about watching Michael Jackson command a stage. And what he did with his body, what he did with his feet. The moonwalk obviously but everything about it. The perfection, the timing. The nuanced moves that he had. The way that he commanded the crowd. There was a curiosity around what is that. I'm not sure but I want to try. And an inner performer was born in my household at the age of seven. And everyone that came into my house was subjected to whatever show I was putting on that day. And I just wanted to get on the kitchen counter and show people that I have a show for you guys. Come watch. Parents, home life. Parents. Yeah they were super encouraging. My mom was my biggest cheerleader, my biggest advocate. Someone that was always in my corner that was like you can do it. You got this. And I just believed her. Even when I shouldn't have. And those years were very crucial in my development of gaining confidence in who I was as a person and as an artist. School. You got kicked out of school, dropped out of school? Around 14, 15 is the next year? Yeah no I didn't get kicked out. I was close to getting kicked out. Probably should have got kicked out. I wasn't going to school much. I went to a small school and up until high school. And it was very communal. You know parents volunteered. It was this alternative creative school. And then ninth grade hit. And that is when drugs and alcohol hit as well. And I had freedom. It was like you know the school was like 1600 kids or 2000 kids or something. And the first time I wasn't being watched I could skip class. The teachers didn't notice if I was there or not or they didn't call my parents. And there was this level of freedom. So there was that period of a year, year and a half where I went from kind of a B student to damn near getting kicked out for failing. So it didn't last long. I got back on track and you know completed high school with I think I closed out with a 3.8 or a 4.0 my last year of high school. And what did you want to do when you were an adult? Like if I'd asked 14, 15 year old you know what are you going to be when you grow up? What would you have told me? I wanted to rap. You believed that you could get there? You know I didn't know if I could or not. But it wasn't if 14 or 15 I don't think I would have necessarily had the confidence like this is going to be the path. But by the time that I hit around 20 years old it was like this is this is possible. 22 it was like this is even more possible. 23 but the problem was that I kept having you know it was this it was always like I could make this a reality if I can just get sober. And I couldn't get sober so it was this like I need to get sober I need to get clean so I can make music that's meaningful that's impactful. Because once I got high it was like the veil was over my eyes I had no connection anymore to the music. And it was kind of always that balance but I felt in my heart if I can get clean I can make enough music that will resonate with people that might be able to pay some of these bills.
Your journey with addiction (08:17)
When people think about I built a business with my business partner for many many years and throughout that process he was and he's been on the show before he was addicted to alcohol. And I didn't know what it was so we were living in the same house together I'd go downstairs at 3am in the morning and I'd find him in the laundry room drinking from a bottle. And I'd put him back in bed and then you know 5am I hear a sound he's managed to get another bottle of alcohol and his bed sheets are covered in this red wine. And I just thought you know in my naivety this is someone that just likes alcohol right. No one had taught me this concept of addiction the disease of addiction I had no idea what it was. So it wasn't until things escalated even further that there was almost an intervention moment where we literally met one evening because they'd been an incident caused a lot of damage. And it was basically like an ultimatum moment. Then I went on the journey of understanding what addiction was and the disease of addiction as you describe it. When Jay spoke to you on Jay's podcast I could see he was doing a similar thing to what I was doing when I was researching your story which was like trying to understand the cause of it. And I'm not even sure if that's the right question. Do you know what I mean? We're all searching for a cause. And so I wanted to ask the question to you like what is in your view. How did that relationship with drugs and alcohol come to be. You know I think that for me it was the first time in my life where I felt an escape from my head. It was like what was going on in your head. I don't even know but I just felt a reprieve I felt this like this elation this moment of like all of these thoughts in my head are gone. And I am here with this bottle. And no one's around. And I get to be a secret. And I get to hide this. And I feel free. I feel free from whatever it was in that you know 14 year old puberty hormonal teenager that was going on in my life. It was like quiet. And I had the allergy from the very beginning. It was you know one shot two shot. What does four feel like what does eight feel like. And all of a sudden I'm taking 12 shots of vodka you know on a school night by myself hopping on the bus and you know running from the police and it was a crazy first time drinking alcohol that never stopped for me every time. Pretty much that I drank turned into a crazy event like that. But I don't know I don't know exactly at the time what I was what I wanted to escape from. I think that there was just that changing reality. There was that. Oh I like to be able to skew what's in front of me and to silence the mind. From going through the process of recovery and rehab and all those things you've met a lot of other people that have struggled with the disease of addiction. Has any of that process taught you anything about your own relationship or the causal factors of your own relationship with substances and alcohol? You know I think that there's through lines. Absolutely. And I think that for a lot of us that had the disease of addiction there's trauma or childhood trauma. There's you know if the disease kicks in later in life maybe that trauma came into play later. But I think that there is a through line and what I have seen in others. And that's you know some sort of thing that we're we're holding on to or a secret or you know something that happened to us in life that drugs and alcohol kind of numbs and takes away quells that that inner guilt that inner shame whatever it might be. I think that there's a through line between us addicts and in our past. And then I think also there's people that just had the allergy and maybe it's maybe it's not related to trauma at all. Maybe we're not predisposed or maybe we are predisposed. It's a combination. I don't know but I do see that a lot of people are trying to escape. It's a difficult thing especially for the people around that individual. Like because you know going back to my own example with my best friend and business partner I didn't have the tools to know how to be there. You know and I also didn't have the information to understand what I was dealing with. Like if you'd asked me when I was 25 like what was going on with my friend. I just love to get drunk. Right. It's part of the culture. Yeah. And then when we meet. What we do is 25 year olds. Yeah. If you were to give advice on like how those around the individual who is struggling with the disease of addiction can be there or what their role is supposed to be or what would you what would you say what advice would you have given me at 25 years old. You know I think that there's there's resources that we have. There's Alan on where if you have someone that it's a 12 step program for people that have loved ones or friends or whatever that are going through the disease of addiction and how to show up. And you literally there in the basements of churches all over the world or you know community centers or wherever they're free and there's people that are going through the same common struggle of how do we show up in an authentic way and help save this person's life that we love. Because we don't have the information. You know for so many of us I think that there is this notion of just stop. Why don't they just stop. Why are they hurting themselves. How could they do this to me. We make it about us right. Like how could they do this to me. How could they lie to me. How could they go out and say that they were going to quit and then keep going. Why don't they see who they turn into. Just stop. Just stopping. Doesn't work. There needs to be a support system. There needs for the addict. We need 12 step meetings we need therapy we need you know to evaluate our mental health we need to work the steps we need a sponsor we need a community of people that share our very same struggle so we can see ourselves and experience the therapeutic value of one addict helping another. That is our piece. But until we get there just stopping is almost impossible. And sometimes it takes you know hitting those really low points of getting arrested or getting court mandated to go to you know 12 step meetings. But on the others the other side of it. Here you are with your friend and you have no idea how to show up authentically in that moment and actually really come from a place of love and angry and you're so angry right. You're pissed. You don't know how to deal with that emotion and you realize that once you go to this meeting these meetings that just like the addict were powerless over drugs and alcohol. You're powerless over your friend. And there are things that you can do to help. There's probably things that you can do to maybe hurt. But overall they have to be in enough pain that they want to change and you're not going to be the catalyst and you can put them in. I've watched it time and time again of people with the best intentions that end up enabling that end up you know fueling the fire that end up trying to help but not having the tools themselves. And I think that Alan on is the best easiest freeway to even if you want to go to a meeting or two to get some skill set some language and to realize that at the end of it come from your heart and leave the expectations aside because this is their journey at the end of the day. The moment that I described this moment where we had kind of like an intervention me and my best friend and it was really a day we met on a Sunday in an office after the Saturday before he'd got very very drunk and caused a lot of problems with team members. He's talked about this like doing things in public going on someone's table next to the restaurant and the table next to his at the restaurant he was at with our team grabbing their alcohol off the table and doing all these crazy things and getting kicked out of the restaurant. It was a surrendering the day after and you use that word before. Yeah. We met in the office and it was the first time. I came with anger. And it's the first time he told me how he felt. Yeah. And he cried in front of me. And that was and then my anger immediately evaporates because it's the first time I've heard that this individual is suffering with something right. And there's a pain and that was the day that was the day he became sober went to therapy went on that journey. And he's been sober for eight years. But it was that surrendering moment. It was that like him reaching out and saying like I need help and me actually like listening. Yes. You see him for what he is in that moment which is hurting which is an immense pain. He doesn't want to be like that. He feels the guilt and shame of his actions. He's tried to start and stop and go back and forth and thinks that OK maybe it's just hard alcohol or or dark alcohol or maybe it's beer. Maybe it's the combination of this. He's tried everything and he's hurting and he doesn't know how to stop. He doesn't have the tools. And I think that that surrender that you talk about is one of the most beautiful moments for an addict or an alcoholic is like waving the white flag. We think about surrender is is a weakness. Right. Like you don't surrender. You keep fighting. You keep going. No. With this disease the greatest thing that we can do is surrender is the snitch on ourselves is to wave that white flag is to let other people know that we are struggling on our own internally. That this is something is broken and I have no idea how to get out of this. And and what did that do when he was able to be human to you. You were like OK now I can come from a place of love because I'm pissed off about what you did last night. And I'm pissed off that you've done X Y and Z and that we've had this conversation or whatever the situation is. And you know you ask what can you do as a 25 year old friend of coming from a place of love. And I think compassion and even if it's not you know empathy is impossible because that's not what you're going through I think that that compassion is is what makes people feel you know what. They actually care about me. It's not just like I'm pissing them off but they actually care. And you know just kind of like letting go of our own expectations of people and meeting them where they're at is always you know the best place to show up from. When was your moment of surrender. God I've had many. I think my my biggest moment of surrender I was 25 or 26 years old 25 I think and I had been on OxyContin for you know I don't know a couple of weeks couple of a month. And it caught up really quickly in terms of my addiction to the point that you know I lost a ton of weight. You know I'm scratching I just was like I was dope sick and I had never really experienced that before. All the happiness any serotonin was gone. It was one of those moments of I remember like walking outside and it was summertime in Seattle which is like most beautiful place in the world in the summer. And I remember walking outside tank top. You know I just started bawling being outside because I couldn't feel any sort of happiness was gone. It was like it had evaporated and and I didn't really want to be here anymore. Like there was that moment it was like there was no real suicidal ideation or plan. But it was just this like maybe this world's not for me because I don't know what I'm doing here anymore. I feel nothing. I feel nothing. Except deep deep grief and the obsession to get more. And it was shortly after that my own. You know I went to a family function and I'm trying to you know piece it together and just be presentable and just get through it and my dad pulled me aside and. You know I think my mom had asked him to talk to me. You know when I grew up having too many heart to heart it was mostly my mom. But my mom I think urged him to do it. He pulled me aside and just asked me are you happy. And that was my surrender moment. I kind of lied to him. I kind of lied to myself. It was a very clear answer of absolutely not. I am so broken. I am. I don't even know what happy is anymore. And he asked me to go to rehab. Said that he would pay for it. And immediately I wasn't ready for that surrender though you know in that moment I'm like no no no I've heard about these 12 step meetings. I'll go to those. I know someone that goes. And he came back and was like I think that it would be really good for you to have these 28 days to just focus on yourself. And of course there's always the like well I can't go because of this is happening and this is how you know we're not worried about those things happening when we're risking our lives doing drugs or. Copious amounts of drinking we're just worried about it when it's like now we need to go take care of ourselves. And it's like the addict anthem is like well let me just get my life together and then I can go to rehab. It's not really how it works. It's more like you know we come in very. You know we're at our worst. No one goes to rehab when they're like you know life's OK but I think I need some rehab. No people come in when they are at their bottom and I was it I was at mine and just saying yes to him that day on the porch saying that I would go was my surrender moment. It was my white flag and it was the best decision I ever made in my life. Hands down. Have you ever reflected on. That crossroads moment and if you'd chosen to go the other way and you'd said your dad maybe yes I am happy when he asked it that family get together or when he said go to rehab. You'd said no. I think there's a good chance I could be dead. Really. Absolutely. I was close at that time. And you know this disease we think of we think we're so far away from death you know that we're immortal and that it won't happen to us. I think I'm probably in my 30s in terms of how many people I know that have died from the disease of addiction. You know when I wrote my first song about the disease of addiction called Other Side when I got out of rehab. Maybe in 2009. I had known three people. So we've gone up by probably around 25 30 people since then. I'm not naive to how quickly it can happen and taking into account fentanyl as well right now. And what's going on with street drugs. It's it's rampant. We are we are facing an epidemic right now around the world but particularly in America I don't know how it is over here but I think this fentanyl is no joke it's killing people. They think they're getting one drug they're getting another drug and the nature of the disease. It is out to kill us. That is its sole purpose. And you had to be dead. I think so.
How has your struggle played into the music (25:10)
You've been so successful throughout your career with your music and it's it's it's an interesting hearing those stories of the struggle and ups and downs in the battle with that and then looking at your your catalogue in terms of music. It was crazy I was going through I was going through all your songs going back through the through the years and I'm looking at the numbers on these fucking records and I'm thinking fucking 1.4 billion views 500 million views 500 200 million views and huge huge numbers. The records are they feel timeless when I listen to them. There's a real real real talent there which you know when I think about the struggle you've been through then I look at the back catalogue of the work you produce from an artistic standpoint. I'm asking myself what's the relationship here. Like has has that has your struggles played into the music or has your struggles sort of taken away from the music and your potential. Like what is the relationship and what has what has music been throughout that struggle to you. It's a great question. And it's honestly a question that I think about too. Like I've I've kind of asked myself that same question in the last 48 hours. I don't know if I have an answer. I believe that it's all panned out the way that it's supposed to be has drugs and alcohol affected me being prolific. Absolutely. It's taken away work ethic and moments. It's taken away seasons years of of time where I could have been focused where I could have been building momentum. But instead I chose the path of instant gratification. And we're talking about this last night there's one of my mentors and OGs in my 12 step program or one of them. You know her name was Rita and she had this business card that she used to give out to people. And it said that her greatest regret in life is trading in what she wanted in the bigger picture for what she wanted in that moment. And I always think about my life in that way of is this what I want for the greater good for my story to be or am I acting at a place of desire. Am I acting at a place of wanting to change the way that I feel right now knowing that that will hinder me. That's not really what I want. What place am I coming from and weighing those. And I think for a lot of my life it was no I want this right now. And that oftentimes is a destructive pattern whether it was sex or with drugs or you know whatever of trading in what I truly wanted what I truly believed to be the truth. Because my truth is that I am the best version of myself when I am clear when I am silent enough to be able to be a conduit to something that is outside of my understanding. I couldn't even put it into words. It's that magic that happens in the studio where all of a sudden you're almost removed from the pen that's writing the song. And you know I choose to call it God but that God presence that being is is absolutely moving through through me. I've never been able to feel that without a spiritual practice. Music has always been a spiritual practice for me. But I think that it's made me who I am. I've made tons of mistakes. And since I've been famous I made tons of mistakes that were that were you know influenced by the drugs that I was doing or you know the the positions that I got myself in. But those also turned into learning moments that turned into maybe a song or maybe a conversation or maybe the thing that I needed to share about in a 12 step meeting that saved someone's life. I don't know. I don't know but I know that I'm here. I know that I'm here for a reason. I know that my catalog is something that I'm super proud of. And beyond the numbers it's like last night driving from Birmingham into London. I listened to Ben my new album. I hadn't had that really that moment for a while of listening to my album in its entirety because you're working so hard on it. There's so many nuanced things it's like can't even just enjoy it. And I sat in the car and I listened to it all the way through. And it's the best feeling to be like you know what I worked really hard on something and in all of these little moments all of these mistakes all of this pain eventually finds its way into purpose. And I think that that's an artist's highest form is to be able to take pain and repurpose it into purpose. What is giving you that or like you describe that moment in the studio where you're clear and you're almost channeling something you're higher creativity whatever that is. Have you been able to figure out what it is that causes those moments of clarity and focus and stability and then on the other side of the coin what causes the chaos in our lives the instability. Is there any causal factors. Yes. For me, it is exercise getting outside. It's like actually cardio. It is being of service to other people. It is a spiritual practice. It is coming from faith rather than fear. It is thinking about ourselves less and others more. It is being still in the studio not thinking about what is this going to do for the world, but just actually being present and removing the ego, which is what all of those things help facilitate right. Like when we when we're of service when we work out when we show up when we're at peace when we think about ourselves less we're removing the ego I'm stripping it away. It's a process of excavation. And the opposite is when I'm thinking about OK. What if this song doesn't work at radio. What if this you know what if Tick Tock doesn't you know do the challenge. What if you know whatever it is when I'm future surfing thinking about the outcome rather than enjoying the process. The process is where the magic happens. The rest of it. I've never for all of the records that I've ever put out. There has never been a moment of any calculation that has worked. Doesn't work. The records that I've been like oh yeah this is going to be the one. Those are the ones with like two million views on YouTube and the ones that I'm like you know who knows. Those are the ones with you know that really affected culture that really like got out there and you know the world knows these songs 10 11 years later or five years later or whatever it is. I think the intention in the studio is so important because even if you know even if I put out a new album that doesn't stream as well as the last one or whatever it is that's not my metric. If I'm if I am basing my identity around those numbers and those metrics. I will always be disappointed. My bucket will always be half full and if I'm basing it on what was the intention. What am I actually trying to get at the music is going to hit who it hits. It was already written. I just have to get out of the way when I try to control. Hang on when I try to play puppet master. That's when I become miserable and. And I'm not effective at my job. So two questions here on that basis.
Your most important record (33:30)
You know I'm sure people ask you what your favorite record is or whatever I'm not really interested in and it's like choosing your favorite children or whatever and they're all different for various reasons. But in terms of the most important record you think you've ever recorded the one that you believe has benefited others the world the most irrespective of performance metrics. What is that record and why. It's two records. It's same love. Yeah. And other side. Interesting. And I think same love is the obvious answer because it came out at a time where we as I'll speak for for America but kind of you know even more. It came out at a time in America where we were having this conversation around legalizing gay marriage where there was a shift. There's a cultural shift and that song became became something bigger than than me. It became a move a moment for a movement towards equality and as a as a songwriter as an artist as someone that you know prides himself on on the pen and in the ways that it can move spirit. That's the. That's up there. That has to be one or number two. The other one is other side and other side is a record that not as many people know but it is one that was kind of the first you know it's the first record I wrote when I got out of treatment and it was that I I am literally not even here right now. I'm just trying to be silent enough in my own head to just let this magic happen. But it talked about. The disease of addiction for the first time and I kind of was like I just need to get this out. I don't know. I am an addict and I don't want to like hide this shit. And I know it's not cool. I know it's not going to sell more records. I know it's not what anyone anyone else is talking about. I know it's not what my favorite rappers are talking about but I am an addict and I have to be sober. And I need to let whoever was listening to me at the time the 2000 fans that I had. I needed to let them know that this is who I was. And you know it said that we're only as sick as our secrets. I didn't want to be sick anymore. I just wanted to tell my truth. And that was the record to do it. And what I watched happen after that I'll never forget people coming to the shows you know six people 12 people 14 people in recovery coming because they heard other side. And it changed their life. And I know what that feels like as someone on the other end of it whose life has changed so many times by the music that I was listening to. And yeah it's those two. Those are the ones. I listened to a drug dealer earlier and I listened to it but then I looked at the comments section. And it is like it's profound. It's profound that the second comment on that video is from a recovering heroin addict who's crying while they're watching that video because it's making them feel heard seen and understood in a really profound way. And every every comment was like that every comment was speaking to like the liberating and therapeutic impact that song was having on it. You know thousands and thousands of people. It's a really profound thing. It's almost you know it's a lot isn't it. In terms of you know you talked about those people coming to show the seven the 10 the 12. Has that ever felt like and this is a strange word to use but does it has ever felt like an emotional weight at all because you're hearing these stories I sat with Jordan Peterson in fact and he talked about how people coming up to him and telling them about their own journeys and their emotional path to recovery or healing can sometimes feel like like an emotional weight. It's a lot to carry. I feel the opposite. I feel. I feel connection. It connects me to the art because I'm not in the same place that I was in 2009 when I wrote that song. My life looks very different. I think when I hear people say that they were moved or they were transformed or that they felt some inspiration or you know whatever it is. For one it's an it's an opportunity and I think that maybe this is where Jordan and I differ is that I'm an addict. This person coming up to me is an addict and there's an immediate connection there that I can't describe. I don't know what it is but it's just like oh you got the same. Oh my God we had the same thing. How are you doing with you with your journey. How are you doing with yours. And it's not a wait it's more like thank you for you know the meet and greet of thank you so much appreciate it. Thank you so much. Like that's a way that's just going through the motions the actual moments of people telling me those things when I'm like OK let's pause like we don't need to get through the line so fast. Let's you know we'll get to the hotel when we get to the hotel. Let me be present with this person because this conversation is changing my life. I'm reminded why I wrote that record in the first place. I'm reminded of the beauty that happens when we share honestly like those are those moments where I'm like thank you. That's where I feel like I am the recipient of the recipient of a gift that's coming full circle because they're reminding me of how important it is to to share honestly regardless of how it looks regardless of how it's perceived. And I think that so much of the time there is this you know well if I tell my truth will I be an outcast. Well I'd be accepted. Will I be kicked out of the tribe. Will I still be a part of. We want to be a part of. And there's this thing that happens like what happened with your friend when you saw him. Finally when you saw him not as the alcoholic that was fucking shit up in the house or messing up your life or like why doesn't he just stop it. When you saw him and his raw estate. That's his that's raw humanity right there. And when we demonstrate that when we can show others that we can be raw. It just inspires because other people like oh I can tell my truth too and I'm not going to get kicked out. Wow. That's what makes me show up as my authentic self. Hello everyone. As you guys know we're lucky enough to have BlueJeans as a sponsor and supporter of this podcast. For anyone that doesn't know BlueJeans is an online video conferencing tool that allows you to have slick fast good quality online meetings without any of those glitches that you'd normally find with other meeting online providers. You know the ones I'm talking about and they have a new feature called BlueJeans Basic which I wanted to tell you about. BlueJeans Basic is essentially a free version of their top quality video conferencing and that means that you get immersive video experiences you get that super high quality super easy and zero fuss experience. And apart from zero time limits on meetings and calls it also comes with high fidelity audio and video including Dolby voice. They also have expertise grade security so you can collaborate with confidence. It's so smooth that it's quite literally changed the game for myself and my team without compromising quality at all. So if you'd like to check them out search BlueJeans.com and let me know how you get on DM me tweet me whatever works for you. Let me know how you find it. Over the last couple of how long maybe four months I've been changing my diet shall I say. Many of you have really been paying attention to this podcast will know why I've sat here with some incredible health experts. And one of the things that's really come through for me which has caused a big change in my life is the need for us to have these super foods these green foods these vegetables and then a company I love so much and a company I'm an investor in and then a company that sponsored this podcast and I'm on the board of recently announced a new product which absolutely spoke to exactly where I was in my life and that is here and they announced daily greens daily greens is a product that contains 91 super foods nutrients. And plant based ingredients which helps me meet that dietary requirement with the convenience that he will always offers. Unfortunately it's only currently available in the US but I hope I pray that I'll be with you guys in the UK too. So if you're in the US check it out it's an incredible product. I've been having it here in L.A. for the last couple of weeks and it's a game changer.
Your relationship with social media (42:46)
Social media you don't you don't really do social media do you don't really in terms of like engaging. I heard that you're not the biggest fan of social media. Well that hurts my feelings because I try pretty hard. I know I'm just kidding. No I do. You're not out there making you're not out there every day talking about your life and showing behind the scenes. Yeah. Social media for me is part of my job. Sometimes I'm great at it. Sometimes I mean I'm just this guy. I'm like OK what are we doing on you know social media now. Social media now and then it's like zoop but outside of work. Outside of work. No I mean I want to be present. I want to be like you know it's like my kids show up today and you know my videographer is like yo if you can get a little bit of iPhone footage with the kids like walking around like that'd be awesome. And I'm like you know asking my wife five minutes into our walk like hey do you mind getting some footage of us walking like. And I was like never mind. Never mind. Never mind. It doesn't matter. Like. It doesn't matter. What matters is that I'm with my kids and then I'm being present and then I'm happy and I'm and I'm off my phone because I've experienced both ways and it's a balance right. Like there are times where I need to be on my phone and I need to be on social media and I need to be handling whatever needs to get handled. But I think it's it's about the relationship that an individual has with social media. And again it comes back to intention is the intention for the most likes for the most engagement for the most like if that's what it is then there's always going to be a void there that's looking to be filled and it can be really toxic. And I was talking to you know a couple a couple guys on tour with us and and I you know 20 year old 21 and just talk you know they're just constantly analyzing tick tock and trying to figure out why did this post perform and this one didn't and maybe it's because we're over in Europe and the geo targeting and all of this and I'm like you guys are 20 like you're on tour in Europe like go out and have fun explore like live. Outside of tick tock. And when this is all that they've known and that this in this platform is the reason why I know he exists and why his songs have gotten out there. It can be really challenging and I feel for the younger generation and I feel for the older generation that's like yo the label is telling me that I have to do this and I really don't want to be here at all but here I am. Post. There's this there's a spiritual sickness that can be easily. Insidiously infiltrate our psyche if we're just here nonstop and I just don't want to be.
Advice for your younger self (45:45)
On that point of them you know there's 20 year old with you you give him that advice if you could you've had this immense career and you know a lot of people have great careers but yours has had so many twists and turns and twists and turns that the wisdom you've gained from every twist and turn. I believe is pretty profound that's why I really loved your conversation with Jay if you were to go back and be able to have a conversation now with that. Young Bennett 14 years old. Let's say right before that first drink. What advice would you impart on him. About life. It's tough to say and it's you picked an interesting time period because you picked before. And I don't think that I would have. I don't think that I would have warned that 14 year old maybe I would have. I think that. But I don't think it would have done anything. You know what I mean like maybe that conversation would have looked like. Bro you're an addict you're never going to be able to shut this off it's going to cause warm way more pain than good but at the same time I can't discredit the experiences that I've had that have led me to this table right here in this moment. And if it wasn't for those mistakes. You know I have a different story I have a different arsenal to pick from in terms of what moves me creatively and again repurposing that that pain. But a lot of that pain. Has hurt others has hurt close family members or my wife or best friends and. Those moments are hard to deal with I think. If I could tell my 14 year old self anything it'd be like bro you're going to do what you're going to do. Enjoy it. Find gratitude. A spiritual practice get outside of your own head. Get into the act of loving and being there for others. And. Just don't stop. I think that when I have stopped in my life when I have let up on on the gas not just like not stop in terms of. The work ethic. But stop the spiritual practice. That's the thing that's always. Brought me back. It's not the work it's not the amount of engagement it's not the algorithm it's not the YouTube streams it's none of that. What actually makes you happy and fulfilled. Find that thing and push into it as hard as you can. That's where the magic lives. Use the term spiritual practice to describe what that is in in detail what you mean by spiritual practice for you. Well it's looks like many different things throughout my my time here you know in moments it's been a meditation practice. In moments it's been a yoga practice in moments it's been you know. Many 12 step meetings throughout the week or step work or working with others but I think it's the art of just. Getting outside of oneself. And. Getting grounded in the moment and serving others that has been my consistent. Consistent point of reference is you know what. When you feel spiritually sick reach out to someone else. Whether it's picking up the phone or call that person that you've been avoiding or whatever just get outside of your own self do the thing that makes you uncomfortable push into that because that's when life all of a sudden. Becomes vibrant colors come back it becomes alive like oh yes I I turn this off I stop thinking about me and what I wanted in the moment and I just showed up for someone else and I found. That connection I found God in those moments I found that little piece that reminded me of who I am just by showing up for for another.
The people that you hurt (50:03)
Second ago you talked about when you're talking about other people you said that one of the hardest things is knowing that you'd go on to hurt other people. Yeah. Who did you hurt. I've hurt my parents for my wife probably the most. I think anyone that. I was being dishonest too. You know there's this double. It's almost as double life that that needs to be lived and you know when I would go off and I'd relapse and I'd you know I'd lie about it I wouldn't you know relapsing is you know for me has always been a sneaky thing. It's not like I'm like all of a sudden like hey guys just so everyone knows I'm high again. No this is like quiet hush. I'm trying not to get caught and in those seasons protecting that and people are probably like yo what's going on with them like you know and I'm lying about that and it's just a really toxic spot. You know I'm gaslighting my wife and in you know making her feel crazy. I think that that's probably if she was here asked what's the hardest part of being you know in a in a partnership with an addict. It's like those moments where he made me feel crazy. It's not that I went back to the drugs necessarily it's that I made her feel like she was she was crazy and that she was off because she was even questioning me. And again turning into someone that I'm like that's the worst version of myself. That's the shittiest version of myself that's something that in my in my heart. I know to be not the way that I want to treat anybody much less my significant other or my best friends or my team. But here I am again putting everything to the wayside just so I can can continue to use and it's a pretty dark place. Was there a point where you thought you might lose her. Yeah. Yeah. I mean relapse and coven you know the beginning of coven definitely was. You know she kicked me out of the house and I went to stay in my parents condo and I remember just driving around aimlessly like I'm going to lose my kids. I'm going to lose this marriage. And I think the thing that I think that's thing that scares me the most is I'm being honest is not being in my kids lives and the devastation that that would potentially and that impact that it would a divorce would have on them. And the other flip side of it is I believe that kids are resilient and that that pain can be repurposed and that you know half of the world is divorced and you know beauty can come out of it and does all the time and people end up in much better situations out of divorce. So I'm not against divorce but for me and my and my kids that was the thing that I was holding on to was just this like I want our family to stay together. And the fact that I can I it would be because of me. It would be because of my self centered instant gratification need to escape not actually working my 12 step program as like that would I would be the reason that this family broke up and I would have to hold that. And that weight the idea of that weight still seems too much to live with. I know I could do it but in that moment of that that last relapse I was definitely a. Yeah it was. It was a real scare into. Look what you're about to lose for what for this this doesn't even make you happy. It stopped working. Right away it never worked and never worked for you. It never worked and never worked in the long run even if you had a good night or two in the big picture you have an allergy and that allergies trying to kill you every time you pick it up. I've read about a story when you were in a I think you're in a hotel room or something and your wife had taken a pregnancy test and you had just relapsed and she was in the toilets and you heard her crying through the door. Yeah. And you knew that. You knew that those weren't happy tears. Yeah. Because she was pregnant. Yeah. Can you take me back to that moment and just tell me exactly what happened. You were in it was a hotel. I was in our house. You were at a house. Okay. Yeah we were in our home and. Yeah it's it's it's kind of I mean it's the truth but it's. Yeah I'll just say I mean I'm there I'm high. She doesn't know it but she knows it but you know she hasn't caught me yet and I just keep denying it and you know her period was late. When got to the pregnancy test and I'm just like begging to a God that I had no connection with please please let this be a negative pregnancy test. I'm not ready yet. I'm not ready to be a dad. I'm not ready to give up the drugs. And I remember just like on the carpet, literally like praying. And then I heard the tears. And I knew what that meant that she was pregnant. And I knew that that meant that I needed to get clean. And it was that moment of like that pull. And I think that that's the hardest part. I haven't really spoke about this. I think that's the hardest part about the disease of addiction is this pull is the compulsion and the obsession for more. Yet knowing that more is the thing that is leading to depression. The rock bottom. The not wanting to be here anymore. But it's this just that at odds. And I, I felt that inner turmoil of just. I'm not ready to be a dad because I still want to get high. And I know I need to stop it. I am just not ready yet. And I'm sure enough she was pregnant. And I got clean. And she was pregnant with our first daughter Sloan. So, you know, I think my my reservation is just like Sloan watching this someday and being like, oh, it's right. So dad was super high on the carpet and didn't really want me. That's not true at all either. I mean, I was high and I at the time I didn't want her. But when I got clean, it was like, OK, let's have this baby. Like, I want to be a dad. I want to be a dad who my kids never see loaded, that they don't even know that part of me, that they don't have to be like, oh, dad's dad's high again or dad's hiding or mom kicked dad out of the house, that they don't even know that part of my my story. That's what I wanted. What have you come to learn about the journey of life and and as it relates to like, I said a second ago that the ups and the downs, the ups, the downs, but you persevere. And that's really all the choice we have is to persevere and to find something meaningful to aim at today. And then we'll get another chance again tomorrow. And we kind of like right off yesterday and the day before, because that's out of our control now. And it's about what can I aim at today? As you sit here today, what are you aiming at? Like the past is the past. Like we can't go back and change things. It is what it is. It's I think it's important to be aware of it and to admit it to ourselves to at least to learn some wisdom from it. But as you sit here today, you're you know, as you woke up this morning, this is today is in play.
What gets you out of bed today? (59:20)
Yeah. What are you aiming at today? And as we look off into the next sort of two decades of your life? I maybe to a fault don't think about the future. What I'm thinking about is here. And then I'm like, OK, well, let's zoom out from here. I have a show tonight. I want to put on a great show. We're in London. It's like 6000 people sold out. Like I want to put on a great show. What is it going to take for me to put on a great show tonight? My family's in town in London. Like I just don't think like that. Yeah. And I and I watch my wife who does and other people who do. And it's like I have an inability to think big picture. I have an exceptional ability at focusing on the thing that is in front of me. And I believe that it probably has to do with ADD and the way that my brain works and the chemistry. But it's what it has created a a work ethic and a focus that, you know, I can just be in the studio for 14 hours or I can be doing a music video and editing and just keep going. And that's how I got good at my craft was putting in those long, long hours where other people be like, all right, let's go outside. And I'm like, no, it's not done yet. Let's keep working. But in terms of the next 20 years, I don't know. I don't know. I'm excited to. To pivot. You know, I don't think that, you know, in a decade I'm going to be like, you know, I can't wait to play the show tonight. I don't know. You know, we'll see what happens. But what I have realized and in part of this comes from, you know, working on my golf clothing company, Bulgy Boys, which has been so fun, such a labor of of love and to be able to design clothes and watch people wear them. And, you know, the creative process that that has been particularly in covid. That's not going to be my only pivot. It's just not it doesn't fulfill me in the same way. What does fulfill me with actual meaning is. Is our youth program called the residency in Seattle and thinking about actually, you know, getting a permanent spot. Year long with staffing where we have a home for the residency that actually is inspiring to me. That has meaning that has a lasting potential. That's deeper than like what color polo is this going to be? And I think that they can coexist because I do enjoy this as well. I love Bulgy Boys. I love golf. But for the bigger picture. What do you want your legacy to be? And not for the purpose of ego, but like, how do you want? To leave the greatest impact, to make the greatest impact with our precious time on this earth. We don't have we don't know how much we have left. It's finite. It could be, you know, gone tomorrow. What can you hang your hat on and be like, you know what? I took a risk. I got uncomfortable. I sacrificed. I showed up. I worked really hard. I celebrated the wins. I took the losses on the chin and I kept going. That's the kind of life I want. And it's kind of life I wanted today. And it's the same life I want 20 years, regardless of where that leads me.
Are you happy now? (01:02:57)
All those years ago, your dad asked you a question at that family get together. He said, are you happy? All these years later, you're sat in this table in London. Are you happy? I think happiness is fleeting. Happiness comes and goes. I think that what is sustainable is meaning, is purpose. I'm not going to be happy every day. It's going to go like this in this moment. Yes, I am. But but in general, in my life right now, I'm happy. I would say absolutely, yes. But. There's trials and tribulations through it all. And what I have what I have found is that those moments of of of being tested. Of. Sorrow of. Betrayal of. Growth. All of those turn into. Progress. If we can use them as medicine, if we can accept them as blessings rather than this idea. This is one thing I've been thinking about a lot lately is this this idea of like. Victimhood of mentally going to a place of, oh, they wronged me or I'm a victim. No, this is an opportunity. This is a blessing that has been put in front of me and how I get to handle it now and show up. And it becomes toxic in my mind if I'm thinking of it about what are they doing to me? How could they do this? Just like we're talking about earlier, it becomes medicine when I can show up from a place of. I might not know why this is happening, but I have faith that I am absolutely at the right place right now. And I'm going to show up. Clean. I'm not going to skate. I am going to be my true self, tell the truth, even when I don't want to and and keep it pushing. That's what creates meaning and fulfillment. And that is what I'm after. Not momentary happiness. There seems to be a real authenticity to your new album, Ben. And I think I mean, maybe that's even evidenced in the choice of the name to some degree, because you've called it after yourself. After the name that your parents gave to you and throughout the album, I felt a certain sense of. I was going to say I don't give a fuck about like what I'm supposed to be to some degree, because. It feels like all of you, as opposed to just a narrow part of you, if that makes sense. Absolutely. So like I say that in part because I listened to the first record and then I got like six or seven records down.
Your new album (01:05:43)
And it was just like you hadn't the first record didn't sound like the sixth record. It was like a completely different kind of expression. So I was thinking it's kind of someone that has kind of just doesn't really give a fuck about what they're supposed to. Yes. Make and they're making what they care about. Maybe that's my assessment of it. How accurate was that? What was your thinking going into this? And how is this project different to all of the other projects? I think that you summed it up beautifully and. I love to be able to do all of that and just like walking in the studio and be like, what? What is speaking to me today? You know, maybe it's a dance song from 1984. Maybe it's a you know, I'm going through something. Maybe it's a pop song. Maybe it's like I want to rap, you know, you know, with primo scratching and it sounds like it's from the 90s. Like it's whatever direction I want to go is like I don't want to feel limited. Like, oh, but that's not what you do. No, I could do whatever I want to do. And you're right in that it's all me. Like those are all bits and pieces of me. And I think for a long time, that's what I've always done, kind of. So how does it differ? I don't know. I feel like all maybe there's been a little bit more cohesion on other albums, but for the most part, that's what I've always done is. Those are all those are all facets of my expression. And. And I think it's confused people, you know, because like, you know, I'll have homies that are like, yo, you dropped heroes. And then you came out with this like, you know, pop song with the music video directed by your daughter, like what is going on? And I'm like, yeah, that's what I did. But doesn't authenticity confuse people anyway? Because conformity doesn't confuse. No, you're right. Conformity fits. Yes. Conformity fits. Authenticity doesn't. No. And they want me to be this version. Yeah. And, you know, radio wants me to be this version. And, you know, this it's like. You're right. I mean, authenticity confuses people and once people can box, put it in a box. Package it, be able to point to it that this is this. This is that. It makes it a lot easier as an artist to or as a observer to judge. I don't like it because it's this. Yeah. Versus like, oh, shit, he did that. But then he did that. And I like that. But I would never listen. You know, whatever people are trying to figure it out. I'm like, I'm just going to keep making the music that I've always made. And again, I have a faith now that it lands where it's supposed to land. And that process has been therapeutic for me of just detaching from the outcome, regardless of what it is. Just like just make it because you love it, dude. That's all. I think that's a super powerful lesson and important one that I think everyone without maybe realizing it can actually really relate to. I even have that a lot on this show where I will have such a diverse range of guests that on every conversation I have. There's a comment saying, like, get back to interviewing CEOs or why you like, why is this personal? Why are you interviewing sports people or whatever? And there was maybe a point where I thought it crossed my mind. Maybe they're right. Maybe I should just like stay in my lane. Yeah. But the authentic me goes, I care about so many fucking things. I love sports. I love businesses. I love music. I love psychology. So can I just run the experiment of being myself? Yeah. And I refer to it as an experiment because there's a perceived cost to running that experiment. You don't know the outcome. Are people just going to stop listening? Running that experiment has been most importantly, OK, it's worked, but it's been great for me. Right. As in, like, I can show up every day and like my life, regardless of whether people want to listen. I can really enjoy this. And that's how I can run this as a marathon, opposed to as a sprint. Right. Right. Like when we conform, it's like I've never seen it be sustainable for my guests when they're like wearing a mask for too long. I could do this for the rest of my life because I'm big myself. Do you see what I mean? Absolutely.
Closing Question From Previous Guest
The last guest’s question (01:09:59)
We have a closing tradition on this podcast where the last guest asks a question for the next guest, not knowing who they're leaving it for. And the question that's been left for you by our previous guest is. Is there someone from your past that you should have a conversation with that you haven't had? If so, why haven't you had it? And what is that conversation? That's a great question. As my parents get older. I go back and forth on having. And, you know. A relationship that I might want with him that I think that there's some fear around. Maybe he doesn't. Desire. With me. And. It's a tricky one with parents, it's a tricky one with family, like having deep conversations around. What our relationship looks like or what it looked like growing up or whatever. You know, I'm from a family where, you know, you kind of you smile through it. I think there's a reason why I never heard my parents fight. I think that there is a. Just be happy. Don't talk about it. Just be happy. And that hasn't been my experience on this earth. And I think that at times it's challenged them. And then at a certain point, you're like, yo, dude, your dad's 75 years old. Like, you know, he is who he is. And but I think if my dad and my dad passed tomorrow. I would probably feel like there was just that I really make an effort to connect on the level that. That I intuitively wanted to. Outside of his reaction to my words, I completely relate to that. With my own dad. Yeah, I completely relate. And I don't know why I've never had the conversation. I don't know what it is, is it? I don't think he's got the tools. I've not got the tools. We've not got the tools. Right. All three. Yeah. All three. But you probably do have the tools. I think it's interesting because you can have I can have the tools with my girlfriend. That's what I'm saying. Well, we've learned together how to do the tools. But then I look over at my dad and I go, we've not figured out how to how to do this together. Because there's like that, you know, we go through different there's like a changing of the guard almost. It's like our parents. You know, my parents were byproducts of of their parents. And these are very different times in civilization and where we have gotten to in terms of talking about our emotions and mental health and being able to process masculinity or ego or these things, you know, going to therapy or going to a 12 step meeting or, you know, really working on ourselves. My dad's never done any of that internal work because that's not what men did in his generation. And, you know, sure, there's exceptions. But as a whole, my dad's generation was different. And I watched the younger generation from from me. And the way that they're fluid and love each other and in gender is a social construct and these walls are getting torn down and I'm like, I'm trying to keep up with it. And, you know, I'm having my own moments of just like, wait, how does this fit in? What what is this? And I feel old all of a sudden. And they're just like, don't you get it? Like, this is all fake. And I'm trying to, you know, so I think that going to my dad, there is a certain level of just communication about emotions that I'm really used to that he's not because he probably never had those conversations with his dad. His dad was like in the war and had five kids and like just getting a meal on, you know, a meal to each one of those five boys in the house was a struggle alone, much less than I talk about how you felt. That wasn't part of the day. But if he wasn't going to respond then. And you had a chance to say those last words, what would those words be? Irrespective of response or impact or feedback. You know what I've come to the conclusion of? Is that. We're all doing the best that we can do. My dad's doing the best that he could do. And instead of me, because I have a lot of friends that didn't have a dad at all. Their dad peaced out, you know. And I think it's easy to particularly when you have kids. You have this idea of. What your parents are going to be like as grandparents. And my grandparents or my parents are great grandparents. I want them around more. Not even for the child care. Just because I think that family is so important. I think that nuclear family is so important. I think that we have. You know, we come from like communities. Where. We helped raise children together. And, you know, this porch looked out over to this porch and we had actual tangible human connection. And I think that. I've desired something in my in having kids and reflecting on my own childhood and what that was like with my parents. Now that I'm a dad. And I'm like, oh, I didn't do any of this with my dad. I didn't do. Damn, what was my life like? Oh, he you know. But instead of looking at it like. In any way, I am a victim because my dad works so much. Sure. You know, whatever it was, it's like my dad was amazing. He worked so much and he provided. And he sent my eyes to rehab. And he sent me to college. And he showed up with love. And instead of like the opposite of all of that, like he's not doing this, this, this, this, this. I want him to be this, this, this. It's like my dad is who he is and it's made me who I am. And sure, I desire a closeness that I don't know if we'll ever get to. You know, we're in an open level of just hanging out, being OK with that, telling him how I really feel. I don't know if that's important. But. What's preventing me from having that conversation is that. It's a hard. It's a hard conversation to have. Family is so layered. We're not talking about like a friend I met six years ago. We're talking about this person that brought me into this world. Our DNA, the very fabric, the our identity, this. It's a lot there. It's a lot there. And. I think sometimes I question if. How much do you push other people to get outside of their comfort zone? I know it's not comfortable. It's not comfortable for me. I definitely want to be comfortable for him. How much do you. I mean, what's preventing you from. Talking with your dad. At whatever level it is. I think it's probably just to be honest, I think it's like I'm going to say things, but I've just not tried in the way that I should have. It's just feeling like. The bridge to doing that is not there. What I mean by is like. I don't think he's got the tools. Yeah. And. I don't think I've. Got the tools with him. Yes. I would say I would say exactly the same thing. That's what I mean. You know, because with my girl, it's funny in generations, we all seem to be able to do that sideways and down, as you said. So like we could you could probably have those conversations with your kids. Absolutely. We do all the time. But as you said, when we look up our parents, the generation they came from, they didn't do podcasts like this where they think about their feelings and emotions and stuff and mental health. And so they didn't learn the tools. And it's like, can you teach an old dog new tools? It's probably an excuse on my part, because that's what I ask you the question about, regardless of how they respond. Yes. If it because they both of our dads aren't going to live forever and what's going to live on after they've gone is the regret. Right. And I don't want the regret. I don't want the regret either. So I just want to I I'm I need to write a letter or something. Yeah. And just send the fucking letter. Yeah. You know what I mean? I guess this is a conversation for another time because you've got a show tonight at Wembley. So I'm going to let you go. But thank you so much for so many things. Thank you. First and foremost, for creating great music that's brought joy to our lives. But I think even more important than that music that has helped people in such a profound way. Not everybody does that. Beyond the views, like I think you've clearly come to learn that views are one thing and then impact is a completely different thing. And the impact that I just saw in that one video drug dealer is would be profound enough life work for any one individual. Just in the comments section, from what I saw beyond that, you've repeated that over and over again. And even on your new album, Ben, within the first paragraph of the first song, you're taking me back to your own struggles, which I think is, as we've described, that vulnerability you demonstrate in these conversations, in your interviews, in your music is the doorway to connection. And I don't think you'll ever even see the extent to which you've allowed people to feel that connection through your music, through your art and through these conversations. So that's what I want to thank you for. And it's an honor to meet you and to get to do this because I'm a fan of your work. I'm a fan of the man and I'm a fan of everything you've touched. So thank you so much. Thank you so much. You're amazing. This is incredible. And I really appreciate you having me. You just you have a light to you that it's very impressive and I get it. Thank you, Ben.