Drugs: Chrissie Hynde

Do you think drugs play any sort of role in the creative process?

I see marijuana as an enhancer. It’s a pain-reliever and an all-round thing. It can get compulsive, but if you just roll a joint when listening to music it can be a creative stimulant. A lot of people wouldn’t be enough of an asshole to get over their own shyness and insecurities if they weren’t fucked up. In the long run, do drugs do more harm than good? Of course they do. But we wouldn’t have Lemmy if it wasn’t for sulphate.

Have you taken other drugs?

The thing I liked about ecstasy is that when you take it, you don’t drink. So you go into a warehouse and listen to music that normally you wouldn’t be able to tolerate for more than ten minutes; it’s just one sound. But because ecstasy is a designer thing, you don’t want to hear anything organic, all you want to hear is that noise. It’s like you can be autistic for twelve hours and go: “This is fucking amazing!” And no one’s drinking, which is the beauty of it. Because alcohol is probably the shittiest of the drugs, if you ask me.

Because it doesn’t have the same stigma?

Yeah, because it’s legal and everyone thinks it’s good. There were all those Hollywood films about Prohibition, but if they’d been based around heroin it would’ve been very different. Yet they pulled it off because there’s money in alcohol. And it’s a drug, so people want it. It’s just drug addiction.

It’s another selling mechanism?

Absolutely. I’ve given up smoking now, and tobacco withdrawal is purely psychological. You think you’re crawling the wall, but you’re not. Whereas with heroin you actually are crawling the wall. There are varying degrees of addictions. And I’m not an authority, but I’ve thought about it a lot and I’ve buried many people in my time. And I think that probably a lot of the deaths that we see in rock’n’roll – where someone’s stabbed themselves or shot themselves – are alcohol-related. But that part isn’t reported, because there’s no story. So I think this is the really insidious drug that gets in, wears you down and really fucks you up. It’s a portal into other stuff. One thing’s for sure: if you stay in this game for a long time, eventually you stop doing all that.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.