Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher has gone just over a year without a drink, he’s reported.
He’s fought back from a debilitating addiction that nearly cost him his life when his liver came close to failing.
And he’s now able to face the challenges of his mother’s brain tumour and other family responsibilities without relying on drink to see him through.
Kelliher tells the Democrat And Chronicle: “It’s been a struggle for many years. Everyone tells me the first year is the most difficult, when you’ve been an alcoholic most of your life.
“For me it was a choice when I gave up the booze. I didn’t have to be that guy who needs a depressant to cope with life.”
He adds: “Being sober, I could hold it together when I saw my mom that first day, in a kind of vegetative state. My brother was losing it and I just told myself, ‘I’ve got to stay strong.’
“She was in really rough shape – she couldn’t remember anything. The tumour was removed, they seem to think they got it all. Otherwise she’s a very healthy woman. I’m going to spend as much time with her as I can.”
Kelliher’s new perspective includes taking his role as father more seriously. “I wasn’t there for the kids’ birthdays a couple of years. That’s what you sacrifice,” he says.
“The older you get, the more you want time off for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, so I can take my kids out trick-or-treating.
“When I flew home last time I had to put my dog to sleep. It was parent-teacher conferences, meetings for a building I’m trying to buy, put the dog down, back on the road.”
He says of life on the road: “There are definitely times when it’s not fun, but those are usually times when we’re not onstage. I’m just grateful to be in this band, to help with the ride. It’s not really about the final destination. It’s not catching the whale – it’s the hunt for the whale.”
Mastodon will headline the 2016 edition of Bloodstock Open Air. They play shows in Canada and the US this week, then appear in Iceland next month.