On the day that Sum 41's Deryck Whibley is released from hospital, a former roadie with the band tells how he was shocked by the singer's drinking habits.
Whibley, 34, this week revealed that doctors warned him he could die if he has just one more drink. The Canadian musician spent a month in hospital – including a week under sedation – after his liver and kidneys failed due to years of alcohol abuse.
Today he was discharged from hospital and former Sum 41 guitar tech Brian Keith Diaz says he was always stunned at how hard Deryck and the band partied on the road.
On his blog, Diaz recalls first seeing the evidence of heavy drinking on the band’s tour bus in 2001. When he went to work for them in 2010, he saw first hand the impact alcohol had on Whibley.
On the 2001 encounter, Diaz says: “Through my friend Chris, who was tour managing Sum 41 at the time, I was able to meet them for the first time that summer. I remember walking onto their bus and thinking to myself, ‘holy shit, these guys go fucking hard.’ The bus was littered with empty bottles of booze. Empty cans and bottles of beer, empty bottles of wine, empty vodka bottles, and empty bottles of Jack Daniel’s.”
Thinking the waste was from the entire tour, Diaz was shocked to learn it was the remnants of a week’s worth of boozing.
“I was floored,” he says. “How could they party this much? How could anyone live through that. This isn’t the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin, and even so, in those stories someone dies. I shook my head in disbelief, hung out for a while, and said goodbye to the dudes in the band, who at this point were all pretty wasted and not really paying attention to who was hanging out on their bus at all.”
In 2010, Diaz was offered the job of guitar tech with the band. He was warned that the band partied “a lot”.
He says: “I couldn’t believe how far Deryck could go. I couldn’t get myself to walk from the bus to the venue some days, and here this guy was playing shows every single night for an hour or more, sweating, running around like a maniac, and killing a bottle of whiskey. It was insanity.
“Even from that first show I did with them in 2010, I noticed that he seemed a bit unhealthy. He was definitely looking a bit pale and had the visible signs of having partied a bit hard over the years. He looked tired. He was playing shows every day and hitting the bottle every night, sometimes into the daylight. For all intents and purposes Deryck was a functioning alcoholic by the time I met him.”
Diaz recalls an occasion where Deryck collapsed onstage in Japan and adds that he spoke to the singer in the days before he revealed he was in hospital. The conversation left Diaz in tears.
After revealing his battle with alcoholism, Whibley this week said he was looking forward to creating new music. He said: “I have my passion and inspiration back for writing music. I already have a few song ideas. Soon it will be time to start making an album and getting back to touring again.”