Communist Daughter singer Johnny Solomon overcame his meth addiction and found new life as a ‘normal’ person
For Communist Daughter singer-songwriter Johnny Solomon, music was a saving grace. That and an ultimatum from band-member-turned-fiancée Molly Moore. Solomon took a hiatus from music in 2007, due to his addiction to methamphetamine, but it’s music that ultimately brought him back. Now, after nearly two years of sobriety, Solomon and the rest of the Minneapolis band have released a new EP, Lions & Lambs. Its lyrical content is an open diary reflecting Solomon’s past habits, time spent in rehab and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Here, melancholy melodies are accompanied by songbird harmonies, highlighted with horns and a small-town feel, with an ear to the road.
What took you away from music?
It’s been kind of an ongoing thing since around my early 20s. … I was using a lot of meth, and that’s what took me down. I was [also] diagnosed [as being] bipolar after I went into treatment. [Addiction] wasn’t a path that I ever saw myself going down. Now that I’m on medication for the bipolar stuff and I’m sober, life’s a lot more interesting in a good way.
How has your relationship with fellow bandmate, Moore, influenced your sobriety and the music?
Molly and I work together as I’m writing songs, and it’s shaped the music a lot. It makes touring easier when you can take your home life with you. When she started singing with the band, she said wouldn’t be involved with me because I was a drug addict. That was one of the factors of me taking a look at myself, and we’ve been together now since October.
How is the rest of the band supportive of your new sober path?
The bass player and I have been playing together since I’ve had bands. We’ve been through all of this together. It’s kind of nice to be 10 years down the road now [and] able to still play music together. Half of the band went through this whole thing with me, the other half are all new guys. They’re really supportive as a group.
Out here, we’ve got the California sound, what’s Minnesota’s?
[In] Minnesota, we’ve got cold. Cold and dark. I definitely think that there’s a Midwestern kind of vibe to [the new EP]. It’s the cold winters that give it that kind of quasi-dark folk sound. Our sound is more like the Midwestern-lonely town kind of sound.
What songs are you most attached to on the EP?
Some of the songs I wrote before I went into treatment, and some of them I wrote in treatment. It’s six songs, but it bridges that gap between the two worlds. Getting sober is a process. The first year, I was still getting used to being a normal person. The song “Ghosts” was the first song I wrote in treatment. It’s about getting sober. “Don’t Remember Me,” which is the last song of the EP, was [written] a week before I checked in and [is] about me coming to terms with the fact that I had these problems.
Have you found a new addiction in Communist Daughter?
I left music, and I came back and binged on it, for sure—it’s constantly a struggle. I feel like I’m just starting to make music as a sober person, or a different person on medication. Being sober was one struggle, and now, it’s learning how to be normal again and be an artist. … It’s kind of rough. But I’m glad I did it. I learned I have to keep doing music.