Articles

Todd Snider plays the Catalyst on Friday, Dec. 14.

Todd Snider plays the Catalyst on Friday, Dec. 14.

Todd Snider has finally kicked a longtime addiction—for better or for worse. After years of checking in and out of rehab programs and talking about his drug problems, the 46-year-old alt-country singer quit rehab altogether.
 
The proud pothead, who told Rolling Stone Santa Cruz is his favorite place to play, released his twelfth album Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables this year. 
 
Perhaps not his tightest songwriting effort to date, the new record takes a look at the rural Americans left behind by the Great Recession. We called up Snider, who plays the KPIG Humbug Hoedown at the Catalyst on Friday Dec. 14, to talk about his life and music—starting with a reality check.
 
So is Santa Cruz really your favorite spot, or were you just really high? 
TODD SNIDER: I am always really high. Sleepy John I consider one of my closer friends, and Laura [Ellen Hopper] I miss. I like to go down to the beach and sit around there. I’ve been going for years, but yeah, it’s always been my favorite, mostly because it’s hippies with cliffs and water.
You’ve been to rehab a lot. Do you stay clean? 
Oh, I never have. I’ve been a bunch. I can’t even remember how many times. No, I never manage—in fact, I finally had to give up on even trying. Not long ago, I did a long tour and sobered up and dried up for a month. But I’m a whatever-you-got kind of guy. I’ll try it. You don’t even have to tell me what it is.
 
Given your issues, does it feel weird playing songs like 'Beer Run,' which is set in Santa Cruz? 
No, people always seem to want me to care or try to live longer, but I’ve never felt guilt about it. Mentally I’ve just always been someone who liked to get fucked up and stay that way, and I’ll never be sorry. I’ll never apologize to the Reagans. People say, “what if you’re influencing kids?” I don’t give a shit about your kids. I wish I did, but I don’t. I like to get high, and I probably always will.
 
Does drug use have any impact on your career? 
No, I can’t think of a time where that caused me to fall out with somebody, or had anybody say, “oh you’re fucking up at work.” Even the shows where I was over-served before the show, those shows have their value, too. There’s something about those that can be fun.
 
The new album is dark, even for you. Are you drawing attention to poverty and hardship or just feeling real low-down? 
My blues probably come from my family. And over the last few years, that’s been a struggle. There’s been some open fighting, and I can hear that a little on the record. I’d like to get along with them. I just don’t. I don’t agree with them on almost anything. But for the most part when I make an album, I’m so happy I’ve strung 10 songs together. When I get done with them, I can’t hear what they’re about. It just feels like an emotional opening. It’s almost like the faucet is on, and I don’t know what’s coming out. It could be water. It could be whiskey. It could be soda. I don’t know. I’m just glad it’s on, and I don’t try to turn it off.
 
Did you really write a joke for Ron White? 
Fuck yeah. It was: “Me and my wife are different. I say tomato. She says ‘go fuck yourself. I’m divorcing you.’”
 
What did you think of Robert Earl Keen’s cover of ‘Play a Train Song’? 
It’s a highlight for me. The idea that he would sing my song blows me away. He’s like a great big brother to me, and the idea that I could make up a song that he would want to put [on his album], considering the songs he has of his own, is one of my favorite things. And I love to play it with him. And I think he’s a great guy. He’s a fun person to sit around with.
 
Still think you’re an alright guy? 
Eh, you know. I’m a good bunch of guys. On any given day, I’m capable of being one. 
 
Todd Snider plays the Catalyst on Friday, Dec. 14.