Menu Sign up! News Press Store Tour Timeline Music Ask Katy Galleries Videos Writing JT's Vault



Interview: 20 Years of Sobriety with John Taylor of Duran Duran

April 19th, 2018

To say I was excited to interview John Taylor would be the understatement of the century. As an allegedly together adult, I resisted the urge to tell him that my adolescent bedroom was papered with his image (covered in lipstick kisses, despite the fact that I didn’t and still don’t wear lipstick). In short, my inner 14-year-old was having a conniption fit while my outer adult had a glorious, insightful conversation with a brilliant, thoughtful man with over two decades of sobriety.

Those who only think of Taylor solely as Duran Duran’s pretty boy will be delighted to hear what an analytical and kind guy he is — a man who speaks openly about what it was like to have worldwide fame while he was still living at home with his parents and talks about a recovery meeting as a place where he’s thrilled to be able to meet people from all walks of life.
In this episode, we talked about his must-read autobiography In The Pleasure Groove, what it’s like to go from blaming everyone to taking responsibility for yourself, how no one really acts their age and the joys of watching soccer, among many other topics.
The full transcript is below.

Anna David:
Let’s talk about your book. Did you write it yourself?

John Taylor:
I had a guy working with me. I don’t think I could have done it without him, actually. Let’s say I wrote the cornerstones by myself. But there’s a huge amount of research involved. And I mean, actually getting the book printed and released required a lot of minds other than my own.

Anna David:
It does.

John Taylor:
I was really humbled by the experience, actually. I mean, I’ve always respected authors, but after that more so than ever, really, just how much work is involved. So I’d like to claim it all as my own, but Tom Sykes does have a credit on the cover.

And actually Tom had come to my wife Gela [Nash, the creator of Juicy Couture]. He wanted to tell the Juicy story and pitched her that, and that didn’t work out. So he said, “Well, what about you? Who are you? What do you do?” I’m like, “I’m a musician.” He goes, “Well, why don’t you tell your story?” Not quite like that, but… And it was a moment in time actually when the walls were just falling, everybody who could play a guitar was ready to tell all. And so the timing was quite good for me.

But yeah, I mean, it’s really about memory. I’d lost both my parents at that point, and with them the connection to place that was this street that I grew up on and that I went back to my entire life because my dad died in that house. The city that sort of raised me and nourished me. And so I would rather the book was a tribute to all of that.

And also, I mean, the band. Now, most of our conversations are like memory tests. And of course I’m thinking, “Well, these guys have got really bad memories. I’m going to have to put it down on paper because I’m the one with a memory.” I mean, only the other day something came up and I realized that I’d got some timing wrong in one of the chapters.

Not that it really matters, but I was like, “Oh, oh my God.” Yeah, but it was a good thing to do. I mean, I’m definitely glad I did it.

Anna David:
Had you thought about doing it before and imagining people came to you before that?

John Taylor:
Not really. I mean, the people that came to me said, “We’re going to help you. You know, it’s not going to be…” I mean, I suppose one does think about it, because I’ve sort of, I’m a very occasional diarist, like when I feel the need to, you know, to fill a few pages of what’s going on with me right now, or some kind of memory, I will do it. So I did have a few ideas about events and how I could tell them. I think I knew the attitude of the book, I knew the voice of the book and what it was going to be. But it wasn’t something that I’d really seriously thought about doing. Now I think about doing another one, but what would it be about?

Anna David:
Yeah. Well, there’s always going to be more

John Taylor:
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I’m actually, I think I like plumbing the same depths in a way, like looking deeper into the same material, you know, rather than going in a completely opposite direction or a different direction. I quite like the idea of really going in the same direction but going deeper. But I’m not sure what that would be.

Anna David:
And what’s interesting is, in terms of having the memory, in being in recovery there’s a lot of work of unearthing, so it’s sort of like you’ve done a lot of your prep work. Because we’re forced to look back, especially when we first get into it. And are you 15 years?

John Taylor:
Twenty-something.

Anna David:
Oh God, I was trying to feel superior. I forgot you had more time than I did. But that is a huge part of it, is sort of taking inventory, looking back, and reexamining through new eyes.

John Taylor:
Yeah. I think a lot of people, most people that don’t take the sober route, that aren’t in 12 Step programs, have no sense of the amount of work that those of us that are have to do. And there’s a reason why we don’t drink or use mind-altering chemicals one day at a time, because just every day we have to kind of recommit to that idea.

And I think one of the things that gets said that I heard early on is, “What keeps you sober today may not necessarily keep you sober tomorrow.” And I’ve found that the amount of things that come up with me, the amount of issues that come up that really on a normal day, on a pre-sober day, I would have a drink over and just be done with it. But that’s not an option. So we have to really put those issues under the magnifying glass and break them down, and uncover, discover, discard. And look, there are times you can coast, there are times when you can just get by, but inevitably something will come up, and it’s usually something that’s very close to you. It’s usually something to do with the family, or work, or self-esteem, or it’s just something that there’s no external fix for. Even though I’m all about external fixes.

Anna David:
Oh, me too. Love them.

John Taylor:
I mean, if I can buy a new piano over it, then I’ll do that.

Anna David:
And that will work for, like 15 minutes, or even 15 days sometimes. I remember when I sold my first book. I remember thinking, “If I just sold my first book I’m going to be happy for the rest of my life, that’ll be it.” And then it lasted two weeks, and then I was thinking, “But oh, my God, there’s a second one.” When you were coming up as a young man was it not even conscious, of I’m going to feel happy, I’m going to be fulfilled as long as we’re a hit, and then it happened?

John Taylor:
I don’t think that I was an unhappy kid. Quite the opposite, actually. I think I was quite happy in myself. But the career kind of required me to be a lot, it seemed to me at the time, to be a lot bigger personality than really what I was. So in order to expand I had to be so many things in such a short space of time.

Anna David:
And you didn’t have time to think about it even

John Taylor:
Yeah, I mean, like almost within, let’s face it, 12 months, I had to become like a worker and a partner in a firm. I had to become a laborer working with a team of people. I was an only child, suddenly I had four brothers. I had never left home. I didn’t get a passport until after our first record came out. Suddenly I’m traveling all over the world and adjusting to all these time changes, and jetlag, cultural opportunities, and the demands of the job.
Moving from my home to London, leaving my parents’ house. I mean, one of the big kind of revelations that the research for the book brought me to was that after the Rio album came out, which was like the big global smash, I’m still living with my parents. I was still occupying my old bedroom, which was about eight foot by six foot.

Anna David:
Wow.

John Taylor:
I was still occupying, I was going back after touring America, touring Japan for the first time, you know, a big Christmas tour of Britain, going home to my old home where my parents lived. And like, two days after getting back and after the novelty of the young pop star coming home had worn off I’m fighting with my dad over what we’re going to watch on the television set, I’m thinking, “I think it’s time to move on. I think it’s time to go.”
And the romance, all the romances, and really high emotional, just a lot of stuff happened in that first year even subsequent to us putting our record out. I mean, I met Simon in June of 1980 and he completed the circle, you know. And right away we started writing the songs that would become our first album. We were fortunate to make a record deal within four months maybe, five months, of Simon joining.

Anna David:
That’s crazy.

John Taylor:
And we had our first record out in January ’81. So I’ve known Simon for six months, and then we were off. And it was a lot to adjust to. And most of it was fun, but for me the alcohol and drugs particularly, like, was stronger than I was. Now I didn’t realize that at the time.
I couldn’t understand why the rest of the guys were like, when they said they were going to bed, they went to bed, and when they said they were going to go to the hotel bar and have one drink they’d go to the hotel bar and have one drink. And I was the one that more and more often found myself like, crawling back to the hotel at 5:00, 6:00 a.m. in the morning, like, just as everybody else is getting ready to leave. And I’m like, what’s…

Anna David:
What’s wrong with them?

John Taylor:
Yeah, right, yeah. That’s where I’m going, rather than more often, what’s wrong with me? And also I think that the lifestyle, you just got so quickly, I got so quickly into this lifestyle, and I wanted to be living it 24/7. And I just didn’t know what to do with myself, particularly when there wasn’t anything happening, even though it was a very busy time. Inevitably there would be a couple of days when my services weren’t required, and that’s really when I would get into trouble.

I mean, that’s something that I came to understand in more recent years, like in the last 30 years, 20 years, and I think it’s what you do with your time off. It’s sort of, I hate this phrase, what sorts the men out from the boys. But it’s one thing when it’s all about working, and everything is on, and you can deal with it. It’s like when you’ve got no responsibilities, that’s when you really have to be careful.

Anna David:
Oh my God, there’s so many things you’ve said that I had wanted to talk about. Okay, this is so interesting to me, this thing that you’re a happy, well adjusted, kid, loved all of these things. Then this happened to you. And we were talking before we started recording about, like, how much is lifestyle and circumstance? Do you think, had you not become a major pop star, that possibly you would never have developed alcoholism at the level that you did, and needed to get sober?

John Taylor:
Well, you know, anybody that diagnoses themself with alcoholism as I did, and ends up in a 12 Step program, I mean, we do kind of accept the idea that there is a genetic problem, and that whatever our life experience had been we would have ultimately encountered our alcoholism. And I like that idea. I was thinking about talking to you today and what it is about the12 Step program that just makes it so powerful today.

I think there’s a reason why it’s growing. And one of the reasons is, is that we kind of take responsibility, we don’t blame our parents, we don’t blame our partners, we don’t blame our teachers. I mean, look, we can look at the effects of our parents’ experience, we can look at the effect of what happened to us when we went to school, but ultimately we kind of accept that there’s a genetic difference between us and people that can take alcohol or leave it, can we say?

Anna David:
Right, right.

John Taylor:
And that was a very important idea for me to buy into, because I was so filled with blame and resentment. I mean, by the time I got to the end of my 20s, it’s sort of, my career had been and gone. I mean, I was over, I was washed up, really. I’d been in a band that had had a lot of hits, and I’d been a pop star and on a lot of people’s walls, but I was washed up. I mean, I was just a wall of, like, guilt and shame and resentment. And that I’d had all these opportunities, and I’d blown it basically. I was very, very hard on myself. But consequently everybody that was close to me, such as my parents, really got it.

I used to call them up and say, “It’s your fault that I…” et cetera, et cetera. And right away in my first introduction to 12 Step program I was told, “No, no, no, it’s not about them, it’s not about… You could have been…” For instance, I was an only child. “Well, that’s got something to do with it. Why didn’t my parents give me a brother or a sister?” And it’s like, “Well, you could have had five brothers and five sisters, and you would have still been an alcoholic. You would have still had these problems.” “Well, it’s because I was a pop star.” “Well no, you could have actually been a bus driver and you would have been an alcoholic.”
And I remember thinking, well, it’s not so much believing that, it’s just appreciating that the idea is significant. That if you can just even acknowledge that that’s an interesting idea… Because I think the jury’s out as to whether there is incontrovertible science, if there’s proof. But it is a good idea.

Because most people that get sober, let’s say in midlife, let’s say after their mid-20s onwards, almost always they’re full of anger, and fear, and resentments, and they’re generally pointing their finger at everybody that got them in that mess that they find themselves in that moment. And we don’t do that. We say, “No, no, you’ve got to look inside. That’s where the problem is.” And this idea of this faulty gene is like, “Really? Okay, I guess I can go with that.”

Anna David:
I didn’t think there were any alcoholics in my family when I got sober. It quickly became revealed to me that it was called different names, but that’s what it had been. But I think of it as, we have a genetic predisposition, and then that’s either sort of exacerbated or diminished depending on what happens to us.
But speaking of good ideas to believe, something in your story that I really relate to is, is it was the cocaine that really like sort of amped it up. I don’t know about you, but when I was first exploring sobriety and rehab I was just like, “Yeah, alcohol is an addiction, different.” Appreciate the fact that you think they’re the same. Not to me. Did you ever have any of that?

John Taylor:
Say that again.

Anna David:
Like just not, because cocaine was the major problem, not really believing that that was alcoholism. Sort of saying, well, that’s addiction, and that’s different, so I can keep drinking.

John Taylor:
Well, one thing I knew was, I very rarely got into cocaine if I was sober. It was usually that I’d have like, you know, one polite drink, and then I’d start thinking, they must have a little coke. It always followed. So alcohol was the gateway for me. I never really thought of myself as, like, an alcohol lover. Very rarely would I drink myself into a stupor. But it just loosened my barriers, my scruples. And coke definitely, yeah, I mean, it helped with one of the characters that I felt needed to be amplified, one of the aspects.

Anna David:
The big personality.

John Taylor:
Well, I think certainly the afterparty player. Like, the job’s done, you’re exhausted, time to go home, go to bed. Well no, I don’t want to do that. I want to, like, reap the fruits of my labors. I want to get out there, I want to party, I want to have a good time, and I felt that I needed a little help to do that. And I mean, I’ve got a little bit of a manic personality anyway. I mean, I still kind of use coffee today a little bit, like, I have to really watch it. Because if I’ve got a day off, and you know, we were talking about time on your hands, but if I’ve got a day off, no responsibilities, that to me is an excuse to h get off. And yeah, it was like that.

And I could go at it all night. And it was fun at first, you know, and then it did start to get in the way of things. It started to get in the way of work, it started to get in the way of creativity. And then you’ve got to cut down on the drugs, right? And I was like, no, you’ve got to cut down on the work. Because that became the primary thing for a few years. And I don’t mind talking in meetings, but I’ll tell anybody how really at the peak of the band’s first wave of fame, which was probably in 1984, ’83, ’84, we were touring and we were playing places like the Forum here in LA and Madison Square Garden, so that was really the time that I was really flying.

And I couldn’t really appreciate what was happening to me. I was too busy thinking about where my next fix was going to come from, and just to make sure that I had what I needed for the afterparty. And I think that happens to a lot of people that get into recovery, is that they realize that because they have this addiction, the addiction was causing them to behave in certain ways, and they actually got to miss out on so many of, like, nature’s generosity.
You hear all the time about people that, they weren’t there for the birth of their child, or the death or a parent, or all sorts of things, that they’d checked out because they were too busy chasing their needs, their addict’s needs.

Anna David:
Escape.

John Taylor:
And so we kind of come back and we become very driven, actually. I think several people are very, very driven to make up for all that they lost. And it starts out almost as a bit of shame, but then it’s just like, well, look, I’ve got all this energy today. And you start feeling a little righteous because you’re sober and you don’t have a hangover. But you do get this chance to put it right, in a way.

Anna David:
And also the thing that you said that I really relate to is this idea of the day off. And like, especially talking about it back then, but even now. For me work is a way I escape. I channel that, quote, unquote, “alcoholism.” And I spent so long beating myself up for it, and not I’m like, terrific. I try to tell myself this, anyway. What a healthy… Sure, there are healthier escapes, but what a wonderfully productive way to channel that. Do you relate to that?

John Taylor:
I know that I love giving myself days off. I mean, I go at it quite hard, I go at work quite hard, I’m quite demanding on myself and I’m quite driven still, actually, to get things done. But equally I kind of love it when there’s a vacuum and I can just kind of…

Anna David:
Well, what do you do?

John Taylor:
…slum.

Anna David:
Where do you slum? What’s slumming like to you?

John Taylor:
I watch like three games of soccer. Yeah, I mean, I’ll do crosswords. I mean, I like to read. I think when you’re an artist it’s like, everything is material. It’s very difficult to do anything that doesn’t in some way relate to my work.

Anna David:
Even the crosswords?

John Taylor:
Well yeah, because you’re keeping your brain going, I am, and that’s very much I think, it’s like the brainwork, you’re keeping your brain working. It’s also about words. I mean, actually, I’m not kidding, watching soccer. I can watch a couple of games a week, and that is one of the few things that I do that when I’m doing that I feel like I’m absolutely doing nothing for that time.

Anna David:
And how does that relate to art?

John Taylor:
I’m saying, it doesn’t.

Anna David:
Oh, right.

John Taylor:
Then it’s entirely like, I can watch it and I don’t need to feel like I need to be taking the experience and somehow like, considering how it’s going to impact on the next series of songs we’re going to work on. I actually watch quite a lot of TV and I…

Anna David:
You do? What are your favorites right now?

John Taylor:
Well, I’ve been watching The Looming Tower. It’s about the lead-up to 911 and the 9/11 attacks, and it’s about the CIA and the FBI. I think that sort of we’re going through like a Renaissance period for TV, for long form TV. I think it’s just fantastic, dramas on Netflix particularly. It takes me a couple of hours to wind down at night. I mean, I won’t do any, like, business sort of after 6:30, 7:00 really. I have to get that out of my head if I’m going to fall asleep peacefully.

Anna David:
Yeah, same. And so, you did a little bit of acting in the Allison Anders movie and other things. Do you think about, would you want to do TV?

John Taylor:
No, not really. I mean, there are just too many people that, it’s their life’s work. I mean, that was the experience that I had. I did a few things, and I would encounter these people that, they felt about acting the way I felt about music. You’re lucky if you can identify one passion, if you can say, you know what?, that’s my thing, and I’m going to spend my life dedicated to that, which is how I feel about music. The idea that I’m so gifted, you know, that I could be an actor, it’s a little much.

But I have to say, I’ve been working on a musical with Nick, and so we’ve been working on that. And occasionally I’ll stand in as one of the, I mean, we both do, we both occasionally stand in. And that exchange with actors is really good fun, and I can see why it’s so appealing to people. And it sort of appeals in the way that performing music does. I always like when the lights go down at the beginning of the show, and it’s like the suspension of reality and the music takes over.

And also that departure is, like when I’m playing a song, I’m playing with like four, five, six other people, and it’s a conversation that we’re having, but the terms of the conversation are entirely the song, they’re entirely the music. And I love that, because that’s what it is. And then the lights come up and you’re backstage, and it’s back to personalities and it’s back to everybody’s opinions, and that’s how we tend to go through the day, right?

Anna David:
Right.

John Taylor:
We’re sort of dancing around from one person’s opinion to another. That’s how we communicate. And acting has that too. It’s like, someone says, “Action,” or you start to sing, and everything else butts out.

Anna David:
Well, it’s the escape

John Taylor:
Yeah.

Anna David:
It’s softer, it’s alcoholism. It’s for me work, it’s that escape from that stuff.

John Taylor:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah well, I mean, life’s quite challenging, isn’t it, in terms of like, you’ve got to keep making it up, making it up. And also, I say make it up, but you’ve got to be careful to keep your story straight. I was reading yesterday that the speed of our culture is such that you encounter four times as many words, we encounter four times as many words today than we would have done 30 years ago.

Anna David:
You mean just online and…

John Taylor:
Yeah, I mean…

Anna David:
Every day.

John Taylor:
…online is a big part of it, yes, as a delivery system.

Anna David:
So that’s a very positive way to look at it.

John Taylor:
Is it? For me it just means you need more processing power. That’s why I can’t find my computer cable, or when you need that computer cable. Because my brain has been occupied with, there’s so much processing going on. I also go back and forth from the United States to England all the time, and that also require a certain amount of…I mean, I feel like I do a lot of juggling, actually. And in the course of any given day at least once, often twice, I feel like I’m just about to drop all the plates. And it’s just like…okay, I’ve got it, I’ve got it. They’re all still there.

Anna David:
Yet sometimes I just trip out on how much is expected of us to even just remember. You know, I was telling you I just got back from Toronto, and it was like, losing my passport and losing my keys. And it’s like, God, this world really has high expectations of us.

John Taylor:
Well, I mean, you didn’t have to go.

Anna David:
True, true, but…

John Taylor:
I mean, you can always choose to stay home all day.

Anna David:
True, but even driving around LA I just sort of am, like, wow, there’s just so much that I’m expected to be able to handle, and I do.

John Taylor:
Yeah, I think all of us, all of us, our lives are the center of hurricanes. We’re all at the center of our own tornado. And some of it is personal, and some of it is impersonal. I think the 24-hour news cycle has a lot to answer for, and I think that that has raised the fear level so that there’s this noise that’s going off, this constant presence of a fear that really wasn’t there 20 years ago, the conversation. I mean, one of the things I do love about AA, one of the things I really do love about the 12 Step program, is that it’s very neutral. We are nonpolitical, we are apolitical. And I feel it’s very important.

I’m so glad that I have that and that something that is such a big part of my life is apolitical. Not that I’m not one way over the other, but I don’t have to dedicate my life to being angry at half the population. And I don’t want to be that, you know. I had a very elite, rarefied education as an adult. I mean, I made money quite early on, I was a star. I got surrounded by love, and certain kinds of yes-men, and certain kinds of sycophancy. But my experience in the 12 Steps has brought so many people into my life that I would have never have gotten to know.

Anna David:
Right.

John Taylor:
And I’m so grateful for that, because I really feel like I’ve got a sense of people, of the real world.

Anna David:
Right. That’s interesting.

John Taylor:
And I also am very much about the similarities rather than the differences. We just got back from Russia, actually, and people would say, “Oh my God, Russia.” And I’m like, “They’re people just like us. And their politicians are just like ours, and their media is just like ours. But at the end of the day the people are just like you and I.”

But there are these systems that want to keep us apart. And I feel that it’s very easy to fall into a trap where you start blaming the differences. I’m different than X, or I’m different. Being Americans, we’re different to blah-blah. Well, I’m a Catholic, I’m different from… All these differences that really in my experience just kind of isolate us.

Anna David:
Absolutely.

John Taylor:
And I don’t want to hear about that. I want to hear about how we are all the same, we have all the same needs, we have all the same likes, appreciations. That’s another thing that’s great about soccer, it’s like a totally democratic deal. And it’s one of the things I’m most proud of about my achievements as a musician. Every time I walk out onstage I see all kinds of people, and I see people that perhaps wouldn’t normally hang together. But we create an environment, and music is the excuse for people to come. And I really, really appreciate that. That’s something I probably appreciate more than almost anything about what we get to do.

Anna David:
Yeah, because I had never heard that before, like, you’d look for the similarities and not the differences. And my mind was just this sponge when I came in. Anything people told me, yes, thank God I didn’t encounter any, like, super sick people who told me really crazy things, because I would have done it. And that had never occurred to me either.

Okay, so something that I’m very interested in. It’s something that I read that you said. It was sort of about being in an extended adolescence, like still feeling like we’re adolescents. It said that alcoholism sort of freezes you at the age that you start becoming alcoholic or start using. But also fame, fame has to be a double freeze. Do you think that’s true?

John Taylor:
Yeah, I think it is. I mean, there’s a lot of responsibilities that you have to take on in normal life that you simply don’t have to deal with if you’re successful, really. Famous, yes, but successful. People offer their services to you and you think, well, why don’t I just pay this guy to open my mail and pay my bills, because then it gives me more time to, well, theoretically it gives me more time to create, but also more time to self-destruct. Yeah, I mean, I don’t really know anybody that is fully their age. Nobody.

I’m a man in his late 50s that is wrestling with a 14-year-old boy continually, that just happens to be in me, but I’m also kind of wrestling with a 25-year-old that kind of missed out when we toured. He kind of comes up sometimes, and I’ve got to like sit down, and talk to him, and reason with him. And I’ve got to like basically let all these personalities inside me, “Now, I’ve got this. It’s all right. We’re all going to be all right.” And I mean, it’s never too late to be fully responsible. But I don’t think anybody is entirely responsible from the get-go.

I mean, I know guys that have a very, I would say heightened sense of responsibility. I’ve got a guy that sings in my band, I mean, he’s the eldest of three brothers, and he’s the captain. You know, he has an extraordinary ability to soak up responsibility. And I’m not saying this about him, but I’ve seen guys like that who then get it between the eyes when they least expected to, because they haven’t been tending the garden. Because they’ve been subjugating their younger selves. Because at different times in our lives things get expected of us, right?

I think that very few of us get raised appropriately every step of the way, and like we get treated like a four-year-old when we’re four, we get treated like a 10-year-old when we’re 10, we get treated like a 16-year-old… More often than not we’re either babied or we’re expected to be more than we are, depending on the experience. I mean, I quite enjoy, and you may have noticed, I don’t have a problem talking about this stuff, and I find it quite fascinating actually.

I just find myself eternally fascinating, and I say that meaning that I find humanity, I find all of us eternally fascinating. I mean, I know more about me than I do about you, so I can put the pieces together when I’m aware of my own existence. But essentially it’s all about being the best, showing up for the day, and being the best person that we can be, right, with the people that we encounter.

Anna David:
Yeah.

John Taylor:
There’s something in one of the books that gets right into 12 Step programs where it says essentially, our job today is to have the best possible relationship with everybody that we encounter on a day-by-day basis. And I say that’s the biggest fucking understatement in all of the writings of the 12 Step program because it’s like, well yeah, but that’s actually a pretty tall order. Because it’s like, well, what about them? Why don’t they do it? Well, that’s not my responsibility. My responsibility is to just as I go through the day, just show the best side of myself to everybody that I encounter. And it’s not always easy. You don’t always want to do that, do you?

Anna David:
I certainly don’t. But I will say, this is not in a sycophantic way, you are so surprisingly nice, and I will say that many people say that. Not the surprising part, but they’re just like, “He’s just so nice.” It’s not really a terribly common thing, I think particularly for somebody in your position. I don’t know, but it’s notable I think that you’re doing that. The expression I find the most ridiculously, like, sort of thrown off and are like, are you kidding me, “Just live life on life’s terms.” It’s like, do you get how hard life’s terms are when you say that to me casually? It’s just, they’re rough, and I’m understanding them more and more every day.

John Taylor:
Right. I mean, to a degree you can kind of choose the way in way those terms are framed. I mean, anybody that’s listening to it that isn’t in the 12 Step program… One of the slogans is, “I don’t always know what’s best for me.” And when I first heard that, I’d be I’d be like, wait a minute. How can that possibly be? And then I’d realize that, no, sometimes things happen not according to my wishes, and they’re great.

Anna David:
Absolutely.

John Taylor:
And it’s like, and if I’d done it that way, I mean, in the band we often argue about like, I think we should do this. We should go here and do this. And somebody else will say, well, I don’t think we should. I think we should…and have this back and forth, back and forth. And I don’t get my way, let’s say. I’m disgruntled if something happens to what I wanted to have happen. A few weeks later I’ll go, damn, I’m so glad that that happened. And I think that when you can acknowledge something like that it opens your world in a way.

Because we’re basically, most of us are just trying to keep everything together. If I can just keep things under control, if I can just keep everything in the bag, in my arms, and hold it really tight, I’m going to be okay. And the idea that actually, you know what, you know what? Things can happen and they’re going to be good. They may not be the things you want to happen, and that gets us to, like, the idea of faith, right, which is this idea that you can let go of something and go, okay, you know what? All right, so it’s not going to go the way I want it to go, but I’m going to have faith that it’s going to be okay and it’s going to resolve itself in a productive positive way.

I mean, all of these things have been so useful to me. And I was raised a Catholic, but I have no real faith in the God of the Catholic Church. There were too many rules and too many ideas that I couldn’t wrap my mind around. I mean, I remember I used to sit in school, I went to a Catholic school, and I was like six. And they’d be telling us just these simple things like, “Yes, well, Jesus walked on the water, and he did this.”

And then there was these miracles. “Yes, when he fed 5,000 people who showed up, and everybody was hungry. But one person had a loaf and two fish, and they passed the basket around, and everybody ate. Everybody got something, and there were still crumbs left in the basket.” And I’m thinking, how can that be? And the trick with Catholics, when you put your hand up in the class and you say, “Please miss, I don’t understand that,” and they say, “Well, you don’t even ask a question, because if you ask a question, God could revenge on you tonight.” So you kind of have to, like, everything in Catholicism is like, okay, I believe, I believe, I believe.
And actually when I got sober somebody gave me Emmet Fox’s Sermon on the Mount, and he translates the ideas at the back of them. And one of the things he says is that when food or drink is talked about in the Bible, such as when Jesus changed the water into wine at the wedding at Cana, you know, one of the great Bible stories, he’s talking about spiritual nourishment. And actually 5,000 people are together, Jesus spoke. He did his Anthony Robbins thing, he spoke and everybody left nourished in their hearts and souls, and that makes perfect sense to me.

Anna David:
Why couldn’t your teacher have answered that?

John Taylor:
Well, because they don’t think along those lines, do they?

Anna David:
Right.

John Taylor:
I mean, or at least the Catholic teachers that I encountered didn’t present that kind of thinking, so I got to go elsewhere to get those kinds of ideas. But yeah, the idea that I don’t have to be the one that makes everything happen, that I can let things happen, and that the chances are that things will work out at least as good as if I’d have been at the wheel, and maybe even better.

Anna David:
I find that when I can remember that, always true. When I can’t remember that, which is about half the time, never true. But getting fired, or bad things, things that are inarguably bad, when I can just really believe that, always better, always. Okay, so we have to get towards wrapping up. Final question, what would you tell somebody who is struggling, believes they may have a problem? What are your words of wisdom for that?

John Taylor:
Well, I mean, I think that the 12 Step program of, like, alcoholism is out there, everybody’s heard of it. Most people, a large part of it, think it probably wouldn’t be for them. I think that it’s the most inclusive church you will ever visit. I’ve had some extraordinary experiences, taking one very old and dear friend and introducing him to the program, and really just watching the people in the meetings just carry him off and surround him with love. And I mean, it’s a remarkable thing.

Yeah, I mean, I think that anybody that takes that step, that actually like, goes online and checks out 12 Step meetings in their neighborhood, might find something that kind of works for them and goes along, I think that it’s always worth taking that step. It may not be exactly what you need, but if you feel like you’ve got a problem, what have you got to lose, like, two hours out of your life?

Anna David:
Right.

John Taylor:
Check it out. And I think that once you’ve got one foot in… A lot of people talk about it as being a cult. I definitely don’t see it like that, and I don’t see it as any more of a cult than being a supporter of Chelsea FC or a fan of Kendrick Lamar. It’s just a group of people that have this similar interest, and they’re together there, they’re attacking this problem, right? It’s almost like they’re like these laboratories, aren’t they, all over the world. Everybody’s just trying to work through these issues, these personal and social issues. But I’d say, go online and check out meetings local to you, and check it out.

Listen to the podcast here:

Courtesy Medium.com and Anna David

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 3.31.49 PM