Just as Minneapolis songwriter Jon Wayne’s music career is taking off in the summer of 2008, his life is falling apart. He’s homeless, begging on the streets, addicted to heroin, cocaine, alcohol and a host of other drugs.
He’ll overdose three times that summer before embarking on his seventh trip to rehab. As he begins his newfound sobriety on Sept. 14, 2008, he knows getting clean has to stick this time because it’s no longer a choice of whether or not to get high; it’s a choice of life and death.
Jon Wayne’s journey from addiction to redemption is one man’s story of survival set against the backdrop of a non-stop music career with his electro-reggae group Jon Wayne and The Pain in a drug-prone work environment.
Chicago-based journalist and author, Thom Wilder (Ghosts of Wheaton, The Road To Paradise) weaves the inspirational tale of Jon Wayne’s moment of truth in his book, One More Trip. The book includes photographic evidence of Jon Wayne’s path to greatness from myriad photographers over the years and some real, honest examination of addiction and art.
I fell in love with Jon’s music immediately and soon learned the powerful message behind his lyrics. Jon never held back in telling his story. He never once hesitated. I admire that. – Thom Wilder
– Interview with Jon Wayne –
Jon, many recovering addicts speak of hitting “rock bottom” before realizing they need to change. What was your “rock bottom” moment?
In the fall of 2008, I was broke, homeless and addicted to heroin and alcohol. Homeless is a relative term as I occasionally had the luxury of staying on my friend Colleen’s basement floor. She was a gem. I knew at that time that death was knocking and I was near the end. I also saw the image of my mother being at my funeral. That was about the lowest I got.
How did you meet Thom Wilder and what was collaborating in telling your story like? Was this a new experience? Difficulties? Joys?
I met Thom in a bar in southern Indiana. We were playing a show and I guess he was digging it. First off, I thought it was interesting that he thought my story was interesting. But he did. And we talked. We did most of it over the phone. It was altogether really easy. He’s a fun guy to talk to and it all seemed to just have a real easy flow.
Is there a portion of your book that was especially difficult to speak on?
Not so much. I’m at peace with my former life. I won’t regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it as long as I’m willing to use my experience to be helpful to someone who may be struggling.
What is something about your childhood that you’ve never told anyone before?
My dad used to make me do lists that I hated. Now my wife does the same thing but it doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t think the lists have changed much but maybe I have. My dad is a huge part of my life these days and now that I’m sober, I can see that many of the things I resented him for were actually good things that I was just too stubborn to do. I love my family.
What is your favorite book? How is this book alike or different from your own?
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain could be my favorite. If not that one, the Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien is way up there too. Bourdain’s book follows part of his life story which includes his various struggles with addiction and kitchen life. Both of those subjects are very relatable to me.
What was the first song that you heard that made you cry?
“What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
If you could impart a small piece of advice to a large group of people at once, what would it be?
Moderation…There is not much in life that cannot be overdone. Drugs, Alcohol, Women, Gambling…This list goes on.
Sometimes people offer me a drink or a drug and I kindly refuse. They then ask why, and I explain that I have an allergic reaction to drinking. They say “…Really?” and I say “Yes. It makes me break out…in handcuffs.” Dumb joke, but seriously I have used these substances past the point of moderation so far that now I cannot safely use them at all.
If there’s one thing I could impart it would be to keep these very enjoyable party favors for special occasions if you want to keep doing them. There’s the old story that you can take a cucumber and make it into a pickle, but you can’t make pickle back into a cucumber. Once an addict, always an addict.
What scares you the most?
What scares me most is climate change. We have clear evidence that the planet is warming up due to human activity and our political leaders are sweeping this information under the rug in the name of money. Corporations have a strangle hold over many of our leaders and if this is not stopped or at least drastically curbed I fear that we are headed for disaster. I am also very concerned that our current president has rolled back regulations on fossil fuel emissions and greenhouse gasses that were already not strict enough. It’s most likely going to get much worse before it gets better. Scary stuff.
On the musicial side of things, how do you react/respond/retaliate to the term “white-boy reggae” and how do you feel about the concept of cultural appropriation as it applies to reggae music or music in general?
I actually have used the term “white boy reggae” myself. I don’t really mind it. Especially since Jon Wayne & The Pain plays like seven different sub-genres of music that being called a reggae artist would be only partially true. I would wanna always give respect to the rasta and Jamaican black culture that helped create one of the most treasured forms of music of all time. I’ve never met a black Reggae artist that told me to not play reggae because I’m white or anything like that.
Writer and reader in Minneapolis, Minnesota