Jonathan Horstmann, singer and multi-instrumentalist of Texas post-punk trio Urban Heat, has been sober for four years — a milestone that loosely coincided with the birth of his first daughter.
“I decided that I never wanted my kids to see me not being fully present and fully myself for them,” he tells SPIN. “Just living a healthy life and a fulfilling life feels like this crapshoot where we just got super lucky, and so I felt like using substances was kind of tipping the scales against me and making it more possible that something bad could happen.”
Horstmann says there were numerous incidents that crystalize his past struggle, but as an example, he highlights one night following a band rehearsal. “[It was] a Tuesday. I went out, and before I knew it, it was 8 a.m. and I was surrounded by people I didn’t know,” he recalls. “In the moment, you think you’re having such a good time and making all these memories, but in the end, you’re just burning the candle at both ends for no reason besides boredom.”
These days, the musician is fully focused on his family and art — including Urban Heat, who released their latest album, Wellness, in 2022. Getting sober, he says, has improved everything: his communication, his relationships, even his presence onstage. Most importantly, it’s helping him savor the good moments. “My 20s, between drinking and drugs and stuff, there’s so much memory that’s just not there,” he says. “I almost feel like my life really only started like five years ago.”
“I would be dead, honestly, if I hadn’t gotten sober,” he notes emphatically. “That’s really what it comes down to.”