Buddy Nielsen, singer and co-founder of emo/post-hardcore band Senses Fail, says many of the group’s albums are about “navigating substance abuse.” It’s a personal subject for Nielsen, as he explains to SPIN backstage at Louder Than Life 2023.
“I was sober for a very long time,” he says. “I didn’t do the classic 12 Steps or anything like that. I never felt like I was out of control—I just felt like I wasn’t happy and I needed to look deeper.” He wound up seeking out the healing practice of Vipassana meditation.
“Any kind of group that leads you to understanding something more about yourself—music, art, religion, poetry; it doesn’t matter—is super impactful and important,” Nielsen says. “That’s also what helps me to be creative: I kind of have navigated things, and I feel like I don’t have all the answers, but I can help make a path look more walkable.”
When asked about support systems within the music community, Nielsen recalls running “a meditation thing” during his time on Warped Tour: “It was like a place for people who wanted to do something other than go out and drink at night.”
He continues, “People have asked me for advice too, like, ‘How did you navigate it?’ So sometimes I’ll see people that I had given advice years ago, and that’s always good to see people being healthy and happy.”