Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes on rehab and recovery: “I wasn’t as fixed as I thought I was”

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Bring Me The Horizon frontman Oli Sykes has opened up about rehab and his recovery after “falling back into drugs and bad habits in lockdown”.

The singer spoke about his struggles with substance abuse in 2015, claiming that drug addiction made him want to kill himself. At the time, Sykes revealed that BMTH’s 2013 album ‘Sempiternal’ was written after he recovered from a ketamine addiction.

He eventually attended rehab sessions, but stated that he disagreed with many of the things that drug rehabilitation teaches: “They tell you ‘it’s a disease’ – that’s bollocks. It’s not a disease; it’s a self-inflicted problem. It’s offensive to people with diseases to claim addiction is a disease.

“They said it would be a struggle every day, that you’re an addict for the rest of your life. Bollocks. It’s all bollocks. I’ve never looked back since I got clean. I got clean for my family, my friends and my band. I didn’t get clean for God.”

Now, in a new interview with NME, Sykes has discussed “falling back into drugs and bad habits” during the COVID-19 pandemic – and said this is what had “prompted” him to write BMTH’s new album, ‘Post Human: Nex Gen’.

“As soon as it all stopped [in lockdown], I wasn’t in a good place either,” he explained. “I was in a good place before because the band was doing well; we were touring the world, getting nominated for awards, and I was feeding off all this stuff. I didn’t even realise that.

“I didn’t think I fed too much off my own ego and didn’t realise I was deriving my worth from that. As soon as it all went? Straight back to drugs.”

Sykes went on to say he “wasn’t healed at all”, adding that he “was just distracted”. “There was a duality between that and the world,” the vocalist told NME. “It was the start of realising that I wasn’t fixed as I thought I was after rehab.”

When asked what the next step to fixing himself was, Sykes responded: “The first step was listening to myself. That’s what [‘Nex Gen’ song] ‘Youtopia’ is about. It’s setting the scene of the whole record, and the goal where we hopefully end up at by the end of is finding a perfect state of being, or a content state of being. A place where we’re happy.”

He continued: “The main obstacle in most of our lives is what I say in the first few lines: ‘I still wish that I was someone else’.

“I’m still rejecting myself and not fully accepting who I am. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve been through in your life: you have to accept who you are. It’s the first step of being happy.”

Sykes told NME that ‘Nex Gen’ “is a battle between light and dark”, adding: “It’s a constant battle throughout the record because that side is so much more easy to give in to. It’s harder to say, ‘I’m going to go on the long, hard, slow path to contentment’.  The other side is so easy, sexy, and romantic. That first step is a lot harder, and you know you’re going to fail. Throughout the record there are multiple times where I fail.

“You’ve got to take charge of your own healing; you’ve got to do the work yourself’.”

Sykes said: “It’s quite easy to get back on because you’ve got motivation. But staying on the horse? That’s the hardest part. It’s such a rough ride. It’s like, ‘Fucking hell, I’m back to square one’.

“You think: ‘Everyone hates me, I’ve fucked up, I’ve let everyone down, I’m so embarrassed’ – it’s like a burning hot feeling. All you want to do is go back to the drugs or the thing you were doing because it just takes it all away again. Being right back at the start is the worst fucking feeling.

“That’s why the song ‘N/A’ is the way that is, it’s me saying: ‘I really fucking wish I was dead right now’.”

Sykes also opened up about his rehab experience, telling NME: “There’s a part of the record that I call the rehab trilogy: ‘N/A’ (which is the group session), ‘Lost’ (the 1-1 therapy session), and ‘Strangers’ (the takeaway of the whole idea of sharing your pain with other people, because you can’t do it on your own).

“A huge part of me getting better was me going to rehab and being in a big group of people. I was surrounded by a guy who’d seen his mate blown up in Afghanistan, a schizophrenic teacher, a person with an eating disorder, and a girl that was raped by her own dad.”

He added: “You realise it’s a human condition. I thought I was insane and didn’t think I was ever going to get better, but then I’m listening to people saying all my thoughts. They’ve all been through things that are different and worse, but ‘Strangers’ is about that realisation that we’re all just looking for security. We’re all just lost.

“The first part of getting better is accepting that you have to talk about this. If you don’t get it out of your head, it’s never going to go. Feelings have to be felt and processed.”

Elsewhere in his conversation with NME, Sykes spoke about Jordan Fish’s departure from Bring Me The Horizon last year. Reflecting on the fact that he had joined the group when the frontman had recently come out of rehab, Sykes described Fish as “my right-hand man” and “a massive part of this band”.

Additionally, Sykes talked about BMTH’s original plan to release four EPs in a year and why that did not happen, the situation in Israel and Palestine, and working alongside Aurora and Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain.

You can read the interview in full here, and watch the video version above.

In other news, last month saw Bring Me The Horizon become the most streamed rock band on the planet. It came after ‘Post Human: Nex Gen’ registered 70million online streams.

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