Photo by Kevin Figueroa
For decades, countless artists have attributed their creative prowess to weed. Just ask longtime enthusiast and marijuana dispensary owner Willie Nelson — or Snoop Dogg, who hosted his second annual 4/20 “Wellness Retreat” concert in Denver earlier this year. Cedric Bixler-Zavala, former Mars Volta and At the Drive-In frontman, used to run with the same crowd, often writing and recording music while high.
Not anymore, though.
In a new essay for Vulture, Bixler-Zavala opens up about his decision to quit smoking pot, noting how it took a toll on him financially and didn’t even help much with his creative process. “I was a total monster. I was spending $1,000 a week on weed, and everyone I was in the band with at the time smoked as much as I did.”
“There’s so much stupid behavior caused by weed, but I always had that cliché: I needed it for creativity. I’ve come to realize that at the end of the day, it’s only you yourself that creativity comes from. It doesn’t come from weed,” he admits.
The Grammy-winning musician also notes how pot had affected his personality and the way he engaged with music:
“Strictly in terms of music, take the Grateful Dead. I’m a big Grateful Dead fan, but there are aspects of the Grateful Dead that I love now that I don’t smoke that are the opposite of what I used to like. Now I find myself being like, ‘Just gimme the goddamn hook!’ When I was smoking I could probably listen to Infrared Roses on repeat. This is awesome! This is great! I mean, it’s not bad. It’s interesting, it’s a cool adventure in art, but now I just find myself wanting to listen to the core of the song, the core of what someone is trying to communicate. Because I was such a pothead, I was not really communicating all that much other than just being long-winded and trying to be difficult for the sake of being difficult.”
That’s not to say Bixler-Zavala has completely distanced himself from weed or those that smoke it regularly; he just acknowledges that it’s not for him anymore. “There’s some stoners out there who can appreciate their audience and actually function when they’re high,” he says, “I couldn’t. Now I can look at my audience and be like, ‘Jesus Christ, thank you so much.’ It’s a nice thing to be clearheaded and make music.”
Read the essay in full here.