Drugs are a part of life. They are also a part of rock ‘n’ roll, and sometimes a big part — as we avid rock listeners are no doubt aware. But this article is not about the state of drug use in rock, nor about the effects of alcohol or drugs on the well-being and livelihood of rock stars.
It’s only about rock songs written under the influence of such drugs.
And not just any old rock songs, but alternative rock songs in particular. One can already find many conjectures about the drug use that played into classic rock and heavy metal. Let’s go ahead and pretty much rule out grunge as well, as the influence of the fabrics there is also well worn.
How about stories about minor drugs in rock? Did you know that Weezer‘s Rivers Cuomo ran a trippy little experiment once yourself and doubled the dosage on drugs? Or those lo-fi titans Guided by voices allegedly spent the majority of a six-figure filming budget on beer?
And there is more. Because, no offense to that Guns ‘n’ Roses and their like-minded, but not all drug stories are all glittering profits and cigarette butts.
However, we at Loudwire do not intend to glorify drug abuse or addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction, there is now help to get Substance abuse and mental health services. To speak with someone, call 1-800-622-HELP (1-800-622-4357) or text 1-800-487-4889.
Scroll below to see if you know every single mind-numbing alt-rock song.
When “Hash Pipe” emerged in 2001 as Weezer’s first single in five years, some were taken back by the geek rock kings’ new suggestive content. The song, which paints a picture of a sex worker in Hollywood, was composed by bandleader Rivers Cuomo on a drug and alcohol fueled binge specifically designed for songwriting. Maybe that’s why he intended it Ozzy to sing.
Cuomo told NPR in 2009 of the process, “Step one was to take a Ritalin pill. Step two was to take three shots of tequila. Step three was to go out in the backyard, sit down on a chair. Step four was close your eyes and imagine the song . And that’s how I wrote ‘Hash Pipe’.”
Oasis enjoyed cocaine, and they enjoyed writing songs on it. Guitarist Noel Gallagher said that the Britpop stars wrote a lot of tunes in the 90s that were tight. He singled out 1994’s “Supersonic” as a highlight.
“I’ve written songs on coke and it’s been complete gibberish and it’s been bloody amazing,” Gallagher shared. irish independent in 2019. “‘Supersonic,’ for example. Then I’ve written s*** like a lot Standing on the shoulder of giants  where I had nothing to say. And I was literally trying to make the words rhyme.”
You can just see there U2 was still hitting the bars in 2004? Lead singer Bono he and the guitarist said Edge wrote How to dismantle a nuclear bomb‘s “Crumbs From Your Table” after a night of overeating as the sun was coming up.
“I’m not a late-night person, but Edge is like an owl,” the singer was quoted as saying in 2006’s U2 by U2. “He wouldn’t go to bed and we ended up getting the guitar and singing, away from our faces, one of those moments where two mates don’t talk sense but they do at the same time and then eventually, it coagulates in a way to a thought, and out came this beautiful song.”
Disturbed, ‘Fire It Up’ (Cannabis)
Disturbed lead singer David Draiman got high on marijuana and wrote a song about his love for it, Immortalized‘Fire It Up’ with the alt-metal act. So this one doubles as having both written on and for substances.
“You know what? Ninety-five percent of the songs I’ve written in my life, I’ve written them while I was high,” Draiman shared High thread in 2015. “I’ll get a very skeletal musical idea in my head and then I’ll light one, take a shower and kind of let the steam build up. … It helps me relax and I can see gaps.”
Beastie Boys, ‘Fight for Your Right’ (Alcohol)
‘Licensed to Ill’ (1986)
Beastie Boys‘ breakout anthem, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!),” was intended as a parody of the drunken crowd it subsequently symbolized. The satire was missed by many, including, one might say, its composers – the Beasties were drunk while writing it.
“It was the summer of 1986, we wrote it in about five minutes,” Mike D remembered, according to Far Out Magazine. “We were in Palladium with [producer] Rick Rubindrinking vodka and grapefruit juice and ‘Fight for Your Right’ was written.”
Amidst the sonic bombast of Mouse‘s The origin of symmetry is a dystopian drug story. And in a quote attributed to the Kapellmeister Matt Bellamy which is still discussed on Muse notice boardsexplained the singer that his lead single, “Plug In Baby,” was created by the rockers while high on mushrooms.
Undoubtedly, the forked guitar figure that drives the song makes a lot more sense if it came from drug-induced delirium. Bellamy allegedly explained“When we recorded ‘Plug In Baby,’ we were off our faces on mushrooms. There was this big field next to the recording studio, full of magic mushrooms. So we ate them all.”
Elliott Smith, ‘St. Ides Heaven’ (Methamphetamine)
‘Elliott Smith’ (1995)
REST IN PEACE Elliott Smith. Although the singer-songwriter got clean before his untimely death at 34, his catalog is full of hauntingly beautiful songs about drug use. And while some of the others may have more cache, “St. Ides Heaven” — certainly the only non-hip-hop song in ode to the malt liquor brand – is one of the best.
Without irony in his voice, Smith subtly sings from a first-person perspective, “Everything is just right / When I walk around here drunk every night / With an open container from the 7-Eleven … High on amphetamines.” (For more punk with your meth, see Green Day‘s 1995 single “Geek Stink Breath.”)
Guided by Voices, ‘A Salty Salute’ (Alcohol)
‘Alien Lanes’ (1995)
Basement artists Guided by voices have a reputation as indie rock’s biggest drinkers. It comes with the territory when you blow a record $100,000 advance on beer, which the legend holds. Is that why Alien Lanes sounds like that?
Well, it sounds that way because it was recorded on a 4-track cassette, and that was apparently a consequence of the beer-soaked budget. But in reality it was governed by the entirety of Voices. Opener “A Salty Salute” welcomes the other alcoholics to the bar: “Proud brothers / do not fret,” singer Robert Pollard sad waves. “The bus will get you there yet… The club is open.”
It’s no secret The Brian Jonestown Massacre bandmaster Anton Newcombe was in the throes of heroin addiction while he was making Strung Out in Heaven – just ask Dandy Warhols. But did that contribute to Massacre’s seemingly singular shot at mainstream success going up in smoke?
Their 1998 album, released on the now defunct TVT Records, did little to raise the group’s profile. Yet the psychedelic rockers continue to this day with Newcombe at the helm. Stretched out‘s musical foil, Matt Hollywood, is long gone. The listener can still decide if heroin is passé.
Super drag‘s album from 1998 is called Head Trip in every key; it opens with a tune called “I’m Expanding My Mind.” So you probably already have a pretty good idea where the band’s heads were when they made it.
And while the concept of the album is clear, Superdrag singer John Davis has categorically claimed that he was tripping over balls when he wrote the hazy deep cut “She Is a Holy Grail”.
In the warped, jumbled love song, a twinkling piano gradually becomes more out of tune, reflecting a drug comedown. Do not bring Superdrag downmale.