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His good humour apparently unblunted by years of drug addiction, Aslan’s Christy Dignam talks about heroin, sexual abuse and his belief in the redemptive power of music.
Adrienne Murphy, 09 Nov 2007
“Next morning you wake up and you think, ‘Well, I can either go back to that fuckin’ jittery self-conscious person or I can be cool and in control of shit.’ That’s what dragged me into it.
“If you imagine your soul to be a burning flame, when you’re sexually abused, it goes down to the top of a candle, just that little burning ember on the top. It doesn’t kill it, but it brings it to within a hair’s breadth.
“Addiction has a catalysing effect. You take it for whatever reason you’re taking it, but then everybody finds out you’re an addict and a scumbag, so then you’re trying to hide it, trying to lead a secret life. You feel guilty about doing that, so then you take more to cover out that shame and guilt.
“Your creativity just stops. You wake up in the morning and your priority is to get gear. Initially you start off to get high, but eventually you just want to be normal. When you’re addicted you’re not taking it to get high any more, you’re taking it to stop yourself being sick and going into withdrawals. Say for example if we were doing this interview and I was strung out. My priority would be to go and get heroin. If I’ve to meet you at 3 o’clock, if there was some reason there wasn’t heroin around, you’d be fuckin’ sittin’ here until I got my heroin. Because in reality I wouldn’t be able to do the interview without it, because I’d be just sittin’ here shaking, me nose’d be running – I’d be in withdrawals, so I wouldn’t be any use to you. All I’d be thinkin’ would be, 'Let’s get this thing over so I can go out and get gear.'
“So your whole life is like that. There were times when we’d be rehearsing and I’d be off trying to get gear and there wouldn’t be any around and I’d have to keep going, so the band would be waiting for me in rehearsal rooms. That’s how we ended splittin’ up. And the same was goin’ on with me family.
“I remember singing ‘Crazy World’ one time, and we got to the chorus, ‘How can I protect you in this crazy world?’. Now I’d sang the song millions of times, but just as I sang that line, I looked down to the sound desk and me wife was standing there, and I thought, 'You fucking haven’t been protecting her, you prick, you’ve been letting her down, breaking all the promises you made to her when you married her.' And I just broke down on stage…”