Just three years ago, Nate Garrett wanted to die. As he revealed to us when we profiled him this spring, he had been drinking every day for 10 years, wasn't eating and had hit rock bottom. Fortunately, in March 2015, with the help of friends and loved ones, he checked into detox, and out of his newfound sobriety rose Spirit Adrift, his doom-metal solo project, which has since grown into a full-fledged band. Today, Garrett also plays in heralded death-metal crew Gatecreeper and has found through music a powerful sense of purpose in his life.
It hasn't only been his own music that has helped sustain Garrett through dark times. A lifelong fan, he has also turned to other artists' songs for solace, inspiration and meaning. As part of our ongoing "Songs for Black Days" series, presented in partnership with Hope for the Day, we asked him to share a few of those, along with his thoughts on how they've helped him.
"Jimi Hendrix was single-handedly responsible for me picking up the guitar. That said, he's under-appreciated as a lyricist and vocalist. He had a way with words that was as powerful and unique as his guitar playing. I got into Hendrix when I was about 11 years old, and for a minute there, it felt like he was the only friend I had."
"Black Sabbath is my favorite band and probably always will be. Their more progressive, ambitious period is what really resonates with me. Sabotage blew my mind harder than anything I had heard before or since, and 'Thrill of It All' stands out as the song I connect to the most emotionally. The chorus is so uplifting and joyous, it's hard to feel bad when it's playing."
"When I was a child, I thought country was for old people and assholes. After accumulating even a little bit of life experience, I realized how wrong I was. The songs Hank Williams wrote and sang are genius in their simplicity. His voice cuts right through you, and his lyrics can be related to by anybody with a beating heart."
"For as long as I can remember, my knee-jerk reaction to any emotional situation is to get angry and violent. I'm a lot better now than I used to be. For whatever reason, one thing that has always helped calm that feeling down is angry, violent music. It's like two negatives canceling each other out. Eyehategod was there for me in some of the most painful times of my youth. They were so important to me, I got their logo tattooed on me when I was just 17."
"I've always been crazy, but it's Waylon Jennings that kept me from going insane. In addition to always being able to depend on his music, I read his book during a difficult time and it changed my life. He's buried right by my house, and I still go pay my respects pretty regularly."
"Annihilation Time took everything I love about Black Sabbath and Black Flag, and supercharged it. The music — particularly the riffs and guitar work — is outrageously rocking, and the lyrics are raging angst to the highest degree. Many thanks to Ryan Waste [of Municipal Waste] for turning me onto this band that was so important to me as I transitioned from my teens to my twenties."
"This was my go-to song during the darkest period of my substance abuse — which was also just the darkest period of my life in general. I think it was therapeutic to know that there was someone else out there who had felt just as crushed under the weight of addiction and loss as I was feeling. World Coming Down is hard to listen to these days, but it's too good not to listen to."
"I listen to this song every night on tour, right before I (attempt to) go to sleep. When I'm totally drained and incapable of feeling anything at all, this song centers me in a place of love and hope. It forces me to feel something."
"It's hard to pick just one Tom Petty song, but thematically this one fits. His music is so intrinsically woven into my memories and life experience, I feel like he's a family member or something. He'll always be there to help me out, even though he's no longer physically around."
"The things I relied upon to cope with life almost killed me, so I had to trade them in for hippie shit like meditating and breathing exercises. I got into an obsessive Tangerine Dream phase right about the same time I got into breathing exercises. For me, this period of Tangerine Dream's catalog is inherently associated with inner peace and contentment."
September is Suicide Prevention Month. Every day in America, 121 people complete suicide. It only takes one to break the silence — take action in your community and sign Hope for the Day's mental health pledge.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of resources.