Some bands spend days struggling to think of a name that best fits them. Not Rehab.
"We met at a 12-step meeting," MC/producer Brooks said from his Atlanta home on Wednesday. "The name Rehab seemed like an obvious name for what we were doing, which is talking about how we feel and what we've been through."
Since forming more than seven years ago, Brooks and MC/singer Danny Boone have used an alluring concoction of country-fried rap-rock to tell their tales of drug addiction and debauchery. Their major label debut, Southern Discomfort, continues to dive into themes of chemical dependency, even going as far as remaking Run-D.M.C.'s classic "My Adidas" into "My Addiction."
Rehab, who are clean today (but not squeaky), pay homage to their old habits with Everlast-meets-Kottonmouth Kings music. And why not? In an odd way, they owe their recent success (their single "It Don't Matter" is en route to becoming a modern-rock hit) to drugs and alcohol.
If it wasn't for a bottle of liquor, Boone wouldn't be providing the soulful singing that separates Southern Discomfort from the crop of recent crap-rock albums.
"The singing thing came out of the blue," Boone said Wednesday from his home in Warner Robins, Georgia, an Air Force town south of Atlanta. "I got drunk and was singing, and someone said I should do it on the album. That's enabled us to be more musical, instead of just in a genre. People don't know what the hell kind of music Rehab is."
Rehab can also thank their past addictions for providing them with years worth of material. Their new album with songs like "Sittin' at a Bar," "Scarecrow" and "Drinkin' Problem" is based on feelings and memories that came out of their drug days.
"We both write about what we feel, songs that are ridiculously honest," Brooks said. "We don't even try to be poetic. The eternal war is always good fuel for writing the good versus evil, the part that hates you versus the parts that loves you."
"It Don't Matter," which will be featured in the upcoming DJ Qualls and Eddie Griffin film "The New Guy," is about learning how to laugh when you've reached a low point in life, Brooks said. The song's catchy chorus "It don't matter, and I don't care/ Let my pain into the air/ 'Cause everything is over there/ And everything is hard to bear" says it all.
Brooks and Boone wrote the song in 20 minutes out of a freestyle session.
"'It don't matter, and I don't care' was something I said all the time to people," Brooks said. "It was my answer to everything. You get to a point where you're so depressed that you're almost content. You ain't got sh--, and you're not happy, and nothing makes you happy. It's a happy song about being miserable. A lot of people who are manic-depressives will tell you that you get to a point where you are so low that you are happy, you are feeling nothing."
Brooks and Boone are firm believers that comedy is the best form of therapy.
"We do a sarcastic look at real subject matter, almost like making fun of ourselves and the ridiculousness of our lives," Brooks said. "It's like, 'This is f---ed up. Let's jump around and have fun.' I always laugh at the ridiculous sh-- I've done. Drugs are funny to me. I'm sober now, so I can laugh about it. I laugh about other's people sick sh--. People do some comedic sh-- on drugs."
Boone, a white country boy who's been trying to make a career out of hip-hop for 17 years, is the kind of MC who pours his heart out in his lyrics but never takes them too seriously.
"I think doing the most corny song is the most punk thing you can do," Boone said. "Sometimes I think we missed true punk with Vanilla Ice and Hammer. If that wasn't the biggest 'f--- you' attitude I've ever seen, I don't know what is. Look what they had on. Nobody wears that."
When Rehab first formed, there were three of them, but rapper Steaknife relapsed and left the group right when it was negotiating a record deal with Epic. Steaknife has since recovered and has a cameo on Southern Discomfort, along with Cee-Lo and Big Gipp of Goodie Mob. He also has a solo deal with Priority Records.
"We're all happy," Brooks said. "He's still a part of Rehab. We're on his album, he's on ours."
Rehab are promoting their album this summer with appearances at several radio station festivals and a six-date stint on the Vans Warped Tour, which also features 311, the Rollins Band, Less Than Jake and Rancid. All of these big shows mean more exposure to drugs, but Brooks isn't worried about temptation.
"The thing is that nothing can be put in front of me that I don't see on a daily basis anyway," he said. "I'm still in a world where I see drugs everywhere. I've been sober 11 years; it doesn't effect me. Having some success doesn't make me want to get high. The stress of it might make you want to get high, but there's other things you can do that are fun."
Rehab tour dates, according to their publicist:
- 6/21 - Savannah, GA @ Blue Light Cafe
- 6/29 - Salt Lake City, UT @ KXRX-FM radio festival
- 6/30 - Denver, CO @ Fiddler’s Green
- 7/5 - Lexington, KY @ WXZZ-FM radio festival
- 7/6 - Waterfront, KY @ Waterfront Park
- 7/14 - Chicago, IL @ Q101 radio festival
- 7/31 - Bristow, VA @ Nissan Pavilion (Warped Tour)
- 8/1 - Virginia Beach, VA @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheater Lot (Warped Tour)
- 8/2 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Iron City Light Amphitheatre (Warped Tour)
- 8/3 - Camden, NJ @ Blockbuster-Sony Entertainment Center (Warped Tour)
- 8/4 - New York, NY @ Randalls Island (Warped Tour)
- 8/5 - Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Park Lot (Warped Tour)