By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
Would it be safe to assume you had no control over your career when you were younger?
Funny you say that. I didn't have any control at all, and that really bothered me. I didn't mind working with somebody. I'd been an actor since I was five years old, so I knew about having to be a team. But the Scotti Brothers were always like, "We made you. You don't know what you're talking about." I said, "People aren't gonna buy this stuff!" and they were like, "Oh, shut up. You don't know anything." I was like a puppet for the -- I was a marionette for the puppeteers. But I didn't end up suing the Scotti Brothers. I believe in karma. I don't know if that's true anymore, though, because they sold the company for, like, $550 million cash -- that I started for them -- and I never saw a dime. They ripped me off for millions.
You no doubt recognize some parallels between your career and that of today's crop of teen acts.
Sure. The same thing happened to the Backstreet Boys. If I could pass advice on to any of these people -- and I don't talk to 'em, I don't know Britney, and I don't know Justin Timberlake or anything like that -- but it's like, you've got to become an artist yourself. You can't just allow the others to say, "Here, do this song." In order to last in this business, you have to become an artist, because only artists last. Pinups don't last. Shaun [Cassidy], David [Cassidy], Andy [Gibb], and I were the last of the solo teen idols. Now it takes five! Now you need one curly-haired guy, one Hispanic guy ... you know what I mean?
Major labels haven't exactly hungered for your comeback efforts, have they?
Well, we're holding out for a better thing with a larger label. I don't want them to expect my name to sell, but I've got a certain fan base, and it'll sell to them. In order to reach other people, we have to do the radio station payola thing or whatever.
So the grownup teenage girls still send you fan mail?
Absolutely. That was the one thing that never fleeted. Somehow people were interested in me, what I was doing socially or what I was doing as far as being addicted to drugs, so that was a good thing. I appreciate that. I wish it wasn't for those reasons, but if that's what kept my name in the media and kept me alive, then fine.
The 1970s must have been a fun time to bed teenage groupies.
I wasn't into the girls so much -- I was into their mothers. I had my fill of the fruit, if you will. And that was all pre-AIDS and shit.
Regarding your drug addictions, was there a gateway drug that led you to heroin?
I never used to believe that, but it is true. You do one thing, and it's like swimming. You get a little deeper into the water, and you swim a little deeper, and you try different things. And of course, alcohol led to pot. Smoking pot led to trying coke. Coke led to trying pills. Then I tried opium, which is basically the same as heroin, and got hooked on that.
Can you casually partake today?
I do drink a little bit, and I've smoked a joint since I've gotten clean, but the other stuff is not for me anymore.
How did you manage to team up with the Melvins?
[Melvins singer] King Buzzo gave me a call and said, "Hey, you want to do a remake of Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'?" I was like, "Well, you know, sure. I'd love it. I like you guys -- how can we do it in a way that would be different?" He's like, "No, no, we're gonna do it the same." I'm like, "Why? What's the point?" And they said, "It'll be funny." So I kinda look back on that now and I wonder, was it a joke at my expense?
It was, wasn't it?
I don't know. I ended up going on tour with them, and we became friends and whatnot. I think it turned out pretty well.
Your rise and fall was fairly well documented on VH1's Behind the Music. You seemed quite uncomfortable doing that meeting with Roland, whom you hadn't seen since the accident.
It was. They talked me into it. They only told me about it the night before. I was like, "Oh my God -- I can't do it." And they ended up saying this and that, and I'm glad I did it. It turned out to be a good thing.
It sure looked awkward. Was it a real meeting, not some contrived scene?
It wasn't [faked] at all. They had cameras hidden in trees and stuff like that. They would have captured that. I forgot the cameras were even rolling at one point, and then I remembered after I started crying. I was like, "Oh my God ... okay, fuck, can you guys cut?" you know?