An Adolescent Tragedy Raises Awareness About Heroin Addiction Through Music [Exclusive Artist Interview]

Ross of An Adolescent Tragedy opens up about his addiction and recovery through music.

An Adolescent Tragedy (also know as AAT) is a Los Angeles, California based punk project that merges politics and humor in an intelligent way. He also talks very openly about his addiction and recovery with hopes to help others. Ross, age 26, is the mastermind behind the project An Adolescent Tragedy and he was kind enough to have a chat with me and open up to give our readers some perspective about the disease of addiction and of course, about his incredibly moving music.

AAT has several releases on Spotify including the LP’s; Songs From Rehab!, Songs from the Shipwreck, Soliciting Stories, & Tapping In. AAT is currently in the process of recording a second full band album which Rock the Pigeon is super excited about!

RTP: How did you come up with your artist/band name? 

AAT: Like most band names nothing will sound cool so I went with my gut… plus my adolescence was full of fear, tragedy and self loathing so it fit!

The first track off of the LP Songs From The Shipwreck showcases the intelligent humor that An Adolescent Tragedy uses to express his point of view. The song contains catchy pop punk melodies during the chorus.

RTP: That is a very unique song!! What inspired the topic? 

AAT: I wrote Politics are the new opiates (and Fuck Ben Shapiro) about kittens giving birth… Just kidding.. This song is about this extremely weird phenomenon happening where people view politics like it is their identity and subscribe to ideology rather than thinking for themselves (how not interesting and cliché). Ben Shapiro is a popular right wing guy who claims mental illness to people transitioning and in one interview he goes after a former war veteran and I got upset seeing this guy who claims he is a free thinker boxing in and limiting others to a predetermined traditional ideology… and just to say what everyone is thinking none of my hero’s were ever traditional or predictable. songs from the shipwreck

An Adolescent Tragedy is sober from heroin and doesn’t shy away from discussing his addiction to drugs and alcohol in his songwriting.

“What Do You Want to Be When You Give Up?” is a fast-paced full-band punk song that AAT wrote about his addiction and rebellion. He talks openly about his childhood, his addiction, and the some of the dark places he went to before getting sober – including running into trouble with law enforcement.

“And in the song I ask myself what do I want to be when I give up? Take a second and ask yourself the same question. At the time I gave up resentment toward the government, fear and my crippling addiction to heroin.”
– An Adolescent Tragedy 

Another song that dives into the topic of drugs and alcohol is The Xanax Song. This song is an acoustic track, fitting into the anti-folk genre. The song is a dark-comedy that any addict could relate to and laugh about.

“At the end of the song it comes full circle expressing my sentiment I hold today which is drugs and alcohol saved my life. I wouldn’t have found peace if not battling those wars with my demons.”– An Adolescent Tragedy 

Other songs dive into the topics of romance including, “I Don’t Care About the Smell” and “I’m Keeping the Nintendo.” Both of those songs come from the record Tapping In which can also be heard on Spotify.

We highly recommend giving AAT’s songs a listen, especially if you or someone you know is struggle with addiction. These songs may provide you with a sense of relief, relatability or even the desire to get clean and sober if you are struggling.

Listen to all the great AAT record on Spotify now! Visit AAT’s artist page by clicking here.

Read our exclusive interview with An Adolescent Tragedy below:

RTP: How long have you been sober? What made you want to get sober? Can you share a little bit of your story with our readers? 

AAT: I have one year of sobriety! That means something to me on a fundamental level cause I never could get two days. It took me 10 years to get one year because I love meth, I love wine, I love crack, but heroin made me its bitch. I thought I wasn’t good enough, people didn’t understand me, if you knew me you would leave, I wasn’t attractive and I was either way better than you or beneath you and all those things were my experience! They just weren’t true. I have been to prison, I have been to 8 psychwards and I couldn’t tell you how many rehabs I have been too. However, there is NOTHING wrong with me just like there is nothing wrong with any addict. I didn’t do anything wrong by using drugs, in fact the intention behind shooting heroin is dead on the money! What the intention truly is, is trying to connect to something greater than yourself. The intention behind heroin was to make feel a little more whole, however it just wasn’t deep enough. Just searching for something external to make me feel whole (drugs or sex) reinforces the fact that I think I am not whole! That has been such an amazing discovery for me in sobriety that I am whole and always have been. What I am talking about is spirituality and later taking other people through the work I went through to in turn get them sober and that is really what keeps me sober today. The thing about my work in our community is that there are no labels, there are no races, there are no identifiable characteristics that people attach themselves to besides “Alcoholic” and “Drug addict.” That is all I need to know to relate to them on an intimate level. Once that is established and trust is formed we get sober.

I wanted to get sober January 18th 2016 when my older brother David Everitt died of a heroin overdose. He was my best friend. A lot of people think that would have made me wake up to what I was doing to myself but tragedy makes people like us dive in deeper. Three weeks later I was on life support and had to relearn how to walk from a heroin overdose. I had something called Rhabdomyolysis which is literally your body turning you into a zombie by decaying your muscle. My family didn’t deserve to see me like that after my brother passed away. What family and the general population doesn’t understand is that NO ONE WANTS THE DRUG ADDICT/ALCHOLHIC TO CHANGE MORE THAN THE DRUG ADDICT OR ALCHOLIC! The individual afflicted with substance use disorder wants to change so badly but doesn’t know how. We don’t know what we don’t know until we know it. One of our most popular songs is called “Despondent (the great unknown).” I suggest for anyone that lost someone to listen to it.

RTP: What do you love about being sober?

AAT: Like I said earlier I wanted to connect with heroin…. Also my mental health was always dog shit.. But I couldn’t change! I tried killing myself and once again MY INTENTIONS WHERE DEAD ON THE MONEY! I knew something in me HAD TO DIE! I just tried killing the wrong self. People who don’t suffer mental illnesses label suicide “selfish” and that pisses me off because they have no idea what they are talking about. Suicide is a misguided attempt at being selfless. One of our new songs argues this idea in my perspective very well. Screen Shot 2020-01-13 at 9.40.11 PM.png

Today I have connection because I AM SOBER. That is the most important thing in my life and I will walk 10 miles to meet someone that is struggling because I was there. I will never turn my back on a suffering individual and I will never give up on someone because I was that hopeless case that people gave up on and left for dead.
I love not being dope sick and being able to sing my heart out without being loaded. I am grateful for this interview and I am so fucking grateful I AM NOT SUFFERING FROM WHATS NOT HAPPENING ANYMORE!

RTP: What are your goals as an artist?

AAT: My goals as an artist are to be able to spread positivity to the world and make up for all those years where I terrorized innocent people and hurt my family. I love punk music and expressing myself is the goal when I write my music, however, there is a deeper connection I get when people listen to my music and write to me saying how it has impacted them. That was an unintentional effect of being an artist that I cannot express how much that means to me.

RTP: What do you love about being an artist?

AAT: I was always felt like I was different or other people fit in and I never felt apart of. Now I feel like I fit in because of my music. I love the DIY Punk scene because people don’t give a fuck about materialism and often have individualized thinking. I don’t care if I ever am famous because that’s never what it was about for me. I always wanted to connect! Being an artist is the ultimate connection because you get to be 100% authentically you. Can you say that about working a 9-5 at a cubicle?

RTP: What artists inspire you? who do you look up to?

AAT: I loved skate punk growing up. But my music inspirations run from Bad Religion, Mischief Brew to even Taylor Swift. I look up to people in recovery/music that are actually making a difference like Ryan Cassata, Apes of the State and hundreds of folk punk bands that I know are walking the walk. What inspires me is action. The first people to take immediate action usually aren’t the ones protesting and trying to change people’s minds because in my experience spreading love and tolerance can be so much more convincing than arguments that stem from ego. I don’t know what truly is right or wrong intellectually but I feel truth.

RTP: Hey, Thanks for the shout out! Thanks for all that insight about recovery and for being so open too. Do you have personal advice to anyone that wants to get sober… ?


This is a question I take very seriously. If you are reading this my only aim is to be helpful. The only way I could quit doing heroin was to do more heroin. I had to be broken enough, beaten into a state of reasonableness about spiritual principles and tormented enough to believe that they could work. With that said, those who aren’t capable of sobriety at this exact moment is simply because they are addicted and not because they lack the capacity to change. It has nothing to do with morality or convictions. I will ALWAYS GO BACK to shooting dope. So, if that’s the case how the fuck am I sober? I joined a 12 step fellowship very, very reluctantly and I never gave up. I relapsed, then relapsed some more, then overdosed, then relapsed, but with every fail I gained crucial knowledge that whatever keeps me sober isn’t in my mind. In fact, it’s the opposite. My mind is where the problem is and you cant see the problem from the problem. I would advise people to take direction from other people in recovery if they have the capacity to trust. Today I was driving in my car by myself but I wasn’t alone. I was having conversations in my head and resentments floating around. Everyone has a voice inside of their head, and if your sitting their thinking you don’t have a voice inside of your head….. that is the voice I am talking about! Don’t listen to that voice, acknowledge it for what it’s worth, but just know that 95% of what is going on their is bullshit and not true.

I would advise people to take direction from other people in recovery if they have the capacity to trust. Today I was driving in my car by myself but I wasn’t alone. I was having conversations in my head and resentments floating around. Everyone has a voice inside of their head, and if your sitting their thinking you don’t have a voice inside of your head….. that is the voice I am talking about! Don’t listen to that voice, acknowledge it for what its worth, but just know that 95% of what is going on their is bullshit and not true. For me my truth is I had to go to rehab again and it was either suicide or recovery. Some people don’t need rehab, I did. For most people geographical changes do not work, for me they helped!

One year later I am crying writing this because I love my fucking life. I wouldn’t trade the trauma, the grief and loss or anything I have been through because it was all necessary. I see now that everything was for me not against me. If I can have that perspective after being locked in a cell, losing my brother and throughout my addiction it is possible. Do not give up. Keep fucking fighting and if you need someone please message me or call.

Contact Ross from AAT: @An_adolescent_tragedy

Photo by Dmitry Bayer on Unsplash

For Fans Of: Cranford Nix, The Dirty Nil, Green Day, Dead Blonde Girlfriend, Frank Turner, AJJ, Apes of the State, Mischief Brew, Blink 182, NOFX, Bowling For Soup


Written by Ryan Cassata 


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