In the midst of the chaos that is Aftershock Festival (September 2013), I ran into one of rock and metal’s most recognizable singers – mostly because he’s made cameos with everyone from the Deftones and Sevendust to Papa Roach and Lamb of God. I’m talking about the powerful and very charismatic vocalist behind SNOT, Divine Heresy, and Vext: Tommy Vext.
Tommy wasn’t performing at Aftershock; however, he had a lot to talk about. I caught up with Tommy (at the time, off the record) to talk about an incredibly ambitious new project that is combining the efforts of some of the biggest names in rock and metal: SFG12.
SFG12 resulted after the coming together of four sober musicians backstage at a concert in 2011: Tommy Vext (Snot), Clint Lowery (Sevendust), Wes Geer (Korn) and Jeff Fabb (Filter). Understanding the difficulties of maintaining sobriety and a clean lifestyle in the midst of touring (and the industry in general), the four held daily support meetings throughout the tour. The group expanded over time, and after recognizing the immense value of having a peer support group on the road, the twelve founding members humbly established the St. Francis Group (SFG12).
Now that SFG12 is official, we are able to publish the interview and help spread the word about an admirable effort being put forth by rock and metal’s finest:
In August 2013, an SFG founding member, Tommy Vext, partnered with Aaron Robin to form a unique non-profit organization aptly named SFG12 to expand on the original SFG and take it leaps and bounds in the spirit of our fellowship.
SFG12 provides a safety net of critical aid for artists seeking assistance in times of need. SFG12’s services cover a wide range of customized needs and remains committed to ensuring that each case is treated with the utmost integrity and confidence.
The goal of SFG12 is to offer uniquely curtailed financial and spiritual assistance programs to artists in or seeking recovery. SFG12 will provide several forms of sponsorship including providing someone to talk to in a time of need, helping artists with sober living or detox admissions, or providing a sober companion to those whose programs require it. The hand of SFG12 will always be there to hold when someone needs it.
Tommy, you’re just hanging out today. Not playing.
Just hanging out. You never know when I might show up on stage with a band and sing. It’s never premeditated. People usually just grab me, and I’m like “Hey, I know this song.”
I think I’ve seen you guest on more stages than anybody else I know.
I guess so.
I think that just means everyone likes you.
I don’t know. I have friends. [Laughs]
Tell me more about what we were talking about earlier [off record]…
As of now I’m the CFO of a new non-profit called SFG12. We’re going to be hosting a string of concerts in Los Angeles and New York. All the proceeds are going to sponsoring artists who are seeking or in recovery. Basically we are a liaison service that grants financial sponsorship to help you get into sober living or detox.
We’re also doing a really cool thing where we’re going to be offering sober companion services. In the ’80s when everyone was selling records and making millions of dollars, if artists had drug problems, they would hire a guy to go on the road with them and help be a support system… and that costs about $30-$40k a month. No bands can afford that now. So the concerts we’re going to throw are going to help people who need these kinds of services. It’s a pretty rad deal.
How did you get linked into this?
To be honest I made a lifestyle choice to be sober in 2009. Like many of us, I grew up with alcoholism and violence in my home. I discovered drinking and drugs at a very early age. After getting signed and touring I was constantly surrounded by addiction. Eventually it brought me down and I had to get help.
Today, I have a strong support system of people in the entertainment business that share my story. Together we support one another and now we want to offer that support on a larger scale.
It almost seems like nowadays that it’s more cool to be fit and healthy than to get loaded all the time. Some of the most successful guys in music are in the gym instead of out partying…
I think, too, if you want to have longevity in your career you’re going to want to live long enough to make it through.
I know I’d rather still be performing into my 50s, and 60s, and 70s. People are looking at bands like Black Sabbath, ACDC, Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones and saying, “I want to be able to do that to.” So artists are taking better care of themselves. They’re eating healthier , working out & doing yoga. It’s really weird actually haha.It seems like the old stigma about getting fucked up before you went on stage and dying before you were 30 has finally become an old unoriginal idea.
Is there a core group of musicians doing this? Who’s involved in SFG12?
How it works
SFG12’s primary source of fundraising will be charity concerts hosted in Los Angeles and New York. As SFG12 is a 501(c)(3), any performer, artist, or venue offering their services to SFG12 will receive a tax deduction in the amount equal to the services rendered. All proceeds from ticket sales, raffles, and merchandise will be donated to SFG12. Additionally, ticket purchases for all SFG12 events are tax deductible.
Contact SFG12: For further information about SFG12 or how to donate, please e-mail Aaron.Robin@SFG12.com or Tommy.Vext@SFG12.com.
You can also follow Tommy Vext on Twitter at @TVext.