Canadian musician, car-accident survivor and champion of mental health; Robb Nash.
Robb Nash has accomplished a lot in his life. He’s had popular songs, a record label offer, was named one the most influential people in 2016 by the Washington Post and been featured in stories by CBC, Global News, the Huffington Post and CTV. If you ask him, however, he’ll tell you his biggest achievement lies in the thousands of kids who have heard his mental health message and used it as a catalyst to find their way to healthier lives. The story of how Robb went from a rock star with a record deal to dedicating his life to connecting with youth is unique. After a serious car accident, Robb fell into a deep depression. Finding his way to the other side was hard, and when he emerged, he decided to use his experience to tell kids that “they don’t have to die like I did before I started to live.” Today, Robb and his band, The Robb Nash Project, travel across Canada playing shows for students, sharing their music and inspiring youth with their message of hope. Robb has received over 600 suicide notes from students who decided they didn’t need them anymore after hearing his story. Through his songs, students connect to hope, seeing someone who like them has struggled with thoughts of suicide only to re-emerge stronger than ever. Robb has helped save the lives of hundreds, an impact bigger than selling thousands of records.
Watch the video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/cAsbXE4HeLU
The Robb Nash Project is an immersive concert experience that engages audiences through the power of music and storytelling addressing topics related to mental health such as depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction, bullying and suicidal ideation.
Need Support? Please contact Kids Help Phone at 1800-668-6868 or text NASH to 686868
Some other resources you may want to check out:
Canadian Mental Health Association - https://cmha.ca
Mood Disorders Society of Canada - https://mdsc.ca
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health - https://www.camh.ca
Mental health and substance use support for people in Canada and Canadians abroad. Always free and virtual, 24/7.
A new three-digit telephone number available to Canadians in need of mental health and suicide prevention will be in place by November 2023, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission recently announced.
Well, Robb Nash, thank you so much for joining me here today on Through the Fire, we are longtime buds, I think. Would you describe us as long time buds?
Yeah, you're good in small doses. So we toured together for a minute and so I didn't quite get tired of you.
Slightly longer than a minute. It was a good three months.
You remember the year? No, 2014.
I have a head injury, bro.
Right. We're going to get into that head injury in a bit. But I remember it was spring, early summer of 2014, and you had called me up and I didn't know you knew who I was at that point in time, I'm sure. I think word got around to you about what I was up to and sort of my artistic growth and stuff. And you said, hey, we're doing this project where our guitar player just stepped away and wondering if you want to come in. I had already known about you, and Eyewitness was your previous long time ago project. So when you called me, I was like, oh, cool, I know this guy. And you talked to me and invited me on the tour, and that's where it began in 2014.
2014, you said three months?
I think three months. We start September, October, November. And I think I stepped away just at the end of November.
Because you had me shredding on guitar, shredding, which I am not a shredder.
I can't remember. It was the Saddle Dome or the MTS Center. But the other guitarist, Kyle. He is a guy that he's a shredder, runs around and flips his guitar around. And you were like, he's not really playing, is he? And I remember Johnny, our drummer, was like, oh, he's playing. And you're like.
I think it was the last gig. And I was like, I'm out of here. That's so funny. When I talk about Eyewitness, I think I told you this story before, but 2001 or 2002 something. Dawson, Manitoba.
Going way back. Your band was there. You had that car. You had a car? Like, what kind of car? It was, but it was all decked out and you were singing, and my first meeting of you was you were in the crowd and you're singing and you held the mic out to me and you had me sing along.
And you held them. So I said I didn't know the words, but I tried to sing along. It was like a phrase you kept repeating, so I just sing along. And it was probably I think I was totally off key, of course, but that was knowing me. And that was my first meeting of Robb Nash.
Isn't that a cool memory?
That's a minute ago, then. Yeah. Some of those festivals, you get thrown in the mix and a lot of cool things happen. You never shared that story with me.
PT Cruiser, was that what it was?
No. Tyler had one. He tried to make a cool one like our other one. My friend, he saw what I was doing with the band and he was like, man, I want to do something with my life. But all I know is I love cars. And he said, But I want to do something special. And then he came to me, he goes, I had a dream last night. And in the dream, I took my car, a Jetta, and I souped it up like a fast and furious car. And I put your logo on, your website, and I went around promoting your band. I'm like, oh, that's interesting. So he would go cruising and he'd go ahead of us before we would do a show, and he'd cruise and people would come up. Car lovers would come up and be like, oh, cool car. And they'd be like, what's the logo on the website? It's my buddy's band. And he'd hand out free tickets to shows and stuff. And it was cool that even a love for cars give him a chance to tell a story, and he got that taste of significance. So, yeah, that was my best friend in high school. But that was a minute ago. That was before we even became Live on Arrival.
That's right. Yeah. Live on arrival. That was your next project after that. So going to 2014, I was on tour with you guys. I stepped away. The tour kept going, kept running right up until, I guess, the pandemic, I would say, right? Like or just before.
Well, we had done three albums, as Eyewitness, and then we got that big opportunity that you think you're all waiting for, and that was we got a record deal and there was an Eyewitness in the States, so we had to change our name and we changed it to Live On Arrival. And it was intimidating. We went from some smaller studios in Winnipeg. I'm flown up to Vancouver and I'm walking through these hallways, I'm looking at all these gold records. I'm like, where am I? And then you're sitting with these producers from LA and Vancouver and they're like, we're going to make sure you're writing hits. Like, we're going to write an album together. And they're like, hey, so first song, what do you want to write about? I was like, I met this homeless guy in a soup kitchen. I want to write about him. And they're like, okay. So we wrote a song called Hello, Goodbye. And I remember one of the guys was driving to my hotel that night and they're like, hey, that's cool that you got that off your chest. A song about a homeless person. Nobody on the radio wants to hear about homeless people, we need you to write hits. And it was funny because we had a massive launch party. Our label was flying out different radio stations and schmoozing them and limos and five star hotels, playing our music, saying, this is going to be the next big thing. What you don't know as an artist is all those expenses, those limos and hotels you're going to pay for as an artist later, that's all coming out of your pocket. At the end of the day, it's a loan. And then the weekend before they released our song, they flew the 55 biggest radio stations out to Vancouver. And I'm backstage at this private club. We're going to introduce you. Just walk out and come out. We're going to introduce you. And they're like, here he is, Robb Nash. I walk out and they had all these nurses with short skirts dancing around me. And I'm like, what is this? And I'm like, oh, and I'm sure we'll get into this, but I was in a big car accident. They were using it as a gimmick. And I was super upset because that was something very vulnerable part of my life, right? But then there was this after party. It was chaos. It was like the big rock star life. And then the following week they released our song and the song that everybody picked was the song about the homeless guy. And it went to number three in Canada just like that. A lot of it was BS because you have to have the right people around you that can schmooze with those radio stations and you need some money behind you to make that happen. But yeah, all of a sudden we got songs in the top ten and we're tuning with huge bands.
That's a super cool journey. Some things you said, like you said significance a little while ago. And I know that's a big part of your story and I want to get into that in just a second because I know where your story well, I wouldn't say where it began because I don't know your early, early years, but I know there was, like you said, that car accident. Would you take me back to that, what happened, and let us know kind of what happened?
Yeah, sure. I grew up in small town Manitoba, very legalistic, religious family, and I wasn't allowed to listen to anything mainstream. But then I actually left to go to school somewhere else, to a school I'd never seen before. I was on a scholarship in the Bursary and stuff. And I went out there and I played drums, not guitar at the time. And I was like, you play drums? Like, oh, can you play Guns and Roses? Can you play Nirvana? And I was like, oh, I'm not allowed to listen it. Wait, mom and dad aren't here, maybe I can listen to this. And then I just got addicted to music. I was like, oh, just as a listener. But then I started playing guitar and then had a high school band just for talent shows. Never thought I'd do it for a living because my worst mark in school was music. I auditioned for the choir and I didn't make it because my voice wasn't good enough. But I was just obsessed with music. And I lived out at the school from 15 to 18, away from my family and everything. And then when I was 17 you think you're indestructible? We went for a car ride. We were getting flowers for our dates for the winter formal, and we're flying back down these roads. My buddy, he only had his license for a few days and wasn't very experienced driver, to say the least. And it was black ice. And everybody else is going 40 km an hour and we're going 120. He's pulling up passing cars. And we were like half a kilometer from our school. And we pulled out to pass one last car and we got hit by a semi truck. And I was found with no pulse, not breathing. And yeah, obviously I came back to life. The person that pulled up on the scene, the first person just took the first responders course. So he resuscitated me. And I met him a few years ago and he was the one that explained everything that he saw and resuscitated me. And he said he was trying to hold my skull together because once my heart started beating, even if you're cut, if your heart's not beating, blood's not flowing, so it doesn't come out really. But once he resuscitated me, blood started pouring out of my head, so I lost the side of my skull. And so he was trying to hold the skull together until the ambulance got there.
How are your friends?
Were they nobody was hurt, just me. Which is remarkable. Even the guy that I was talking about with the car, he was in the backseat with me, my best friend. And yeah, he was like, everybody thinks my story is the dramatic one because I came back to life. But he was the one that he realized it's almost more miraculous that he wasn't hurt. And yeah, they brought me to the hospital.
Do you have memories of these things or what you're told?
No. I'm missing about three months. And so they got me to hospital. They rebuilt my skull with titanium, and a lot of surgery started you're in.
The hospital this whole time?
Yeah. And I woke up. I didn't know who I was with my parents, just because of the brain damage. And then they let me go home, but I was still like my sister talks about she was a hairdresser at the time, and she came to cut my hair. She came back the next day, and I didn't know she had been there the day before. I would get upset because I'm like, Why are my friends visiting me? I was so alone. My parents were like, all your friends came here yesterday. And then I was mad at my parents. I'm like, Why didn't you tell me they were here? And they were like, you hung out with them all day. And even I went back to school because I just wanted to be back with people. I understand what happens over the last couple of years with COVID, like, people being isolated and being away and can't be with your friends, and you can't play sports. That was my life in grade twelve because I'm 65. I played a lot of sports, and now I couldn't do any of those things. I'm alone, so I just want to go back to school. Even though the doctor said I shouldn't, I went back to school. I don't even remember now, going back to school. So there's about three months missing, but through that, everybody's throwing the cliches at you like, oh, this was fate. I'm like fate. Yes. The bus had your name on it. I had some family that told me that God was mad at me because I'm a bad kid, so he spanked me to the semi. That made me angry. But the most common thing people would say, and they still say to this day, and I know they say with good intentions, but now, I've met on our tour, met with tons of people in prison, hospitals, funerals. And people say this phrase, and it does way more damage than good. People always say everything happens for a reason. And some people take that and, what's the reason this happened? And they do something great with it. For me, it was like and a lot of people, it's like, what's the reason this happened to me? Now I'm like, this is like a life lesson. I was bitter. I was angry. I have no control. Everything happens for a reason. So for two years, I was suicidal. I was hurting myself, but didn't want to be alive. Nobody knew, none of my friends or family. And then somebody came up to me, said the most amazing thing, and it changed my life. He goes, you're trying to figure out the reason this happened to you, right? I'm like, yeah. He goes, I know what it is. What's the reason? He goes, you were going too fast on a nice road. He's like, shit happens. What are you going to do with it? I'm like, and that sounds simple. That set me free. I realized I'm not a puppet. I get to make some decisions. I'm like, what am I going to do with my life? And now what? I tell people that I meet with on tour, as I say, like, there's some good things that happen that just seem beyond coincidence, for sure. But to say everything happens for a reason, I don't like that. I always say bad things don't happen for a reason. Bad things happen with potential. My accident had the potential to leave me angry, bitter, suicidal the rest of my life. Or there's a potential. You can take your story and do something with it. So when I was done being angry, I was like, Well, I got a second chance. Not everybody does. Maybe I should do something with it. And I screamed at the sky, and I was like, I want to do something that matters. And I was like and I thought I'd hear a voice inside of me telling me to move to Africa and build a well. And I would have done it. Whatever I heard in that moment, whatever prompting, I felt. And what I felt was phone the semi driver that hit you and tell me you're alive. And I was like, what? So I phoned the police. I'm like, you know, can I get the number of the semi driver that ran me over? And the cops? No. But his voice wouldn't leave me alone. So I kept trying. And finally, one cop gave me his number, and I got a hold of this big trucker from the US. And I said, do you remember that accident up in Canada? And he got real quiet. He's like, yeah. And I said, I just felt that I should call you and tell you, like, I'm alive. I'm okay. I made it. And he starts crying. He goes, I'm so sorry about your friend, though. I'm like what friend? He goes, when he died and crushed his skull, I'm like, that's why I'm calling. That, to me. Found out he hadn't driven a vehicle since that day. And I was like, but the important part of that story is what happened to him. It's what happened to me. That was the first day I ever did something for somebody else, not just for me. And that felt good, and I wanted more of that. And I was like, how many other people have the same dark thoughts just like me, and they're holding it in? I'm like, I need to tell my story. And that's when I decided music would be a good way to tell the story. Started a band.
I'm always so fascinating to hear that, siri, because I've heard your story on the tour. Every day we'd be playing, and we'd be sharing these stories with students. And even still to this day, I find myself moved by all these things and how you articulate the memories of those times. And you talk about sort of being inspired by people giving you this. The reality is that you have some control of your life. You're not just a puppet because you had to dig deep in yourself, though, too. Is there something that you would say that you would attribute to or other than just those good words being spoken to you?
Yeah, you know, I got through those times without getting help, which made it a lot harder. And I don't want anyone else to have to do that alone. Talk to the people around you. Don't hold it inside. We live in a world where it's like, especially as guys, we're not supposed to express ourselves, be vulnerable, talk about our emotions. And now when I tour and I tell these stories, yeah, I told that story a lot, but I still mean it when I say it. It's like you can tell someone you love them more than once, but you can still mean it if it's real. And it's still very real for me. And I just want to tell my stories that other people don't have to die like I did before they get it, before they start to live, you know? And don't just chase success, but chase significance. Like, we toured with some huge bands, a lot of big shows, and you meet these guys backstage and some are great, don't get me wrong, but meet some of these bands backstage and you're like, you think they're going to be so fulfilled because they're successful.
Living your dream.
Yeah, they got everything. And they're some of the emptiest people you'll meet because they never went from success to significance. And significance is when your story, your life impacts the world around you. So, yeah, we were touring with these bands and then we were doing a show with Finger Eleven in Edmonton. I remember there was 12,000 people that saved there. I remember at the time, their song Paralyzeralized was number one in the US for seven weeks. And I knew that I was a fan of Finger Eleven when they were still called the Rainbow butt Monkeys. I'm like, Congrats, guys, you're selling number one in the US. And they were still trying to get to that next level, which is, you know, it you're always trying to get to that next level. And I'm like, man, enjoy it. You're there. And then we got on stage and I'm looking and I remember seeing some guys in the audience. I'm like, that's clearly a band that's here watching us. I'm thinking, I'm looking at Finger Eleven and saying, Enjoy it, you're there. And they must be looking at me. Enjoy it. You're there. And if you never stop to go, man, this feels good. We're in a good place. You don't enjoy it, one of my favorite quotes comes from The Office, where Andrew Bernard says I wish you knew you were living in the good times before you leave them, the good old days.
If you know that you're in the good old days when you're in them.
Yeah, you probably know better than me I had injury. I have an excuse for so many things. But it was at that show, I.
Just watched it far too many times.
But it was at that show too, where I was like, we were getting ready to go to the US to do that same nurse party and they were talking to Europe and stuff. And I was like, it was fun playing these big shows and crowd surfing. I'm like, when do I get to really tell my story? And then I got offered like a nine month tour, going through schools, telling my story, just me and my guitar. I was like, yeah, I should do this. And everyone thought I was crazy because that means I'm walking away. I was going to owe money. I had to refinance. My home didn't have one dollars, but I felt it was the right thing to do and I started sharing my story. And that was for nine months. And at the end of the nine months, other schools and communities now prisons and reserves started calling and they're going, we heard about your impact, can you come? And what was supposed to be a nine month tour turned into twelve years before the Pandemic, which was that was actually significant, that was fulfilling because now your songs and you're telling stories and you can actually see the audience having breakthroughs.
I even remember being on the road with you. And I think students walk into that atmosphere that you set up with the concert and you turn their gym into a theater, essentially. And they walk in and then you can kind of see and you pull up in this cool tour bus and the students, they sort of change and immediately kind of like, what's going on? And they didn't really know us, I think going in they kind of knew a bit about what you were up.
To by the time you and I were doing it.
But when you walk in, then immediately, within a song, they're already in. They get it. They're already big fans immediately. And I love watching that from where I was watching the audience shift from who are these guys? To immediate fans.
Well, being a musician is a a unique thing. And I love the challenge. When you do a show, people are buying a tickets. They're already a fan of Don Amaro, right?
They got cokes, did but for me.
Why do I bring their husbands and then they just want to go watch.
A game or something.
They didn't come to cry.
But for me, it's like I really love the fact that 1000 students come walking and they're going, who is this? What is this? But it looks kind of cool. But they're on guard because they don't like presentations. They don't want somebody to come up and say, don't do drugs. But I get up and I just be vulnerable. And you were part of the shows, but all of a sudden, I'm doing family guy voices, and we're having some fun. And then I tell my story, and students can smell BS a mile away, and they can tell when you're genuine. And they're thinking, what's the catch here? Is this a publicity stunt? No, there's no cameras around here. Yeah. How much do they get paid to come here? Oh, it's free. Oh, these guys don't charge for this. Oh, they're in debt. Okay, what are they going to sell us then? We give out our music for free. And they're going, okay, you got us. It's genuine. And we would do some shows in Toronto where nobody there was fans of rock music. Right? And you got to win them over. And I love that, because every show not everybody's a fan of rock music. There's country music fans, there's R, amp, B, and hiphop and rap, and you got to win them over. Prison shows are my favorite. I don't know why, but you got all these guys come in with their feet chained together, and they sit down the front row, and it starts like this. Sorry if this is the place for you.
All good, man.
And I love that challenge. I'm like, I've got to win these guys over. That's just an adrenaline rush for me. So I'm like, yeah, we would do these shows, and they'd see it's genuine. Same thing when we started doing reserves, that was always a part of me where I was like, I don't know why, but I felt this calling to go to so many people will go spend their money and support different organizations in Africa, which is great. People have no idea what's happening in our own country. And, man, when we first got to reserve, it's like, oh, what's the catch, white boy? Another white boy coming with a publicity stunt. Same thing. And then they see you're genuine. And not only was I welcomed after a while, but I was embraced, given my spirit name. They call me Bear chief. So that's why Tattooed Bear there with Chief across the fingers.
I haven't seen that one yet.
Yeah, it means you're the protect. They call me the Protector Bear Chief. Yayo. And I don't know if I think that's in Cree, but yeah, it's very cool when people can tell when it's genuine. And then yeah, we were going from school to school. We couldn't reach the demand anymore. So for four years before the pandemic, we started going to big theaters and even arenas, and we would invite schools.
A bunch of schools would come and be part of it.
Yeah, our last show was at the arena and medicine hat. And if the school said, we can't afford to come, we're like, It's free. We can't pay for the school buses. All right? I told my team, my charity, like, we started a charity, and I'm like, hey, we're paying for the school buses and the gas, and we were flying kids from reserves and stuff, and we would do whatever it took to get the message across.
I love that, man.
I love the work you do, and I always love the work you're doing. I want to hear more about that in just a moment. We're just going to take a quick break here. So through the work you've done in schools and talk about I know a big part of the topic is somewhat selfharm and kind of that piece of it. I know you've had suicide notes handed over to you and razor blades and things like that along the way. I'm sure you've probably lost count by now of how many things you or do you know.
Yeah, I know. It's 917. That's something you cherish those the first time it happened was really unique. There was a school in Ontario that had a suicide, and they asked, hey, Rob, can you come right away? We heard about your effectiveness. We just had a suicide. And on this girl's suicide note, it revealed that she had a pact with one of her fans, like, if you kill yourself, I'll kill myself. And the principal said, we don't know who it is. So we flew out there, and then it was eerie, man. There's 800 students, let's say, in front of me. And somebody in front of the audience, or somebody in front of me in the audience was about to take their life, and I don't know where they're sitting. And I'm like, until that day, I had never talked about the fact that I was suicidal. I just said I had this car accident. This is what happened to me. And make every day count, because you're not promised tomorrow, right? That was it. I didn't want to say I was suicide. I didn't want to go there. That's not fun. And I thought, what would people think of me if I revealed that weakness? But now we're in front of this audience, and I'm like, I have to say it. I have to say that I was there. And I got to this point in the show, I'm like, say it, Rob. Say it. I'm like, I can't say it. I can't say it. What are the students going to think me? What are the staff going to think me? What is my team, my band members going to take? I've never said this to anyone, and I was like, I know somebody in this audience is thinking about taking their life. You're not alone. I was there once, too, and I braced, I thought, what was going to happen, but it felt like £1000 off me, just like, That felt good. And then the engagement took between me and the audience. My band members went to another level. Now it's like, people come up to you giving me hugs, and this girl walks up and she's got this old crinkled up note that's folded up, and she hands it to me. She goes, here. I'm like, what's this? She goes, It's my suicide note. I don't need this anymore. And she walked off with the school counselor. That was her. We were called there to find her, and we found her. And I was like, whoa. And I talked with a police officer that I know that focuses on teen suicide. And I said, what happened there that was not fresh? She didn't write that while I was talking. She had that with her. What was that? And they said, oh, yeah. Very rarely does a person write their suicide know when the day it happens. They usually write it, carry it with them for two to three months before they take their life, waiting for somebody to push them over the edge or for somebody to reach out and say, you're not alone. And I'm like, really? So it was the next day. We're doing another show, and I'm thinking, if the stats are true from Kids Help Phone, one in five teenagers had seriously considered suicide in the last twelve months. Precovet it's way worse now. So I'm like, One in five kids is suicidal. Somebody in the audience is thinking about it. And I said it again the next day, and it was a little easier the second day. Somebody here is thinking about taking a life. You're not alone. I was there once, too, and a guy came up to me, gave me a note, and it was 917 notes. And that does not include all the ones that would make a video on YouTube and send us the link or tag us in a video or picture on YouTube of ripping it up. And it was like, we even have a song, Thief of Colors, that we play while we perform the song. The video is always in sync on the Led walls behind us, and kids would see other kids ripping up their notes and throwing out the razor blades, just clips that we found on YouTube and stuff of people tagging us and people are watching. It like, I want to be like that girl in the video. I want to get rid of my notes. Because way too often the media focuses on the tragedies, and I get it because it sells. But people need to know that every story of mental illness doesn't end with a suicide. Not every story of addiction ends with an overdose. Like, we can learn from tragedy, but you got to balance that with stories of victory and triumph. And that's what we try to do. And we'll often we'll say, I'll tell the story. We met this girl in this prison eating disorder suicidal thoughts. And everybody in the audience like, wow. I'm like, do you want to meet her? And then we bring them up on stage to perform with us, because that's another unique thing. Like, this just happened at the mall the other day. This girl comes up. She's like, Rob, your music means so much to me because you know what? I have depression and suicidal thoughts. And I'm like, oh, so you're like me? She's like, what do you mean? I said, you hurt deeply, but you love deeply, too, don't you? She's like, yeah. I said you hurt deeply, but you can see when others are hurting. Catch you. She's like, yeah. I was like, yeah, you have what I have. And it sucks sometimes, but you can help a lot of people with that. And I think to myself, isn't it interesting that we get diagnosed with depression? Nobody gets diagnosed with empathy because there are some beautiful parts about being emotional. So do you paint? Do you dance? Poetry? Are you into music? She goes, yeah, I'm a painter. How did you know? I'm like you're emotional. I'm convinced there's a connection between the arts and mental illness. You know, it as an artist, there's something extra in us that we're meant to channel into a song. And if you keep that inside, it overwhelms you. Before I realized I could channel my emotions into a song, it almost overwhelmed me and almost took my life. Like, look at hollywood, kurt cobain, chris cornell, chester bennington. So many artists that we've got this extra emotion. What are we supposed to do with it? And it feels like a curse sometimes. No, you're not cursed. You're gifted. Channel that, man.
I can hear you, listen to you all day.
Sounds like you are.
I really am. Yeah. I want to ask you, as you're talking there about the notes. Do you ever read them?
Oh, every one of them, yeah. Yeah, you know, the consistency in the notes, and because I was there once too, a lot of people don't understand what it's like to be there, because everybody knows what it's like to struggle with mental health. Mental health is like physical health. There's days when you feel 100%, there's days you feel 70. Same with mental health. There are days you feel 100%, there's days you feel 70. Not everybody knows what it's like to go down to five and 2%. That's when you have depression. And mental illness is a very real thing. And I'm not saying that I'm against medication. All that. When I say you're meant to channel it, see a psychologist, whatever you need to do. There can be chemical imbalances and all kinds of things, but for us, it's like, you're not pierced, you're gifted. But when you read these notes because I was there once too, I know that people often say suicide is a selfish act, because you take your pain and you give it to the people around you. And of course that happens if somebody dies by suicide. And I was just with the school on Monday that just lost a student. And yeah, that pain goes to everyone around you. But if you've never been there, you don't realize that lie in your head is that the most selfless thing you could do is leave. You are a burden to your parents, to your friends, your family. How did you just leave? So you think you're being selfless, and that's one of the consistencies in the notes. It's like, hey, you don't have to worry about taking care of me anymore. Like I'm sorry. Nobody wants to hurt anybody. It's like you can feel that they just don't want to be a burden to the world around them anymore.
Your school curriculum that started recently.
Yeah, well, we did the show, last show at the Medicine Hat Arena. I don't know how many schools are there, but a lot. And we walked off stage and coveted. None of us knew that this is going to be two days. It's going to be two weeks, two months.
We all thought, yeah, but I was.
Like, something tells me it's going to be a while before we can do these shows, because now you can buy a ticket to a show if you choose to go. But Winter School is going to allow 20 schools into a building. You brought my kids in with my daughter into a venue with 20 other schools. So I looked at my team, and like I said before, I've always said, I never want anyone to think this is a publicity stunt. But I'm like, Guys, I think it's time we tell the stories that we've collected. So there was a film crew that had done a little piece on me on CDC a few years ago. They were hired by CDC and really loved the guys. I'm like, can you help me? I want to go and find, like, ten of these students. Where are they now? Students that gave us their suicide notes. And they were like, yeah, let's do this, but we need to tell your story too. But I didn't want it to be about me. But they're like, no, we need to tell people who you are first. So that we shot a documentary. They went back to the place I had my car accident. They recreated the scene with actors. It was the same vehicle that I had been in. I was really eerie. And I was supposed to walk up on the accident scene with this first responder is holding this kid's head together. And two days before they shot this whole thing and interviewed me, hearing my story for 12 hours, I had never gone that in depth before. But two days before we shot all that, my dad passed. So I was really emotional, but it brought something really raw out of me as well. And then we went around finding some ten of these students, like, where are they now? And, oh, it was so moving for me because I got to see that this message we were giving wasn't just making people feel better for a day, but it stuck. People are still here, and some gifted people. I shared one of the stories with you, showed you Dylan story. That's one of them. And then I put together a team of psychologists, social workers, teachers, and I was like, can you take these episodes with these students? And let's build kind of a curriculum, unlike most curriculums, where it's like, very media based, right? We have a lot of great people, producers and video guys on our team. So they took these episodes, like five, six minute episodes of these students. So first episode, this is Rob's story. They watch a music video, and then they journal. What was Rob's struggle? What was his breakthrough? How did he get help? And how was he helping other people? And they watched Dylan's story. What was his struggle? What was his breakthrough? How did he get help? How is he helping other people? Four episodes like that that we have right now. And then they're asked, like, journal now, what's your struggle? Where could you find a breakthrough? How could you get help and how could you help other people? And, yeah, we beta tested in four provinces, and now it's available. We're giving away for free right now, even though it cost us about half a million dollars to build it. But it's available at Robnash CA for schools, and right now there's six provinces. They're using it already.
Could anybody check that out, or is that you have to sign up and.
Yeah, we have it for schools because we have to pay for licenses for everybody doing it. But we've got a team that's calling the schools and stuff like that and setting them up.
If the school wanted to reach out to you, they could do that.
Robin has CA. There's a trailer for the curriculum to see what it's about. There's a trailer for the documentary as well. It's all done, the documentary. We just working out what platform we're going to put it on right now. And then my producers are like, my producers that I had with the record deal with Live on Arrival, I was doing a show in Vancouver. I'm like, oh, the studio. I recorded it down the street. So I went locked in the door, I walked in, and all the producers in there like Rob Nash. And they did not like me very much because I left the deal because I just walked away and they didn't know what happened to me. And they had a potential to make a lot of money off of me, right? I said yeah. So I told them what I'm doing now with schools. I'm like, I'm doing a show to feeder just down the street. You want to come check it out. And they're like, yeah. And it's tough to buy an hour.
Of these guys'time, but I know we.
Went down the street, they watched the show, and they're artists, so they're all crying and they're like, we want to be a part of this. They've produced my stuff for free since the accident or since the record deal, right? And now they're full time staff, a few of them, and do my production. So when I said, it's time we share our stories, they're like, how about your new album? Because during this pandemic, I toured so much for twelve years, I didn't have time to write. And they're like, can we share your new music too? Because I've written 18 new songs, right? Yeah, let's do it. So they started talking with their colleagues and Stephen Stone, entertainment lawyer, jeff Rogers, Eric Alper. And then they met with Warner. And Warner was like, how do we not help make this happen? So I signed a distribution deal with them, no strings attached. And they're just like, we want to help get this message out there. So, yeah, nine of the 18 songs are out now. It's really going well, and it's exciting. The new album is called this is War. It talks about the fact that we're at war with an invisible enemy called mental illness, and I got it.
Is that out?
Yeah, the first nine songs and the title track, this Is War is out, and I got the title. I kind of worked on something about that a bit once without the concept of an invisible enemy called mental illness. But I was getting an award and I was backstage, and the other three guys getting the award were all wearing their army fatigues and missing limbs. And I'm like, I'm backstage. I'm like, what am I doing here, musician? But then they said, this next guy is fighting a different war, war against an invisible enemy called mental illness. And I was like, the artist in me, and I could write about that. So the whole album talks about that. It talks about the fact that we're at war with an invisible enemy, and it kind of in the song. I question the fact that we think in the Western world we've created paradise, especially North America. Everybody wants to live here, but is this the promised land that we think it is? This is where there's the most suicides, most overdoses. So I kind of challenge that we've lost our way, you know, and so kind of challenges that, and then the whole album kind of has that theme. And then I met with the head of the Mat Federation for lunch one day, and then the next day one of the former grand chiefs. And for both of them, I'm like, I'm always trying to learn how to represent the indigenous people because I feel weird about it because I never experienced that life, right? But I'm like, I want to do this justice, and I'm kind of apologetic about it. And both of them said, I had lunch with one on, let's say, Tuesday and the next day Wednesday with the other. And they're like, quit apologizing. We need allies. We don't have a lot. And people listen to you that don't listen to us. We're not sure why you're doing this, but thank you. And then when they said Ally, I'm like, Ally, that's another war theme. So that's one of the songs in the album called Ally. But in the album, there's moments where you're on the front lines. There's moments where you're in triage and there are moments where you're in victory mode. And that's kind of the journey. It's like an old school album where the whole album tells a story, not just random songs. You know what I mean? Let me ask you this. As I've tried to represent the indigenous people and do it justice from my perspective, from what I've seen, what was it like for you? What have you experienced in your life? You grew up in Winnipeg, right? What did you see? Did you see a lot of that? The discrimination and racism too?
I personally haven't faced a lot of it. I think it's because I got creamy roots on my mom's side. East coast Acadian. European roots on my dad's side. My last name is Amaro. I have this sort of, like, olive skin. People thought maybe I was Italian, right? I didn't know what it was. I didn't get a chance to learn a lot about that part of my history. My mom was taught to be ashamed of that part of who she was. And so for me, I grew up just as this, like, person. My mom would say I said, what's our background? Mom would say, Your high is 57. And so it just be like, there's a bunch of things really, right? So I didn't really have culture. I didn't have an identity in that way. And it was sort of years later when I was kind of a young man and I started realizing, wait a second, there's this piece in my life that's a part of who I am that I can get on the front lines. There's another army term. Get on the front lines and be part of change and maybe build a bridge between people. Because for the longest time, I thought where I stood was like this no man's land. Like, I wasn't white enough, I wasn't indigenous enough. I just kind of didn't know where I stood. And no Man's Land is kind of like the most deadliest place to exist in the middle of a war and then started really went, it's not no man's land, it's a bridge. And maybe, perhaps I could be somebody who's bringing people together. And so my whole mo as an artist, as a person has always been to bring people together for me because I didn't grow up with seeing a lot of that hatred. And I didn't feel like I was I didn't feel marginalized personally. But I did see it definitely around in my neighborhood. I go from the north end here in Winnipeg. I saw it a lot, but I wasn't personally the victim of a lot of it for me.
Yeah, because you joined us at least for one show on a reserve. And I remember just often they'll make you a meal and stuff like that, and you're like, yeah, I grew up on these types of sandwiches and stuff. Whereas Johnny is used to three courses.
Yeah, definitely wasn't baloney on Bannock because.
You yourself, we've talked recently where you want to get out and tell more of your story and would that include that part of your life?
Yeah, I mean, it's definitely been a part of the trajectory for me. But just helping people to not be ashamed of who they are.
And in that way, service is definitely part I've started saying less I'm in the entertainment industry and more in the service industry.
Like my heart has always been. And I think that's why you and I drive so well together, for when we drive. But is the fact that I sense this attitude of service in you. And for me, it's definitely a big part of all of this, is just to serve people. Because I know people out there listening, watching right now. They're going through stuff, and I think they're going through a fire. And I know a piece of your story that's a part of the fire. And that's that major accident that could have been really detrimental, it could have ended your life, but you chose to use it as a pivotal point. When you look back at it, it's a pivotal point to change for you.
It's funny, I was on one interview at the end of the guy goes, you know, Rob, it was good that you were hit by that semi. And I was like, Screw you, buddy. Not really. And he goes, well, look what you've done with it. I'm like, the semi didn't make me do this. He goes, but if you go back in time, you do it all over again, wouldn't you? And I'm like, no, I don't think I would. Because some people think you have to hit rock bottom to learn a life lesson. And you can learn lessons by hitting rock bottom, but you can also listen to the stories around you. And he goes, well, you're young. One day you'll realize you had to go through all of this to be who you are. And I was like, if you can convince me by the end of this interview that I had to get hit by a semi to think this way, I'm like, I'll stop my tour, I'll sell all of my guitars, I'll get a semi license, and I'll start running people over. Don't do that. I'm like, well, you're saying I have to get my semi to think this way. I don't think that's the case. That's why I tell my story. That's why you tell your story. We've all got stories. We can learn from each other. He goes, well, do you know Rick Hanson, the guy in the wheelchair? He goes, yeah. He goes, well, he told me that he's glad he's in a wheelchair because what he's been able to do with it, that says a lot about Rick Hanson, not about wheelchairs. Not everyone in a wheelchair has done what Rick Hanson has done. Good for him. That's not an automatic. You have to make some decisions.
I'm glad that you made the decisions you made, man. I really appreciate you coming on here to talk. There's one question I have left that I ask all my guests.
Maybe for me more than anything else because I'm always looking to see what's inspiring you. Is there a book, is there a podcast, a documentary or something where you draw inspiration from? Could be music. Is there something that you listen to, that you watch, that you read, that you could kind of point me towards?
Yeah. To be honest with you, interestingly enough.
Other than The Office.
Other than the office now? I have no idea. I'm listening to podcasts non stop, and it's interesting. Growing up in a religious home.
Was maybe 5% convinced that maybe there was some truth to it and just kind of played along. But I woke up from the coma and I was 100% convinced it was real. There was something more to this world than what we see here. But I didn't know why. And then somebody in my family told me God was mad, so he spanked me with a semison. I was just bitter about it. But once I realized that it was my decisions I didn't have to be mad at God or fate or anything like that. I think we're created physical beings. Mental part. There's emotional part, but there's the spiritual part too. So I'm always trying to soak in more spiritual stuff. But you'd be shocked if you look at what I watch because I watch a lot of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens all atheist. Because I'm waiting for somebody to say something that would convince me that what I felt. And now I have memories of what I saw in death that I'll write about one day. And I'm trying to wait for somebody to say something that convinces me that what I saw and what I feel inside the promptings that I get aren't spiritual. I can't find it, but I like listening to it and hearing the holes in it and going, that didn't convince me, and that doesn't line up with what I saw here. I love people that are just willing to I like listening to both sides of every picture. You know what I mean? Yeah. We're so polarized right now more than ever. And so, yeah, one of the issues I have with my Brady Kingsbury is my short term visual memory is really damaged. So if I read something, page one, page two, page three, by page four or five, page one is gone and I have to start over. But in the same way, a blind person they're hearing gets lit up, if I hear something, I can watch a movie and quote it back to you. I can listen to a song and sing along after two listens. So it's interesting how that was compensated. So I don't read a lot, but I'm always listening to podcasts and listening to music and stuff. That's how I get fed with everything. And you watch everybody walking around, especially young people, they all got earphones in their ears. What are you listening to? Better be careful what you let go from here down to here. You got to guard this part of you, because if you let the wrong voices in, you can do some damage.
You always give me lots to think about, man appreciate you, Rob Nash.
You're my favorite. Donny.