Too Drunk to Rock: Seattle Musicians on Why They Went Sober

Michael Wansley remembers very clearly the day he first got sober—Seafair Weekend 1999—after waking up in bed with a stranger, full of regret. He remembers a night in Paris while on tour with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, in a small club surrounded by hundreds of people waving bottles of champagne at him from every angle after he’d finished his famous deep-voiced hook on “Thrift Shop.” And he remembers a simple but effective idea his AA sponsor told him one afternoon: “Michael, you never have to take a drink again.”

Wansley—or Wanz, as he’s better known—has been sober now for 18 years. The Seattle native, who came up in the local music scene, recalls partying with members of famous grunge bands, like Mudhoney and Soundgarden, and watching many Seattle musicians quickly get hooked on heroin, alcohol, or cocaine—with some consequently losing their lives.