Saving Abel’s Jared Weeks — A Journey Toward Sobriety

Jared Weeks sitting on a black couch
Jared Weeks

Jared Weeks is a musician best known for founding the rock band Saving Abel in 2004 with bandmate Jason Null. Their first single, “Addicted,” was released in March of 2008 and quickly rose to popularity, landing on the Billboard Hot 100 and Top 40 charts. Weeks left Saving Abel in 2013 to pursue a solo career. During this time, he struggled with addiction and mental health issues.

In an interview with ABILITY Magazine’s George Kaplan, Weeks talked about the impact of fame at a young age, his journey to overcome addiction and the uncomfortable work of introspection. He shared lessons learned along the road to recovery as well as the transformative power of spreading positivity and self-love, which lead him to rejoin Saving Abel in 2022 with a new message.

Jared Weeks: I always wanted to know someone named Mr. Kaplan. I watched this show called Blacklist, the James Spader show, and the person that comes and cleans up all his murders and messes: It’s a woman, but     her name is Mr. Kaplan. So, when they were like, his name’s George Kaplan, I was like, Mr. Kaplan? I thought that was cool.

(laughs)

George Kaplan: I don’t know if you saw the movie North by Northwest. It’s like this classic Hitchcock film, but they’re searching for a George Kaplan. I just ironically got a film name and I ended up studying film.

Weeks: Oh, really?

Kaplan: Yeah. It’s kind of funny. I would have teachers that would approach me for that and be like, “Oh, that’s a cool film name!”

Weeks: So, in the ‘80s, there was a show called “The Big Valley,” and the two characters in the show were Jared and Heath, and my name is Jared Heath Weeks, and I was born in 1982. So, my mom says that she didn’t get my names from that show, but I like to tease her.

check this out

Kaplan: That’s funny. So, I know you left Saving Abel in 2013 and you returned in 2021. How would you describe those eight years away from the band?

Weeks: A lot of learning, really. I quit Saving Abel. I had to come home, you know, I didn’t have the tools to live my life at that kind of volume. Anything I wanted at any point. I developed some habits and brought them home with me, but it was a point where I needed to quit, step out. And I came home, trying to get my solo career started. Obviously, if I didn’t have the mental tools to deal with Saving Abel, my own career obviously needed some help as well. But it didn’t take off very well, so depression sort of sat there for a while and I thought, “Well, what’s one thing that I haven’t overdone yet?” and alcohol became the answer. So, I kind of sat there on that black couch, as I call it – depression, that negative circle of habitual behaviors, I call that the black couch – So, I became addicted to alcohol. I always felt I was like searching for something, you know something, and then it became one point when my wife kind of just sat me down one morning and she’s like, “Don’t you think it’s time?” and I was like, “Yes, let’s just go”. So, I went into a treatment center and detoxed off of alcohol.

Then I went to a four-week outpatient class from the same facility. And I relapsed during that four weeks because it comes with relapses. But, immediately, came in the next day, was honest about it, spoke to my peoples about it, and they were like, well, maybe because of this, you need to stay another couple of weeks.

 So, I did. So, I did six weeks of outpatient classes, which between that and going to therapy, I ended up learning a lot of tools. I’ve rolled the tape forward plenty of times in my life, should I say, and it’s sort of what directed me into the journey where I’m at now. After isolation happened,—It was a weird time for all of us.— I just bought a house, and the day we closed on it was stay at home order. So, I had all this time to think about myself and what I wanted out of my life and my career and who I wanted to be. Being an addict and an alcoholic, isolation doesn’t always serve us well, if you know what I mean.

For me, being isolated is when I was drinking the most. But, it was a time period in my life that I was searching for something, and it was one little quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” When people said that to me, I was always like, “Ahhhh get out of here. What do you mean?” But now, the journey that I’m on and the path that I’ve chosen, I’m one of those people now. So, I sort of took that serious during the isolation time. I started working on myself.

The only way to be the change you want to see in the world is to change from the inside out. That’s when I started doing my shadow work, looking at those things in my life that I wasn’t happy or proud of or guilty of or ashamed of. I kind of sat down with those things and through therapy and just hard work every single day, I healed with those things. Which brought me to loving myself more, being comfortable who I am in my own skin. One of the things I’ve learned recently, a lot of the times, I was always straddling the line in my life.

Meeks holding a mic and singing with mouth wide open

The reason for that was I was never committed to myself. With that commitment and the hard work that I’ve put in, I love myself now more than ever, and I’m more in alignment with myself now more than ever. Because of that, the more in alignment I am, the stronger the signal I put out. I’m really just in it nowadays to help folks because I feel like I’ve been on both sides. So, that’s my mission these days. That’s what I’m doing with my music and my life and my family and my career and mental health is just one of the things that I preach about a lot.

Kaplan: That’s great to hear. So, you talked about having a toolkit, receiving kind of tools through therapy, through your experiences. What advice can you give people about staying sober or getting sober?

Weeks: I’ve had someone recently tell me, they said they got sober and they quit everything just like that, their own way. They didn’t seek help. Some people can do that, and I applaud that and I support it, but this person told me that only 2% of people can do that. And if you can do that, great. It made me think about why I went in for help. I don’t think I could do it like that. For me, part of the whole process of becoming sober is, first self-awareness and self-reflect, and I claim responsibility for who I am. But the thing I think that helps keep me sober the most is the shadow work that I did throughout that time period of becoming sober. I went to those classes, I learned the tools, like rolling the tape forward because I always reacted more than I responded. So, the pause method, really, as another tool, worked very well for me. I had to put it into use, though, and the only way to do that is in life experiences.

You have to create natural habits to this. The habitual behaviors we have as people that have given us the reality that we have. So, I’ve taken those old habitual behaviors and kind of replaced them with the new ones as I’m speaking about now. It made me think about when this person said that it would just be too hard for me because I needed the work. You know what I’m saying? I think I would miss the work if it was gone because I’ve dedicated my life so much to it in every situation. The pause method and rolling the tape forward and do you have a plan B?

I used to work on a casino boat, and I’d always have a plan B, like when I got triggered and my buddy Big Vinny always helped me with it. He was there with me. Surrounding yourself with supportive people is also a part of the foundation. Admitting you have a problem going in is the first step. As you’re going through that, if you’re just honest with yourself, with the therapist or while you’re going through this process, that’s when those things start peeking their head like, “Why do I react rather than respond? What am I ashamed of? What causes that behavior? Do I feel guilty about something? Is this coming from somewhere else?”

That’s what I mean by being honest with yourself. That’s when I started noticing these things peeking up, and I would bring them up and I would sit down with them. Even those things that we’re ashamed of and guilty of, you sit down with these things and you figure out what habitual behaviors that you’ve had that’s placed you here. Talking about those things and being honest about them really took the power that they had over my life. It, sort of, took it away and allowed me to sit down with it and have a good talk and figure things out and heal from those things. That’s what I say. It’s hard for anybody, I imagine, to just quit something. I have to use it in everyday life experiences. And I feel as if going to therapy— I’m a big advocate for that. —Going to therapy allowed me to discover those things and heal with those things as I needed to. The more that I did that, the more I figured out who I really was in my heart, like in my center. I fell more in love with myself.

I don’t mean that in a cocky way, but there’s a lot of things in my life that I needed to heal from. I feel as if going through that process and being honest with myself and claiming responsibility for the things that I’d done and said and my actions, it really helped me heal from that. And from that point, that’s where I started noticing the peace in my life. Healing from those things brought the peace that I’d been looking for my entire life. And from there I learned, especially my mission now, how I want to help folks. I see it every night, people forget their value in life and they forget their worth. I feel as if I’ve had the best of life and the worst of life by my own conditions. And I feel like I could be a light worker, a good bridge between those two worlds to let people realize that they are valuable and they’re very powerful and they can do the things that they want to do in life. This is what helped me. Therapy is a really big thing for me.

I still go to therapy. In fact, next Thursday, I have an appointment. But it’s remaining committed to those things that really has shown me that life can still come from broken things and some of the most beautiful things in life on the other side of fear. So, yeah, there you have it.

check this out

Kaplan: So does that change now how you approach touring?

Weeks: Yeah, absolutely. Alcohol was a bad thing for me. It ended up not serving me anymore. I’m a bad drunk, let’s just say that. So, going into work at bars and places that sell alcohol every single night, and you never know when you’re going to be triggered. But the thing is, you keep that commitment to yourself. When I am triggered, if I walk into the dressing room and there’s a bottle of Tito’s vodka there, anyone immediately gets that flutter, but it’s what you do next is what keeps that commitment. I’ve had situations where I’ve stutter-stepped on that, but eventually I always do the next right thing. If you don’t know what to do, like, “Oh my God, I’m frozen in time,” always do the next right thing. That is the very first step there. I’ve been in places where I’ve made them take the vodka out, and I’ve requested a puppy to be replaced by it. I do love a puppy, but just things like that has really kept me on this side of sober. I’m really grateful for that because being sober allows me to be more present in my life.

That’s where I find most of my concentrated joy, is by helping others. It’s really led me to a new path in life and a new mission. And with the peace that I said that I found, it’s allowed me to branch out and discover who I really am as a person. I’m really confident that I am who I am, and when all those other people are gone and I’m just by myself alone, some people are scared of that. That was one of my biggest fears I learned in therapy, was ending up alone, being completely alone. I don’t know why. Maybe it was something from childhood trauma or childhood that gave me that feeling. Being more on this journey, it’s no longer my biggest fear. I mean, I’ve been to two separate countries. I’ve had to replace guitar players and Saving Abel for vaccinated reasons and stuff like that. I’ve been to two separate countries with different band members, and it was really scary for me, but I noticed that fear, as I said earlier, some of the greatest things are on the other side of that. You should use fear as a tool.

You shouldn’t run from fear your entire life. That’s what makes it so scary.  It’ll teach you things about yourself you didn’t know. What it’ll also teach you is that anything that’s worth anything is on the other side of it. So, if you can start using it more as a tool and lean into it more and sit down and have tea with it, and – “Why are you scared?” “Well, where does that come from?” “Why do you feel that way?” — If you can just be honest with yourself, I’m telling you, the journey becomes so much more pleasurable. It becomes so much more worth, more so much more valuable. It makes you feel your worth. It’s worth it, I’m telling you.

Kaplan: So are there any other benefits that you find from being sober? Like do you have more energy?

Weeks: I’ll tell you what, I sleep better; I know that. I’m getting older in my years, so I still take my old man naps. I don’t think that ever changed. I will say this, since I have been sober –and I said this when you asked the last question—Being more present in my life, it’s made me notice the more beautiful things in life that I missed when I was either high or drunk. I think it’s real important in life to see those moments for truly what they are. I had my son on stage with me a few months back and he just kind of came out and waved, but he was in front of thousands of people. And I remember doing that with my daughter, Coda, back in the day when I wasn’t sober. Of course, I had a father’s love and it was joyous during that time period with Coda, but I noticed when I brought Scout out there and he waved and just so innocently, I wonder what he was experiencing at that moment, but the thing that I didn’t regret or the thing that I didn’t feel was missing was me. I got to see that moment.

I’m a big sap, man. I’ll probably cry at the end of this story, but I was so glad that I was there for it. Seeing it for what it was, and for me, it made it even more beautiful. It inspired me, and it was also an answer. You always wonder if you’re doing the right things. Well, that was the universe telling me “Yeah, yeah you are.” It was a very good reminder of how precious time is and how important it is. I’ve wasted a lot of it. I feel as if being sober, for me, obviously I sleep better, but I’m just better at life. I do put in the work every single day, but I don’t question myself anymore. I trust myself. These are things that you’ll all earn back just by doing the work. Nobody likes to do the work because it’s uncomfortable, and it is for the first year, for me I mean, I didn’t go to 99 meetings in 99 days, but I went to 107 meetings in, I think, 120 days. Sometimes, I would just go there twice a day because some of those things you need to hear just as a reminder.

Meeks singing on stage at a festival


People don’t like to do the work because it’s uncomfortable. And that’s fine. But I’m telling you, on the other side of that hard work is the person that you’ve been praying for, the person that you’ve been wanting to show up. The truth of the matter is, if you want to change in your life, you physically have to get up and do something different. Even if it’s just walk a mile, I’m telling you, that’ll cure depression. It’s like you’re depressed? Do an activity. “Dang it, I’m lazy. How am I supposed to do this?” I used to be scared to face days. I used to be scared to get out of bed. I used to be scared of the responsibility of what a leader…how he had to live his life. For the longest, I lost myself there in the world of anything you want at any time, you can have it. I was handed the keys to the kingdom at a pretty young age. I just didn’t have the tools to deal with it, but I wouldn’t change a single thing. I know you hear people say that, but I absolutely mean that because I love the person that I am today.

I think that all those wrong decisions in my life and all those choices and the consequences, they’ve led me up to right here at this exact moment, speaking with you about mental health and about how important it is and how I hate the stigma that we’re not supposed to talk about it. I’m a really big fan, and I’m telling you that it saved my life. I’m right here talking to you about it, and I’m totally grateful for that. It’s just like a new shoe. When you put on a new shoe, it doesn’t fit your foot. It’s uncomfortable, but the more you walk in it, it folds and fits to your foot. That’s kind of like the joy of life. What is done to me by the work that I’ve done and the love that I’ve put into myself, it’s important that you love you. If you can’t love yourself, you can’t love anybody else. So that’s the first thing. I’m just happy.

I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. I’m loving the journey on I’m on. The problems that life throws at me these days, I don’t look at them as problems. I look at them as opportunities to show the world that I am exactly who I say I am. You’ll get stronger. The more you dig into yourself, you’re going to get stronger. I don’t know, words of wisdom.

(laughs)

Weeks:  I feel like I should be an old man peeling an apple and eating it off blade like as I’m talking here.

Kaplan: Oh, no, it’s great. You have a lot of lessons that you’re willing to share, and that’s great. And open up. Now you’re busy releasing new music and touring. How do you approach the new music? Can you tell me more about the new music?

Weeks: Absolutely. The music nowadays, I try to write to inspire. I try to write to motivate. I try to write to allow people to be aware that we are very powerful beings in this universe and we have the power. We write our own stories. So, you can be your own hero and don’t forget that. That’s what I try to write. My music these days, it’s not really about egos and BJs anymore, like back in the day. It’s more important for me to help people through my music and the message that it brings than it used to be. Hooking back up with Jason and Skid in the studio and rediscovering that passion that I had when I was young. Now, I have a platform and a message to bring. It’s been really awesome, rediscovering that. I’ve never really written a song this way before, but when I came back, we wanted to title this album that we’ve been recording “From the Damage.” I know when you first hear that in your head, you see a picture of a city that’s burnt down and there’s smoke and smolder and the highways are empty.

check this out

But that’s not the message that I wanted to bring from “From the Damage,” The message was that life can still come from broken things, as I mentioned earlier. So, I tried to write a song called “From the Damage”, and we did. We wrote it, and it had like a Van Halen type vibe, but I just didn’t feel that it was— that’s not what I’m trying to say. So, then I thought about making it a ballad. That didn’t work out. One night, I was laying in bed, exhausted. My wife was in the bathroom taking off her makeup, putting on her pajamas, and I kind of just doze off. About 30 minutes later, I wake up and I wrote these lyrics down. This has never happened to me before, but it says, “redemption came under my wings and lifted me up so I could see all the other things that made it harder for me to fly above the wreckage, but look what came from the damage” and I immediately was like, “that’s exactly what I’m trying to say’, that’s the message from “From the Damage,” what I want people to realize.

I went in the studio and I recorded it on my birthday. It’s one of my favorite Saving Abel songs right now, because it’s one that—First of all, I’ve never written a song like that where I’ve just woken up and written down the lyrics. I didn’t even have to change a cadence, a word or anything, so I felt like it was given to me. It’s one of my favorite songs, called “From the Damage”. But that’s what I try to promote and produce these days. Like Shinedown says, “hope’s not a four-letter word.” I think hope is a huge word, man. Sometimes I think the word hope is the difference between life and death. Mainly with my platform and where I’m at in my journey, I just want people to realize that they are very valuable and worthy of living a happy life. You don’t have to live unhappy. Some people settle, but you don’t have to. You’re very a capable human being, of being the change you want to see in the world.

(laughs)

Oh, I told you how I felt about that.

Kaplan: Comes back to that.

Weeks: I know, right?

Kaplan: Well, I would be remiss to not mention you have the music video for “Fire” out, and in that music video, you’re facing different versions of yourself. Could you tell me more about that video and the inspiration behind the song?

Weeks: Yeah, that was one of the first songs that I wrote when coming back to Saving Abel. It was during the George Floyd thing that was going on during isolation. It was one of those moments where I was like, “What the hell is going on? What is wrong with us? What is happening right now?” And it made me turn inward,  that’s what that situation did for me. But as I continued writing it, that whole thing of hope — I just hold on to that because it’s powerful too. But the lyrics say, “don’t play stupid anymore, had everything you needed all along”, just meaning that we’re capable human beings of changing our life. As the video started coming out, I (asked myself) “What would you do talking to younger versions of yourself? ”You know what I’m saying? The little version of myself in the video that’s my son, Scout. And I like to sit down—And I’ve done this in therapy— What would you say to a younger version of yourself? That’s hard question for us to answer sometimes, knowing where you were at that point in your life.

Meeks with saving abel turning signing at stone casino

My eleven- or twelve-year-old self, he was about to go through some life changing stuff. I got diabetes when I was eleven, so that was a big moment in my life, but what would I have said to myself during that moment? Or even the years before, or even myself when I was in my teenage years? The main thing I would say is, “You’re going to be okay. You’re my hero. You’re my hero. It’s because of you I am who I am.” That was what we’re trying to follow in the video. I wanted people to think about what would you say to your younger versions of yourself? How would you motivate them? How would you make them feel safe? Because we’re just adults. We’re just older versions of our kid selves of our younger selves. People need to realize that those things that we’ve done, they don’t define us anymore. There is no past. It doesn’t exist anymore. There is no future. It hasn’t happened yet. So, what’s the only thing that we ever have? That is the infinite here and now. Where you sit in that moment is what defines you, not the past or even the future.

People might sit there and they think, “Well, I’m a horrible person right now, and I’ve done this and I’ve done that”. Well, the truth of the matter is you’re also a very beautiful person, and you’re very kind and loving and you’re successful in your own way. That’s what you’ve got to think about. The here and now is I want to be this person. You’ve stated it. You are that person from here on out. I just think it’s important for people to realize that they’re not alone. I’m here, you’re here, we’re all here, and I think we should start helping each other more.

Kaplan: And it’s like how they say every seven years, you’re basically a completely different person because your cells and your body have completely changed, and they’re all new by that time. So, it’s like you are constantly reinventing yourself and being able to move forward.

Weeks: You’re the creator of that. You tell your cells what you’re doing. If you say “I’m stupid”, you just told a trillion cells in your body that you’re stupid. Words are powerful. Perception is everything. Gratitude is the first ingredient. We do change over time, and the whole point for me in life is emotionally growing and learning into the highest version of ourselves that we could be. We all know that that person is love. It’s kindness. It’s helping others out. It’s being loyal, it’s understanding. It’s hard to come from an unconditional love type of place because we’re humans and we all have conditions. But I love you. I love all you guys, and I’m here for you all. And I think that if we all could be less about ourselves and more about helping other people, I think that in return, that we would all be blessed and happier a little more. We don’t understand how simple it really is yet complicated, but plant the seeds of joy.

Kaplan: Nice. So how does it feel to be touring with this new music because you got some new songs out?

Weeks: I think it’s awesome that it hasn’t been out that long and I hold the mic out and people are literally singing it back. First of all, that tells me that it’s an earworm. The music catches them, which is awesome because I’m a musician. Second of all, it lets me know that people are listening and they’re hearing the words that are in the songs, and those words are definitely right from my heart, and they’re positive. It’s a positive energy. I want people to feel better about themselves after hearing my music or talking to me as a person, that’s the kind of ripple I want to leave in life. I think it’s awesome that we’ve got two singles out and people are literally singing them to the top of their lungs, which, back in the day, was a normal thing. Sing “Addicted”, sing “18 Days”, sing “Drowning.” But these days, when the status has sort of bottomed out and here we are rebuilding and doing our new thing, it lets me know that people are still hearing what we have to say and what we’re representing. What we’re representing is “you are the most awesome person in your life.” You’re not happy? You’re the only one that can change it, but we support you. Love, kindness, everywhere we go – I just find that my life is happier when I promote things like that.

Kaplan: That’s great. What do your kids think of the new music?

Weeks: I’ll tell you what, Dave Grohl said it best. Someone asked him “what do your kids think when you come home and being a rock star and all that?” And he says, “They don’t think anything. They tell me to go make a bowl of oatmeal.” because we’re ‘Dad’. I have a story. We have that song called “Sex is Good.” It came out on the second album, and I don’t play that song anymore simply because I’m not that person anymore. Obviously, I’ve changed, but I came downstairs one evening and I saw both of my daughters on YouTube singing that song at the top of their lungs, and I had a dad moment. And I was just like, “I can’t do that anymore”. So that’s why I never play that song.

check this out

What I’ve noticed on this go round is they’ve heard songs that you guys haven’t heard. They’ve heard “Gravity.” They’ve heard “From the Damage.” They’ve heard all these songs, and they already know them word for word. That’s not because all I do is listen to them, which I do. But it’s because they request it. When we’re riding down the road, ‘Hey Dad, play that…” and it really fills my heart as a dad and as a musician, that my kids are retaining these words and this message. Whether they know it or not, they’re retaining it. If anything, I feel as if I’m doing my job as a dad to let them know how powerful they are and how important they are and how valuable they are. So, it just fills my heart to be just riding around with them and just have them singing one of my songs. It’s top of their lungs, man. It almost makes me cry sometimes, being completely transparent.

Kaplan: Do you have any goals? Like, what can we expect next?

Weeks: Well, we released “Fire”. It’s actually done well on the charts. Doing shows now, we’re kind of just going to let this ride out to the end of the year. Being my own boss, now, I get to spend time with my family on Thanksgiving and Christmas instead of being out on the road. I think next year when it comes around, we’ve also got a song called “Love You to Death” that we just finished recording. It’s kind of got a Lincoln Park vibe that came out of nowhere, and I was like, “Wait, what? That’s us?” We’re pretty excited. I do believe that we’re going to sort of ride the year out with these shows and this last single “Fire” that we released. And we’re going to hit it hard this year with new music, new tours, new shows, maybe even a new haircut. Maybe even a new tattoo. Yeah, we’re pretty excited, man.

Kaplan: Awesome. Well, is there anything I might have missed? Anything else you’d like to talk about?

Weeks: Man, I feel as if you’ve given me the opportunity to talk about everything that’s important to me as far as mental health and people’s worth and their value in their own lives and how powerful they are. I feel as if we’ve covered pretty much the basis of it, man. People know where I’m coming from now. Like I said, it’s not about egos and BJs anymore. It’s more about being your own hero.

Kaplan: That’s awesome to hear. Well, it was great meeting you. Great talking with you. Good luck out there. I’m glad you got to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas with your family. That sounds great.

Weeks: Well, man, it was wonderful meeting you, brother. It was a great interview. Thanks, man. And I wish you well in life, my friend.

sharing is caring

we did our part - now do yours and share

like a good neighbor, share

Related Articles: