Towards the end of January 2018 Stephen stopped by Crossfit Soul in Miami, a cross fit gym, where he talked candidly and frankly with great humour and honesty about growing up in Miami Beach, being a cross fit gym owner, some of the dark alleys he's travelled, his life in music and the music in his life.

The full podcast can be heard at .......

[So tell us about your formative years] I was born in London, England. [you don't sound like that any more, mate] "not any more mate" (spoken in a British accent). I sounded like a sort of Little Lord Fauntleroy like "hello father", I have heard actual audio of me from when I was four or five and it's just like oh my God!

[Did you grow up there?] No, my family moved to Florida officially when I was about five or six. We moved to North Miami where there was a recording studio called Criteria. At the time it was where everybody recorded, the Eagles, Leonard Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent. Our first house (when we visited in the mid-seventies) was 461 Ocean Boulevard, which was the name of an Eric Clapton record. Clapton basically told my dad "you guys have got to come here, it's paradise" [Did Clapton live here?] no but he recorded Derek & The Dominos, the Layla record and stuff like that here. So that's how we ended up here, if you were British in the 70s and came here you probably didn't go back, tax-wise it wasn't a good time to live in that part of the world and my dad was on a path that was going to require him to be here more and more. So we moved here and I wouldn't have changed it for anything.

I loved growing up in South Florida at that time the 70s, 80s and 90s when I grew up here and it was amazing. The beach was so different then, I mean, it was a really vibrant place, a lot of people from all over the place, and a lot of New Yorkers. A lot of the kids I grew up with "talk like that" (in a New York accent) and it was kind of the southern part of New York back then as opposed to the northern part of Cuba now, which is fine, but that is just how it was back then. Better accents, a lot of characters, a lot of mobsters, drug and weird stuff going on, it was like the Wild West. So growing up in that environment I would spend all my days skateboarding, waterskiing, whatever, I was just outside all the time as much as I could be. I mean there was other weird stuff that happened to me during my childhood like possibly being kidnapped and stuff like that that made it less fun at times. Back then my dad was so big (fame wise), I grew up in a very strange musical bubble, a very musical family at a time when being celebrities at that level was a very experimental thing. You had acts like Elvis, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin but no one knew how all this was going to play out in the long run.

I lost my uncle Andy who was another singer at that time we lost him, he was 30 years old, to drugs. [He OD'd?] Well he had a heart attack and it may have been related to a recent relapse but [Nowadays they would probably call it an OD?] Well no, I think they would say it was a heart condition that was probably worsened by excessive use of substances. Truth is he was a very small framed guy and very lean, and a guy like me would probably fare better in the long run who had some meat on him as opposed to a guy like him, who really didn't have much of a constitution for that. He had a solo career that was very successful I think his first record came out when he was like 17 or 18 years old and that was the beginning of that whole teen idol thing, that still goes on to this day.

[So you were kidnapped?] No there was an event that happened one time where me and my brother were riding our bicycles down the street and this guy pulled over and was getting my brother to talk to him and I can tell, like, his angle was to get me and my brother to go with him. Basically I told him to go fuck himself and he was like "oh wow that's no way to talk to an adult" and I was like you're a stranger get out of here. So I was basically a kid going 'stranger danger'. That got rid of that guy, and there was weird stuff like I would come home from school and women would be parked across from my folks house. There was like cars parked across the street filled with fans and a lot of them female fans and I remember getting off the school bus and a woman coming up to me saying "hi Stevie I'm your real mummy" and I was like that's weird, you know (laughing) normal childhood stuff, that kind of stuff is just bizarre.

[Who were the bands when you were a kid, pre-metal for pre-rock?] I was a skate kid, I was always really into music I grew up around music. My favourite band was Kiss, hands-down I was like five or six years old I went to see them at the Hollywood Sportorium. I went backstage, I met them, they took off their make up, it blew my mind because I thought Gene was a Demon, I thought Ace was from space and this like made me go ... They were really kind to me, they changed my life and I remember seeing Ace Freely with the guitar with the smoke coming out of the pick up and at that moment to me that was the coolest thing you could see. That was the coolest place I could be at that moment and I was, oh my God, Ace is folding space and time with his guitar because I was a kid and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I have pictures, it was during the dynasty tour and just before Ace left, pre-creatures of the night. I can nerd out on kiss for all time.

That kind of mutated into, I became a huge Van Halen fan when I was like 11 or something but I was also into skating and I was also hanging out with a bunch of kids and we were skating and building skate ramps and that is how I got exposed to punk rock. Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Cro Mags, that was like to me oh my God this is really aggressive, because I grew up among very melodic, very classic rock structured type of stuff and this was really aggressive. It woke something up in me because I didn't know it at the time but I was actually a pretty angry kid, I just kind of stuffed it down and this was a way for me to experience or channel that stuff by listening or by skating, trying to better myself at something. That was my first kind of athletic thing I wasn't an athletic kid, I sucked at baseball, I sucked at everything, I played soccer and got beat up and everything just went bad for me and skating was ... I've always been a little bit of a loner, I like it skating because I could do it by myself, I didn't need a team, so I was really super into that. Then things started changing and I got more into metal, I started playing the guitar around 13/14, naturally I gravitated towards music I could learn that was more exciting. I was into Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Pantera, Anthrax that was who I built my foundation on. I also like Black Sabbath even before I like punk rock.

[In my era you would buy a record or CD, the mid 90s, and I would read the thank you notes or I would buy circus magazine and see Lars wearing a misfit shirt, nowadays you Wikipedia everything. When you were a kid what was your research method for new music and bands] not too much different to yours but you had to be more of an archaeologist. When I discovered Zepplin it was like oh there is Jonny Winter, oh there is John Lee Hooker, there is Howling Wolf. One time I was in a store and I heard Howling Wolf, I didn't know what the blues was but there was something in there that sounded like Zepplin and then you start putting it together. Maybe read an interview in Rolling Stone and Jimmy Page is really into these guys, Jeff Beck is really into these guys, Clapton loves these old blues guys and you hear about the old chess record years. You hear about Little Richard and Jack Berry which at the time where old guys to me and you start realising they are the building blocks.

For me it was a lot of magazines, Circus was so big it was like my bible, I would get a ride to the local paper shop, I could not wait for the latest of Circus, Hit Parade, Thrasher Magazine, Trans-world Skateboarding, BMX Plus. I had a conversation with my son who is 11 and an artist and he was asking when are my special ink pens going to get here and I'm like dude they'll be here in two days, you have to wait for nothing in this world. It turned into an old man rant and I had to laugh because I don't have any patience and I'm the guy you had to grow up with more patience. I had to wait six weeks. I would order stuff out of the back of Circus or Mad Magazine and wait 6 to 8 weeks, months sometimes, for it to come in the mail, that by the time it arrived you forgot you ordered it. There is something kind of cool about that. Everything was word-of-mouth back then I got the magazines and sometimes fanzines.

[So your own musical career] I started playing in clubs around age 15. Back then with a fake ID you could BS your way in, I'd do open mike nights with my band and we were terrible. From that the club Washington Square would let us play even when we didn't have a singer. We would basically get up there and rehearse in front of people. During that period I learnt how to perform in front of people. I always liked writing tunes, I could never find the right singer, probably because later it would be revealed to me I would be that singer. I cut my teeth down there for a long time. I joined a punk rockabilly band called The Underbellies, like a Reverend Horton Heath but a little more theatrical and a very zany lead singer. I didn't really fit for band that was brought on to make it a heavier, a good friend Joel DeSilva, an awesome blues guitar player, was brought on to give it a little twang. We went on to get a Record deal and make a record for Columbia, then the whole thing fell apart, the music never saw the light of day but I ended up meeting a guy called Pat DiNizio, who was in a band called The Smithereens. He was this incredible songwriter from New Jersey and he took me out on tour and I learnt how to be in a touring band and do it in an economically efficient way. I learnt from the bare bones what it really took to make a band work. I learnt about writing songs he told me a lot about his influences. This guy was just a well spring of information, he and I shared a love of Black Sabbath, The Beatles, AC/DC, all that kind of stuff. His band were really big in the 80s, who recently passed away which is a great loss to the world. He showed me like "Hey kid, this is how you do it, not like you kids were, but this is how you do it".

After spending a couple of years with him and figuring out who I was I moved to California, there was nothing left to do in Miami for me. I moved to Los Angeles and through a friend I got a gig, played on a few songs for Nikki Sixx, he had A side project that was very different from Motley Crue. I thought this is something a little bit different a little bit more modern at the time, this was the late 1990s. This was sort of like Bowie meets 9 Inch Nails, a completely different type of project called 58, but it was never intended to really go anywhere. As I was finishing that I ran into my old friend Zakk Wylde and he was starting this new band called Black Label Society. At the time I was newly sober and trying to figure out what my next move, I was living with my girlfriend in LA, and not really knowing where anything was going. He offered me the both player slot in that band.

[As Zakk was Ozzy's guitar player, was this to be a full on established band or were you hired as a guitar player] it was pretty clear that this band was built around the fact that Zakk Wylde was Ozzy's guitar player, it was an on written thing that you were ... I didn't feel I was dispensable but the reality is you are as indispensable as you allow yourself to be. That I learnt the hard way. I joined the band and went from kind of being nobody to being in Black Label Society, going to Japan, going all over the world, touring constantly for a couple of years. It was weird because I grew up in the record business I should have avoided all the pitfalls, but when you are 20 something years old and you're doing exactly what you always wanted to be doing it is really hard to avoid falling into some of those traps. I did relapsed at that time, started "enjoying" myself on tour. We never really had an issue until we did a Ozzfest Tour and at that time I was one of the first ever to be kicked off Ozzfest which I guess in scumbag world is a pretty high honour. I am not proud of it but that's the way it shook out.

[What did you get kicked out for] By the time I had been in Black Label Society for close to 2 years I was experimenting. I had used heroin before, I had had a very colourful drug past before joining that band and I had gotten sober. I started drinking and drinking lead to sniffing, and sniffing it leads you back to shooting or smoking and I was into banging meth, and that rodeo ends bad for everybody. So I was starting to look bad, I was starting to look like a meth head and that's not a good look for a band on the rise. So I was told you got to go home and get your shit together.

[So did Zach kick you out the band oh Sharon kick you off Ozzfest?] I don't know the way it all happened, I've heard from friends since that maybe it started with Sharon. All I knew was that my best friends, the band I thought was mine which in reality was Zakk's band but I believed in what he did so much that I was really wanted it to work because I believde the band could be really great. They really are a great band, I'm just not in it. Zach is one of those people who is going to succeed no matter what because he is brilliant. That guy is one of the hardest working people I know, he deserves everything he achieves in my opinion. I was getting in the way of that and I understand that now, in hindsight it was like, "Yo dude you got a go home and get your shit together, you know, grow up". It was a rough period, I was homeless for a little bit in LA on the street living in my van. I ended up meeting a girl, getting married, having a couple of kids, getting sober and having a life.

Prior to getting sober I was in a band called Crowbar which in my opinion is the best band I've ever been in, it's probably the most fun I've ever had being in a band. Kirk Windstein is the greatest ever and I would do anything for him, everybody loves that guy because he's a beautiful person, he is the real deal. [Which Crowbar records did you play on] Lifesblood For The Downtrodden and then I did the live at Full Force DVD, which I produced and I was the guitar player in the band at that time. And I was at my fattest in that period, [You are not supposed to play in Crowbar and have abs] No, and going shirtless on stage many nights in that band when you are that big. I think I was at my heaviest at 310lbs and my lightest 260. I was never sober during my time in Crowbar, I was trying during the DVD time. I relapsed when we were on tour with COC, it was one of those tours where this is going to end bad. During that tour Pepper Keenan said something very valuable to me, "Gibb, do you want to be a musician who dabbles in drugs or a drug addict who dabbles in music" and I was like ... ouch ... It was like someone hit me square right between the eyes and I had to face the reality that I was a drug addict who was dabbling in music and that was something I never had any intention of being. When I was 14 sitting in my bedroom playing music I did not want to become a junkie when I grew up.

So when I came home from that tour I kind of imploded after a couple of weeks and life got really bad, I went into treatment for drugs and alcohol. I did the 30 days and was sober for 11 1/2 years after that. During that 11 1/2 years I did a lot of things to make myself a healthier person, if I was not going to be addicted to drugs anymore what action can I take. I'm going to go to anonymous programs and work goes to the best of my ability. I am going to rebuild myself spiritually, mentally, and emotionally because the ways I chose to deal with life are not working and are hurting people and myself. Then it was oh I smoked a ton of cigarettes and I'm fat, that is pretty lame, and I'm a dad and I need to start showing up and being a better example for my kids. My kids are growing up and I want them to respect me and I want to be able to hang out with them and do stuff with them, play frisbee, whatever. So I did 30 to 35 miles a day on my bicycle, I started doing 1 mile a day as I was 300lbs and within six months I was 240. I ran into this interesting guy who was in great shape and he said "it's great you lost all this weight and everything and your legs are in great shape because you ride your bike all day long but you're a mess from the waist up. You should start working out at the gym". I was really down on all those glo bo gyms, really down on that whole culture, it didn't appeal to me. I was a burnt out kid that sat in his room and played guitar all day. He said I should try cross fit and at that time there were no cross fit gyms there was Rip Fitness and I did an intro there and I was destroyed, I mean it was 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 squats, get on the rower and do 250 and I wanted to die, I had nothing yet I was riding my bike 30 to 35 miles a day. I got on the cross fit website and tried to do work outs at home, I saw they were having a level one cert in Jacksonville and I was like I'm gonna go because the was no other place to learn. I went for the weekend and literally got destroyed, sitting in the bath afterwards thinking what have I done. But I found that contrary action in the physical domain that I was looking for, I found a replacement for getting high. I lost the reminder of the weight and became obsessed with cross fit. One of my best friend since I was a teenager and I had built a cross fit gym in my backyard and we were training a couple of friends. Guys were starting to show up and we had like a thing. We were climbing trees in the back yard with ropes. It was pretty great for a one car garaged. Then 305 opened up and we thought maybe this could happen here. We looked to open up in Miami beach but the overheads was a little too much at the time, we opened up in North Miami Beach and for a time it was a really beautiful time in my life. I took some time away from music, I was a gym owner and coach.

But when music started pulling me back and trying to juggle both businesses was hard. I'm a very all in that type of person, it's very hard for me to spread myself out, to run two businesses and have a family and everything be awesome. I was doing some stuff with Kingdom Of Sorrow so I would leave town to go on tour for months or weeks at a time. Then when we knew my Uncle Robin was not going to be with us much longer my dad decided to come out of retirement. I had played with the Bee Gees a couple of times, in 1998 I did a couple of shows and before that the Hurricane Andrew Relief Show so I had played to big crowds before but I was a kid then. I didn't really understand everything and was sort of hustling my way through by the skin of my teeth. So my dad was like I want to do a few shows will you do them with me. I was running a gym so I was like sure what is a couple of shows here or there, and it basically morphed into touring the world and I'm singing a few songs in the set full stop I am stepping into a bigger position in his world. We started writing a lot of music together, we wrote a record for Barbra Streisand, a solo album for him and did some more select shows and doing a lot more with him so I kind of phrased out of doing the gym business. The unfortunate thing is I wish I had stayed in the gym business because I don't have the ability to help people now as I had then.

A very big part of not only my own mental health and well being was helping others, it was never about the money, cross fit helped save my life along with other 12 step programs but it was a really big part of how I was able to stay clean and stay sane. Temper that maniac that is inside of me, and I wanted to give that to other people. Historically speaking I've always been into things that scare me Kiss, Metallica, Slayer, heroin, crystal meth, oh you mean this could kill me, okay, I know this may sound like crazy talk but I'm addicted to intensity and I really liked the intensity that cross fit brought. Back then it was underground you had to do your research like we did with music way back, a lot of it was word of mouth. It was the punk rock of fitness. The things I learnt and the things I got out of it, the experience and timing of it all was priceless. Sometimes you pray for an education in life and not the way you think.

[What does stuff look like now, musically and fitness] what happen towards the end of Crossfit NMB I was under a lot of stress, I am not a life time athlete so I didn't have the base that a lot of people have. I was over training, probably not recovering very well, getting injured a lot, blew my knee out, my back my shoulder, all of a sudden everything started going to crap. I was playing guitar a lot I ended up getting carpal tunnel. It was like this thing saved my life and slowly it took everything away from me, next thing I know is I am just broken. It was all me, I cannot blame anyone else for it, I was over training and going into training already pissed off all the time. Really when my hands started to go I was like I need to address this, so I went down the rabbit hole are trying to find a cure for all my issues. Not training for a while but was part of it but I was still playing guitar a lot so I was aggravating certain things. I met an amazing doctor in Coral Gables and she said I can fix you but I have got to break both your hands, rebuild both your hands and you are not going to be able to pick up your guitar for over a year. I needed to find a different route before I went to that extreme, and let someone cut my hands open with no guarantee of ever playing again. I got really depressed before I met Dr Goddard at the Osteopathic Centre here in Miami and he is a miraculous guy and over a series of sessions, I started with PRP (prolotherapy), did a lot of PRP, I did to stem cells over the course of the year. Once I did the stems and did the physical therapy almost everything that was wrong with me just improved dramatically. I had it in my shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands and knee. [wow you spent a lot of money on that] No comment! Honestly at that moment I had no other option. I had done everything MRI and x-rays et cetera, everything you could do to get some kind of relief or healing. . Once I found Dr Gothard and did the PRP and stem. I did the physical therapy with Craig Cohen, I had issues with my spine, I had all kinds of physical issues going on but slowly everything just got better, and my life got pretty good again. I had a small surgery on my knee and all is good. It took years to find the right sort of magical combination of stuff. If I could give anybody any advice who is training, recovery and mobility should be a cornerstone of your program, less is more. I feel good now, I'm training a little bit, not crazy, I am happy, I am better at being me.

[What are your future plans] I've been working really hard on my sobriety and spirituality and just kind of trying to be a more mindful person. I am a 44 year old guy who wants to continue to make music and enjoy the rest of my life. Right now my goals are, I want to drop in here and have some fun with you guys. I am working on music right now, being a better musician and a better song writer. Nothing big to announce about that yet, so that's pretty much it for right now.

© CrossFit Soul 2018