Donovan Melero: To Myself, on the First Day of Sobriety

The Hail The Sun frontman's letter to himself from the other side of addiction.


Do you remember back in high school when you had your first major breakup and it felt like the world was over? Eventually, you realized that it had to happen so you could meet the next person you would end up sharing an even better experience with. How about those times when you were even younger and Mom wouldn’t let you hang out with some of those neighborhood kids you liked so much? As you got older, you realized that they were going down a troubled path that you may have followed them onto if it had not been for her.

This moment is exactly like those times, only your life is at stake. It may be hard to see it now, and you may be hating those who love you enough to be “strict” or “firm” on their decision to only support you when you are sober, but trust that you will look back at this and it will all make sense. Hindsight is 20/20, and that has never been more true than it is in this case.

I know you feel like you want to rip out of your skin right now. I also know it feels like you are starting from scratch, and in a way, you are. But it is imperative that you remain focused on following the things that lead to a healthy form of happiness—not a substance based one. You are going to deal with heartbreak again and again… And again. But each time you will learn something new as long as you don’t try to numb it. Whenever something happens that makes you want to watch the world burn, try to ask yourself right then and there Is this really that important? Am I going to be upset about this in a week? If the answer is “no,” then regain focus and continue on. Put sobriety first, because without that, you will not be able to accomplish what is to come.

Your current friends, best friends, are going to be very understanding. I know this doesn’t come as a surprise, but you will come across others who may not understand your decision to be sober, and may even tempt or pressure you into slipping up. In those times, you have to realize that these people, and many others, just don’t understand the extent of your situation. You’ll also have to realize that’s OK! It isn’t their fault, and you’ll just have to accept that some people won’t get it. Don’t waste too much breath trying to explain it if it is only going to go in one ear and out the other. You will slowly learn how to navigate around these situations. There are many people in this world that can use drugs and alcohol in moderation. You are NOT one of them. And that is also OK! Your true friends will always understand and you will do everything you can to return that understanding by supporting them in their own hardships and celebrating their successes.

Your music will take priority and that’s a good thing. Your natural drive to create will come back. It might take a little bit, but I promise it will. You will chase music and touring like you chased getting high. You will turn the energy you used to waste on getting loaded into energy for a career doing something that you love so much.

Some days it won’t even feel real. You’ll learn that you are actually good at dealing with money and the business side of things, and you will also find a passion in working in that side of the music industry. These are the things that will be okay to stay up all night doing, as opposed to what you would waste your nights doing before. You will definitely feel more and more driven, as long as you keep your head clear of mind-altering substances.

The feeling that will be most prominent for you will be that indebtedness to your family, especially your parents, for having stuck by your side and fought for you. The best way you can give back to them is by living well, and being someone they can trust. They all want to see you happy. Remember to always be there for them, as they were for you, even for the littlest things. It may feel inconvenient at times, but you will learn that, for the most part, that’s just you being self-centered and you will be able to distinguish between the times you can be of help and those times you cannot.

Good luck. In time this will all make sense and you will start to live some of the things you dreamt about growing up. You will have more fun than you ever did getting fucked up. And you will look back and realize how right this decision is.



Donovan Meleroalong with bandmates Aric Garcia (guitar), John Stirrat (bass), and Shane Gann (guitar)—manage both the creative and business sides of Hail The Sun as they continue to grow into one of the most revered acts in their genre. Melero has also developed into one of the most respected booking agents in rock due to his incomparable work ethic. Somehow he even manages to find time to advance his side project, the progressive rock supergroup Sianvar, which has developed a sizeable cult following of its own. On Hail The Sun’s latest full-length, Mental Knife, Melero tackles that constant need for self improvement and his obsession with making up for lost time in a way that is both unabashedly honest and artistically innovative. Mental Knife will be released September 28th on Equal Vision Records.