Life is a beautiful struggle.
That’s how Shane Bunting, better known as Madchild of Swollen Members, sees it.
It’s also from a lyric on the title track off the new album, Brand New Day.
Swollen Members are coming to Tzeachten Community Centre in Chilliwack on April 25.
“That life is a beautiful struggle is very true,” Bunting tells the Progress. “You can always look at things from two or more sides. You can choose to look at something as a new beginning.”
The rap artist has been busy touring with the guys, Prevail and producer Rob the Viking, as well performing as a solo artist.
Since re-grouping in 2009 after a four-year hiatus, the members of Swollen Members have been on fire creatively. They’ve released three studio albums, a greatest hits collection. Both Madchild and Prevail have launched solo ventures.
Bunting is clean from his much publicized battle with drugs for many years now. It was a nasty pill-popping habit that tripped him up, but he kicked it. He’s still talking about it, years later.
“It stays with you forever,” he says. “It was five years of my life, and it was 14 years prior to that leading up to those five years, of thinking the wrong way and making the wrong choices. It’s something I still have to reflect on, if not continue to be thankful for. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about it.”
He was even barred from crossing the border into the States because of his association with Hells Angels. But that was ironed out and he is now free to travel and perform down south.
“You get on the right track and start doing good stuff, and good things happen,” he says. Having a “great manager and partner” also helps, the artist adds.
“We’re happy to be coming back to Chilliwack,” Bunting says.
They’re touring from west to east with 16 shows across Canada, and 17 in the U.S.
The new album has no features, or special guests, which is something they were among the first to pioneer in the hip hop recording world.
“We thought we’d make kind of a cool statement with that,” Bunting says. “It’s something that our younger fans may not be aware of. We’d make friends with our favourite rappers and have them come down, record with us, and stay at our houses or at a hotel.”
The members of Swollen Members have always stuck together through thick and thin.
“That’s very important,” Bunting underlines.
He could easily make a go of it on his own as a solo artist, but he is staying with the group.
“There’s something about being part of a group for a decade and a half that makes it worth it,” he says. “I think we’ll still be at it for a least another four or five years. I love doing this.”
They are also relaunching Battleaxe Records which shut down in 2006, after it went from making decent coin to “hemorrhaging” money.
The label was once at the forefront of the hip-hop scene. It being reborn and is still run by people who understand artist development.
In general, Bunting says he is in a better place. He’s been renting a pricey penthouse in Yaletown, but is making plans to move to L.A. later this spring, and maybe buy a house.
“Life is such a blessing when you come out of such a dark place,” he said.
The B.C. born artist credits his grandma for offering him some solid advice, like making a point to save his money. It’s good advice that he ignores at his own peril, he admits.
“It’s absolutely true. Even things today I’m regretting. I spend money like it’s water and can’t grasp the concept of being frugal.
“But I know if I can get my head around it, I’ll be in a good position. Not that there’s anything wrong with wanting a nice watch or a house. But rappers don’t have a retirement fund.”
Swollen Members, April 25, Tzeachten Centre, all ages, doors 7:30 p.m. Tickets $35 (+ sc) at www.ticketzone.com/event/Swollen-Members-All-Ages/237791