Hootie and the Blowfish's Drummer "Found" Christ
By Christine McWhorter
The 700 Club
CBN.com -“I was pretty much born a drummer, as my mom used to tell me. I was beating on anything that was available, and so that was sorta born into me, said Jim.”
Neither Jim Sonefeld nor his mother could have guessed that his knack for music would make him an international superstar. With Jim behind the drumset, the well known rock band Hootie and the Blowfish sold over 25 million albums, garnered millions of fans, and remains one of the most beloved rock bands in American music. I recently sat down with Jim to discuss his former addiction, his faith, and life after Hootie and the Blowfish.
Tim: Lets go back to the beginning and your first impressions and first views of God. You grew up in the catholic church.
Jim: Unfortunately for me, a lot of what I took away from that experience was a fear of God. A bit of fear, oh my gosh, I’m not a good guy. I’m not a good kid.
Jim longed for approval. When he didn’t find it at church, he turned to his friends. Under pressure to look cool, he started drinking when he was only 14.
Jim: That feeling was something I kept going back for, that was something that I was slowly falling in love with.
Tim: So you go to college and now... Freedom. How did you handle that?
Jim: You know I drank and drugged in college cause it felt good. It felt good when I started at 14, a bit of bravado, of confidence.
It was there, at the university of South Carolina, where he joined Hootie and the Blowfish. The band quickly became a campus favorite and were known as a band who liked to party.
Jim: I never felt like I was out of bounds. I felt like Yeah! We drink, we party, we drive around we get paid, we meet people, it’s fun. I don’t see the problem with this.
Tim: Then you make an album, Cracked Rear View and it just explodes.
Jim: It was a big deal. And not many bands get here. So we saw life happening very fast on a grander scale. We went from a little van to a tour bus. We went from 300 fans to 3,000 30,000 and that’s a big thing to put on some guys who’ve just come out of playing clubs.
Tim: So how about the alcohol? When did it really start to get out of control for you?
Jim: Although I had bouts of out of control drinking and drugs from high school through college, it was hit and miss. Now you throw a bunch of fans and a bunch free drinks, and money into the equation and there was only one way I was going, which it was more.
Before long, Hootie and the Blowfish became one of the top selling bands in the world. During that time, Jim says another addiction started to take hold.
Jim: I was addicted to that success in my career where I had people saying, you’re awesome, you’re okay. but there’s a roller coaster in music, you’ve got to be able to ride out those low points. And when we went into a low point it was tough. I didn’t have that feeling anymore. I felt like I was chasing something. I felt like I was… where did the people go? Why isn’t the radio playing our song?
To cope, Jim turned to the bottle, but by now he had married and started a family.
Tim: How did you manage your relationship with your wife and your children?
Jim:I brought my addiction and my lifestyle from the road which was, “Yeah, love me. Thank you. I can do no wrong. I can party as much as I want. I can do anything and it’s okay.” And then you come to household where there a baby or two babies and a wife and those don’t mix.
Tim: What happened that you came to a point where you’re like, okay this cannot go on any longer?
Jim: The message from God that needed to get to me so that I could wake up came in the form of my 4-year old daughter. I built a studio behind my house so I could make music but also carry on in this addiction. My 4 year old daughter came out to visit me in the studio 10:30 on a Sunday morning and I was still sound asleep passed out on a couch. That little angel hopped on my chest and looked down on me and just said, dad, what are you doing out here? Why aren’t you in the house? And I couldn’t answer. I had no answer. It was the beginning of that admission process of “I have walked away from you, God, I have ignored you. I have lived by the rules of this earth and I’m at the end of that rope. I need you.
Jim knew it was time to get help. So he joined a 12 step program and eventually stopped drinking. But the addiction had already taken a toll on his marriage. He and his wife divorced. Around that time, the band stopped touring. Jim admits, it hasn’t been easy, but with Christ he was ready to rebuild his life on a new foundation.
Jim: I wanted to know my new purpose. I wanted to know why I was here. Because it wasn’t any of the reasons why I thought I was here. It wasn’t Hootie and the Blowfish, it wasn’t making people dance in their seats to Hootie and the Blowfish music. What he had for me was something slightly different was, he wanted me to step up to the microphone and sing his praises.
Jim is now remarried and has 5 beautiful children. He recently released a Christian album called “Found” and has another one in the works.
Jim: I knew that I was on a path for him and that he ws speakeing to me and here’s what he wanted me to say. And it was a story of redemption, a story of being broken and a story that he wants us broken to some degree, so that he could use this broken man to glorify him.
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