MusiCares’ safe harbor welcomed by KAABOO musicians in recovery


Victor Indrizzo performed behind a special plexiglass audio shield when he accompanied Alanis Morissette Sunday at the KAABOO Del Mar festival.

But this veteran Los Angeles drummer is completely transparent when it comes to discussing being clean and sober after his debilitating heroin addiction. He is just as quick to credit MusiCares - the Grammy Awards-sponsored charitable organization devoted to assisting people in need in the music industry - for helping him maintain his drug and alcohol-free lifestyle.

“What they do for me is invaluable,” Indrizzo said Sunday in MusiCares’ backstage Safe Harbor Room, which hosted daily recovery and support meetings??? all weekend at KAABOO. “And it’s rare that you don’t have other people in recovery who are either in the band or the stage crew you’re on tour with.

Indrizzo turns 50 on Saturday and will celebrate his 20th year of being drug and alcohol-free on Oct. 31. He welcomed the opportunity to visit the Safe Harbor Room, which MusiCares??? ???also hosts at the Grammys, the Academy of Country Music Awards and numerous festivals, including Coachella, Stagecoach and the Vans Warped Tour.

“You really feel isolated on the road, so going to meetings really helps keep you grounded,” the Los Angeles-based drummer said.

For obvious reasons, confidentiality has been a hallmark of the work MusiCares does since the nonprofit organization’s inception in 1990. But some of its beneficiaries are happy to speak up about the ups and downs of life in the music world.

“I don’t care who knows I’m clean. I’m quite proud of it,” Indrizzo said, as MusiCares counselor Harold Owens - a longtime friend - nodded and added words of encouragement.

“I did hard drugs for about five years, but I was a sneaky addict,” Indrizzo continued. “I wasn’t a party animal. I showed up for work and did what I was supposed to do. Once I got clean, I let the people the people I work with know immediately, because I didn’t want to have an out. For me, my recovery now is about helping others, the way MusiCares has helped me.”

Now in its 27th year, MusiCares is an arm of the Recording Academy, under whose auspices the Grammy Awards are presented. MusiCares quietly provides assistance throughout the year, taking the spotlight only for its annual MusiCares Person of the Year all-star gala concert, which is held at the start of the Grammy Awards weekend.

By coincidence, this year’s MusiCares??????? Person of the Year honoree was Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Tom Petty, who headlined KAABOO on Sunday night. Petty’s longtime drummer, Steve Ferrone, has been in recovery since 1990. Like fellow drummer Indrizzo, he is a staunch supporter of MusiCares, whose four counselors at KAABOO have all been clean and sober for years.

MusiCares was named the exclusive music industry charity of KAABOO in August, following the announcement of a five-year global partnership with the festival. KAABOO also designated MusiCares as the festival’s exclusive music industry charity and a beneficiary of the KAABOO Del Mar Kindness program.

“We are extremely excited to be working with MusiCares,” said Jason Felts, KAABOO’s Chief Brand and Marketing Officer, in a statement following the announcement of the partnership. “We are honored to be able to support their efforts in the assistance of the music community.”

President/CEO of the Recording Academy and MusiCares Neil Portnow also welcomed the partnership with KAABOO.

“When the Recording Academy established MusiCares, we made a commitment to being an ongoing safety net for music people in crisis,” Portnow said. “And beneficial alliances such as this generate additional resources that help sustain our range of programs - from emergency financial assistance and addiction recovery resources to wellness initiatives - across the country throughout the year.”

Indrizzo was not yet out of grade school when he started smoking pot. He made his recording debut in 1990 with the Los Angeles band Red Kross and was soon performing on albums by Depeche Mode, Willie Nelson, Shonen Knife and Queens of the Stone Age.

“The first time I tried to get clean was in 1995, but I didn’t get clean until two years later,” said the gregarious drummer, who recalled feeling suicidal after five years of hard drug abuse.

His first post-addiction tour was in 1997 with singer and former Coronado resident Scott Weiland, who was 48 when he died from an accidental overdose while on tour in late 2015.

“I had only been clean 60 days when I went on the road with Scott and it was very scary,” recalled Indrizzo, who also recorded with Soundgarden singer and solo star Chris Cornell, who died in May after hanging himself.

“Scott was clean at the beginning of the tour, but then he fell off the wagon and ended up flying our dealer out on the road. I hid in our bass player’s room and he taught me the valuable lesson of going to (recovery) meetings on the road.

“I didn’t even know they existed and they’re not easy to find when you’re on tour. I’ve seen people destroy their lives with drugs and alcohol. That’s why I love what MusiCares does for me. It’s something you can’t even put a value on.”