Anthony Green and Wife Meredith Open Up on How Beating Heroin Addiction Inspired New Album 'Pixie Queen'

Anthony Green of Circa Survive
Gaelle Beri/Redferns via Getty Images

Anthony Green of Circa Survive performs on stage at 2015 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival at The Empire Polo Club on April 12, 2015 in Indio, Calif. 

They're also premiering the video for 'A Reason to Stay,' off the LP released Sept. 9 on Memory Music.

Tales of hard times in marriage may not seem as compelling as the sound bite era’s fascination with whom A-list celebrities are dating, but the love story of Saosin and Circa Survive frontman Anthony Green and his wife Meredith is the kind they make movies about in the long run.

Together now for almost 15 years and with three children, the Greens have battled through Anthony’s years of addiction (most specifically his struggles with heroin) and have emerged victorious. But Anthony admits it’s still not easy. That’s the theme of his new album, Pixie Queen, named after Meredith. 

It’s a remarkably open album, as one can see from this intimate video premiere for the ethereal pop gem “A Reason To Stay,” which intersperses live footage with home movies of the Greens. And now, Meredith and Anthony have given a perhaps even more remarkably open interview. The husband and wife agreed to one interview together, this candid sit down with Billboard, where both discuss their relationship, his addictions and take us from their first meeting to life today. It is an honor to be able to share their love story. 

How did you and Anthony meet and when did you fall in love?

Meredith: It was late spring or early summer, 2001. My brother was heading down the shore to hang with his friends and asked if I felt like coming along. I hesitated, yet a pull inside me urged me to say yes to the adventure, and that very moment is what led me to Anthony. I walked up the stairs to the second floor of the duplex, opened the door to familiar faces, all except one… it was Anthony; his piercing blue eyes, shaggy hair, and huge beaded necklace stopped me in my tracks. It’s odd to think back on a time when he was a stranger to me, but there he was, a complete mystery, and I was intrigued. Somehow we ended up driving around in his vintage Saab (like maniacs) listening to music, and talking late into the night. Days went by and I couldn’t get him out of my mind… he has a way of doing that to people. It was Wednesday evening June 13, Anthony still haunting my thoughts, when I decided to go find him. At 4 o’clock in the morning, I pulled up in front of the house Anthony was staying that week, my heart pounding. There was a heavy fog, the sound of the waves blanketing my soul, the salt air filling my lungs with each steadying deep inhale, and then he emerged, sandy feet, and tousled hair, rolled pants and open shirt, surprised by my presence…I felt amazing to see him again. I convinced him to come to Avalon with me. Before going to my house, I took him to my favorite spot, the jetty. We sat upon the rocks, engulfed in early morning mist, listening to the waves crash upon the jagged shore. It felt like a journey to get there. Little did I know, it was only the beginning of one of the greatest ventures I’d ever embark upon. June 14, 2001 as the darkness became light, on the jetty in Avalon, he asked if he could kiss me, and I fell in love. We fell hard that summer, romping around without a care in the world, free as could be, and it was magic. 

How comfortable are you with this album being so open and vulnerable about your relationship and life?

Meredith: As an artist, I feel you have to draw from the depths of your being in order to forge something worthy of creating. In doing so, you make yourself vulnerable. But it’s honest and real, and I’m not afraid of it. There was a point in time where I would have been, but where I am now, where Anthony and I are, I have nothing but gratitude for all we’ve been through, and I see it as a gift to have the opportunity to share.

Anthony: This album is just a celebration of the realness of relationships, which is sometimes very shitty. I can’t imagine anybody in my life I’ve been more vulnerable with than my wife. That also leaves you very wide open for shots. You sort of walk this fine line of being like, “There’s this person who can destroy me emotionally.” And the reality of it is that you do that to each other sometimes. And I think that learning how to bounce back from that is what makes a relationship stronger, or what breaks a relationship apart. I needed to [make this album] ‘cause in processing this stuff right now in my life, I’ve been going so many times, “Is this something I should be giving up or is this something I should be fighting hard for?” And that confusion on that question has come up in our marriage. Being on the other side of that, I feel like it’s always better to work through things. I think dealing with that was really why the record came out.

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So did making this record help clear the confusion and answer questions for you?

Anthony: I’m still learning, but I can see there are decisions in life that are going to be very challenging and it’s always better to get through them, always. I definitely think it’s gotten me closer to the point of being like, “Yeah, I want to be with this person forever. I never want to question.” That being said, I’ll never stop questioning. But to answer your question honestly, no, it hasn’t answered questions for me. It hasn’t gotten me any closer to understanding the dynamics of my relationship with my wife. But it does feel really good to sing songs about somebody that I really respect, admire, love, care about and am so passionately attracted to after all this time. I got really lucky when I found somebody that I want to be friends with forever.

What was your source of strength and support as you juggled taking care of your children and loving/living with Anthony during the most active stages of his addictions? 

Meredith: Honestly, it was a super dark and lonely place. Even though I wasn’t the addict, the addiction was isolating. I was always worried and confused about what to do. I wanted to tell people, but at the same time was afraid to betray Anthony. I was a horrible enabler. I never truly understood the crippling effects of heroin addiction until after Anthony got the help he needed. So, although he was present as a father, he was at the same time consumed by addiction constantly. Throughout it all, I was never prepared to give up on Anthony. We had James and Luke when things got the worst, and I found out I was pregnant with Will right before Anthony got clean. They were my strength, my shining light in the darkness.    

What's one thing you're most proud about or love most about this album? Aside from the album being about you, did you help write the lyrics to any of the tracks?

Meredith: I love how brutally honest this record is. I love that Anthony didn’t hold back or disguise anything as if we exist in a whimsical tale of love. It’s real and raw; joyous, yet painful at the same time. I did not help write any lyrics, although that’s a good idea…maybe an AG/MG collab in the future!  

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Was there one song from the album early on that jumped out at you?

Meredith: The other day though, when “A Reason To Stay” came on, it made me so fucking happy. It has this certain glow, and carries with it a nostalgia that brings me back to the days we first met and were first falling in love and getting to know one another and learning about life...the days where we had nothing holding us back, where we were completely unaware of where our path would lead. Listening to that song give me those feelings.     

For you, have there been moments in Anthony's recovery that you’re most proud of?

Meredith: The moment Anthony decided to finally go get help, I felt an enormous sense of relief. However, I didn’t fully understand the grips of the addiction and the hold it has on the addict. The more I learned, the more I realized how hard the road to recovery is, and I feared Anthony wouldn’t be able to be free of it. I was so wrong to think that, especially knowing Anthony. He is one of the strongest people I know. He has completely changed his lifestyle, gotten clean, and started to take care of all aspects of his well-being -- spiritually, physically, mentally -- and is in the best place he’s ever been. He inspires me. I hope that in Anthony sharing his experiences, he can help people who are trapped in similar situations. That would make all that he’s gone through worth it, for something bigger and better to come from it.   

Is there a tendency to want to deflect a little bit with this album because it is so personal?

Anthony: Absolutely. It’s so easy for me to get into that zone of making light of things in order to spare the feeling around it. If you come to see me play with Circa or do solo stuff, after a song, we’re making jokes or laughing with the audience. It’s a very relaxed vibe and I like it that way because it makes me feel safe. 

That contrast of happy music and despondent lyrics has existed in music for so long. Talk about the importance of that juxtaposition for you just to preserve sanity.

Anthony: As far as keeping my sanity, it’s something I’ve only recently tried to focus on as a means of self-preservation. My mother, father and brothers (I was the youngest of three boys), were all very sarcastic and we were a complete Irish-Catholic family. We didn’t talk about our feelings ever, and if we did, we were yelling about them -- there was no in-between. That’s just carried over so many ways in my life and sabotaged relationships, sabotaged creative stuff. For a really long time, I’ve been trying to find balance where I can talk about my feelings and be upfront with people, confront issues and not have to beat them to death or ignore them. So, for me, making music in general is a therapeutic process. It began as a way for me to meet friends, and when you’re a kid just screaming your face off, you’re processing anger; you’re processing all the things that happened to you, whether it’s mistrust or confusion, whether you’ve gone through abuse. I deal with everything in my life in music -- everything that ever happens to me just finds its way into a song or onto a record. I need it. It’s like my life jacket. If I didn’t have that way of processing those feelings, I’d probably be a murderer.

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It’s amazing to be able to recognize deep-seated things you want to change in your life and then actually do it.

Anthony: When you’re standing on the other side of the fence looking back at this journey where you kind of fucked up and learned from it and now you’re better, it’s indescribable. You can’t tell anybody, you can’t really describe the other side of the fence to anybody that’s stuck. That goes for things like addiction, but that also goes for just being stubborn and not wanting to change. It’s definitely a challenge in my life. I want to help other people that are going through what I went through, but I’m not really qualified. And I’m not very good at it. I’m three years into my recovery from heroin and all this stuff and I want to be able to help people. But they have to do it on their own.

You talk about not being qualified to help people, but when you have those moments where you do it musically and you hear that it’s made a difference, how much does that mean to you?

Anthony: I would prefer that, rather than sitting down and giving someone advice, I would way rather write a song about what I was going through. I think that’s a pure, organic process of learning from someone else’s mistakes. When you write a song you’re more or less saying, “This is everyone. I think this is everyone.” It doesn’t necessarily have to be this thing where I go out and I’m like candy-striping, or becoming a therapist or something. I think that maybe, maybe I’m supposed to [be a musician], because of that fact. Music has helped me so much in my life in that way without pointing a finger, without judgement, and maybe my job is to just make these songs about how fucking crazy I feel all the time. And maybe that’s my contribution to humanity.