The Troubled History Of Crazy Town

You might remember the rap-rock band Crazy Town thanks to their chart-topping hit single "Butterfly" from their first album The Gift of Game, the frost-tipped, shirtless vocalist with the star tattoos and puppy eyes, and ... well, probably not all that much else. It's a shame, really, because their history is very much worth knowing, if only because it's roughly as rock 'n' roll as it gets — and not always in a good way. As they sing on one of their non-"Butterfly" singles, "Darkside," the band has been fond of exploring "dreamlands of danger, dark-side pleasures, bad behavior."

Ignoring the odd break, Crazy Town have been around since the mid-1990s. During their two eventful decades in the game, they have seen all sides of the music business. They have reaped the rewards of stardom, and paid the ultimate price of rock star hedonism. While we all have "come my lady, come come my lady, you're my butterfly, sugar baby" stuck in our heads, why don't we take a moment to look at their long, storied, and occasionally murky career? This is the troubled history of Crazy Town. 

Crazy Town's pre-fame losing streak

Before "Butterfly" came along and propelled Crazy Town to sudden fame and fortune, Billboard and Rolling Stone tell us that the band members were painting themselves in a corner with such high expectations that they all eventually went a little, well, crazy. They released their debut album The Gift of Game in October 1999, but meager sales, a grueling touring schedule and assorted personal problems soon started taking their toll. Over the next few months, the band began coming apart at the seams, with members having nervous breakdowns and getting high on all sorts of substances. As time went by, they were ready to call it quits.

Even the undeniably catchy "Butterfly" was far from an immediate reprieve. The song was the third single off The Gift of Game, and the first singles "Toxic" and "Darkside" were pretty much ignored. Even "Butterfly" didn't reach the number one spot of the Billboard Hot 100 chart until March 24, 2001, so Crazy Town's first album spent almost a year and a half lingering in the limbo of failure before unforeseen success came calling.  

Crazy Town got thrown out of Ozzfest

Crazy Town's upwardly mobile career trajectory received a serious hit in 2000, when they landed a spot at Ozzfest ... and were promptly told to leave the lineup after a week (or two, depending on who you ask). Rolling Stone tells us this was largely thanks to vocalist Shifty Shellshock, who was in the middle of a lengthy post-breakup bender at the time. 

Accounts of the precise course of events vary: Shellshock himself has said that he got drunk and rowdy, threw a chair out of a window and got himself arrested, while other sources tell a significantly less rock 'n' roll version where the singer merely slept through a show because he was too tired from all the partying. Regardless, the rest of the band were so angry with him, they left him behind when they left the tour. The singer continued his "destructive rampage" until his mom was forced to ask Antony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers to track him down and talk some sense into him. (This didn't come entirely out of the blue, as Kiedis and Shellshock know each other, and Shellshock calls his old buddy an "angel who appeared in his life.")

To be fair, they were allowed to return the next year as headliners. After all, a festival bearing the name of Ozzy Osbourne, a man whose own history has no shortage of screw-ups, can hardly throw too many stones at overindulging guest acts.  

Crazy Town's tour bus crash

In 2019, Crazy Town (who, indeed, were still around in 2019) had the scare of their life when they were involved in a terrifying car accident in Canada. As CNN tells us, members of the band were traveling to a Halloween show in Sudbury, Ontario when their tour van (yes, they're at a stage of their career where it's a van instead of a bus) suddenly collided with a moose on Route 17. The collision killed the poor animal instantly and completely wrecked the van. 

Fortunately, the three band members traveling in the car were able to walk away from the accident with their life and limbs intact. Though the images about the bloodied, neck brace-wearing band members in an ambulance that singer Shifty Shellshock put on Instagram seemed grim, they fortunately got away with just some "cuts and bruises." As Loudwire notes, they even announced that they resumed the tour after a trip to the emergency room and, presumably, to a car rental place.  

Crazy Town's singer and domestic violence

Crazy Town's lead singer, Shifty Shellshock, is no stranger to the police. As NME tells us, the vocalist had a particularly nasty run-in with the law in 2011 when the police came to his door over an "alleged domestic disturbance." When the cops discovered that Shellshock had outstanding warrants, they promptly arrested him. After posting the $5,000 bail, Shellshock (whose real name is Seth Binzer) insisted that "he didn't do domestic violence," and claimed that the cops had been called simply because his girlfriend "was being too loud." Hmm.

While everyone is innocent until proven guilty, in this particular case one might be forgiven for thinking that those sentences sound a little dubious coming from a rock singer and self-admitted drug addict called "Shifty" who is famous for his wifebeater and frosted tips. After all, Inquisitr notes that less than a year after this incident, Shellshock was arrested for possession ... and for physically assaulting his former girlfriend. Not cool, Crazy Town guy. Not cool. 

Crazy Town, crazy youth

Crazy Town's singer Shifty Shellshock used to be a bit of a criminal in his younger days. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the man born as Seth Binzer fully admits that the nickname "Shifty" is actually a pretty good description of him, especially when he was a pretty prodigious shoplifter. He later graduated to selling weed, and even ended up on L.A.'s Most Wanted when he was 18 or 19 when he tried to rob a fellow drug dealer. Things went belly-up and Shellshock barely managed to escape the police after a big chase, only to be caught the next morning.

The singer got a three-month prison sentence for his troubles, and they were by no means easy months. Either by accident or "accident," he was placed in a prison section that was populated by murderers and assorted psychopaths who were way out of his own criminal bush league. He says that it was "therapy, in a twisted way," and claims he has "been pretty good ever since."

The death of Rust Epique

While you might not know the name Rust Epique, Rolling Stone tells us he was a "well-loved" figure in Hollywood's music circles. Epique was an early member of Crazy Town, but was reportedly quite fond of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, and the alleged reason for him leaving the group behind was that he was "too crazy" for the rest of them. 

Epique, who was also a singer and a painter, went on to build a reputation as a noted "Hollywood eccentric." Tragically, this admittedly cool career move wasn't meant to last. Ultimate Guitar reports that Epique formed a band called pre)Thing. They landed a deal with the V2 record label in 2002, and their debut album 22nd Century Lifestyle was slated for release on April 6, 2004. Unfortunately, there's no telling just how far he could have gone, since the band's trajectory was cut short when Epique suddenly and unexpectedly died of a heart attack in March 10, 2004. He was only 35-years-old.

The shifty side of 'Butterfly'

Crazy Town's most famous song, "Butterfly," is seemingly nonsensical, and as Kerrang! notes, its apparently sincere effort to be a "truly heartfelt love song" is somewhat undermined by the fact that its lyrics start discussing nipples in the very first verse. However, even (and especially) the song's strangest line, the (in)famous "sugar baby" chorus, comes directly from singer Shifty Shellshock's own life. Shellshock's girlfriend didn't much care for the frankly sexist lyrics Crazy Town had hitherto been dealing in. She happened to collect butterflies, and one day, Shellshock spontaneously spoke to her the soon-to-be-famous "you're my butterfly, sugar baby" line. 

Ultimately, that line didn't work, as Shellshock and his girlfriend had a number of other issues they were ultimately unable to work through: As Rolling Stone reports, they were both struggling with substance abuse and were accustomed to hard partying, and Shellshock's time on the road didn't exactly help their severe codependency issues. As a result, Shellshock, who had been trying to get sober, fell off the wagon so hard that the band was kicked out of Ozzfest, and the two broke up. 

Shellshock and his ex-girlfriend were eventually able to mend at least some of their fences, and she even features as a butterfly lady in the band's music video for, you guessed it, "Butterfly."

Shifty Shellshock's struggle with addiction

Crazy Town's lead singer Shifty Shellshock is no stranger to narcotic substances. As Rolling Stone tells us, he used to sell drugs when he was younger, and his own intake was at such a high level that he referred to himself as a "professional drug user" as early as 2001. However, his worst days were still ahead of him. Hollywood Reporter writes that Shellshock is a veteran of assorted rehab-themed reality TV shows, with seasons on both Celebrity Rehab (2008-09) and Sober House (2009-10) under his belt. Shockingly enough, a few years of reality TV weren't any more able to treat his addiction than his previous stints at rehab had been, and in 2012 he was arrested for cocaine possession and physically abusing his ex-girlfriend. 

According to TMZ, Shellshock saw the 2012 incident as something of a wake-up call. He expressed deep remorse for his actions, and set out to change his lifestyle. A representative even said that the singer "checked into a highly regarded drug and alcohol treatment center where he will be working with them to restructure his life over the next two years." It remains to be seen whether the singer gets his life permanently in control, but his drug-fueled actions definitely followed him beyond 2012: TMZ reports that in 2013, his former partner Jasmine Lennard sought full-time custody of their son, and alleged that Shellshock was still "addicted to a whole slew of drugs."

DJ AM's accidental overdose

As E! Online tells us, Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein was an EDM pioneer and a low-key superstar who performed DJ sets everywhere from Coachella to Leonardo DiCaprio's private parties. He dated Mandy Moore and Nicole Richie, and survived a dramatic plane accident with Blink-182's Travis Barker, who has called Goldstein his best friend. DJ AM even featured on MTV's Punk'd, which was pretty much as exciting as it gets for a DJ in the 2000s.     

With such fine entertainment accolades, it's easy to forget that he was also a former Crazy Town member, but as Rolling Stone lets us know, DJ AM was very much a part of the band in its early years before he wandered off to make his own path. Unfortunately, said path was not a long one. Like many other Crazy Town alumni, DJ AM wrestled with demons of addiction, and on August 28, 2009, the 36-year-old fatally overdosed from a combination of cocaine and "a cocktail of prescription meds." He had just finished shooting Gone Too Far, an MTV series about him helping others who have substance abuse issues. Despite suspicions that shooting the show and spending time in the vicinity of active drug users might have disrupted his own recovery, DJ AM's family decided that the show should air despite his untimely death. After all, there was a chance that the show could help someone, and that's what DJ AM himself would have wanted.

Crazy Town's bassist and the art of living rough

In 2001, Crazy Town's improbably nicknamed bass player Doug "Faydoedeelay" Miller told Rolling Stone about his past, and boy, he had a tale to tell. Miller, who hails from Torrance, California, started doing heroin at the ripe old age of 13. After he met the band's singer, Seth "Shifty Shellshock" Binzer, he became a member of a gang called West Side Crazys, where he got involved in a wide assortment of criminal activity ranging from graffiti to "running a lot of dirt, black-market things."  At some point, he even attempted to set his family's house on fire. 

Crimes and addictions eventually attracted punishments and treatment. School turned into a correctional academy, which in turn gave way to jail and rehab. Around the time Crazy Town signed their record deal, the 21-year-old Miller even spent a week living in a van with his dog. Well, at least he was extremely prepared for all the craziness that comes with being a member of an actively touring rap-rock band.     

The Crazy Town singer's surprise coma

Falling in a coma is rarely a nice thing, and it can be especially terrifying when it comes as a surprise and seemingly without any reason. According to Loudwire, this is exactly what happened to Crazy Town's primary vocalist Shifty Shellshock on March 29, 2012. The singer unexpectedly went comatose and unresponsive, and was rushed to a hospital in Los Angeles where he was treated in an Intensive Care Unit. Fortunately, his state was not a permanent one, and TMZ reported on April 3 that he was awake and responsive again. Despite not being quite aware of where he was and only speaking "sporadically," doctors were confident that he would make a full recovery. 

It has not been disclosed just what caused Shellshock's sudden and startling comatose condition. However, it must be noted that the frontman has a long and storied history of substance abuse, and reports indicate that multiple people close to the singer have said that the situation was quite possibly drug-related. 

The depressing latter-day adventures of Crazy Town

Most people think of Crazy Town as a one-hit wonder. As such, their post-"Butterfly" career makes pretty depressing reading, as seen in the "Where are they now?" article by Out Loud Culture detailing the band's many misadventures after its 15 minutes of fame. Crazy Town's problems started with "Revolving Door," the follow-up single that was deemed too similar to "Butterfly" and failed to attract the same attention. Trouble only escalated with their sophomore album, 2003's Darkhorse, which was marred by personnel changes, yielded zero hits, and sold precious few copies. That was enough for Crazy Town, and the band decided to call it a day later that year ...

... until 2007, that is. Some presumably less than successful solo efforts later, the band's remaining members announced a comeback. However, the album they started working on, Crazy Town Is Back, never materialized, and it took them until 2009 to play a show. Since then, their musical output has consisted of a few new songs they released on MySpace in 2011 and a 2015 album called The Brimstone Sluggers. And while it's technically possible that they may one day grace us with another mega-hit, Sputnik Music reports that the task became a lot more difficult in 2017 when founding member and driving musical force Brett "Epic" Azur left the group. In 2019, Vulture shared that the latest incarnation of Crazy Town is not above playing ironic nostalgia shows at small indie venues.

However, it doesn't appear the remaining members of Crazy Town have given up on producing new music. In 2022, Crazy Town, also known as Crazy Town X, released the song "Leeches."