The Untold Truth Of Shifty Shellshock

By the mid and late 1990s, a music subgenre that had been around for about a decade began to find a foothold in the mainstream pop audience. According to Master Class, nu metal is a subgenre of alternative metal music, distinct in its combination with other genres such as hip-hop, funk, grunge, and alternative and hard rock, and by the 1990s, it had begun to find some mainstream appeal.

It is common in nu-metal bands to feature deejays playing on turntables and to have both a singer and a rapper in the group sharing vocals, both common in hip-hop. Other elements within the music, such as direct lyrics and syncopation, are also common in hip-hop music. Some of the biggest bands in the genre, such as Linkin Park and Rage Against the Machine, are examples of nu-metal bands with very strong hip-hop influences.

Another band that helped push the genre into the mainstream was Crazy Town. As told by Discogs, Crazy Town was formed by the duo of Bret "Epic" Mazur and Seth Binzer, as known by his stage name, Shifty Shellshock, in 1995. They are mostly remembered for their hit song, "Butterfly." The band was unable to repeat the level of success from "Butterfly" and disbanded just three years after the song hit the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100. For Shellshock, his life story is more than just a song.

Shifty Shellshock's film and art career

Before he was Shifty Shellshock, the co-founder/frontman of Crazy Town, Seth Brooks Binzer was born on August 23, 1974, in Los Angeles, as told by Last FM. In the entertainment capital of the world, Binzer already had a leg up through his father, Rollin Binzer. Fans of the Rolling Stones or Chicago blues might recognize his name. Rollin Binzer directed the Rolling Stones' 1972 concert film, "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones" and worked as an art director for blues-focused Chess Records, the LA Times reported.

As a teenager in Los Angeles in the late 1980s, Shellshock became enraptured by the West Coast hip-hop scene, as told by Buddy TV. When he was just 15 years old, he joined the Whooliganz. He followed his father's passion for art by becoming a graffiti artist. "I got into all the biggest graffiti crews, 'cos no one could believe what I would climb up into and write on. I was like a monkey. I would climb onto the tallest buildings," he said.

He also followed his father in the movie industry. A year before he would meet Bret Mazur and form their first band, the Brimstone Sluggers, Shellshock appeared in the 1994 comedy, "Clifford." He also co-starred in the 2004 short film, "Willowbee" with Amy Smart and did voice work for the 2005 reality TV sport "Shark Hunter: Ultimate Tournament Series."

The story behind Butterfly

For most people, Shifty Shellshock and Crazy Town's legacy remains their hit song, "Butterfly." The song was released as a single a year after it appeared on the group's debut album, "The Gift of Game," Song Facts and Meanings says. After the first two singles off the album failed to make any dent on the charts, "Butterfly," the third single, reached No. 1 in 15 different countries by November 2000. For Shellshock, the song's writer, its origins are less hard rock and more sensitive.

According to Song Facts, Shellshock's girlfriend disapproved of the way her partner and his band carried themselves. With this in mind, he decided to write her a romantic song to show his sensitive side, giving it the name "Butterfly" because she collected the insect. In order to scale down the energy and production of the band's other songs, the song samples "Pretty Little Ditty" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The song was completely different from the rest of the album and the nu-metal genre in general. It was also a smash hit and launched the band to its zenith. Still, the song did not help his relationship, and the couple broke up. "We were together three years, and the breakup almost killed me. I was doing cocaine; I was relapsing, and we were driving each other mad. I've been clean for six months now, but breaking up was the hardest thing," Shellshock told Rolling Stone.

2000 and 2001 Ozzfest tours

According to Britannica, in 1996, hard rock legend Ozzy Osbourne and his wife, Sharon, organized an annual summer music festival called "Ozzfest." The festival would feature some of the biggest names in heavy metal. During their short time together, Crazy Town was scheduled to perform at the massive festival twice. However, thanks in large part because of Shellshock, the band missed their first bite at the apple.

Crazy Town released their debut album, "The Gift of Game" in October 1999, as told by All Music. By the next year, the band was selected to be a part of Ozzfest. For a young band trying to build a larger fan base, being able to play to an audience of concertgoers who may not know of the band would be huge for any future success. At least, it would have been. Before the summer festival began, the band was forced to pull out after Shellshock was arrested and missed two of the tour dates, MTV reports. Speaking to Rolling Stone in 2001, Shellshock said that he was drunk and threw a chair through a window after breaking up with his girlfriend.

The next year, the band returned to Ozzfest, now with their hit song in their back pocket and their follow-up album soon to be released. However, that became just as disastrous as audience goers jeered the band as the "Butterfly Boys," desiring instead to hear other, heavier, acts such as Black Sabbath or Slipknot, MTV reported.

Battle with addiction

Drug issues followed the members of Crazy Town during their time together and after. According to CNN, in 2009, the group's former deejay, Adam Goldstein (also known as DJ AM) died from an overdose of cocaine and a variety of prescription drugs. The group's guitarist, Rust Epique, who was "too crazy" for the band, died of a heart attack at only 35 years old, Rolling Stone reported. However, prior to Crazy Town, Shellshock was already struggling with substance abuse.

As told by Todd in the Shadows, while he and Bret Mazur were in the Brimstone Sluggers, both frontmen had to go to rehab for substance abuse. After Shellshock's arrest during Ozzfest in 2000, Mazur said that the incident led to another rehab stint and new rules in the way the band would run to help his bandmate from relapsing, according to ABC News.

The precaution did not help Shellshock, who would spend the decade falling off the wagon. Shellshock would make multiple appearances on programs such as "Celebrity Rehab" and "Sober House." In a custody hearing in 2013, the musician's ex-wife claimed he was still on drugs and allegedly left a crack pipe around their son, The PRP reports. The year prior, Shellshock was arrested for drug possession and battery. He pleaded no contest and was given three years of probation, as told by Noise Creep.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

He was in a coma

According to ABC News, Shifty Shellshock was no longer a young, star musician in the music world, but instead a reality show television star. He joined the VH1 program "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" in 2008, saying he joined because traditional rehab had not helped him recover over the previous 15 years. The show did not, nor his returns in later seasons and spinoffs, seem to help Shellshock.

By March 2012, the former musician knocked at death's door. Per TMZ, on March 29, the frontman was in a comatose state at a hospital in Los Angeles. While a reason was not given, people close to him believed the cause was drug-induced. Shellshock was supposed to attend a pre-trial hearing the week he went into a coma over a drug possession arrest the month prior, Loudwire reported.

Fortunately, Shellshock recovered within a week's time, and by April 3, the frontman was able to breathe on his own, NME reported. Aside from the court hearing, the hospitalization came at a time when the public believed Crazy Town was working on their first album in a decade. The album, "The Brimstone Sluggers," was released in 2015, according to Discogs.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).