All Heart with Paul Cardall

Ben Fuller: Addiction Recovery

Episode Summary

On the twenty first episode of All Heart with Paul Cardall, Paul is joined by rising country star Ben Fuller, son of a dairy farmer from Vermont, who shares his life changing story of loss, addiction, and where he got the strength to begin the long road of recovery. These events have led Ben to write songs with Dove Award Winning songwriters Mia Fields, Tony Wood, and Colby Wedgeworth.

Episode Notes

On the twenty first episode of All Heart with Paul Cardall, Paul is joined by rising country star Ben Fuller who was raised working on his family dairy farm, where he learned about hard work and a passion he saw first-hand from his father. He started singing at a young age to pass the time and somewhere between the farm and college, he picked up a guitar and never looked back. ​In 2015, he was involved in a beautiful yet devastating drug-fueled relationship which led him to understand the other side of the disease. He abruptly lost his best friend to a drug overdose and his entire outlook on life shifted in 2017. 

Motivated to change, Ben moved to Nashville to pursue his career as a singer/songwriter in late 2018. Falling face first into his music and a new-found relationship with Jesus he was led to begin writing with a burning desire to help individuals who struggle with addiction. Ben is currently writing songs with Dove Award winning songwriters Mia Fields (Reckless Love), Tony Wood, and Colby Wedgeworth.  

Today, Ben's heart continues to fill with stories of loss, hope and love as he travels across our country to sing his story as well as the stories of those who can no longer.  Ben can be found singing at Nashville Rescue Mission, Men of Valor, The Beat of Life, Recovery Centers of America, Seacrest Studio’s Vanderbilt Children’s and churches and festivals across the country.

All Heart with Paul Cardall is proudly a part of the American Songwriter Podcast Network. For more information on Paul Cardall, please visit https://paulcardall.com/ or find him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Episode Transcription

- [Narrator] Hey, everybody. Welcome to the American Songwriter Podcast Network. This is All Heart with Paul Cardall. ♪ Child, lift up your weary eyes ♪ ♪ This world can be unkind ♪ ♪ Don't let them define you ♪ ♪ Child of God ♪ ♪ Tomorrow breathes in you ♪

 

- Hello, everybody. Welcome to All Heart. I'm Paul Cardall. I wanna thank you for listening week after week to these podcasts. We've had some incredible guests. Thompson Square, Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus from "The Chosen". We get a chance to listen to some of the most interesting people on this podcast. They have the biggest hearts. They are using their gifts to make the world better. You know, we don't always have celebrities, we had Cheryl Cardall, my sister-in-law, she's an expert on parenting and she offered such solid advice. Particularly in our day and age when we're trying to figure out what's going on, she had solid advice to offer up for parents in raising children. And today we're gonna talk about addiction recovery. We have things in our lives that we wanna overcome, we wanna conquer, we wanna get rid of these addictions. They seem to have been plaguing us for a very long time. Is full recovery even possible? My guest, Ben Fuller, is a rising star in the music industry. He has so much energy and it's so much fun to be with him and talk to him. You're really gonna benefit from what he has to say. He's been down that dark path of full addiction and he is now coming out of that on the full end. And he is gonna share with us his story and provide principles of what he did that we can do. If we have an open mind, you always have to have an open mind, to investigate the possibilities of how to improve our lives. So without further ado, this is my conversation with Mr. Ben Fuller.

 

- I'm originally from a small town called Weathersfield, Vermont. And it's one of those towns where you you drive and everybody knows everybody and it's a really beautiful place. Vermont is the Green Mountain State. And people go there to vacation. A lot of people have second, third homes there. The skiing, obviously, snowmobiling, snowshoeing. It's a beautiful place. But 2% Christian.

 

- Well, it's interesting you say that because that is originally where the Methodist headquarters from England was, was in Vermont in the early 18th, late 18th century, early 19th century. So all the revivals, all the second grade awakening happened all through Vermont.

 

- That's hard to believe you if you go there, Paul . And it's like, it's when I come home I bring as much Jesus with me as possible. But it's funny, I've got some old buddies that are like, you know, and I walk into a place or something I haven't done in awhile, "Here comes Jesus." Yeah. You know, and I'm kinda like, and before it upset me but now all of a sudden, I'm just like, "You betcha!" So they can see that change in me. I'm thankful

 

- Jesus attracted the outcast, the misfits, the people that were shamed, that were considered unworthy, musicians.

 

- Yeah. I know. I'm kinda like, all the while you're talking, I'm kind of like, that's me, that's me pick me. I found that and I think that's the coolest thing. You know what really helped me discover? I mean, I don't wanna jump in too fast, but I mean I do also, but The Chosen really helped me.

 

- That's helped so many people. It's amazing impact down there the production is having. Well, before we get to that let's back up. You're in Vermont, you're growing up there, what was your family life like? Was it a religious home? What was it?

 

- Family life was, my sister and I grew up on a small dairy farm and I guess pretty good sized dairy farm for the area but we had about 160 or so Holsteins. And my dad started in 1977, bought his first cows when he's 19 years old and just knew like he wanted to be a farmer, he wanted to be a dairy farmer. And the respect I have for him is incredible. And just for going out and doing stuff people told him, you know, "You're crazy. That's silly. You're gonna start a herd and do this." And he sold milk to companies like Hood Milk and stuff. And so it's really, really cool how he built and grew. And between owning and leasing, I believe that we had about 240 acres and we did a hundred acres of corn, cow corn. And we had like 75 or 80 acres of hay fields for bailing hay and everything. But growing up was, my sister kinda did her own thing. She loved dance and gymnastics and everything non-farm related pretty much. So that left me and dad.

 

- 'Cause they had you working you had to get up early, obviously.

 

- Yeah. Yeah. So that, that me and dad and my mom. God bless my mom. She's been a first grade school teacher for like 40 years and she just loves the kiddos. And so she's got such a heart for little kids.

 

- Did your dad want you to take over the farm prior to the change?

 

- Yeah, he sure did. I remember him talking to me about it and he wanted so badly for me to, I think there was a time period where he really wanted me to take over and I remember feeling bad, like, "Dad I don't know how to say this but this isn't my dream, this isn't my life." And I quickly saw the struggles that he went through. The trials, the problems, the bills, picking and choosing on what to pay for and everything. It's just like, is this really how life is? Is this really what it is? His love for the farm is like no other. And that's what kept him going. It wasn't the money, obviously, it wasn't any of that stuff. It was just simply his love for the cattle and feeding people. But I watched the struggle and it was tough. But they gave me everything that I needed. I always had new clothes, I always had new books or whatever it was like, they always made it work. But I think the struggle is really inside of me and was just like, "Oh my gosh, this is really, really tough. I need to do something that's gonna make some money." And it just, it wasn't in my heart to take over.

 

- Right. And so music

 

- So let's get onto that, Paul. I am so smart that I decided, so no. I went to college for landscape design and I got a degree there. It is small college in Vermont and really hands-on and I got a job right after I graduated working for an architecture firm, and I loved it. It was great. I mean, I built stone walls for the better part of 15 years I guess the trade was a dry laid stone masonry so no mortar, no concrete and all the stones just, they fit together and they puzzle piece together.

 

- Garnish walls.

 

- Yeah, exactly, like those. And I've never seen them in person, but someday hopefully I can go. So, that's really. And all of a sudden, and they paid. It was like, I got paid really good for it. My back's taken a bit of a toll, but I love the hard work. To stand back and see a section of stonewall like that after the end of the long day is just like, the proof is in the pudding. Like there it is, there, it stands and for hopefully a hundred years or more it'll stay there.

 

- What's amazing when you something that never existed before. And I think it was Robert Kennedy that says, "We need people to dream of things that never existed, to create things that never existed." So whether it's a wall or a song, or something that's what's amazing is when you look back and go, "I made that."

 

- Yeah, yeah. It's really, really beautiful.

 

- So music, when did music, obviously if you're on a farm, you're a Willie Nelson fan and a John Cougar Mellencamp fan for the farm aids.

 

- Absolutely, my dad's a big advocator of all that stuff, of course. I guess I grew up listening to like Vince Gill and Steve Warner and my dad was a bit on that softer side and it wasn't the Merle and and Hank and all that stuff that I'm hearing down here. When I come down here, it's like, "Bro, like don't you know that Merle song." And I'm like, "No, I really don't." And I was like, "What do you mean you don't know that?" And it's like, "Dude, I'm sorry, I don't know that Merle song." And it's like, "Dude, everybody knows." And it's like, "Well, I didn't grow up with it, sorry." "You better learn it." So I found out really quickly how much I differ. Yeah. I found out really definitely how much I differed with my country music. I got all the while I didn't realize like I got involved with music in college and I picked up a guitar for the first time. We had a couple of buddies that lived on a dairy farm floor. I was over on the landscape wing and they were on the dairy floor. So I had to sneak over to the dairy floor 'cause we got along so well and they taught me the all too well-known phrase of three chords and the truth. And just kinda like, "Here you go, man, like you can play this 20 something songs, here you go with just these three chords." I'm like, "Really." And pretty soon I started strumming and it was like, I can do that. And I always could sing. I would sing on the tractors, milk and cows and stuff, but I did it to pass the time I wanted to be like those people. Like I'd listened to Ronnie Dunn and Kix Brooks and you know what I'm saying. ♪ I spend most every night ♪ ♪ Beneath the light ♪ ♪ Of a neon moon ♪ And I just was like, if I could sound like him like that. And so countless hours listening to those little anti-skid CD players out in the farm fields with the little Sony headphones. The light cheap, thin ones that they used to have back in the day and like the little foam would fall off

 

- 1899 at a Radio Shack or something like that. With a free battery if you remember.

 

- Yes, exactly. And the anti-skid thing was like really in. The CD player was thicker and that this was like a really add the shock absorber and whatever. And so music really was always so prevalent in my life. And then I started playing at bonfires and started playing little campfires and little parties and stuff, but I was drinking a lot. And I also got introduced to cocaine at a pretty young age.

 

- Before we talk about the cocaine, what was your drink? what was the drink that you just had to always pour down.

 

- I was such a beer guy and I got so much hassle from so many friends 'cause Vermont has so many beautiful breweries. And Vermont has like so many awesome like Magic Hat and like all these really like Harpoon and all these amazing breweries that make really good beer. I just never could get into those, they were too heavy and I just loved to drink. And so, I guess I bounced back and forth between Coors Light and Bud Light. And I would just pack, I would drink a really lot and have them and something about a can of beer. I used to be such a can man and it was like I'm buying a 30 pack and head to a bonfire with my guitar. And that was what it was. And I'd get drunk and make up silly songs and funny songs and pick on people that were sitting around the fire and quickly, it was like, "Hey, Fuller's got his guitar out dude, come on over, come on." And it like became this thing where.

 

- Here's in, let's hear what he has to say.

 

- Absolutely. And it was just nothing but noise. It was just a bunch of junk that was coming out. So, I really did that for a lot of years. I hid all those issues and stuffed them, buried them deep. And didn't really, for a number of number of years, I didn't for 10 years plus, I kinda banged around maybe once a month on a guitar, I don't know. Maybe it was like a couple of times a month through summertime and then I'd put it up. And so I never really did much with it. Had a little Johnson guitar my roommate bought for me in college for my birthday. I think for a lot of years it went sort of under the radar. And I always sang, but I never played.

 

- Let me ask you, how old were you when you had your first drink of alcohol?

 

- Wow. I think it was, it was honestly in the, is my dad gonna watch this thing here, I think it was, I was so terrified my father, I was completely terrified of my dad. I was terrified at him finding out, I was terrified of of what he'd do to me when he caught me. I think it was my senior year in high school. I think I waited and that like all my buddies were drinking, pretty heavily before then. But I believe it was my senior year. I think it, I think it was a Budweiser and it was my senior year of high school and I just remembered, I didn't really like the taste of it. And I remember how bitter it was but it was like, we're all doing it so I'll just chug a couple. And I think three or four beers I was just out of it on the floor, but it was funny because Ben's a funny guy. So it was like, he's a joker, he loves to make people laugh. So the alcohol for me it was just like, "Fuller's drunk again, Like, he's going to say something funny, like let's all." And so it just became like this tool, like I need the alcohol to be funny and I need the alcohol to fill the emptiness that I had inside.

 

- Did you have girlfriends at the time, relationships? Lots of them. I didn't also want it to add that some of my ex-girlfriends, I did name some of the beautiful heifers in the baron after them, I was friends with everybody. I was friends with everybody. I remember at one point trying out for the drama club and people laughed 'cause I was I captain football team. And I remember singing for a part and people were kinda like, "We had no idea." But I didn't get the part because I was never involved in drama. And so they're kinda like this guy's a joke. He can sing and he's a joke, he's just trying to do this. I think it was for Moulin Rouge actually to make fun of. So anyway, I was serious. I had a bunch of people talk me into trying out for it. I dated a lot of girls and I treated a lot of them. I thought the best that I could, and I thought I treated them all really well but looking back on it now, it's like, man the one night stand type of deal things that I went through it's just a lot and I lost count really.

 

- And you tied that all into the alcohol and the cocaine and all of it.

 

- Yeah. And just, it wasn't me, it wasn't who I am and who I am now, certainly. But I've reached out to a lot of the girls and stuff from way back where I kind of questioned, "Hey, I think I might have left in a bad way or not treated well." And all of them been like, "Ben, it was our fault too. Here we are too and we love you. And so it's all good." But I definitely would have done some things differently if I knew what I know now.

 

- So obviously you started spiraling down because this became an addiction. You gotta drink to be funny, you gotta go to the bonfire, you're gonna wake up with somebody. How do you snap out of that? How do you get out of that? There are so many people that get into this cycle of addiction, where they think they can control the alcohol, they can control the drugs, they can control their sex life, but why all is out of control, how were you able to do it? And then let's talk about what kind of advice you'd give for other people that are in where you.

 

- I thought about like, "I got this, I'm in control. I'm good. I only do cocaine on the weekends." I can go buy an eight ball and we can go party on the weekend and that's fine. I thought so many times that I was in control. Like, I've got this. I'm stronger than, I'm not an addict. I'm stronger than one, I'm Ben fuller. A lot of people like me, I'm very friendly. I can hide it very well, I can hold my composure, I can still go to work. I was working 70 hours a week, 60 hours a week, whatever it depended on the week, I was working really hard. As a stonemason and landscaper and I'm like, I'm good. I'm in good physical shape, I'm working. I can go party on the weekends, that's fine. And then all of a sudden, it just hit me like how much I was drinking. I started drinking during the week. There was pretty long stretch that I would go through a 12 pack every night and have to buy 18. And then all of a sudden I've graduated to an 18 pack. And because I knew I'd drink 12, I knew I drank 13 or 14 and then I'd have to a 12 pack wasn't enough. And so I'd always had beer in the fridge. I'd always had a beer in my truck when I got out of work, I could have a beer or my favorite thing was drinking and driving. I loved drinking and driving because, I don't know. I would go flying down a road, back road somewhere and listen music. And it was like a freedom, nobody can touch me. Like all the songs say.

 

- Oh, it's Afro man.

 

- Yeah, exactly.

 

- The rapper says, I drive better drunk than you do sober. Like what a crazy far-fetched ridiculous line. And people are buying his album just because they think that's funny, it's not funny.

 

- Yeah, it's not funny.

 

- It's ironic, but you're doing this through the country roads, so at you're not around people. The only person you could really damage is yourself.

 

- That's what I'd tell myself to make myself feel better. Is at least, there's nobody around and I can go out. I mean, there was so many nights I went off the road, I didn't tell anybody. I banged up my truck a little, or I'd get stuck in a ditch. And at one time I had to go get a guy with a tractor to pull me out. I don't know how I didn't get caught. I got, and that's a lie because I did get caught one time. And it was right after my grandfather had died and he left his beautiful Chevrolet pickup to my dad and my dad let me go to a birthday party one night and I he said, "You can take the truck." And I took the truck. and I was probably 23, 22, 23 years old. And I took the truck to a birthday party and my best friend, we drank, we drank, we drank, we drank. And then we left, we went, picked up beer and then we're on our way to go buy cocaine. And I pull off, he had to puke. All of a sudden, it was 1:30, 2:30 in the morning, whatever time it was, spotlight from the trooper came up and pulled in. He said, "Is everything all right? It looks like your buddy here is in trouble." And I'm standing there with a beer between my feet and he's staring at me and we're making eye contact. And he said, "You've been drinking tonight?" And I said, "Yep. I sure have." And I was out of the truck and checking on him. And they didn't put two and two together but they didn't catch me behind the wheels so I wasn't drinking and driving technically, physically. So he went and got a breathalyzer test and I'd done the beer out from between my legs. And he came back and I blew a 0.093 and they let my best friend go and I took a ride in a police car for the first time. And he didn't even look in the truck. I don't know how he didn't. There was booze in the truck and everything and open beers and I don't know how I didn't look. They let me ride in the front seat because it was ice over. The whole place is iced over. And the trooper that called another trooper in to give me a walk. I guess the first one was a canine unit. So that'll really sober you up fast as a barking German shepherd hanging out of the police car. And the police officers walking me to the car and the hands behind my back and he slipped and on ice. And I leaned forward with both my hands and he grabbed on to the middle of my cuffs and I held him up. and he kinda looked, he got his feet back and he looked at me and just was like, "Thank you." And he says, "I'll let you ride in the front." And I said, "Okay, thank you." And I took a ride to the barracks and I blew a 0.067 when I got there. I don't know how many beers I drank, a lot. But I just was so seasoned where it was like, I'm okay. And I got like a $604 fine, I lost my license for 30 days. But you know what, the biggest thing of all was going home to tell dad what had happened.

 

- I was gonna ask you, on that ride, what were you thinking about your mom and your dad?

 

- I was like, well, mom, I could always talk stuff out of. I love my mom so much, but she's the most understanding and the most lighthearted and the most forgiving. And I was like, I'm gonna be okay. And somehow I can be able to tell mom like, "Okay, this will never happen again." And she'll believe me. And then, but my dad I was terrified or so. That's the first thing I thought of was, "How am I gonna tell dad that this truck is now left in a parking lot somewhere I'm not supposed to be at 2:30 in the morning that I need to tell him that we need to go get the truck together." Like, how am I gonna tell him that. My dad and I certainly got in a lot of fights when I was growing up and it caused a lot of stress and a lot of tension between him and I. He was really quiet. And he was very, very quiet and I think he said something like, why wouldn't your grandpa be proud? And it was like the cut, like the deepest cut, and I just was like, "Man, what did I do?" And I had to get rides everywhere. And you think something like of that nature would, something that big, that heavy would set in and be like, "Man, I'm never doing that again and never do it again."

 

- What's interesting with that is, it really hits home. Our parents have a way of just saying the right thing. It really sends such a bold message because there's wisdom that we don't wanna take from them. And all they have to do is acknowledge. Basically you know, better. But obviously, this whole story should be in, I don't know if you've started working on a song either grandpa's track or riding with the pop.

 

- Yeah, exactly.

 

- Because that's such a country song. You talk about these other artists, but that's something Merle and Johnny, that's an outlaw type of a song. Unless because of where you're at now bringing that redemption element. Of course, those guys did later in their lives, So then how did you break free from all of that?

 

- So I mean, the walk continued and I kept going, kept going. I was working, everything was great. And then I met Katelyn in 2015.

 

- This is your wife?

 

- No, no, Katelyn was my girlfriend. And so we had met over buying a dog. Actually, I was buying a little Australian cattle dog puppy she was beautiful. She is beautiful and this farm girl and I'm like, "Oh my gosh, this is it, I'm gonna get a dog and a wife, this is also a country song." And come to find out she had a secret addiction also, she was addicted to opiates. And I didn't tell her about my cocaine habit until later. We spent a couple of months getting to know each other and then all of a sudden out came the secret that we both had problems. What a devastating relationship, what a toxic relationship would turn into. And so for the year, February, 2015, to February, 2016, we got high and fell into each other. We did some really bad things. And then she really took on a new role and got lost in the drug world. And she started selling and it got out of control. She finally, she asked me to leave, she just said I don't need you anymore at all, we're not working out. And so that broke my heart. But again, this whole time I'm keeping myself right, I'm good 'cause I'm not a full addict. Like I can stop, so I'm good. She would go through the weekend partying and all of a sudden I'm like, "I'm just Friday night, that's it? Saturday is good, Sunday's like great." Never went to church, never had any of that stuff. So I'm like, I'm good, right? I'm good cause I can stop myself. And there was a long period in there after 2016 that I quit doing cocaine. And I was like, I can't do this anymore. Not only is it expensive, but it's also taken my soul and I'm just seeing the destruction what it did in Katelyn's life. And so I went and bought a house and continued working in Vermont.

 

- Did she blame you? Was she blaming you? Was it one of those ball and chain things? I can't control my life, but I can get rid of buddy.

 

- Yeah. And it was this guy's wanting to be a little bit more sober than me and wanting to be like, I'm a hindrance. And so it was like test out of here, get out of my way, absolutely. And so I bought a house in 2016 and that's when everything changed for me. I continued working and I've been involved working for a wonderful family from Miami. And so I had done a bunch of work, Stonewall work and I was managing a farm that they own in Vermont. I was doing a lot of just really hard work, really amazing things, building a lot of stonewalls. I built two miles of Stonewalls in the Florida keys, like crazy things. And I was really experiencing a lot of stuff just before I bought that house. So I settled down, I decided I needed to settle down. And so I bought this house, four acres and this beautiful little home, 800 square feet. I was drinking there a lot. But that's when my friend from Maryland reached out to me, I had a good girlfriend from Maryland, she reached out to me and she just said, "Hey, what are you doing with your music?" And I said, "What do you mean?" And she said, "Hey, why don't you send me a video? I'd like to start a Facebook page for you." And she goes, "I'm kind of bored, I'm kinda whatever." Came to find out God had sent her to me. And I said, "Sure." So I did a David, I love David Nail, he's one of my favorite artists, country artists. And so I did, ♪ I ain't never seen the snowfall on the Delta ♪ ♪ Like the one that's gonna cover all of New York tonight ♪ And so I just I started, I picked a cover of his. The song's called Mississippi. Anyway, I just fell in love with it. And I started seeing all of a sudden, Selena had posted the video, started Facebook page all of a sudden I got likes, views. All of a sudden it was like, people are sharing it. It was like, "Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Ben, we didn't know you could sing. Whoa, this is awesome, do another song. Can you do this song? Can you do that song?" And so she came up with this idea to do this thing called Fuller Friday. Everyone wants to have a Fuller Friday. So it's like all of a sudden I started taking requests and it just started skyrocketing, numbers were growing and Facebook was growing and we started Instagram. She kinda became my manager. And it was really amazing to see where it was going. And this was, I guess from 2016 to 2017 and all of a sudden I hadn't even played a show yet. I've never even played a legitimate show. And so February 25th, my parents' anniversary, 2017 was my first ever show in front of people. And I was at a little dive bar called Sherry's place. And the place was packed, wall to wall people. I had like $300 something in my guitar case at the end. And people were like, "When's your next show?" I'm like, "This is for one night only, I'm not doing this. This is it. I'm a one man band. This is it. I'm not doing another show." And all of a sudden bars started reaching out, restaurants started reaching out, "Hey, we heard you back at Sherry's, you wanna play here? I'll call you then." And so along with Selena's hard work and me doing full-time stonework all of a sudden I'm playing shows every weekend. And so it started picking up, well so did the drinking, so did shots. Oh my goodness, it's like and I was staying late and I was like they'd pay me and shots and beers and free beers on the house on us. Oh, all right. Cool. Man, I was doing a lot of drinking and driving. I was leaving stupid drunk from places. And after I packed my gear up, I made sure I had beers for the road, bears for the ride home. And I was playing an hour and a half, two hours away from where I lived and I was driving home. And then all of a sudden it was like people got under my skin. And so anyway, during this time my song writing started. I wrote the song, me and Katelyn. I wrote the song "Dirt Road to Nashville". I started experimenting with writing, for the first time and actually playing and writing. And so instead of just cover songs or making up fakes silly songs I was actually getting serious about it. And enough people told me and said, "Why don't you go to Nashville? Why don't you move down to Tennessee like you should?" And enough of that coke thing, it almost was everybody else's dream and not my own. Like I was pretty comfortable at home. Just I had a routine. I reached out to my realtor and I said, "Hey, I'm ready to sell my house." And she said, "Okay." My house sold in one day, full price offer. And the woman that bought it is from Nashville, Tennessee. And I'm like, "Well, that's a coincidence. That's cool. Yeah, that's pretty neat. I guess that's meant to meant to be as they say that's meant to be." I packed everything I owned and what I did, I sold just like all those songs growing. And, and I drove down to Nashville, and stayed in an extended stay hotel.

 

- That's crazy.

 

- It is.

 

- You know, why this is crazy, is because this is what God does. God plucks his poets out of places where they are living in the United States. And these poets are a lot like King David. David was such an addicted corruptible person and yet God just did amazing things through him based on what we read. But so many of the musicians that have a history of not doing Christian music. And then they start doing Christian music were brought to Nashville. I mean, I built my career out in Salt Lake City. It was thriving, big business. And I was just on the road going up to Cleveland to visit my wife's mother during the holidays, and I stopped in Nashville just 'cause I'd never been to Nashville. We're driving up to Kentucky and my wife looks at me and goes, "Did you feel it?" I'm like, "Oh." And I said, "Why?" She goes, "I think we're supposed to go back to Nashville." So we did the same thing. We packed up a suitcase and stayed in an extended stay for a month just to see what God had planned. And it was like within a week, all these be, I didn't know anybody here. People started coming into our lives and we couldn't just stay out in Salt Lake, we had to be here because we saw opportunity to help in a way that we never imagined we could do where we were. And this is what's happening. God is plucking you out of Vermont and bringing you to Nashville, Do you wanna play a little bit of "Dirt road in Nashville."

 

- I can. Yeah, absolutely.

 

- Awesome. Why don't you play a little bit of that and then let's let's find out when you got here.

 

- The first thing I learned when I came down was like, "How much talent there actually is in Nashville." And everybody I ran into was like the best. And I'm like, I was so blown away and I was just like, "What am I doing here? 'Cause I'm the star from my hometown, right?" But every single star from every single hometown is here. So anyway, I had such a hard time.

 

- It's an eye opener. ♪ Snow outside, green mountain high ♪ ♪ Sliding down a winding road ♪ ♪ Just daddy and I, he cannot hide ♪ ♪ Inside a yellow cornrow ♪ ♪ Hitting quarter sized rocks hitting rusty shocks ♪ ♪ And bopping to a washboard song ♪ ♪ The faster you drive the smoother the ride ♪ ♪ Know your own soul ♪ ♪ But I'll never forget the first time I left ♪ ♪ I get that feeling still ♪ ♪ Riding first class in a dusty seat on ♪ ♪ Dirt road to Nashville ♪ ♪ Dirt road to Nashville ♪ ♪ I've been told enough ♪ ♪ So I know I got the guts ♪ ♪ Buckle up and just strain on ♪ ♪ See the neon flash watch the strangers pass ♪ ♪ As I'm hooking up my microphone ♪ ♪ Hitting quarter sized rocks and rusty shocks ♪ ♪ Bopping to a washboard song ♪ ♪ The faster you drive the smoother the ride ♪ ♪ Knowing you're almost home ♪ ♪ But I'll never forget the first time I left ♪ ♪ Get that feeling still ♪ ♪ Riding first class in a dusty seat on ♪ ♪ Dirt road to Nashville ♪

 

- This is my mom's favorite part right here it's like. ♪ Dad's old suitcase filled with songs ♪ ♪ Mom's smiling face keeps me strong ♪ ♪ Can you hear them quarter sized rocks hitting rusty shocks ♪ ♪ Bopping to a washboard song ♪ ♪ The faster you drive the smoother the ride ♪ ♪ Knowing your own song ♪ ♪ But I'll never forget the first time I left ♪ ♪ Get that feeling still ♪ ♪ Riding first class in a dusty seat on ♪ ♪ Dirt road to Nashville ♪

 

- That was really the first time I'd ever written.

 

- Really?

 

- Yeah.

 

- That line, first class in a truck. I mean that's a great hook, man.

 

- Yeah, thank you. Yeah, it was really, it was cool how it came and I guess it was just this nostalgic feeling of like, I'm going to a place so unknown and so scary. And so, I mean, there's 700,000 people in Nashville. There's the same amount of people in the whole state of Vermont. And I'm like, I'm headed to a city where there's a whole state. And I just, I couldn't wrap my head around it but I was so excited. And so that's what that song really was to me.

 

- Is such a good tune, Ben.

 

- Yeah. Thank you.

 

- It's obviously it's available everywhere you guys, so google that tune.

 

- Thank you.

 

- So you're in Nashville, you're playing like crazy. You're pre packing the truck with the beer, prepped and ready, you're gonna have a good time. I mean, you're living, I mean, it is the climb style of the up-and-coming country artist who indulges in everything offered to them and the adulation is poison. So what happens next?

 

- So I get a job, first thing at a Tootsies and I'm playing downtown, the honky-tonks, I'm doing all the things, four hour shifts you get paid 40 bucks. I'm singing my butt off, four hours is a lot, you can talk to any singer. Absolutely, it's like screaming for those of you that don't know. It's like, I don't know. It's like screaming at a football game, and those, your friends come home from a baseball game or football, basketball game, whatever, and you can't talk the next day.

 

- Tootsies is loud, you gotta keep the momentum, you gotta have energy. You got to keep your voice. I wouldn't do it, you can tell with my voice, it dies.

 

- I honestly, but I sounded like you all the time. Like I literally, fought so many colds, it was really tough. So I did that for five months. I had made the walk down there with my guitar case and I was just like, "Oh my goodness, this is my life. I've made it." When they hired me, I was like "I've made it like, this is it." I'm down here playing for all the fans. I was meeting people from Nebraska, people from Canada people from Alaska, I was meeting people from Hawaii, from places I'd never been. I'm just like, "Damn, this is awesome." All around the world, people all around. And I'm like, this is it. And I'd get a few followers here and a few followers there. And a couple of people look me up here and go, "Hey, you're gonna make it man, dude, you're gonna make it, man." And I'd always say, "Oh, you're gonna make it man." And it's like, "Man, am I? I don't know." And I was driving home really drunk from those places. Four lanes of traffic down 65 South, just stupid. And I wake up some mornings and not realize where my truck was parked. And next to a girl that I didn't know all that well maybe, or did but really it was like, "Oh man, why did I mess up this relationship like that?" And such all of them so beautiful. And inside and out, I was growing really tired, I was growing really tired of it. And I met this man by the name of Bob Ezrin. And Bob Ezrin produced Pink Floyd and ZZ Top and all the rest. Anyway, I got in to sit with him at his studio. My dad had a friend who had a friend who had a sister who went to college with him. It was a crazy connection and aka God, so I'm done. But I got put in the room with him and he said two things to me. He said, "I got to play." He hands me, his guitar and it's like off the wall, no pun intended but it was the 12 string Guild that was on the wall. The out wish you were here, you know, Pink Floyd. And so he hands me this guitar and the like that guitar. And I'm like, I didn't even want to touch the dang thing, but he said, play me some songs, and I did. And he says, "Man, and you know," he said, "You've really got it, you've really got it. But let me tell you what you're lost on lower Broadway." And he said, "You can't be, if you wanna make it any further you can't be." And then the second thing he said to me was, "Always go home because they're the ones that made you wanna live in the first place. They're the ones that have been behind you since the beginning." And I'm just like... And so I started going home more. I started leaving Nashville a lot, I started taking drives home. I started playing bars, restaurants at home, but really being thankful for the crowd and the family that supported me back home. And so I continued doing that for another year. And you would think, I'd left out the part about my best friend dying from heroin overdose in 2017, and you would think that that would straighten me out too. There's all these things, like I said, you think all these things would get me on the straighten me out too, would get me figured out because, "Hey, this was a really big life event. And now I'm going to act better," and I didn't.

 

- On the surface, you probably loved yourself but deep in you were hating yourself.

 

- It all looked good. I do my off my chest thing now on the, on Sundays and it's really therapy honestly for me. But last week's was you're outside looks good, but how's it you inside. And so many of us carry around this, how do I, I'm looking, yeah, I look, and inside I was melting, I was dying. I was wasting, I was crying. And I had a family down here from Vermont. Nonetheless, also God had sent, you've heard of being sends rams, God sends rams. God sent this family as a ram down here for me three years, they've been here for about three and a half years or so going on four years. They paved the way they found a beautiful church in the city and Franklin. And they had asked me, they knew who I was obviously, and I'd landscape with their son a little bit in the past. And they just said, "Hey, Ben, you wanna come to church with us?" I said, "Yeah, I'm the guy of opportunity. You know, I'd love that. Probably there's some good looking girls there too. and so I'm thinking of all these opportunities. And I walked through the door at a church in the city, there was probably 3000 people. And this was in 2019, the winter, now the fall, winter time, 2019. And I'm just like, Chris McLarney was leading worship with John Reddick. And it's just like, ♪ All of my hope ♪ ♪ Is the name ♪ ♪ The name of Jesus ♪ ♪ God turn it around ♪ ♪ God turn it around ♪ ♪ God turn it around. ♪ And I'm just like, I tell people that little skeleton key, got shoved in my heart and turned and my heart started. And it was like something that I can't explain other than that. 'Cause my heart started right there. And I was afraid, I was scared of it. It was like new, it was like, what is this feeling? I don't know what this is. I think it's bad. I think a lot of people are doing it and I don't know why. And it's new. And a lot of people back home are like, you're being brainwashed, you're being told to do things you're not used to. This isn't good. You gotta get away from there and you gotta get outta here. There was so much of that. And all of a sudden I continued to go on Sundays mornings and then I got invited to a prayer night and it was like church twice in one day. And I'm like, "I don't go to church twice in one day." And I ended up, I ended up going and it was a prior night and it was so beautiful. And I will never forget the Hispanic couple that came up to join our circle. And I was like, inside. I'm like, "This is my family." and I'm good." Like, I have nothing against you guys at all but I don't know you and your strangers, and I'm here And I don't even know what I'm doing here. And Charlie, the father, let his hand go out of mine. And in came this man's 40 year old man in his forties. And he joined hands with me and "Hey, brother." And we started praying and Charlie's wife started praying, "God I know Ben's new at this. God I know that Ben is scared, I know that he's afraid. Please come down and meet him here, welcome him here. And he's coming home father," all these things. The man standing behind me let go of my hand, he put his hands on my chest and started praying in Spanish. She started praying in English and my body got so hot and I started crying instantly. And the man that I didn't want to let in my circle I couldn't get my arms around him fast enough. And there was, it seemed like 25 minutes. I'm sure it was probably five minutes that I held that man and I wouldn't let go of him. And Andy Levine had been a worship pastor in Colorado for 17 years. And he was new looking for a church and I was new and God had sent him there and to pray with me and to show me there was no difference. And that was the first night I'd ever been higher than any of the cocaine. I had been higher than any of the sex, any of the alcohol. It was a night that replaced all that stuff and I've never been higher. And I knew right then something had changed and all of a sudden my drinking 17 beers a night went to 13 went to 10, went to eight, went to six went to four, went to I've, made it two weeks. Went back to I've had six, went back to made it four weeks, went back to Holy cow, I think I've done two months. I stopped seeing women. I had a foul mouth, I stopped swearing. I let out a few swears every now and then obviously but I try my best thank you Lord.

 

- You'll say that more often.

 

- Yeah. And it, just there's a need sometimes, Nashville traffic sometimes there's need to let out.

 

- I wanna point out two things here. The gentleman that spoke in Spanish and then English, that is the most accurate description of what speaking in tongues is. Speaking in tongues is when somebody is doing it in a foreign language and then their interpretation, that is the most authentic way that happens. And secondly, when you're in a circle and you're holding hands that's the entire human family right there. And God comes through in the middle of it, throughout the Bible, it talks about God being in the midst, in the midst, in the midst middle. And it's fascinating to me to hear this because you've never experienced that feeling of God's spirit before.

 

- No.

 

- Not of that?

 

- And not of that caliber and I honestly, I was so clouded. I wouldn't have noticed anyway. I was so I was so twisted up and bent on everything else, all the other things that I was searching for, that I was looking for, that I thought I was gonna find comfort in. And I was nervous about all these things meant nothing. And in that moment, everything changed. I'm talking to you now one year, two months and 23 days sober.

 

- Congratulations, man.

 

- It's just like, I don't mean I don't need to per se keep track of the days, like it's not, for me, it's not by the hour or by the day or by the week, it's not like I've got to keep that number fresh in my head to know, but I just do because I tell people and I do because it means a lot to me. And I do because I think somebody else might need it. And I can't believe that I am, like I said, God willing getting ready to break out and Christian music and speaking and writing with some of the people. I've been writing with Mia Fieldes. I had no idea, but Mia wrote "Reckless Love", she wrote "Peace Be Still", she wrote "Tremble". She wrote some of the biggest Christian songs. And people like Tony wood and Colby Wedgworth and Jacob Suitor. And I mean, the list goes on and on and on and on. And people that I've been being put in the room with I can't believe it. But I know for a fact that it's because I've completely surrendered my life. And I had given up, we've got a little bit of this song that nobody's really heard. And there's a lot of stuff that I can't wait for people to hear in the near future. But the old me is lying on the ocean floor and there's a new man standing on redemption's shore. I've been revived or I've been restored. And I can't go back no more, no more. And it's like, this is this is what God has done. And I am out now to tell the story of Ryan, to tell the story of his addiction to tell the story of my addiction, to tell the story of me and Katelyn. And Katelyn is another one. Everything she died seven different times and she got brought back to life. And every single rehab she went to nothing work, nothing was right. She laughed, it was, it was a joke until she finally got a sponsor that started reading scripture to her. And her prayers changed from God kill me, God take my life, to God save me, God love me, God keep me. And now she's getting ready to celebrate one year sober on December 22nd. I can't make up. And she told me, and we just talked last night. And she said, Ben, I tried everything. I tried every single thing. I tried, every single thing, nothing worked, but Jesus and that's the only thing, that's the only reason why, he's the only reason why I'm sober. And and I'm not afraid. I wrote a song with Tony Wood called, "I belong to Jesus", I've never said that in my life. I belong to Jesus and I don't care who knows. And it's like to come out and say that. Johnny Cash said, I just posted this little thing the other day about Johnny Cash saying that, "Being a Christian isn't for sissies." And it's like, that's one of the things that like so many people think. I just came from Montgomery, Alabama yesterday, Saturday, sorry, I was down there all day event leading worship at a big prison. And I've been doing that all over now and continuing with COVID even they had me on the outside of the fence, but looking through razor wire fence at these guys. and the fact that God can take that fence and separate every single one of those links and bring that thing down, and there's no difference between me and them. And I'm sitting here telling you that right now that I've seen firsthand those miracles, like Katelyn the encouragement that I can't help with share with people. I have to share. I have to share my story and that's what I've told so many of the beautiful people that I'm working with now in the music industry and stuff is just like, and Mia told me something I'll never forget. And Nashville is all about songwriting and all about storytelling and stuff. And so am I, but she said, "once you get the song, you can have the family, your friends, the biggest fan base, you could have a million followers, you could have all the stuff, all the tour buses all the record labels, you could have everything but until you get the songwriters behind you, until you get the songwriters behind you to help you tell your story and to tell your story powerfully, that's when you've got something, that's when you finally have got something because having them behind you means everything and she told me, she said, "We're behind you." And I'm just like, it's hard for me to take it all in, even retelling the story when I retell it like this.

 

- Well, it's powerful because God does.

 

- She literally change our hearts. And all it takes is just one experience, amidst all our pain, where we feel safe, we feel secure. When people ask me, where do I go? What do I do to free myself of all this pain? Where do I go to free myself of addiction? And I just share them right there.

 

- Yes, sir.

 

- That's it. He's in there, He's in here.

 

- Yeah.

 

- This is the greatest sponsor you'll ever have.

 

- Amen. 12 steps, whatever, you need, those one-on-one encounters because he stopped at the woman. Well, she was an outcast. Is she not the apostles didn't even want to talk to her 'cause she was a different. And he's like, "No way I'm talking to her, at the leper, everybody that he encountered one by one, was to redeem them, but at the same was to put them into that circle. Other people could learn from their story the way we're learning your incredible story. I'm so excited for you, Ben. There's so much that God wants to do. And we continue to live our lives. We're gonna make mistakes, gonna be things that we do still in the future, but we keep going. We keep going.

 

- I just came from prison on Saturday. So I thin I am extremely thankful and lucky and you're right, it's funny that you, I can't go far, I can't go far without, I just can't. I've gotta have, I take one with me when I ride. I gotta have it with me because that's just where the answers are. And that's amazing. And a lot of people tell me, and at this could be some encouragement. A lot of people say, "Well, I don't know how to read that. I don't know how the word start. I don't even know where to start." Just ask God to say, "Hey, God show me." And that's all I do. Like I'm literally, and I've been a believer in Jesus fully now for. I got in November 10th, 2019 is when I got baptized. And it was, some months before that that I really started believing. But I'm a really new believer. And so I just asked God say, "Hey show me like, I don't know." And I literally just grabbed this thing and go, okay. "Jesus said unto her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes within me though he were dead, yet shall he live'" I just read is right here.

 

- You just read right there? Yeah, it's right there, it's right here. "Whoever is so believeth and liveth in me shall never die."

 

- That's beautiful.

 

- It says it right here. That's John 11:25. And so it's not magic, it's Jesus.

 

- Yeah. And that's the beauty is you and me and so many of us we die in our sins because we do not know how to manage ourselves and we need a higher power to take over. And once we surrender, that's the beauty of it, is he starts to just rain down all of these opportunities to use our gifts, the world better. So obviously you're going now from the country, you're gonna be doing christian music which hopefully COVID can get over so we can see you at a venue.

 

- Yeah. I think the hardest thing for me is what it's becoming a lot more easier. I've had so much peace through this. I've had so much rest through this and just I've been working really hard. We've got some really big things on the way. I'm very, very excited. My manager, Krystal Polychronis, she's become such a great friend. She's taught me so many things. She's a fellow believer from New Hampshire. And she took over and she's been managing me along with Neil Spielberg who was Randy Travis's manager back in the day. And it's like all these. And so between Neil and Krystal, it's like I've got this powerhouse team that's just been leading me down the road. And it's such a family. But that's what I've learned about the body of Christ is it's such a family, is that all the promises from people and friends and stuff from the past, they used to say things and all this stuff. And it's like, I just had dinner with a wonderful black family of pastors and and just all kinds of wonderful people. And in Alabama the other night, and it's like, we're family, like, you call us if you need anything, brother, Ben you just reach out. And it's like, really? And they mean it. And they follow through is unlike any other. And so all the things that I used to rely on, all the things that I used to fall back on and stuff and the drugs and alcohol and the language and mistreating women relationships and stuff, just like, wow, but he turned my whole life around. And so it's still hard to imagine. I wanna play you a little snippet of a song that isn't out yet and labels talking about releasing it. And I don't know, what's gonna happen but I'll, I'll play the beginning of it and into the course a little bit, but this just explains where I've come from. ♪ I Pulled it off the wall, inhaled it in my hands ♪ ♪ The cold steel and wood turned a ball into may ♪ ♪ But I held the hammer back fingers on red from roost ♪ ♪ And I knew exactly where daddy hid the shells from roost ♪ ♪ My hands were shaking so bad ♪ ♪ I can hardly hold that gun ♪ ♪ I shoved around into magazine ♪ ♪ It was my last chance to road ♪ ♪ This is a cry for help ♪ ♪ That I've been crying out loud ♪ ♪ Help me understand ♪ ♪ Will I let it go ♪ ♪ It hit the ground ♪ ♪ Turns out God had other plans ♪

 

- And he had other plans for me. And that was a true story. And I had a gun in my mouth when I was 16 years old, I can't play the song enough. And it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. It makes a lot of people turn away. It makes a lot of people go, "Wow." But you know what, they're feeling something. And a lot of people have found now suicide rate is crazy, especially now, but a lot of people I've found have been there and music is such a release in such a way. I mean, I didn't even realize, I used to drive around and cut myself to rock music and turns out it was Christian bands, POD, 12 Stones. I used to ride around thinking I was mad and upset at the world and all this stuff. And God was there the whole time, He was right there the whole time. I had no idea like he was sitting right in the passenger seat of that truck with me. When I got pulled over with Ryan, all those times. Every single time when I thought I was alone, he was there. And I just want to be encouragement to everybody listening, that he is there. And all you gotta do is ask. And it's like so many people are so afraid to ask for something but you don't receive it if you don't ask for it. And so I can't beat anybody over the head with this. I've tried, it doesn't work, but it gets people's hearts pumping and it gets questions arouse and it's like, I don't know. There's a lot of stigma around this thing. And we wrote a song, which I'm really excited for everybody to hear also in the future with Mia. And it's called "The hook and there's", this book will change your life. And I'm really excited because it's changed mine.

 

- I think the main reason people disassociate from the Bible is because they connected to organized religion that has in some way, because of their imperfections leaders are imperfect that it causes some families to be torn apart. That really sometimes tears families apart. So they blame the Bible. And then, but my hope is through your music, through my music, through all these artists that God is working through, that we can show who Jesus truly is and that He's not a divider that He is a uniter. He does come after reckless to restore those that are broken, we are broken miracles. That's, what's so beautiful. So Ben, where do you like people to go? Do you have you have a website clearly.

 

- Yeah. Website's, www.bendfuller.com, D as in David, that's my middle name. And then Ben Fuller Music on Facebook. I've been getting tied up with a really a lot of amazing pages, like wings of encouragement and lots of just beautiful, helpful pages for recovery. And I am so blessed for everybody that's been hanging on to this ride with me and where it goes, only He knows. So, but I'm thankful for you, Paul, thank you for taking the time out to just to help me and God put on your heart that we needed to make this happen. And I just I'm really grateful.

 

- Well, on behalf of American Songwriter and All Heart, we are grateful that you came on the show. You are a man of a lot of talent. You're going incredible places. God is using you clearly. You're a person who is all hard. So thank you Ben for being on the show. Everyone who's listening please go check out Ben Fuller's website. It's bendfuller.com. and go download some of his music while he's out milking cows.

 

- We love you buddy, thank you so much.

 

- Talk to you later.

 

- Okay. We'll see you.

 

- Hi, my name is Noah James. I'm an actor and a voice artist. I'm currently inside because it's frozen out in Texas where I'm filming a season two of "The Chosen." But right before I left to film, I recorded the narration for the audio book, "The Broken Miracle." And it's written by JD Netto. It's inspired and based off the life of Paul Cardall who's an internationally acclaimed, a songwriter and pianist. And it's essentially the story of how he was born with half a functioning heart, requires surgery immediately throughout childhood. And then it mirror, the book, follows his life as an adult and as a child and sort of how those dueling narratives kinda interweave with each other. And it's a really beautiful story about family, love, about staying strong in the face of unbelievable adversity. And it's a really special story and I'm so excited. It just came out on audible. So I'm super excited for you all to listen. And if you do let me know what you think.

 

- [Narrator] All Heart with Paul Cardall goes beyond the typical interview podcast to dive deep into life's biggest issues with his second chance at life. The pianist wants to give people hope and a sense of calm through his music. Beyond that, he is seeking to shine a light on the powerful voices of others. His guests truly define what it means to be all heart. They share with us what drives them, what keeps them carrying on in the face of adversity and how they strive to do their best and make the world a better place. Paul is proud to share his conversations with you here on the American Songwriter Podcast Network.