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Monday, March 26, 2012

Greek Fire's Johnny Venus has Leukemia and No Health Insurance

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 7:46 AM

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So when you were talking to Johnny about "keeping the machine going" did you show him any of the songs or ask him for input?

No, we just told him what we were doing and he was really, really stoked and really supportive. I know that he knows, he's been my best friend for seventeen years so he knows that there's only a few things that are therapeutic for me and that's writing and hashing that kind of thing out and putting it to music and putting it to songs. So I know that he knows that I'm dealing and that's a very positive thing. I'm sure when he gets out, he's going to be even more affected by the outpouring of support and love that our fans are giving.

The whole city of St. Louis and everybody from the Cardinals to the RFT to Vintage Vinyl to the Point, CD Warehouse and all these other people have been on such a good mission to help out that we're just overwhelmed. It's really, really cool to see. I know I'm speaking very scattered, just because my mind has been all over the place the last month. But yeah, it's been pretty amazing. The little bit he's been able to see, I've seen it in his face, it's shockingly good to him. So I can't wait to see the expression on his face when he's healthy enough to look and see everything that's going on and hear about everything, all the people that are here to help him.

You mentioned throwing some acoustic show fundraisers. Are there any shows far enough in the planning stage that you can mention?

We've gone through about a billion different ideas. Right now we're working on something really, really big with the Cardinals and with The Point that's going to be awesome for later in the summer. I don't know if I can really disclose some of the details right now, but that's all going to be brought up really, really soon. On top of that, after we get that going, we actually have an online auction where we have everything from a Cardinals jersey signed by David Freese to World Series balls from Tony La Russa to a BMX bike from Rock Star Energy Drink. We've got Warped Tour packages and Mayhem Festival packages, so many awesome things that were donated for this online auction for John. That goes live March 27. I think, if I have time and can figure it out, I might actually do a couple acoustic shows just random places around town and try to raise money.

I know there's a lot of bands that have offered their support and help in any way, from Hurt to Cavo to different people. So we're really trying to line this up. It's great because it's the season for concerts and all that, but it's also difficult because a lot of the friends in bands that want to help are all in the middle of festival season. Everybody's heading out on tour. So it's hard to piece all this together and like I said we have about a million ideas to go from. But we're trying and a lot of this stuff is going to come to life in the next couple months. We're going to be doing a couple dates throughout the country, nothing in St. Louis right now just to keep things going with a fill-in drummer. It's only like four or five dates. We're going to be doing that. We're going to have some donation things at the merch table and try to raise money in different cities with people showing their support for John. We're just trying to stay busy and make these ideas really count for John.

You mentioned earlier that you had not been insured for most of your professional life. Has this ordeal changed your perspective on health insurance?

It's always been a big issue with health insurance for musicians because it is very difficult to get good insurance without making a lot of money. Usually when you're making a lot of money, you're getting good insurance anyway. Especially for a musician that isn't at some grand success level, you really are working harder than anybody and definitely putting yourself in some situations that are going to cause much more health risks than others. It's a riskier lifestyle, if you will. And I'm strictly speaking just from the excessive travel and the wear and tear on your body. And it's really difficult to stay healthy when you are reluctant to go to doctors.

We're learning a lot more about how the symptoms are working and how the current administration is dealing with health insurance and what is available and what isn't available out there for John. We're really learning the inner workings of the system, trying to figure out exactly what's best for John. It's an extremely important issue. I don't know all the ins and outs enough to go soapboxing or platforming for any particular thing but something has to change. You can bet that I will be all for or against certain things in the upcoming year when it comes to health insurance and that will continue to be, now even more so, a very key issue with me as an individual and I'm sure the rest of the band guys and all of us because it's really hitting close to home. Nobody wants to struggle with the ins and outs of political money games when it comes to being sick.

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