Michael Ray Reveals Chronic Anxiety, Opens Up About DUI: ‘I Never Felt More Love and Support’
Michael Ray has been out making the media rounds to promote his new album, Amos, and in a new interview, he talks about the aftermath of his DUI arrest in December 2017, revealing that he's been fighting a secret battle for years.
"I battled anxiety my entire life – a drastic amount that I've hid," Ray tells Rolling Stone Country. "It caused ulcers as a kid … I didn't know what was wrong with me. I was like, 'Why am I waking up and already feel this pressure on my chest?' I'm gonna put on a smile and do this, but on the inside, I'm scared. All this stupid stuff that's in your head and you can't get out."
The 30-year-old rising country star says part of his anxiety traces back to his parents' divorce when he was 8, but the success he experienced with "Kiss You in the Morning" and "Think a Little Less" from his debut album, as well as his accelerated schedule while out touring, exacerbated the pressure and anxiety he felt when it came time to think about his sophomore project.
The situation came to a head in December, when he went through a very widely reported arrest at a McDonald's in Eustice, Fla., for driving while intoxicated and possession of cannabis oil. Police responded to the scene after Ray tapped the car in front of him in the drive-thru around 3:30AM. Ray issued a public apology, and his charges were later reduced to reckless driving.
"I honestly never saw that coming, but with it there was that vulnerability and a side I never had experienced," Ray says. "I've never been in trouble a day in my life. … I'm overthinking, anxiety-driven, so add that on top of it. I was like, 'What the hell just happened? Is this it? Is this going to mess everything up that we're doing?' Everything's going great, and boom, that happens. But through that, I never felt more love and support from fans or from my peers in country music."
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Ray says meeting fans while out on the road has really helped him deal with his own problems, as they open up to him about their own personal struggles and fears.
"I'm realizing, 'We're all the same and this is me.' This is the crap I went through. This is what I battle," he reflects. "If I can say it, hopefully it inspires somebody through my music or maybe they see an interview or whatever it is, and they go, 'That's how I feel.' There were times where it wasn't the easiest, and I always try to be on and cool: 'Oh, I've got my sh-t together.' But I don't."
Ray's new album, Amos, is named after his grandfather, and it's a tribute to the influence he had on the singer's life and music. Released on June 1, the project has already scored a hit with its lead single, "Get to You."
The singer admits that his more progressive arrangements and contemporary influences might not have been his grandfather's favorite parts of his new music, but he's proud hat h's made an album that Amos would have approved of overall.
"I know the songs [on the album] that he would give me a little grief on, but I know that he would dig it," he states. "I know he would like where we're headed with it."