The guy who shot Ronald Reagan and the guy from Eve6 talk about hope and redemption

Back in April, I wrote about how John Hinckley Jr, the guy who infamously once tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, was trying to make a go of it as a folk singer, and scheduled his first-ever live performance at the Market Hotel in Brooklyn. The concert, originally scheduled for July 8, has since been cancelled. The venue shared its reasoning in an Instagram post, emphasizing that Hinckley himself is not their cause for concern. Rather, they're worried about the general climate in the country right now, and are afraid about the "quote-message-unquote" the event might send to people inclined towards violence:

There was a time when a place could host a thing like this, maybe a little offensive, and the reaction would be 'It's just a guy playing a show, who does it hurt — it's a free country.' We aren't living in that kind of free country anymore, for better or worse.


It is not worth the gamble on the safety of our vulnerable communities to give a guy a microphone and a paycheck from his art who hasn't had to earn it, who we don't care about on an artistic level, and who upsets people in a dangerously radicalized, reactionary climate.

All things considered, it's a fairly thoughtful statement. Even Hinckley, though he's certainly disappointed, still admits that he sort-of gets where they're coming from. In a recent interview with Input Mag, he chatted with Eve6 frontman/Twitter provocateur/advice columnist/all-around decent guy Max Collins about the cancelled concert, along with his artistic aspirations. To those unfamiliar with Collins, it might seem strange to care about a conversation between a failed presidential assassin and the guy who wrote that "Heart in a Blender" song. But Collins is a thoughtful dude, a Christian Anarchist who's been in recovery for alcohol addiction for 16 years — so he knows a thing or two himself about redemption. And that's sort of the main tenor of the conversation:

Collins: This sort of brings me to something that I've wrestled with myself. I'm a sober alcoholic, John. I've been sober for 16 years. You were calling your tour the Redemption Tour. And I have been curious about redemption as a concept. Just for myself. What does it mean to be redeemed? Does the public need to perceive you as being redeemed for you to be redeemed?

Hinckley: I mean, to be redeemed is internal — it's not what somebody down the street thinks. But I just thought that was a good name for the tour: the Redemption Tour. Because I'm trying to get away from the image that I have in the public, that negative image. I'm not that person anymore. At all. And I'm trying to show them that I've redeemed myself through my music and art.

Hinckley shares some insights into how he looks at hope and mental health as well.

Hinckley: Anyone who's heard my songs knows that they are trying to be kind of upbeat and inspirational, because when I listen to bands like Nirvana or something like that, where there's just so much angst going on in the song, I really don't want to hear that too much. 'Cause that just kind of brings me down. So I like songs that are more positive.


But if you hear a tinge of sadness, it's because I did 35 years in a mental hospital. And let me tell you, that'll take a lot out of you to be an inpatient in a mental hospital for 35 years. It takes a lot out of you spiritually, physically, emotionally.

The two of them also discuss the healing power of art. And some other stuff.

The whole interview is genuinely worth a read; it's one of the more unexpectedly uplifting things I've read in a while (until I thought about all of the Guatemalans and Lebanese and Libyans and Nicaraguans and gay men and black men and drug users and so on who suffered and/or died from Reagan's policies without any chance for redemption and then I got mad at the world again).

John Hinckley Jr. speaks: 'I'm trying to not dwell on the past' [Max Collins and Mark Yarm / Input Mag]