Post Malone Talks Face Tattoos, Toilet Songs, and How Music Saved His Life
Award-winning musician also covers Pearl Jam and performs his song “Reputation” during his Stern Show debutJune 13, 2022
Superstar singer, songwriter, rapper, and record producer Post Malone made his Stern Show debut Monday morning, visiting SiriusXM’s Los Angeles studios to chat with Howard for the first time and perform a two-song concert for listeners. The 26-year-old phenom candidly discussed everything from his breakthrough in the music business to his heartfelt new album, “Twelve Carat Toothache.” He also opened up about playing beer pong with celebs like Machine Gun Kelly, which face tattoo was inspired by his love for Nirvana, and why he left California in favor of his own secluded Salt Lake City compound.
Malone—born Austin Post—told Howard his early morning interview was coming on the heels of an all-nighter he’d pulled at the famed Henson Recording Studio where he’s currently recording his next album. Howard was impressed to see Post back to work so soon after releasing “Twelve Carat Toothache.” Considering how Post’s songs always seem to shoot straight up the charts, he also couldn’t help but wonder what his recording process was like.
“I woke up … at 2:30 in the afternoon and I kissed my baby girl … my daughter,” Post told him, informing the world for the first time that his fiancée had recently given birth. “[Then] we go play some Apex Legends, [and] we look at some Magic: The Gathering cards,” he continued, before taking a brief detour to divulge why he once spent $800,000 on a single Magic: The Gathering card. “It was an artist print. A Chris Rush-signed Black Lotus,” he said.
Howard wondered if Post’s oft-heralded lyrics ever came to him while he played video games and card games.
“Nah, [that kind of] shit literally comes to me because I write all my songs on the can,” Post laughed. “I’d say about 30 percent of all my albums have been written on the shitter. I’d say 60 percent of lyrics have been written on the shitter.”
To Post’s mind, the bathroom was among the most relaxing places in his house. “It’s my special zone because no one wants to come and talk to you while you’re taking a shit,” he added, saying he’s even got a digital notepad by the toilet ready to go once inspiration arises. “I wouldn’t say it’s a hideaway as much as an oasis.”
Music Saved His Life
Growing up in Texas, Post was sometimes bullied at school which he told Howard led to bouts of depression. “It’s tough to talk about,” the singer admitted. “I’d say the last year of middle school [and] the first year of high school, I didn’t sit with anybody at the lunch table. I just sat there with my head in my hands, and I was just like, ‘I don’t know, and I don’t understand, and I don’t know what the fuck is going on with anyone.’”
Despite the feelings of isolation, there was one thing that helped pull him out of it. “It was music,” Post confirmed before revealing he was constantly referencing two things around that time, one of which was a popular guitar tablature website. “Whenever I was a kid, it was either porn or ultimate-guitar.com.”
Spending a lot of time alone practicing, it wasn’t until he was 16 that Malone shared his musical abilities with his friends. “I remember the first time I got drunk at [my friend] Drew’s house and they had a guitar, so I got out my guitar and started singing because I was hammered,” he explained, noting he had an audience of around 10. “I played … ‘Wicked Games’ by the Weeknd … [and] they were like, ‘This is really good. This is actually good.’”
The Overnight Success of ‘White Iverson’
Post’s music career didn’t take off until he dropped out of community college at 18 and moved to Hollywood. Soon after, he recalled borrowing a car from his friend, driving to a music studio in Pacific Palisades, and recording a song he’d just written: “White Iverson.” Almost overnight, he experienced a meteoric rise to fame.
Despite having neither name recognition nor a record deal at the time, Post knew he needed to share “White Iverson” with the world—even though that meant self-publishing the tune via SoundCloud.
“The night it was done I was like, ‘Let’s just fucking put it out. What’s the worst that could happen?’” he recalled thinking.
Malone’s song made the rounds quickly, thanks to timely signal boosts from Grammy-nominated rapper Wiz Khalifa and Atlanta artist FatManKey. In its first month, “White Iverson” registered over a million plays and reached no. 14 on Billboard’s Hot 100 list. It wasn’t long before Post had signed a record deal and was fielding congratulatory phone calls from rappers he idolized, like Waka Flocka Flame.
“People I’d looked up to for so long were just FaceTiming me in the middle of the night and I was like … ‘This shit’s crazy!’” he recalled.
When Machine Gun Kelly made his Stern Show debut in 2020, he was quick to admit he’d just come from a long night of playing celebrity beer pong with Post Malone and some other friends.
On Monday, Howard was eager to hear more about this star-studded league. “How do you win?” he asked.
“You win by getting drunk, I guess,” Post laughed. “It’s the best game in the world.”
It was a filmed tournament for a show he was working on, he explained, only he forgot to bring his “A” game. “Everybody came over and hung and played beer pong … I performed terribly on the show. I’m [usually] way better,” he recalled before inviting Howard to join him next time. “If you ever want to play, I got a shot right here reaching out to you,” he added while showing off his form.
Overcoming struggles with Alcohol and Getting Better Every Day
Much of the source material for “Twelve Carat Toothache” comes from Post Malone’s past struggles with alcohol. While he hasn’t quit drinking altogether, he told Howard he has changed his approach.
“I am responsible now,” he remarked before opening up about how much he was drinking. “It was to a really rough point, and I couldn’t get up off the floor for weeks … It was screwdrivers … It was vodka, and it was bodying fifths and trying to hang in there and talking to people who weren’t fucking there.”
Post said he’d been helped tremendously by those in his inner circle, which of course includes the mother of his newborn daughter. “I just have super beautiful people around me, and I met a really beautiful person that made me feel like a human being again,” he said of his fiancée, who he explained offered him direction that helped him through his rough period. “It’s the guidance out of the dark into the light,” he continued. “She saved my fucking life—it’s pretty epic.”
It’s not that people hadn’t tried to help the artist in the past – including Justin Bieber, who brought Post out on tour when he was just getting started. “There was a time to where I had so much guidance and Justin was guiding me … [but] at the end of the day I have to do what I want to do, and that’s what I’m going to do,” he said before admitting he’d begun working on being more open to advice from others. “People can look at you from the outside and see that something’s wrong and you can be trapped in your own fucking world … I need to do a lot less talking and a lot more listening …. I’m 26 and I’m learning every fucking day.”
For now, Post is just doing the best he can. “There was a point in my life to where I was not happy with who I was, and I was a fucking turd and I sucked, and now I just want to be better every fucking day,” Malone acknowledged. “All we can do is just don’t be a dickhead, that’s the golden rule.”
Country Dreams and Happy Obligations
Considering Post has covered numerous country tunes in the past and considering a country legend—Johnny Cash to be exact—covers his left bicep, Howard wondered what stopped his guest from doing what he’s frequently hinted at and releasing a full-blown country music album.
“To be honest, there’s nothing stopping me from taking a camera or setting up in my studio in Utah and just recording a country album [to put] on YouTube,” Malone said. “I’m allowed to do that, I’m a human being.”
“So, why do you think you don’t?” Howard continued.
The challenge, Post explained, was carving out enough time to write country music. “[I] split my time between a lot of different things because I am happily obligated to do concerts and show love to my fans … and then I’m happily obligated to write music and make beats by myself, and I’m happily obligated to, you know, take care of my family,” he said. “So, it’s a lot of time, and it’s about finding that space to allot that time.”
“If I get another year to myself, maybe I’ll make a fucking country album,” he added.
Nirvana Love and Tattoo Talk
Despite being born in 1995—at the tail end of the grunge era and over a year after the death of Kurt Cobain—Post considers himself a huge fan of ‘90s rock in general and Nirvana in specific. So much so that during the early days of the pandemic Malone famously grabbed his guitar, threw on a Cobain-esque floral-print dress, and livestreamed a Nirvana tribute concert from his Salt Lake City compound, reportedly raising at least $2.7 million for the United Nation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund in the process.
Howard was blown away by the Nirvana covers and was curious how the concert came about.
Post revealed he first sought permission from Kurt and Hole singer Courtney Love’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain. “It’s important to me because I love Kurt so much and he’s been such an inspiration to me, musically, I could never want to offend anybody by trying to show support. So, I just wanted to make sure it was okay—and it was okay,” he said, adding, “So, we raised money for a good cause, and we got to play some of the most epic songs ever.”
Post’s love of Nirvana runs so deep he has the song title “Stay Away” tattooed above his right eyebrow, though it’s just one of several tattoos prominently displayed on the heavily inked artist’s face.
He told Howard that wasn’t his first face tattoo. That distinction belonged to a “smiley face with ‘x’ eyes,” which came out a bit differently than Post had originally planned. “I was like, ‘Fuck! It looks like [electronic musician] Marshmello,’” he laughingly recalled of first seeing it. “It was just supposed to be a drunk guy. I like Marshmello, he’s such a sweet guy, but I [didn’t] want a face tattoo of [him].”
Post Malone began collecting tattoos in earnest in 2016, after reportedly being inspired by Justin Bieber. These days, he has far too many to count.
Howard wondered if Post regretted any of the ink.
“No sir,” Post assured him. “Every [tattoo] that I have takes me back to a time in my life. Whether I like it or not, those times happened, and this is my story. This is how I look and this is who I am.”
Post Malone Covers ‘Better Man’
Flanked by Grammy-winning producer and musician Andrew Watt on guitar, Post sat down to perform two songs live in the SiriusXM studios. The first was a spirited cover of Pearl Jam’s “Better Man,” penned of course by legendary frontman and 2020 Stern Show guest Eddie Vedder.
Watt, who has played with Vedder and even produced the rock icon’s February solo album, spoke with Howard for a few minutes beforehand, describing how he once orchestrated an Ozzy Osbourne-Post Malone collaboration and explaining why playing guitar on “Better Man” is actually quite difficult.
“It kind of just plays itself—it’s one of those songs where the chords just all make sense—but it’s got an interesting right-hand thing,” he said of the song.
Post, meanwhile, said “Better Man” reminded him of hanging out with his brother, a U.S. Marine, while he was stationed in Hawaii. “He’s just a beautiful man and he introduced me to Pearl Jam in a big fucking way,” Post said, revealing just thinking about the song still makes him cry.
Though Malone said he still hadn’t met Vedder, it was definitely on his to-do list. “I can’t wait to just crack a beer with him,” he said before kicking off the cover.
Post Malone’s 1st Live Performance of ‘Reputation’
For the next song, Post’s longtime co-writer and collaborator Louis Bell sat in on the piano. Bell has famously worked with everyone from Taylor Swift to Camila Cabello in recent years, but he assured Howard that Malone remains his favored collaborator. “Literally from the first time we met we just kind of clicked,” he said of working with Post. “It was just kind of fate.”
The tune they performed was “Reputation,” a heart-wrenching track off the new album. “This is about the dark times in my life,” Post said. “This is about the sad times in my life and something I really needed to express … [and] the weight that I felt when I was a kid, touring, and going out [with] this responsibility on my shoulders.
After the performance, Howard and co-host Robin Quivers were moved almost beyond words. “What a beautiful song … I felt your pain on that one, man,” Howard remarked. “You must be so proud.”
“It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever done, and Lou [who co-wrote it] is an absolute fucking mad man, and I’m so happy,” Post agreed. “And it feels good to fucking sing it for the first time live here.”
Post Malone’s new album “Twelve Carat Toothache” is available now. Click here for upcoming tour info.