Stitched Up Heart, formed in 2010 in Los Angeles, is coming off the biggest year of its career. 2016 saw the release of Never Alone, its first full-length album (via Century Media Records); two singles (“Finally Free” and “Monster”) charting at active rock radio; and months of touring, including stops at major U.S. festivals such as Carolina Rebellion and Rock on the Range. The band is riding that success into 2017, with a new single and video (“Catch Me When I Fall”); tours with Lacey Sturm and Letters from the Fire;, a break from the road to work on new material on the horizon; and then more live shows–”Living the dream,” as vocalist Alecia “Mixi” Demner said. Before a recent show at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Mixi and guitarist Merritt Goodwin sat down with Live Metal’s Greg Maki to talk about touring, Never Alone and more.
LIVE METAL: Well, first, how is the tour going?
ALECIA “MIXI” DEMNER: It’s been awesome. The neverending tour. We go home for like three weeks, and then we’re back on another tour. We did about eight months almost of touring last year and went home for three weeks, went to New York, did the Revolver Awards and went home for another three weeks and then went back out on this tour.
MERRITT GOODWIN: Yeah, it’s pretty crazy, but it’s awesome.
MIXI: Yeah, living the dream.
This is why you started doing this, right?
MIXI: Yeah, to travel, to see the world, to meet people, to play music in all these different places. It’s awesome.
I remember first hearing about your band a couple years ago, but my first real introduction was Carolina Rebellion last year. You were at a lot of those festivals. How was that experience?
MIXI: Oh, it was awesome. Carolina Rebellion is a Danny Wimmer Presents (festival). We weren’t even on the bill originally, and I think that somebody dropped off, and our tour that we were on with Sick Puppies was going through there, and so we just squeezed on it somehow. We were the very first band, right at the gates. Nobody really knew who we were. They just wanted music. They’d just been standing in line for hours, and they just wanted music. So it was a really perfect spot for us, and it was amazing.
MERRITT: It was awesome. It was one of those awe moments. Even though we were the first band, it didn’t matter at all, ‘cause the crowd was already lining up against the gate, and you could see them from the stage. That was so intimidating, ‘cause there’s so many people, and as soon as they open up that gate, they’re gonna run at you. (laughter) Oh my god.
MIXI: Rock on the Range was almost the same kind of situation. The bill was full, but we were, again, going through that area, and he’s like, “Well, do you guys want to do an acoustic performance?” We did two acoustic performances on the top of the Jager stage. They actually brought out a little PA and everything for us, mics and all that. So it was really cool, really random. We got to hang out with our friends that were playing the show, and it was a lot of fun.
There are so many big bands on those festivals. Did you meet anyone where you got starstruck or anything like that?
MERRITT: Aw, man. Probably Disturbed. A long time ago, we ran into (Disturbed bassist) John Moyer. He went to a show that we were at, and we met him, and then–
MIXI: We’ve kept in touch since then, and we’ll play random festivals and they’ll be on it. So we kind of befriended them, and it’s been really cool. It’s like, Disturbed! We played Pain in the Grass, where they headlined and there was Breaking Benjamin.
MERRITT: It was Avatar, Megadeth.
MIXI: Dave Mustaine, I got a little starstruck when we did the Revolver Awards. He was standing side stage to our set, and it’s just like, whoa! (laughs) Zakk Wylde just did the national anthem, and we’ve gotta follow that! But it was really cool. It’s really crazy to think that these bands that were our heroes–we grew up idolizing these bands, and we’re playing the same shows as some of them, and it’s crazy. It’s like wow, you can’t really put it into perspective.
Your album came out last June. What kind of expectations did you have for that album when it came out and how do they compare to the way things have gone since?
MIXI: It’s actually completely unexpected. We didn’t really have any idea how well it would do in radio. We didn’t know that people would play it, let alone that two of our singles, before the record even came out, were on the top 30 charts, top 20 of active rock stations. We didn’t even know what an active rock chart was before. We have a new song coming out, “Catch Me When I Fall,” which we’re hoping that does just as well. We’ve made a lot of friends in radio. We’ve played a lot of acoustic shows at stations; we’ve met a lot of people. We love the whole entire radio industry. The people behind the industry are all so cool. We’re like even if we don’t have a song that they like, we still want to be their friends. (laughs) It’s been really, really awesome.
You mentioned “Catch Me When I Fall.” I saw the video for that the other day, and it’s pretty wild. Was it fun making that?
MERRITT: It was really cool. We were in this castle. I think Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” video was shot there. It was the first video where we as musicians were actually not playing an instrument. We were actually actors, which was–
MIXI: (laughs) Really funny to watch.
MERRITT: It was so terribly awesome, but it was just so cool because we didn’t really have a lot of playback and it was very much like we were on the set of some sort of–
MIXI: Game of Thrones episode. (laughs)
MERRITT: Yeah, seriously. It was crazy.
In another interview, you said there were lightsabers involved somewhere. What’s the story behind that?
MIXI: Yeah. There’s a part in the video where I’m falling, and what they did is they green-screened the space or whatever in the background, and in order to make my dress look like it was falling, I lay on my back on a brick and I had to pretend like I’m falling, and my dress wouldn’t look like it was falling ‘cause it was laying on the ground. So the only thing we had to hold the dress to make it look like it was moving was lightsabers that one of the directors brought with him–’cause I guess he keeps lightsabers with him. You know. (laughter) Only the girl crew members were holding my dress. I was like, “Only girls.” They had the best job, of course. But that was really funny. They just tied strings to the lightsabers to the end of my dress and kept them flowing at the bottom.
So what is that song about?
MIXI: “Catch Me When I Fall” is about having people there when times get rough and when things get rough, having somebody there or something there that will protect you and make sure that it’s not gonna all just end, the world isn’t gonna end, it’s gonna be OK. We all go through those times where we need somebody there for us. It was just kind of like a cry for help.
How does a typical Stitched Up Heart song come together in the writing?
MERRITT: For songwriting, there’s always gonna be a bunch of different ways, but what we tend to do is–Well, what we used to do was just sort of all come together and just write a ton of stuff, and then whichever ones we liked was the songs that we kept on the album. Through this process, it was way more detailed. We would sit with our producer, and it would primarily be myself, Mixi and our producer, and we would just come up with the ideas, and we’d start off with maybe a drum rhythm or a guitar riff. And we would just slowly build it, and every little thing, we would take a surgical knife to–from the lyrics to the melodies. We would just try out so many different things. When she was doing her vocal takes, one of our producers, Mitchell (Marlow), he’d want her to sing an octave up or an octave lower, or have more grit in her voice–do all these different things so we could come up with the perfect melody and we could perform it perfectly, just to get the perfect song. So it was way more structured, way more detailed, but what came out of it were these songs that were way better quality, I guess. They just came out so awesome. It’s all a process, but to make it more simple, it usually starts with a riff or some sort of rhythm, and then it goes from there.
What kind of things inspire your lyrics?
MIXI: This record was written in a time in my life where there was a lot of change happening internally. We go through different chapters in our life, and I was starting to open up to a whole new life almost. A lot of that is in the lyrics. It’s just life happening. A lot of hopefulness. A lot of pulling from a dark place to a light. I was seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, and I was starting to see that maybe I can actually do this and maybe life isn’t that bad. I was coming out of this dark place, and I really wanted to be able to send some sort of a positive message that it’s not bad all the time, it’ll get better.
What has the experience been like with Century Media?
MIXI: We love them. They’re like family. From the beginning, I’d known a lot of the people that worked there. We live in L.A.; they’re whole place is there. So we’ve just been friends, and they’ve helped a little bit with direction since 2010, since we started, just helping. And as we finally got to a point where it was time and we were in the right headspace–everything seemed like it was just the right time–then we signed at the dotted line, and it was ready to move forward. We love them.
Yeah, it seems like they’ve really been behind you. I remember at the festivals last year, posters everywhere.
MIXI: Oh yeah. I don’t think that they expected the songs to do as well as they did. I think the original plan was just to kind of grow us slowly and see what happens. But people really embraced “Finally Free” and “Monster,” and then they were like, “I guess people like this band, so we should probably do a little more.” (laughs) It was kind of cool.
What’s next after this tour wraps up?
MERRITT: Pretty much just get some little affairs situated that happened with one of our vehicles. Besides that, we’re just gonna finish it out, then we’re gonna go home, and we’re just gonna continue writing, and then probably go back on the road and then back home writing throughout the year.
MIXI: Yeah, it’s gonna be a mix between writing and releasing some new material, as well as touring.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
MIXI: We love you. Thank you for having us.