Straight Line Stitch may very well be one of the most underrated bands in all of metal. Vocally, they\’re right up there with Arch Enemy, The Agonist, and other female-fronted metal bands. Musically, they can go toe-to-toe with the juggernauts as well. It\’s been awhile since we last heard from the band, though. 2011\’s Fight Of Our Lives was a monster of a record and found the band on that year\’s Mayhem Festival. 2015 sees the band return with a new record- Transparency and the start of a major tour with Ill Nino. Singer Alexis Brown recently sat down with us to talk about the current state of Straight Line Stitch and the band\’s return.
FRR: You guys are getting ready to hit the road soon for the Civil Unrest tour with Ill Nino and like 25 other bands it seems like and then you’ve got Transparency coming out at the end of next month. Could it be any more exciting for the band?
Alexis Brown: It’s been so quiet before all this stuff started happening. It was just months when we were just touring and that was it and we were writing and people were like “when is the album going to come out?” just asking what’s going on and the thing is that we were working on it, trying to put stuff together and it just finally seems that it’s starting to come together. After a long, long time everything has been falling in to place.
FRR: It’s been four years since Fight of our Lives came out, I remember when that dropped that was the first Straight Line Stitch album I heard. Now fast-forward four years later for Transparency, was it that you guys were in between labels or were taking time to write to make sure that it came out good? What were some of the reasons for such a long wait this time around?
Alexis Brown: Well, it definitely had a lot to do with life. We had a couple of members just kind of drop and we did lose our label, and we kind of just had this epic fall from grace. We just had to regroup, rebuild, and kind of put Straight Line back together again. I guess the best way I can explain it is we were living in a living hell just trying to get everything back up and running, and do it ourselves, you know?
So we didn’t want to just throw out a record for the sake of throwing out a record. We wanted to be wise, The Fight of Our Lives…this was supposed to top that record. It’s just been rough but I’m thankful. I’m thankful now that the hard work is starting to show fruition.
FRR: Listening to the Transparency album, if you can have an album that even comes close to Fight of our Lives or even tops it, this is it. The melodic songs are more melodic, the heavier songs punch you in the nuts harder than Fight of our Lives did. You’re at the top of your game with this EP, can you talk about writing it?
Alexis Brown: Yea, like I said, the songs, my writing and stuff were definitely influenced by the life that we were living. Basically the whole concept of Transparency was about trying to get away from darkness, and depression, and negativity that I felt like we were trapped in a cycle for years. I wanted to just get back to embracing the good, no matter how small it was. I had to remember that at least we were still doing it. Some bands can’t even say that, you know? I wanted to embrace the little positivity I had.
I definitely had a lot more to say on this album and that really came from just living it, I guess you’d say. Just living life and continuing to push even when we kept getting doors slammed in our face and nobody wanted to work with us and it’s just like “you know what? I’m not going to give up on this thing because this is all I know- this is all I know how to do.” So definitely the harder songs are hard and the softer songs are more emotional because that place where I was coming from writing the songs.
We just got done yesterday wrapping up a video for one of the tracks called “Human Bondage” and that song was about wanting forgiveness. I’ve never pretended to be perfect, I don’t think anybody is and I’ve made mistakes, I’ll be the first one to admit that but even if I can’t get forgiveness from certain people I need to forgive myself and just keep it pushing, that’s what it’s about.
FRR: Then along comes Pavement, the new label, and when you announced you were signing I couldn’t be more excited. How’ve things been with Pavement this time around? I feel like that’s a label that really supports the band.
Alexis Brown: Yes, and you know that’s one of the plus sides of being with Pavement. Their whole team, Tim King, Mark Nawara, they’re just awesome. I definitely have to thank Nick who helps with the band. He got us in touch with Tim and ever since just working with Tim he’s done everything he said he’s going to do and more. I don’ t know what it is, he just gets it. He understands the inner workings of a band and he knows when we ask for certain things he can understand, he can grasp it right off the bat. We don’t have to explain things to him like “this is why we need this” he just knows and his energy is just really good, it’s just awesome.
FRR: Straight Line Stitch in 2015 I feel is very different than Straight Line in 2010 or 2011. What are some of the differences you’ve noticed? Obviously there’s been a couple of lineup changes, you’ve been touring heavily through everything- what are some of the differences that you’ve noticed?
Alexis Brown: That’s a great question. Definitely the changes from Straight Line past and Straight Line now, we’re more hands on than anything right now. With everything we are in control, we say yes, we have the final say on everything, everything comes through us. We know everything, the ins and outs of everything going on that’s going on that has to do with straight Line.
Straight Line past was we were fighting and we fought to get where we were ultimately but yet when we got there we kind of just lost focus. I want to say we kind of got lax, like “okay we’ve got managers to handle it, we’ve got a label to handle it, let’s just go out there and tour” which is nice. It’s a nice thought that you can just concentrate on music and touring but you kind of let everybody else do stuff for you, make the decisions for you and they’re not exactly the decisions that you would necessarily make for yourself.
I like to think with all the time that’s passed that we’ve matured a lot more and we got an understanding of the dos and the don’ts of being in the industry and there’s one thing that now I really, really like, and it makes a difference, I remember my dad always fussing at me like “know your business. Don’t depend on other people to hold your hand or know these things for you” and I used to just blow it off like “Yea, yea dad. We’ve got management, we’re fine” and now after going through what we’ve been through, I understand it now. I can say, “Dad, you were right and it’s better to know my business.”
So if anything craps out or falls apart or whatever it lands on me and if that happens I can at least take responsibility for it and be responsible for it but not because of anybody else. I don’t want it to be that Straight Line falls apart because so-and-so wasn’t doing what they were supposed to do. So we have more responsibility with the band than ever.
FRR: And I’m sure success means so much more since you’re doing everything.
Alexis Brown: You’re right about that! I feel that way immensely. We just got a review on the album from overseas, a UK magazine, and we got 5-stars out of 5, and it feels great that we put this together, we made this happen, and definitely we owe thanks to the Pavement team and stuff for them helping to push us, but we were responsible for putting the album together. It was our music that we created and no one told us how to write it. No one told us be this and be that, and this sells and blah, blah, blah. We got it on our own merit, so it does make the success a little bit more sweet.
FRR: You have one of the best screams in all of metal, I think.
Alexis Brown: Thank you! I try.
FRR: With the melodic songs like “Cold Front” or “Ashes in the Wind” you have one of the most beautiful singing voices too and I think people overlook that sometimes they go for the heavier stuff. Do you have any training to get your voice to that point or are you self-taught?
Alexis Brown: Well I kind of just taught myself how to scream. For me I never get comfortable, I always think I can do better, I can be better and that’s something I strive for. I never had any formal training really. When we did When Skies Wash Ashore we had just got signed and were about to record the album and they sent me to Melissa Cross for a session or two and she helped a lot with, not so much my screaming, but she helped me with really being able to belt out sing, like to use my vocals, period.
Other than that it’s just something that I’ve worked on trial and error and I think with this record it’s more emotional, I guess. The singing, it’s hard to explain, it’s just something that I feel and that’s how it’s coming out. It’s not like try to practice it and make it sound a certain way. This is how I feel it inside, that’s how it came out, if that makes any sense.
FRR: I remember when I first heard of you guys- I hadn’t heard the music and I was watching interviews and I was like “okay, cool.” And then I listened to the music and listening to you talk there’s no way you could ever expect, because your voice is so high pitched and cute and pretty, and then you hear the music and it’s like “Oh my God! Is that the same person?!”
Alexis Brown: I get that all the time! We’ll play shows and there’ll be people that have never heard of us before and they’ll be like “was that just you onstage?! That wasn’t you” And I’m like, “yea, unfortunately this is my talking voice.” I get a little tiny voice and people just can’t believe it but it’s me. Sometimes I wish it was different, but I guess it makes me different.
FRR: So I guess the next topic, touching on that looking forward to seeing you guys- you’re hitting Indianapolis going out on the Civil Unrest tour, Ill Nino is heading the tour, you’re on the tour with like 15 other bands- it’s huge. 36 Crazyfists was on it, Kittie was on it, but they dropped out. Touring with Ill Nino is gonna be great, how’s it gonna feel to get out on this tour?
Alexis Brown: We’re definitely looking forward to it because we’ve never played with Ill Nino before. I think we had a chance to do a tour with them and Otep back a couple of years ago and it kind of fell through so that was kind of a bummer, but now it’s great, we’re excited. We’re excited to play excited to play with all these bands that are on the tour, I know there are a bunch of bands on select dates and stuff. I think we’re just excited to get back on the road and share the stage with Ill Nino. I’ve heard nothing but good things about their live show so I’m stoked to see it.