INTERVIEW: Scott Sturgeon, a.k.a. STZA, of Leftöver Crack

Leftöver Crack. PHOTO: Ash Thayer

LOS ANGELES, November 28, 2015 — Leftöver Crack recently released their third full length album and first in ten years, Constructs of the State, on Fat Wreck Chords. Recently, Leftöver Crack singer Scott Sturgeon answered some questions regarding the new album.

Kevin Wells: This is the first Leftöver Crack record without Ezra Kire. Was it strange doing the album without him?

Scott Sturgeon: Not really. He was never very involved in the recording process, and even less in the LöC songwriting. He wrote/co-wrote about six songs between Fuck World Trade, Deadline, and the Crack Rock Steady 7 split with F-Minus. He played guitar on a hidden track at the end of Mediocre Generica and he plays guitar on about six of the now 21 tracks on Fuck World Trade. Other than that, he only sang or played guitar on “his” songs. There are three of those. People were led to believe that he was more involved in these projects by my direction. Even on the Choking Victim full length, No Gods/No Managers, he is actually only on about three songs and he’s playing bass and not actually playing any guitars or vocals as the liner notes otherwise dictate. All that being said, his contributions were not insignificant and the few songs that he was around to write guitar for benefited greatly. He’s a talented musician.

KW: How did the writing process go for this record?

SS: It was painfully slow. I had become quite dependent on working with Frank Piegaro to produce new material. After three Star F**king Hipsters records, I had a bit of difficulty striking back out on my own, but everything snowballed earlier this year, and I feel like I got the results that had been alluding me for several years.

KW: Do you purposely make sure you have a mix of many genres on your records, or do you just choose your favorite from what you’ve written regardless of style?

SS: I like so many different types of music, I really like to give different genres a try and if it doesn’t sound good then we ditch it, but it usually works and we’re always attempting to expand on the styles of music that we play. Mainly, we mix it up because it’s fun. I mean that’s the underlying motive for most musicians I believe or hope, at least. Making music work amongst a group of people is a powerful and moving thing and when a song that I wrote clicks and starts to sound great, I get a buzz in my stomach like butterflies. Writing and finally performing a song that you really enjoy for the first time kind of feels like falling in love with a new person. At least for two to three minutes or so.

KW: Do you think that having that mix is important?

SS: Yes. For me it’s very important. I can’t listen to a whole record by a band that doesn’t have some dynamics. I have to change the album after a few songs unless there is some type of variation between the various tracks. That change can come in thousands of forms, but a lot of bands and punk bands, in particular, don’t attempt to embrace musical diversity, but the ones that do and pull it off are among my favorites.

KW: Have you had some of these songs for a long time?

SS: Yes. As a matter of fact, there are a few songs on this record that were played by No Commercial Value, which was the first band that I played in where I wrote the majority of the music. Alec of LöC and Choking Victim was the bass player and we were in our first and second years of high school at the time. So, some of the songs are around twenty years old. The others range from as far back as four years up to a few months ago.

KW: Did you ever contemplate releasing an EP at any point?

SS: Well, we did a few and they weren’t that well executed for various reasons. The most recent being the Deadline split with Citizen Fish, and it’s gonna sound like bullshit, but our side of that split sounded way better before mastering. We’re planning on releasing a collection of our B-sides, comp tracks & splits/EP’s all on one collection next year. It’s far more than another album’s worth of material.

KW: One of the songs, The War At Home, I was surprised to hear because it is my favorite song from the band Intro5pect, which I knew you sang on. Did you actually write that whole song?

SS: No, I wrote my vocal phrasing and melodies along with my lyrics and I helped arrange it, but I did not write any of the music. When we recorded my vocal ten years ago, I had lost my voice by the end of a tour. I loved the song, but I knew that it could be better with another vocal attempt. We ended up rerecording the whole song because the original music had disappeared, except for the keyboard parts and programmed drums/samples which was great because that stuff would have been the most difficult to replicate.

KW: How did that collaboration with Into5pect come about?

SS: Greg Armen, who’s now in a band called Apathy Cycle, came up to me at a show and was very sweet and honest right off the bat and by the end of our conversation, I decided that we should play more shows with Intro5pect. So, after a few years, Brad Logan, our guitarist was set to record & release a record of theirs and I think we were just gonna do a cover of “Nazi White Trash,” but that somehow turned into me writing lyrics and vocals for three of their original songs, if I have my history correct. It was a lot of fun. Also, it was right around the time that I was getting burned out with LöC and I really wanted a change. So, it was really soon after that project when I started writing and recording the first SFH record.

KW: What made you want to re-record the song for this record?

SS: Mainly, I was trying to write a song about our southern border politics and I was trying to figure out how to use my lyrics from “The War At Home” when my partner pointed out that I wasn’t likely to top the lyrics or music from the original. I’ve actually been trying to pilfer that song for years, but the original tracks were never there and it wouldn’t have worked for SFH as well as I think it works for us.

KW: Do you feel the song carries more importance now in light of the refugees coming here now from Syria?

SS: I think that the lyrics and message of that song are quite powerful and timeless to a certain extent in that they will always be relevant as long as we have national borders and inequality in the world.

The new Leftöver Crack album, Constructs of the State, can be purchased from Fat Wreck Chords. Catch Leftöver Crack on tour in February with Anti-Flag in the western United States in February.

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