Formed in 2000, Knoxville, Tennessee’s Straight Line Stitch is a 5-pc metalcore group with a long history. Boasting a 4 album 3 EP catalogue, the band has been pushing forward into the mainstream music environment, bent on becoming a force within the metal community. It hasn’t always been an easy trek (the group has had more than 10 members come and go during their tenure), but the most recent lineup is arguably the tightest, most driven they’ve seen to date.
Alexis Brown’s half scream/half sung vocals coupled with the riff driven, breakdown rich writing make Straight Line Stitch a good representation of modern metal’s evolving demographic and increasing pop sensibility. Their latest release, “The Fight Of Our Lives,” is a well-produced, texturally rich dose of emotive, powerful tracks that will have fans of modern metal and hot girl singers stage side in a split second.
Prior to their headlining gig at Montage Music Hall in Rochester, NY, I sat down with Alexis to discuss Straight Line Stitch’s influences, what it’s like to be a girl singing for a metal band, their tour, and upcoming plans for the future.
G- Thanks for taking the time to speak with LIVE HIGH FIVE today! If you could, please introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and how did everyone meet?
AB- Thank you so much for doing this interview with me!
G- My pleasure.
AB- There’s me, Alexis Brown, and I am the singer. Chris Hawkins is on guitar, Ian Shoe on Drums, Jason White on Bass, and Kris Norris filling in for us right now. That’s the current lineup in a nutshell.
G- Dig it. And how did this current incarnation meet, because the band has been around for a while.
AB- Yes. Your introduction was so great… It’s like all of the stuff that I’ve forgotten. It’s such a long list of everything! Ian and Chris were in a band together called “Ark” and they were out of Knoxville, Tn. I went to see them play one night and I just thought they were amazing. They didn’t have a vocalist… It was just instrumental. I thought their musicianship was great.
To rewind a bit, our drummer Ian was in SLS a long time ago, and he just rejoined.
G- Well, 12 years is a very strong testament to your dedication. What I want to know is… I really dig the name of the group… Sounds like someone needed emergency surgery really quick. Where did you come up with it?
AB- Funny story! Before my time, before I even joined SLS, I was in the band for a while, and I would get interviews and people would ask me where the name came from, and I felt so dumb for the longest time cuz I was like ‘I have no idea.’ I was just like ‘It sounds cool.’
But it was actually our old guitar player… He was a founding member of the band… He was listening to Eminem and he thought that he said Straight Line Stitch, and said ‘That’s cool!’ Of course, he didn’t say that, but he was like ‘That’s a cool name!’ And the rest of the guys just jumped on the bandwagon.
G- Now, I’ve played Longbranch Saloon and a few places in the Old City myself. Tell me a bit about Knoxville, Tennessee… How is the scene and how are the responses at your shows?
AB- Well, we really don’t play our hometown that much, to be honest. It’s like once in a blue moon. The scene in Knoxville, like… At one point it’s thriving and there’s lots and lots of bands, but lately I think the scene has kind of died off.
G- Straight Line Stitch has put 4 albums and 3 EP’s out to date. Do you still pull from the entire catalogue when you play live? Are you working on anything new currently?
AB- We are planning to pull some old songs out, from like way back. Which is really cool for this lineup. Some of are hardcore fans would know about that, and I’m excited about that!
Right now, we are currently writing… We write nonstop, so we’re hoping to be in the studio by the end of the years with a new album. That’s the goal.
G- How does Straight Line Stitch come up with new material? What is the process like and who in the band typically comes up new music?
AB- Everyone plays guitar, first of all, so there’s always jamming. And they have laptops and programming and all that stuff, and they’ll write. Like right now, we’re in a hotel and all our laptops are set up and we’re recording stuff, ideas. And usually I’ll just write lyrics on my phone, and I’ll text ideas. We write like that when we’re on the road.
When we get off the road, we’ll take 3 weeks, get a room, get all our ideas recorded, and Frankenstein stuff together. And from there we’ll work out all the kinks and smooth it out.
G- The metal community has opened up quite a bit, and there are several groups that boast female members and front women. What is it like to be a female singer in this community, and do you find yourself dealing with any misogyny or masculine bullshit when you perform?
AB- You know, if I have I haven’t really paid any attention because I don’t feel that I have to use being a female as a crutch. All I want to do is make music.
I think it’s great that women are coming up and doing this… We’re making music and that’s great! But, you know, it’s a good thing that women are getting recognition. It’s not like I’m having it hard because I’m a woman… I would have it hard (in music) even if I was a guy, or if I was Caucasion or a different race.
G- When you’re on the road, what do you guys listen to during your off-hours and down time?
AB- Oh man… We listen to everything. All of our backgrounds are really eclectic, and we all listen to different types of music. But we like Karnivool, In Flames, etc. And I love oldies! 50’s and 60’s are my heart, and I love RnB. I just like good music, and I think the band is like that. If it sounds good, then it’s good!
What gets me in a zone is I’ll listen to Stevie Nicks or Fleetwood Mac. It just calms me down and I’m like ‘Ok… I think I can do this.’ It centers me and it’s something that’s comforting.
G- What is SLS ideal situation for the future? Any particular bands that you hope to share a bill with, or touring plans and countries that you’d like to get to?
AB- Our goal, first of all, is to become a household name… Just work hard and hopefully you see somebody on the street who’s like “Straight Line…” and they’re like ‘I know that band!’ That’s definitely a goal.
As far as bands to tour with, Metallica would definitely be in the top for me… I could say I made it.
We just plan on staying busy and touring as much as possible. I would love to go to Japan and Australia, to Rome… Anywhere! I’ve always loved to travel. And we’d like to go back to the UK.
G- The UK is ALWAYS fun! Never a bad time in London. In 12 years, you’ve probably had quite a few interesting moments as a band… What’s the craziest show you’ve played to date? Where was it, and what was it like?
AB- The craziest was definitely Download Festival. We’ve played in front of large crowds before, but this was insane! Something that massive at like 12 in the afternoon. I saw the singer of Ghost, and Phil Anselmo was walking around, and I couldn’t fathom it. And it was a new crowd… We hadn’t played the UK before. Just seeing the crowd of people, I got sick and was like ‘Just hold it down!’ But it was awesome! The crowd stuck with us and it was awesome!
G- Lastly, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands out here in Rochester, in NYS, and everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician? What helpful hints can you give them from your experience?
AB- My main chunk of advice is whatever happens, you never give up your dream. Our of all of those closed doors, there’s always a door that is open. For anybody aspiring to be a musician and live their life out on the road, it’s a job. It’s work. It’s not all just sex, drugs, and rock and roll. You have to go up there and entertain people, and it’s not something that you take lightly.
Just keep going and never stop. Follow your dream no matter where it takes you, and no matter what bumps you may encounter.