Stitch.D on those lovely Americans (and other stuff)

Go on! Bring me some Monster Munch...

Stitch.D has just flown in to chilly England (he’s currently residing in Los Angeles) in order to prepare for the start of The Defiled’s UK tour. It kicked off last Friday and Stitch and I had a good old chin-wag about all manner of interesting stuff.

I start by asking if the band are across Daggers (2013) in a live setting, seeing as the album came out last year. Stitch answers with a resounding affirmative. “On this album, so far we’ve just done support shows; being out with other bands but this is the first time we get to do a full hour and a half headline set so we’re gonna do a lot more songs off that record that we’ve never played before so we’d better get our fingers out of our arses at rehearsal to be honest!” He laughs a lot, does Mr.D, and he continues “We do England and Scotland then the day after that tour we fly in and do Soundwave and then we go straight to do an American tour as well, so we’ve got a couple of months away from home.”

This will be The Defiled’s first jaunt to Australia? “Yep. I think it’s the first time that any of us have ever been there. We can’t actually wait! We’ve been tryin’ to get on Soundwave for years so it was amazing to actually get that phone-call.” Any plans for your down-time? “As cheesy as it sounds we wanna go to that koala sanctuary! We’ve had loads of friends bands who’ve done Soundwave and have toured Australia a lot and they’ve all said ‘Go to that one place’ so we’re gonna go to that and just try and be tourists for a while. There are quite a few days off in between the shows so we’re gonna try and treat it as a holiday with some shows in between; just be general tourists and go to the beach a lot and soak up the heat and the atmosphere really…”

We touch on the terrible weather that’s currently gripping England before Stitch tells me about the heinous heat of an Arizonian gig: “Our first tour we did in the States, we went in the summer and played Arizona in the desert and I’ve never experienced heat like that before in my life – it was unreal!” In that case. The Australian heat will be of no consequence at all…

He peaks out at the sheer size of the Soundwave bill, identifying Alice In Chains and Green Day as definite ‘must see’ bands, and when I ask about the tunes that started him off on a musical career, he says “I grew up around it [music] and my dad used to listen a lot to the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and stuff like that. I guess the band that changed everything for me was Nirvana; I was nine years old and we went on holiday in America and they just had that song (Smells Like Teen Spirit) playing all the time. I didn’t really understand it but my dad bought the album and from that point on I just sat listening to it. The thing is, when you’re a kid that age, you just listen to what your parents listen to, or crappy pop music or Michael Jackson but when I first heard that, it kind of changed everything for me. It was like ‘What the hell am I listening to?!’ so it was Nirvana that totally changed my life and made me wanna pick up a guitar and try and be a musician.”

And despite the in-your-face stylings of The Defiled’s music, would you say that you’re a mellow cat?  “Well, we all get a bit on edge sometimes but we’re actually quite mellow dudes; we like a drink but we’re quite calm. We’re not a bunch of raging lunatics…” then he adds mischievously “Well, sometimes…I think we’re quite sensible, well, kind of sensible…quite mellow really – we smoke a lot of weed so that’s fine…” and then he’s off chuckling again. Don’t let customs know; they’ll be all over your luggage searching for that stinky weed…

And on tour, are you all a bunch of beasts? He’s honest enough to note that “It gets a bit bad sometimes – you start to wonder whether you’re an alcoholic sometimes. I think in England we’re renowned as that sort of a band. I think our keyboard player (The AvD) makes us seem a lot more rowdy than we are – he’s non-stop; I don’t even know how he’s alive at points! So he kind of gives us the name of being a bunch of rowdy lunatics but we’ve calmed down a bit on the last couple of tours. I lose my voice if I go out every night so that’s no good. Sometimes you have to pace yourself, especially as we’ll be out for two months, we can’t really go on an enormous bender…” again, he adds “Well, there’ll still be a bit of a bender, no matter what…”

Mr.D lives solely for the tunes – he says he’s got no interests outside music (aside from buying/selling guitars); for the technically obsessed readers, he’s currently using an Axe FX rig with a Power amp and cabs – though he does insist “…as many cabs as humanly possible!”
And guitars? “It has to be Gibson for me; I’m a total Gibson kid. I have a few SG customs - that’s my thing; I went through a massive phase of trying to get as many as possible – buying and selling until I could get some really cool Gibsons. I’ve got quite a few now – they’ve given me an endorsement so that changes everything for me – there’s no changing from Gibson for me at the moment! There are some Les Pauls and Firebirds that I use live quite a lot at the moment…but I’ll be sticking with Gibson for the rest of my life.”

How was recording Daggers in America? “It was cool because it was the first time we’d ever been there. It was kind of strange because we’ve built it [the band] up to a certain level and we’d got quite a lot of press so it was quite weird going to another country and totally starting again. But it was nice to win over crowds because we’d been playin’ to our own kind of audiences – they don’t need ‘winning over’ – you just have to be good, whereas bands playin’ in front of over peoples’ crowds have to really have their game down, and you have to be really good and try and win them over. So that was quite nice actually, just to go out and try and win everyone over and almost force them to like our band. It’s been cool but the next American tour should be really good because it’s with Motionless In White and they’re really similar to what we are so it’s gonna be nice to go out with them again.”

He laughs when I suggest that, despite being an Englishman, he’s remarkably positive about the Americans. “Yeah! Strange, isn’t it?! We’re supposed to hate them but no, they’re alright. I like ‘em. They’re a happy people! I think generally in England, we hate everyone, don’t we?! We’re so miserable as a race of people! And you don’t notice it till you’re away from it. Which is strange. After leaving there, it wasn’t until I came back to England again that I was like ‘Oh my god! We are very miserable, aren’t we?!’ – it explains why I’m so miserable all the time! I can’t dislike the Americans – they’re all happy and nice. I think the English just hate for being happy!”

And they have lovely teeth? “They do! They all have lovely teeth, the bastards! It’s really annoying! You know like in The Simpsons where they portray English people as these crazy miserable people with massive teeth?! They literally hit the nail on the head. I remember watching that as a kid going ‘That’s a bit offensive – we’re not like that’ but then I was there and it was like ‘Oh yeah! We really are!’  - especially in comparison to them.”

The album was crowd-funded; why was it so? “We kind of wanted to do it ourselves; we had a few labels sniffing around but we didn’t want to have a label’s A and R in the record, we wanted to make the record that we wanted to do and then if a label was into it then the label would buy in to us rather than doing an album for a label and being all miserable like ‘Urgh! We hate that song’. It was quite good, we just did it off our own back and just did a Pledge campaign and did some stupid stuff, some limited edition merch and stuff like that…”
Did you go and cook dinner at a fan’s house? “We actually did house parties where you could buy us to play at your house so that was quite cool. They were fun.”

Daggers was recorded at Audio Hammer Studios (Florida) with Jason Suecof (Trivium, Devildriver et al); how was he to work with? “He was cool, man! I’d met him the year before and we’d had a chat and he was like ‘Yeah, I definitely want to do it’ and it was cool. We’d had an EP (1888 in 2009) and an album (Grave Times, 2011) before Daggers but we’d done it ourselves, me and The AvD had done it ourselves – we did it at his house, in his studio – but this time we had the songs written before we got there. We would have just recorded them straight as they were written so it was quite nice to have someone there saying ‘The singing in that section is shit – change it!’ whereas it would’ve just made the record before. It was worth it just to have a professional’s opinion on stuff. He didn’t really change anything major, it was just little bits here and there ‘You could do that bit better’ – especially when you record something yourself, you get really tired and you’re like ‘Fuck it! That’ll do. That’s it for singing today’ whereas with Jason it was like ‘Again, again, again’ until it was dead perfect. It was cool. It was nice to work with him. And it was in Florida in the summer! It was quite chilled – we weren’t exactly waking up at the crack of dawn and working each day so again, it was kind of like a holiday!”

Now the band are with Nuclear Blast and they’re very happy: “It’s really cool. The team behind them, Monte Connor and Mark Palmer, they’re the team that created metal as I know it, the 90’s metal that I grew up with. They were the ones that brought us Slipknot and Sepultura - all those bands. It was good to have them as the guys behind us.”

Before we go our separate ways, can you explain what the fuck is going on in the As I Drown video? What’s with all the gold bricks, the freaky woman throwing potatoes and the three-eyed dude? Sadly, Stitch can shed no light on the meaning so instead I ask if he enjoys making videos. “Yeah, I do –though As I Drown I didn’t enjoy making one bit. It was unbelievable. It was so cold – we did it in the north of England – it was so windy hence our faces are pink and our bass player couldn’t hold on to his plectrum, the drums were being blown over in the wind. It was so cold and that was probably the most miserable we’d been. That was straight after a tour – we literally did a tour and went straight to do that – by the time we got home we were all sick. But I do enjoy making videos. The Unspoken video was a lot of fun to make because that was the first one where we had to kind of act a bit.”

Sadly we must part ways but before we do, I ask Stitch to bring me some Monster Munch - he says he'll try. He's alright by me.

The Defiled. At Soundwave 2014. Go and show ‘em some love…