Formed in 2010 by lead singer Alecia “Mixi” Demner, the LA-based rock band Stitched Up Heart is all about carrying the torch of modern rock forward. To do that, Mixi wants the rock scene to be more inclusive of its female frontwomen and to be given the credit they’re due for their hard work.
Stitched Up Heart came to prominence with their 2016 freshman album Never Alone. They signed to Another Century Records after five years of hard work and hoping to have enough gas money to make it to the next venue, and now have been on numerous charts, sitting at #7 on Billboard’s Hard Rock Albums chart, #14 on Billboard’s Independent Albums Chart, and # 4 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. Additionally, the band has garnered 20 million worldwide streams, collaborated with Sully Erna of Godsmack on their track ‘Lost’, and have three top 30 mainstream rock hits to their name. They’ve since followed up with their sophomore effort, Darkness, which was released on March 31. Produced by Matt Good (Asking Alexandria and Hollywood Undead), it saw them shift from their usual goth metal sound to an experimental electronic sound.
Between putting out the spellbinding music video for their new single ‘Darkness’ off of their sophomore effort of the same name, finding new ways to connect with fans by streaming nightly on Twitch, and planning for a tour that’s been rescheduled for next May, there’s a lot on the band’s plate.
We had the chance to discuss the new single, the fun of being on Twitch, and championing diversity in the rock scene.
In a recent interview, you stated that the rock scene could do much more to help its front women. In your opinion, how can this happen?
There’s a massive difference in how many women there versus how many men there are in heavier music. If you look at any other genre, like pop or country, there are always more women, or it’s at least even. With the heavier side of music, women aren’t as popular as males. I don’t know if that has to do with the music’s angst and aggression, like people want to punch a punching bag or jump in a mosh pit. For some reason, there are not enough women. I feel like there definitely should be more women. The women in the scene are tight-knit, support each other, and lift each other rather than tearing each other down. The unity between the women here is awesome. Radio stations will play two bands with women in it at a time, and there aren’t many options. I spoke with another female artist I know in a metal band, and she said that a label wouldn’t take them because they already had a female-fronted band, and there were festivals they couldn’t get on because they were a band with a girl in it, like, “oh, we have enough girls.” There’s been an astronomical difference in the number of women in the industry comparatively, and it still has a lot of room to grow. Seeing people get nominated for Grammys at this moment shows that there’s hope for females in this industry. It’s not just the guys who can do it. Girls can do it too.
Speaking of inequality in the rock scene, what has your personal experience been like as a frontwoman in the scene?
For us, we’ve gotten lucky. Sometimes it got a little bit creepy, but not in a way that freaked me out. Like, somebody licked my ear once. But that was just weird. Sometimes I would crowd surf, and people would be like, “why would you go and jump in there?”. For the most part, people are respectful and know not to grab things. That’s been my experience; I know everyone is different. Who knows? Maybe we haven’t gotten to the level where you get the extra, extra creepy ones. I think it’s the appeal that we have and the message that we try to send that people understand that it’s not a sexual thing and about getting to know people on a deeper level.
What kind of diversity would you like to see in the rock scene?
POC and LGBTQ rock bands. I think that there needs to be more diversity in general. The world is changing, and I believe that people are starting to realize that and see that. I think things are evolving, and I hope everyone will be welcomed with open arms; guys, girls, black, white, gay, straight. It doesn’t matter. The only thing you can do is keep pushing for what you want to see change.
Let’s talk about your new single, ‘My Demon’. What’s the inspiration and meaning behind it?
It was kind of about how we always pretend that we’re all good and angelic and perfect like everything’s great and we never do anything wrong, but we’re not all the time. Everybody has a little bit of a devil on their shoulder telling them, “you know that’s wrong,” but it looks fun, so let’s do it anyway. (laughs) I think it’s about just being okay with that and embracing the fact that we’re not perfect. It’s okay not to be good all the time. We have our dark and our light, our good and our bad. It’s what balances us.
What inspired you to make your sophomore album Darkness? What can fans take away from it?
The actual album, if you listen to the whole thing… The record that we did before, which is called Never Alone, we just got signed after five years of pushing, and we got a record deal, management agency, and bookings — everything was looking great. So in Never Alone, lyrically, I felt like the world was open like, “OMG. There’s this whole light at the end of the tunnel. You should check it out,” and then darkness happened. And you go through stuff, and life happens. Things don’t always work out the way you want them to, and there are challenges and obstacles. After going through stuff over and over again, I realized, “how do I talk about the deep stuff?” and also bring to light, like, “I’ve been through this before, and I’m not afraid anymore.” I came out alive before, and I can do it again. I have to wait it out and fight through it. It’s about going through dark times over and over and not being afraid anymore.
What was it like to work with producer Matt Good (producer for Asking Alexandria and Hollywood Undead) on your sophomore effort?
Matt is a genius, like a mastermind when it comes to producing, vibes, and chemistry. The producers sometimes become part of the band depending on who we decide to go with and what vision we have for the record. We don’t want everything to sound the same all the time. I had this vision, and we weren’t finding it anywhere else. When Matt and I got together to co-write and see what would happen, it just clicked. He knew exactly what I wanted and exactly what I heard in my brain. It’s hard to translate that unless you’re all on the same page. So when we decided to go with a producer, he was perfect for this record. Asking Alexandria is an amazing band, and I always looked up to them. Hollywood Undead have been around forever, and it’s been pretty awesome seeing them grow as well. Matt is a cool, chill dude, and I’m like, “dude, he’s the biggest producer of all time,” but he’s a very, very talented guy.
I saw that you streamed Dungeons and Dragons on Twitch recently. How else have you passed the time during quarantine?
As soon as I found out the tour was postponed (a spring tour in conjunction with Sebastian Bach that has been pushed to next May), I ordered a pizza. I was going to the gym every day, getting ready for the tour, making sure I was strong enough to go through those sets as much as I could. Then I called up the kitten rescue that I foster with and fostered baby kittens. I’ve had many kittens that I’ve taken care of in a couple of litters and got them to be adopted. The band is a business, there’s no money coming in, and it was expensive, so the business started to go into the red. We had to figure out how to keep it alive. We’re not touring in vans again until we come back, so Twitch was recommended by our manager, who had another band he helped get boosted who rely on touring, and their families can’t survive without it. They found a way to make it help the band. It’s been cool to connect with people. At first, I didn’t really want to do it because of being antisocial, and there’s a lot of computers and technical stuff involved with streaming. We do it nightly now at 6 pm. It’s almost like our own little show. Each of us gets our own little segment. I stream two nights a week, and the other guys do their share. Luckily, we found some sort of pivot and a way to stay connected with everyone, without touring, and not disappear.
What advice do you have for aspiring female rockers?
I would say for anybody, no matter what anybody tells you, no matter how many times you’re going to fail, you have to keep moving forward, and you have to work hard at what you love and follow your heart. No matter what it is, if you follow your heart, whether it’s music or law or working with horses, whatever you want to do, just follow the path that your heart leads you to. Work your butt off and know that’s the right one. Nobody wants to do something for the rest of their life that they don’t love. So follow what your heart tells you to follow and go for it 100%. You have to work hard, take constructive criticism; it’s a vulnerable place to be a musician in the public eye. But no matter what, you have to keep going and not listen to what anybody tells you. No matter what the job is, the choice or path of life you want to go to, people are going to tell you that you can’t, and you have to prove them wrong.
With an upcoming tour in May and new music on the horizon (70 songs were written for the album Darkness), this isn’t the last that the rock scene will see of Stitched Up Heart. Amassing a passionate fan base for making music that’s relatable and makes listeners feel less alone in their personal struggles, Stitched Up Heart has managed to go beyond the boys’ club that rock can be, be successful on their terms, and show that the rock scene is a place where women belong and can thrive in. On Darkness, Stitched Up Heart’s Mixi is intent on making music that helps listeners see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and strength can come from battling through the hard times. Stitched Up Heart fans and newcomers are looking forward to hearing what they’ve been working on.