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Fuck the System! An Interview with Rotten Stitches’ Jordan Daniel

rotten stitches

In the heart of Georgia is the city of Atlanta.  This city has had a significant role in American history as an important location in both the Civil War and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.  Now in the ATL, you will find just about anyone or anything that you could possibly want.  What did I look for when I was in Hate City?  If you guessed street punk, you guessed right.  This city is home to many great American punk and oi bands, unlike anything you’ll find in the rest of the country.  One of the local staples in the scene is a band called Rotten Stitches.  Formed in 2012, they are exactly what you’d hope for when you’re looking for a street punk band – they’re fast, loud and angry.

They played their first three shows under three different names, but The Stitches was the name that stuck.  After the California band with the same name started touring again, they decided to change their name to avoid any confusion.  At this point, they were already established in the scene around the Atlanta area and so they became the Rotten Stitches.  Last week I was able to sit down with guitarist Jordan Daniel and talk to him about the band, some of his personal struggles and his most memorable tour story. 

About the Band…

Ehrin: Hey Jordan, thanks for taking some time out to talk to me today!  Let’s start but talking a little bit about the band.  Who is currently in your line up?

Jordan:  Hey, thanks for the interest.  Rotten Stitches are Jake Nasty (vox), Laremy Wade (bass), Clay Lloyd (drums), and myself (guitar).

 

Ehrin: The Stitches have 2 albums out at the moment – Crisis Control and No World Order.  Out of the two, which has been your favourite to put out so far?

Jordan:  No World Order has been my favourite so far I think.  We put a lot more work into than we did Crisis Control.  I mean we spent some time working on it, but we were very young in our songwriting so it was just fast simple punk.  I wasn’t that great at guitar yet so there wasn’t anything really special to it.  It was just loud, fast and angry.  Clay Lloyd, our drummer, joined around the time we began writing No World Order.  He is a great musician and he helped me a lot on guitar. We had a lot of fun writing it and musically we’ve grown so it was just better.  I was super excited when we put that out.

 

On Alcoholism & Substance Abuse…

Ehrin: Lately I have found a lot of punk bands have focused on putting out music “with a message”.  Do you feel that Rotten Stitches are trying to get a message across with your music? What kind of message are you trying to put out there?

Jordan: As we get older we’re starting to get more of a message out with our music.  With Crisis Control we were just really angry so it was a big ‘fuck the world’ album.  What we’re putting out now deals with depression, addiction and growing up but still having a hard time getting by.  It’s also us dealing with our anger.  I think that’s going be a huge part of what this new album is going to be about.  Even though there was an overall growth between the first and second album, No World order still had the anger of the first album.  Jake and I have been through a lot in life and he’s come a long way.   But with writing lyrics he’s finally getting out a lot of what he’s been holding in.  I think our message right now with everything going on is to keep punk in your heart and use it as your outlet.

Everyone out there… we all got into punk for some kind of reason.  Whether it was a was a shitty childhood or you went through something really rough in life. Maybe it’s just that you have always had rebellion in you.  The message is that you’re NOT alone.  If you feel that you are alone, just know that we’re out there at least.

 

Ehrin: You’re very open about your experience with addiction and drinking.  How is that affecting the new writing?  Do you have more input because of your personal experience?

Jordan: Yeah absolutely.  Especially what I’m going through right now. It’s weird. While first getting sober, I didn’t even pick up my guitar. The first month or so I didn’t see the band. I couldn’t get to the practice spot. I spent a lot of time just feeling down about my situation but I ‘ve gotten past that and it’s gotten a lot easier as time went on. I think everyone would agree with me that my writing and playing has gotten a lot better. I feel like I’m able to express what I want through my music. I know that might be weird cause people tend to think expressing yourself through words, but it comes out through my hands and my guitar now. So it’s been fun, it’s been a great experience honestly.

 

Ehrin: There’s been a lot of talk about alcoholism and how it’s so ingrained into the punk scene.  I don’t know if it’s because punk musicians play in a lot of bars or if it’s something else. Is it a different experience for you playing sober? So many people are going through what you’re going through right now. Do you think we need to change as a community, to more of a sober/straight edge type of scene?

Jordan: I don’t think we necessarily need to change it.  We have our party songs that are just about drinking, being on tour and getting fucked up.  I miss it of course, but I can’t be like that anymore. But I do think that it is ingrained in the scene.  For younger kids coming in, I think they hear and see a lot of that and they think it’s punk to be an alcoholic.  I think another big reason for drinking and using drugs is most people are coming from some sort of fucked up background.  That just goes hand in hand. 

I think that’s what I like about our message being what it is right now. If you’re dealing with depression or addiction – you’re not alone and you don’t need the drugs and the booze to get through. You just need this music. I think that’s one thing that with me being sober and playing shows.  I feel it so much more – and I actually remember the shows now, too!  It definitely hits home a lot more now. I find myself sitting back at shows, enjoying watching and just feeling it more than I was when I was just trashed int the pit. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love being in the pit… crowd surfing and singing along.  But at this stage of sobriety, I definitely find myself sitting back and enjoying the music and the scene and the camaraderie that comes with it. I think some people see it as just as a bunch of people getting fucked up and they forget that the punk scene can be really tight together. I don’t think we need to go to a straightedge scene but people need to realize that it’s okay to be sober.  If you’re feeling like you’ve got an issue, you’re not alone.  You don’t have to go to a show and get fucked up to fit in.  It’s okay to come to a show and stay sober.

 

Ehrin: It’s definitely a good message to put out there.  I think you’re right, there’s a lot of pressure – especially for the kids just coming into it – to start drinking whether they necessarily want to or not just to fit in with everyone.

Jordan: Exactly.

 

And on everything else…

Ehrin: Who are your biggest influences as a musician?

Jordan: Growing up The Casualties were one of the first punk bands that I got into. Also, Clip 45, and The Unseen.  When it comes to playing and writing, some of my favourite bands still are Monster Squad, Krum Bums, Career Soldiers, The Virus, and Starving Wolves.

 

Ehrin: Is there someone in your life that has been really influential or really supportive of you or shaped who you are as a person?

Jordan: Growing up I had a really good friend, John, he got me into punk when I was about 11 or 12 years old.  He definitely showed me a lot as far as the music goes and he’s an amazing drummer. That’s what got me into playing cause we started a little band.  I also have a great group of friends who aren’t into punk at all but they completely accepted me. Really to me, they are some of the most punk people I know. They have the same mentality and are always themselves.  They don’t give a fuck about what anyone thinks. They played a huge role in my life because that encouraged me to express myself my way.

 

Ehrin: What’s some of your favourite non-punk music or all you all punk all the time?

Jordan: I am pretty much all punk, all the time.  I do enjoy acoustic stuff too though but it is still punk influenced… like folk-punk stuff.  I listened to Slayer, Metallica, and Motorhead growing up, but once I got into punk, that’s what I’ve listened to… punk and oi music.

 

Ehrin: Who are your top 5 bands that you’re listening to right now?

Jordan: I’m stuck on that Monster Squad album, and the little bit that Starving Wolves have put out.  Breakout and Call the Cops are also great bands.  I’ve been listening to a ton of Booze and Glory, and Legion 76 out of Philly.  I usually change it up from month to month but for the last month or two, these have all been on repeat. 

 

Ehrin:  What was the largest crowd that Rotten Stitches have played for?

Jordan: I don’t know the exact number, but in 2014 we played the Oklahoma festival “Fuck You We Rule Ok” – that was a good one. Then in 2017, we played the pre-party and after party for the same festival. If you haven’t been that way, it’s crazy. Punks from all over the world come out and those shows are probably the biggest crowds we’ve played to.

 

Ehrin: Experiencing that and being in that situation, do you prefer playing in front of large crowds like that? Or do you prefer playing in small bars and venues like The Star Bar or The Highlander [in Atlanta]?  You know, a more intimate setting…

Jordan: Honestly, I do love the smaller, more intimate shows – even basement shows… especially when they get rowdy.  Things can just get so crazy at shows like that.  But I really love playing the bigger shows and seeing everyone singing along, dancing around. I think that’s my favourite. I want to play for as many people as possible. 

 

Ehrin:  I think you’re a little bit younger than I am, but we’re growing up in this time where we have bands that had to go out in “the old way”.  When they had to constantly be on the road touring and were never home.  It was everything just trying to get their music out. Versus now where we’ve moved into that digital era where everything is based on social media and band camp and iTunes.  Do you think it was better back then and you had a better and more loyal fanbase or do you think that the way things are now is better for you as a musician?

Jordan: I think the way the way things are now is better for the kids for us to get the music out to them and it definitely helps with building a fan base, but we love hitting the road. That’s how we’ve gotten our name out there – being on the road and just always playing. I hate that we can’t be on tour and playing as much right now because of what I’m dealing with and all my legal stuff and I feel like we still try to live the old way because we love it through and through. Everything about being on tour – sleeping on couches or in the van, breaking down and not knowing how you’re going to get to the next show… the struggle that you have to go through and the end result of seeing and meeting all these new friends and fans. It’s unreal and I don’t think it’s for everybody, but I think it builds the band in a way that feels more right. Especially in the punk scene. You need to be out there doing that and really feeling it rather than putting out an album and getting it spread across the world and then they just show up and their shows are huge. I mean, that’s great but the struggles we’ve gone through on the road have made us so strong as a band and so much more appreciative of all the shows that we get and the fans that we have across the country.

 

Ehrin: I have to say I think you’re right. I think that bands need to put in that time and I don’t know if “earn their stripes” if the best term to use in this situation, but they definitely need to put in their time. For me personally, I find it agitating to see these bands out there and they play these giant festivals but they’ve never played small or local shows. They just got out on social media, and all of a sudden they’ve blown up but haven’t really put in the work.

Jordan: Exactly. I think that’s why -going back to your question about what kind of I prefer – I like do love when we get on big festivals like “Fuck You We Rule” or we played RudeFest in St. Louis twice… because we definitely have put in our work of being on tour and playing to 10 kids every night. At one point we were playing 3 or 4 shows every week around the Atlanta or in the southeast, where ever we could make it happen just to have people hear us. So when we get those big crowds which still isn’t very often, but it still blows our mind. We’ve been doing this for about 6 years now and for these bands to just show up and not put in the work like we have – they’re the ones that get this big head and we’re still just like little kids… we get up on stage and are so stoked about it and remember all the work we put in to get there. I love it. I never want to be one of those bands that don’t put in the work.

 

Ehrin:  When I first got into punk, it was the fact that it was like people who were outsiders like me that attracted me to it.  Like you, I had a pretty shitty childhood and I liked the fact that punk was a bunch of misfits who didn’t fit in with the rest of the people and was there for each other.  However, I’m noticing now that I’m older there’s almost more of an elitist attitude in the scene… and I don’t know if it’s because like you said, people are putting out this music on social media and are getting these big shows and this kind of ‘holier than thou’ attitude. I don’t know if it’s the same for a musician, but I’m noticing that there’s an elitist attitude in the punk scene. Are you seeing it on your side as well?  Or are things are not the same for fans vs. artists?

Jordan: Yeah I hate to say that, but I do. I think social media is a big part of that. Getting on Facebook is fucking terrible… to see some of the shit that’s going in the scene. There’s so much drama like you said, just an elitist attitude. And it even happens now about the way we dress you see that elitism coming through. Kids shouldn’t have to worry about coming to a show in some beat up converse and a hand-me-down old navy shirt instead of having tons of studs and nice combat boots.  It’s sad to see but hopefully, we can stray away from the trendy fucks who are not meant to be there and we can get back to the tight family that punk is supposed to be. 

 

Ehrin: Do you have any crazy stories that stick out from touring?

Jordan: The one that comes to my mind is actually our last tour.  It sucks that it was our last tour because we knew I had shit coming up but we had a bus and it was like a mini school bus kind of.  We were doing an east coast tour and we did a couple days in Florida and started working our way up the east coast – NC, VA, and then Philly.  We ended up breaking down in Philly and had a tensioner pulley came loose and it ground a hole into our timing chain cover. It was centimetres from hitting our timing chain. Which was crazy since the day before we were driving through the Virginia mountains and could have broken down in the middle of nowhere with 13 of us punks in there. Luckily we caught it in Philly and our buddy Josh Rouza who plays FuckSake had a little shop he was working at and we got our bus towed over there. He helped put in work with us on it. I ubered around from Jersey to Philly picking up parts. But myself and 2 guys from The Horribles who were on tour with us put in 3 full days full of greasy hot work figuring it out. And we did it… it started up. We got that thing a mile down the street and it broke down again. So I remember we as we pulled over we were able to coast into a parking lot. And I looked up and threw my hands up and saw there was a pub… and we were broke because we had spent all our money fixing that fucking van but I had our march box with us in the van and I said: “fuck it dude lets go get some beers”.I used our march money to buy us all some beer for what should have been a celebration round but instead, it was more of a “what the fuck are were going to do?!’ round.  So we got a little going on, and we still had a show to play in Philly that night.  Josh actually helped us out and gave us a ride. And we had a great time. We woke up the next day and decided we can’t finish the rest of the tour and we needed to get home.  The only thing we could find was a U-Haul van with no windows in the back and we piled 13 of us into the back with 2 bands worth of gear and all our luggage and 2 dogs… and it was the worst ride any of us could imagine.  We were knees to chest or on our back or anyway we could kind of sit for 23 hours.  It was incredible… we still joke about it today and say “my ass still hurts from that ride home”

Ehrin: Oh yeah, that’s the bar you set to compare tours to. “It can’t be worse than the East Coast tour when we broke down”.

Jordan: Yeah it was god awful. That was The Horrible’s first tour ever. I remember saying to them “I”m sorry guys, this doesn’t always happen”. They were like ‘man maybe this isn’t for us’ but after they got home the next day they hit us up and said ‘man that sucked but we can’t wait to do it again, lets get back on the road”.

 

Ehrin: You have a new album that you’re working on.Do you have a date that you want to have it done by?

Jordan: We don’t have a date yet. We were offered by Crows Control Media to be on a punk and oi compilation that is going to consist of us, Drink & Destroy Crew, Hanging Judge, Antagonizers ATL & Magoo’s Heroes. Part of that deal is 3 songs for each band, and they have to be originals, they can’t be released on anything else for like 5 years or something like that because they want it to be just a crowd control thing. So we went ahead and took three songs that we were going to have on the album and put them on the comp. So we need to write a couple more songs to get to 13 because we like putting out 13 song albums. We have them in the works. This weekend though we’ll be heading into the studio to record the comp songs with Joe Queer so we’re super stoked about that. Because everyone has listened to the Queers growing up, at least a little bit. So it’s really cool to be working with him. And to be on a comp with such great bands all around. I know you’re big into DDC.

 

Ehrin: Yeah for sure and hanging judge. I adore all those guys, They are so good. Everything they put out is such good quality, both musically and lyrically.

Jordan: Yeah they are the best dudes ever. But yeah, we’re really hoping to get this new album out soon because it’s been a couple years since our last album came out. But you know life happens and we’re not able to get to the studio for one reason or another… but we’re really excited to put out this new album. It’s definitely a whole new level because we’ve gone through so much. Lyrically and instrumentally we’ve gone through so much and grown so much as artists that this is going to be amazing. We don’t want to rush it but we’re excited to get it done.

 

Ehrin: Well, I think you’re on the right path. You guys have grown so much.

Jordan: Yeah it definitely.  We just want everyone to keep a lookout for us because we have some really god music coming out. And if anyone is feeling depressedor have addiction problems or any problems in life just know that if you’ve got punk by your side then there is always a way out. If you want to reach out we’ll always find the time to talk to anyone. We won’t shut anyone out or judge you. If you want to tell us your problems or just that you can relate to our music, we’d love to hear it. We’ll talk to anyone. You’re not alone.

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