The L.E.S. Stitches Bang Their Heads on the Punk Rock

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Way back in 1994, when most of the current crop of punk panhandlers on St. Marks Pl. were still into the Power Rangers, L.E.S. Stitches started playing and releasing records in the punk rock circuit. Since that time, they have released three albums, their newest one titled, strangely enough, Lower East Side (Ng/Artemis).

Still composed of the four original members?a very tough trick for any New York band?the Stitches continue to bang their heads on the punk rock while having a sense of humor about it. With Curt Stitch on guitar, Mick Stitch on vocals, Damian Branica on bass and James Baggs on drums, these guys play no-frills punk with a snotty edge. Well, maybe a few frills, but, dammit, that hair gel looks good on them.

Lower East Side was recorded at the Theater (a studio on Attorney St.) and at Ng's studio, and it sounds damn swell. Besides cool songs like "Desensitize," "Deadline" and my favorite, "1st Beer of the Day," the band does a cover of the Only Ones' "Another Girl Another Planet," and a song called "Lisa" by a friend of theirs named Cranford Nix, who played with the Malakas.

The following is a telephone interview with Curt Stitch, the guitarist and video game master of the band. It was done on a recent Sunday morning.

What time is it, George?

3:15 in the afternoon.

Oh. Oh shit. Okay.

Did I wake you?

No, I got up when I heard the phone ring.

How do you feel about playing CMJ?

I don't know too much about CMJ. We've done it before and we've had fun with it. We just hope the Red Hot Chili Peppers aren't playing the same time we are.

You're playing CBGB?you like it there?

Gotta love CBGBs. They've always been so cool with us. Louise got us in that Spike Lee thing and all. The Summer of Sam movie. It's a New York institution. You can't be a New York band from the Lower East Side and not play CBGBs. Especially if you're in a punk band.

So you like the idea you're playing where the Ramones, Dead Boys, Furious George and all the other greats played?


Do you think CMJ helps bands out and gets them signed?

I've never known any bands that have gotten signed from it...but I'm sure it might happen. I think everyone just goes and gets drunk for the whole weekend at the thing and they forget who they saw.

How do you feel about your new album?

I like it. It was a challenge for us, because we came home from touring on our last record, and we got back five days before Christmas. Everyone went their own ways to visit their families, and when we got back we had a meeting at the label and they said, "We want a new record from you guys!"

Were you surprised?

We got a silly look on our faces, 'cause we were out for nine months on tour, so needless to say we hadn't written anything new. We left the meeting, went straight to rehearsal and Mick says, "Does anyone have anything?" And I told him I had a song written out in my head called "Not That Kid" and hadn't even played it on guitar yet. It was just in my head. We had little bits and pieces of other songs and just somehow put them together with words and music.

On the cover of the album there's a map of the Lower East Side. What's with all those tiny red dots?

The little dots are where we wrote and recorded the album. Like our rehearsal studio, my living room, the recording studios. We usually met in my living room because it was the biggest.

And 'cause it has a Sony PlayStation, right?

Oh yeah. We had one of those running the whole time during the recording session.

The blue dots on the cover of the album?what do those mean?

That's where we went drinking after the recording sessions. A lot of them got covered up by the artwork, but you can still see a few. Places like the Library, 7B, Niagara, Ludlow Bar, 9C, Grass Roots...



Who in the band can drink the most?

I'm the one in the band who usually lasts the longest.

Do you chalk that up to your old age, Curt?

[laughs] Practice. Lots of practice. You want to be good at something, you need lots of practice.

L.E.S. Stitches play Sat., Oct. 21, at CBGB, 315 Bowery (Bleecker St.), 982-4052.

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