Iconoclastic punk band, LeftöverCrack, deals more in radical leftist politics and crust punk-style than doggy bags of freebase cocaine. In other words, you are more likely to get an earful of the corruption of capitalistic society than a glorification of drug use to tune of an upbeat guitar. But, let’s not be hasty, you can probably have both.
Formed in 1998 by Scott Sturgeon, a.k.a. Stza, after the breakup of Choking Victim, the band has been pushing sensitive buttons with the wild abandon that only true punk rock knows. Currently signed with Fat Wreck Cords, the band mixes elements of ska and hardcore punk with nihilistic undertones and vocals that sound scrapped off the underside of a pair of Doc Martens.
On Thursday, November 5, they will be coming to Jacksonville to promote their third full-length album, Constructs of State, set to be released later this month. The album will contain collaborations from Jesse Michaels of Operation Ivy, Days N’ Daze, Mischief Brew, The Bouncing Souls and Penny Rimbaud of Crass.
You can check out a sneak peak to their new song, “System F***ed,” here.
Recently, Stza gave us a bit of insight into the inspiration behind the album as well how punk, “dropped the ball” with sexism and what he thinks sucks about Florida.
What made you decide to start recording Constructs of State? How does the title of the album reflect the content?
Stza: After the break up of Star F***ing Hipsters in the fall of 2011, I got really depressed and the only solution that I came up with was to write new music for the band that I still had. So, I borrowed a drum set and started recording the drums for what would become “System F***ed, “Loneliness & Heartache” and “Don’t Shoot (till you see the whites of their skin).” [I did] just the drums at first and then the basic guitars and bass. Those songs weren’t fully arranged with lyrics finished until earlier this year. All along and during the process, the only key decision that I made was that we wouldn’t release a new LeftöverCrack record until it was as good if not better than our other two full-length albums.
The title, Constructs of the State, is a line from the song “Vicious Constructs.” It relates to the common theme in almost every song on the record. They pertain to our current problems with the police, the authoritarian power constructs that protect wealth, corporations and the divisive, corrupt and manipulative nature of how American society has been carefully designed to serve the singular purpose of reinforcing state power against the population for the purpose of creating cheap labor for the powerful and wealthy to exploit for their own monetary gain and anti-populist agenda.
How do you feel punk rock has evolved over the time you have been playing? How has your personal perception of it changed?
Well, the biggest change in punk rock since I’ve been playing has to be the acceptance of it not just as a fringe culture or style of music. As the world’s population ages and people die, so does the norm of what’s considered popular music verses fringe culture. There are less and less people that consider the sixties and seventies as the epitome of rock culture and more folks that grew up with punk as a major influence are obtaining positions of power in the media and all across the board in Western society. So, an idea such as President Barak Obama having listened to The Clash or The Stooges becomes a lot less far fetched and punk rock becomes a standard part of rock and roll, as well as American history. Now, when I tell a cashier or a cab driver that I play punk rock, it’s not an alien subject and they can usually relate on some level to the information that I’m supplying them. Otherwise, my perception of punk rock has remained unchanged ever since I gravitated towards it over 20 years ago.
In 2009, you played at Plush Nightclub in Jacksonville. What was your impression of Jacksonville? Also, Miami’s New Times quoted you three years ago as, “disliking Florida.” Can you expand on that?
I’ve played in Jacksonville a number of times. I love the beach and my impression is usually gauged by how much time I will have to actually visit the beach and jump in the ocean. I’ve had the quote about me, “disliking Florida,” thrown back at me a few times and I’m not exactly sure about where it came from and what the actual context for that quote is, but I will say that my main problem with Florida stems from the abusive and unethical police and their omnipresence in what should be a paradise of sorts. There are so many staunchly vile conservatives operating at high levels of office in Florida state politics and it leaves it’s mark all the way down to one of the more thuggish and closed-minded punk scenes in America. I mean in this day and age, I can’t think of too many states that boast gangs that still include racist or Nazi punks and bands … I believe that nationalism is the antithesis to punk values.
Leftover Crack often deals with taboo subject matter that is considered controversial even for punk rock. Do you feel that you purposefully deal with controversial material or that it just happens to be what you are interested in? Why?
It’s both. I pride myself on addressing subjects that other bands fear to tread on and it also seems to fall in line with what I’m interested in exploring. I mean, what makes something controversial when [it’s] researched and thought about? A lot of these subjects are deemed controversial by society’s often puritanical and conservative values. I find value in the mission to subvert common misconceptions handed down by tradition or more often than not, the complacent media along with the governments own conservative and corporate enriching agendas.
Has anything changed between your ideologies when you produced F*** World Trade in 2004 and now? If so, what?
Not my ideologies but maybe my perception of how the world works a bit more. My instincts have always placed my ideas firmly in what I still view as the correct side of history and I find that returning to essays and lyrics that I have written in the past. There are not many mistakes or things that make me cringe. I find that the cringing usually occurs because of a stylistic choice that I made and not because of bad research or ideas based on false facts. If I could, I’d edit or delete all of the art, music, lyrics or interviews that I’ve done. The changes [I’d make] might not be apparent to most people.
How is your new album different from previous albums?
Well, it has more people contributing to the recording, music and art than any other record that I’ve ever been involved with. The songs are shorter overall than any other LöC record. I spent more time writing the lyrics than any other album that I’ve worked on. It was written, rehearsed and tracked over the course of about four years. That’s the longest that I’ve ever consciously worked on an album before. There are at least five songs that didn’t make the cut and [that’s] not because they weren’t good. They’ll be released at some point in the next year or so most likely as an EP.
You have made a few statements suggesting that some punk bands have been actively against racism, promoting unity and solidarity while conversely sexist and homophobic. In what ways have you observed this?
It’s basically a given in the wide world of rock music. Since the first bands played the style in the 1950s through our modern times, rock and roll has always been a “straight boys club,” fundamentally. There [have been] many great bands since the late 1960s that have featured females as vital instrumentalists and singers. From the 1970s on, there have been cross dressers and arguably transsexual musicians. Then in the 1980s, there started to be openly gay rock stars and feminist punk bands. The 1990s brought with it the riot grrrl movement and more empowered gay and female rockers. The 2000s brought about more openly transsexual musicians and a much more inclusive landscape concerning sexual identity that is progressing strongly to this day.
Throughout this, albeit loosely summarized history, there has remained the conscious and even subconscious underlying prevalence of rock, especially punk rock, as a straight white male musical genre. Racism has not been as large a factor in rock as many of the earlier rock bands and popular songs had an inherent multi-ethnicity that racists have demonized rock as a whole for embracing. The sexism and homophobia throughout the history of rock has largely remained unaffected.
The predominant musical genres that seem the most stuck in this way of thinking include reggae, hip hop, hardcore and punk. There does seem to be a shift in American society against this marginalization, but the fact that it is coming from political and societal forces outside of what I consider to be an activist musical style speaks volumes about the state of sexism, especially in punk music. The prevalence of it in anarchist activism also cannot be ignored.
Somebody recently hypothesized that there will more likely be an openly gay male president before there is a female president. That doesn’t seem like too far-fetched of a concept given our current and historical social landscape. Punk dropped the ball on trail blazing what will hopefully be the largest shift in the male and female power dynamic since matriarchal tribes were subverted by the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago.
What is in store for the future? Where do you see Leftover Crack in, say, 10 years from now?
We’re just hitting our stride. As invitations become more abundant our plans are growing larger than ever. We have plenty more fire, ammunition and activist reasons to be doing this in 10 years — easily. It’s a very exciting time to be alive and capable as a political punk band. We’re here to help steer the policies that have helped to destroy too many lives over the past 100 years to [the next]. That’s how ambitious we are …