INTERVIEW: Alecia ‘Mixi’ Demner of Stitched Up Heart

Stitched Up Heart is taking a new approach to releasing new music. Its sophomore album, “Darkness,” is set to arrive in spring 2020, but three new songs—with accompanying lyric videos—already are available, including “Lost” featuring a guest appearance by Sully Erna of Godsmack. Vocalist Alecia “Mixi” Demner says the plan is to give each song on the record similar treatment leading up to its release. The band is on the road now, promoting the new tracks on the Firestorm Tour, co-headlined by Like a Storm and Through Fire, and also featuring Wilson. After Stitched Up Heart’s performance at Fish Head Cantina in Halethorpe, Maryland, Live Metal’s Greg Maki caught up with Mixi to discuss the new songs and more.

LIVE METAL: Normally, when I’m doing interviews, it’s a couple hours before the show, so I never get to ask, “How was the show?”

ALECIA “MIXI” DEMNER: Today was awesome, actually. We played at Fish Head Cantina in 2015 with Like a Storm, so it was full circle. We came back around, and it felt like we literally teleported or something to the past, or took a time machine. It was crazy. Yeah, it was a lot of fun.

I’ve seen Stitched Up Heart a few times now, and I was noticing especially again tonight that your headbanging form is excellent.

Really? Oh, thanks. (laughs) I’m not gonna say I totally practiced in front of the mirror, but I totally practiced in front of the mirror. For the songs, there are certain parts where I know I can just headbang. It’s like I’m not gonna have to focus too much on my vocal right here. For me, I’m a horrible dancer, so instead of just dancing around or doing something weird, I’m like, this is where I’m gonna headbang. I don’t know to how to dance, so I’m just gonna bang my head. It’s like dancing for me.

You talked about it a little bit on stage, but how is the tour going so far?

It’s been super chill. Everybody’s just hanging out. Like a Storm and Through Fire are sharing a bus, and we always take pictures in front of their bus, pretending it’s ours, with people. I don’t always like going on people’s buses, and they keep inviting us up. And I’m like, “But I’m awkward.” They’re like, “Just come up anytime.” I was like, “I’m not gonna come up on your bus. That’s your private time.” There’s 12 people on that bus. I’m like, “I don’t want to be in the way.” Then the last couple shows, they’re like, “No, just come up.” So now I’m just coming up every night. I’m like, “You know you just started something horrible. I’m gonna be here every night, at the same time.” They’re like, “Yes, come up!” And I’m like, “Aren’t you tired?” (laughs) They’re getting up doing the early acoustic stuff at the radio stations and stuff. I slept in ‘til 2 today. It was kinda nice. (laughs

The Wilson guys seem like a lot of fun, too. Have you been hanging out with them?

They are. They’re really, really cool. Earlier today, we did this little video thing with them, and I pretended I was James (Lascu), their bass player. I’m like, “Hi, I’m James. I play bass for Wilson. “ And he’s like, “I’m Mixi, and I sing for Stitched Up Heart.” And I’m like, “Do you wanna trade? I wanna play bass.” One of these shows, I’m gonna see if he can come up for a song, and I’m gonna come up for a song. Maybe I’ll learn the bass for one of their songs.

Do you play any instruments?

Yeah. I haven’t practiced any of their songs, but bass isn’t that difficult. Stick to the root note and make some fun little runs or something here and there. But yeah, we were talking about that, kinda joking about it earlier, but I doubt that it’ll actually happen. Who knows. We’ll see.

You’ve released three new songs so far. The first one was “Lost.”

Yeah, we’ve got Sully.

What is that song about?

Well, it’s crazy ‘cause I didn’t realize what I was writing about when I was writing it. And then when the words all just kinda spilled out of me—and I feel like that’s when it’s the most natural, when you almost don’t even have a plan, it just comes out—I listened to my lyrics back, and I heard how lost I really was in my mind. I didn’t even realize we’re all so trapped in this little space in our heads or in our phone or whatever—but ultimately in our heads. It’s hard to take a step back and look at being here and present. Like, we’re right here, and I feel like I live pretty here and now on the road. Today, I know where I am. Tomorrow, I know where I’m going, and I know where I was yesterday. So I live right now, because I know this is happening right now, one step at a time. But a lot of times, we get so caught up in our minds it’s almost like a prison cell sometimes.

Honestly, I just kinda asked the universe to say the words through me to connect with people as deep as I possibly could. As soon as I started asking the universe or praying or whatever you want to call it, it started flowing out, and that’s when the lyrics just came out. I don’t know. Sometimes, it’s just magic like that.

How did the collaboration with Sully come about?

We’ve been friends for a couple years, and we’ve been trying to work together for a while. I got a little bit of a shove from management—“Hey, ask your boy to sing on some stuff.” And I was like, “No, I don’t wanna ask him. I don’t wanna pull that card.” So finally, I just got up the courage and I asked him, and he was like, “Yeah, of course, I’ll sing on whatever you want.” It just had to be the right song, so we took a while to figure out what song it was.

It took a couple months, and then finally at the end of finishing the record, I had “Lost” and I was like, oh, there’s this great instrumental part. I wonder if he can sing over that. I asked management, they thought it was cool, and then he thought it was cool, and then I was like, “OK, now I’ve gotta get you to sing on it.” And then that happened somehow. It was a whole year of seeing if this was actually gonna happen, and then it did, and I was like, “What?! That’s cool!”

And then I thought of the video. We have a live performance video from the tour we did with Godsmack, where their photographer Paris, just videoed that set every night and put it together. I thought it would be great to just capture this moment. I was like, this is gonna go by so fast. It’s just one month. We’ve got to do this. I’m gonna be able to go to my grandkids—if I ever have kids one day, that have kids (laughs)—and I’ll be like, “I did this back in the day with the Godsmack.” It’s just something that I wanted to capture. You can do music videos with stories all day long, but I think that capturing the live performance is the coolest part. That’s why people go to rock shows, ‘cause they wanna see the show.

Did he come up with his part?

Yeah. He woke up in the morning in Nashville. I flew to Nashville to track the song, ‘cause he didn’t want to just email it over. So he’s like, “Let’s write together.” He got up super early, and I was still sleeping, and he finished the lyrics. I had one edit to it. I was like, “I don’t know. What do you think?” He’s like, “It just came out, so it’s the way it’s gonna be.” “OK, well, just change this one part. OK, cool.” So there we go. There’s the song.

Then there’s what’s going to be the title track of the new album, “Darkness.” Tell me about that song.

So it was pretty heavy when that song was written. It was the very beginning. I flew out to Arizona to start working with Matt Good, the producer. It was the first song. We kind of all threw paint to see if we would have good chemistry. I was trying to pull some of our really close fans out of some pretty dark places. I was calling the suicide hotline for them and trying to figure out what to do. I just pictured what was happening with them. It wasn’t me in that dark place. It was being there with them, and I just wanted to write something for them.

It’s just about going through darkness over and over and over again. I kept picking them up, and then they’d fall back down. I kept picking them up, and it was drowning me. When someone’s drowning, you don’t dive in with them. You have to throw out a life preserver and hope that they grab that, ‘cause you’ll drown, too. It was really, really, really tough, and I didn’t know else to do, and I just realized, “You’ve done this before. You guys have gotten out of this alive. Don’t be afraid of it. You’ve already made it out, and it does get better.”

They are now doing pretty well. There’s two girls, specifically, that were going through it at the time it was written, but I knew it could help other people. So I wanted it to be for everyone, to know not to be afraid of the darkness.

Have you heard things from fans about your music helping them through tough times?

Yeah, that’s really ultimately my goal, to try to get the right words to touch people in those places, to say stuff that we don’t say out loud. But then there’s also a hopeful message in it, too. I don’t want it to be all cry, cry, cry. I want people to know that they’re not the only ones. That’s my main thing.

The album’s gonna come out next year?

Yeah, so we’re doing things a little differently. The way that music is these days, you give people an album, and then they play that album for a month, and then they’re done and they’ve moved on to the next whatever’s new. But if you give them the whole album, you’ve spent, 30, 60, 100 grand—however much the producer is, however much everybody negotiated the price, blah blah blah; it costs a lot of money. You give them everything you’ve got, and you’re like, “Alright, well, I’ve got nothing new for a while.” I figured—and the powers that be had brought this to my attention—let’s do a song at a time and see what happens and keep things going and moving along.

Not too many rock bands have really tried that. I believe that music will start going into that, where people release smaller segments or just one song at a time, because the way people’s attention span is. You give people a whole album, and then it’s done and moved on. Now, we still have a whole album. If we had released it already, then you guys would already have it and that’s it. But this also is cool because it separates every song that we release individually. They all get their own lyric video, instead of that one song on the album that you all forget about. They all get their own moment.

So the plan is to do this with every song on the album?

Yeah, except when we do the pre-orders. We’ll release two if you purchase the pre-order, which I think is Black Friday for “Darkness.” I think the whole thing will be a whole album in March.

Are the songs that have been released so far a good indication of the sound of this album?

There’s a lot of different stuff. But yeah, there’s some of the “Lost” kind of feel. Then there’s the heavy hitters. Then there’s the more artsy, I guess? We got creative. The one thing that I really liked that we did a lot—it’s almost impossible to recreate the wheel. You can’t reinvent it, but you can change things and find something that makes you you and you unique. Everybody’s voice is different, and one thing that we found that will tie throughout the whole album is taking my voice and what the producer would do to it and cut it up into all these different melodies that would turn into almost its own synth in the background. You can’t recreate that unless you have my tracks from my vocals or somehow sample it out. So we tried to create something that was as unique as we can get to ourselves. You can play guitar a million ways. You can have a million tones. You can add a trumpet. I don’t know. Whatever—cellos. I don’t know. But you can’t take my voice and put it into somebody else’s song, ‘cause that’s unique in itself, and that was the goal.

Who was the producer?

Matt Good. He was D.R.U.G.S. He’s in From First to Last, the band with Skrillex. He did Asking Alexandria’s last record. I think he did Hollywood Undead and Sleeping with Sirens—they haven’t come out yet. I think he was working on Butcher Babies, too, so I’m excited to hear that.

Last year, you were on a big tour with Halestorm, In This Moment and New Years Day. What did it mean to you to be part of a tour like that will all those women?

It’s really cool to see women headlining arenas. There’s not a lot of females in rock. It is what it is. People always ask me, “What’s it like to be a girl in rock?” It’s like, “Well, I don’t know what it’s like to be a guy, so I wouldn’t know.” But with that, it was just so cool. These women are so inspiring. I learned a lot, and it gave me hope that I can be there one day and just to keep going and it’ll happen. And they’re all just really cool, good people. So it was pretty awesome.

So what’s next after this tour?

More music releasing, more touring. We haven’t announced any other tours yet, but we do have some stuff in the works, obviously. Just keep releasing new stuff, pretty much, and hope people dig it.

Who’s number one on your list of bands you want to tour with?

Korn is first right now. I really want to get in with Korn. I’ve just got to. I don’t know how I’m gonna do it. My friend’s playing keyboards for them. Maybe that’s how. I’m just gonna stalk them. They live in Bakersfield, I know that. So I’m just gonna drive up to Bakersfield and then find out where they live and then tell them that we’re touring together and that I’ll be there at load-in, whatever time it is. (laughs)

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Just if you want to check us out, It has our lyric videos for “Darkness,” “Problems,” “Lost” and the live performance video I did with Sully for “Lost” on the arena tour we did with Godsmack. If you like it, share it, tell all your friends. That’s pretty much it. Thanks.

Stitched Up Heart YouTube channel

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