When Alexis Brown joined Straight Line Stitch in 2003, it proved to be a much needed change for the band. Fueled by a new sound, Straight Line Stitch began making a name for itself beyond the boundaries of its native Tennessee, releasing three albums and an EP between 2006 and 2011. “Our motto is: ‘if you’re not writing or recording or in the studio, then what are you doing? You should be on tour,’” says Alexis. “We like to try to keep busy.”
Their warrior-like approach to success wasn’t without toll, however, and in 2011, the band suffered devastating blows both personally and professionally. While this could have marked the end of the band, Straight Line Stitch is determined to show that they’re a tough act to defeat.
On June 30th, the band will release a new EP, Transparency – their first in over four years. Despite their incredibly busy schedule, Alexis sat down with Music Existence to discuss the Civil Unrest Tour, the musical evolution of the band, the harsh realities of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, and finding the light beyond the darkness.
ME: Straight Line Stitch is one of many special guests touring the Civil Unrest Tour with Ill Nino. What does it feel like to be on tour with so many different acts? Is there a particular band that has already captured your attention?
ALEXIS: It’s great. It’s really exciting meeting all the bands because every band is different. There’s a band on tour named Thira and I think they’re really, really good. Any one of their songs would be cool to cover.
ME: You guys are no stranger to touring. How do you keep your sanity while being on the road?
ALEXIS: You just gotta keep in mind the reasons why you do this. For me, I always try to pray; I keep God first and just keep moving. It’s something that comes along with the territory. Our motto is: “if you’re not writing or recording or in the studio, then what are you doing? You should be on tour.” We like to try to keep busy.
ME: What are you most looking forward to on this experience?
ALEXIS: I’m looking forward to making life-long friends and networking as much as possible. We’re supporting Ill Nino, and I definitely want our music to reach their fans. Maybe their fans haven’t heard of us before, and maybe our fans haven’t heard of them before. It’s all about networking, and I hope that works out well. We definitely want to be the band that people think is really friendly.
ME: Rumor has it that your stage persona is different from your offstage persona in that you’re extremely shy. What is it about being on stage that gives you so much confidence?
ALEXIS: You know, I don’t know. I don’t know how I do it. It kind of puts me out of my comfort zone. I think that’s what it is. Even though we’ve been playing and touring for a long, long time, I still get terrible anxiety, stage fright, stage jitters. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big show or a small show, I’ll feel so nervous, but when the first song hits, something else happens and I’m not scared. It’s just weird. I don’t know. I guess I’m just kind of a weirdo (laughs).
ME: In the past, you’ve mentioned how growing up, you originally wanted to be an R&B singer. How did you get into rock and what made you switch from R&B to rock?
ALEXIS: Well, I definitely have to give credit to my brother. He’s the one that got me into rock. He was into Pantera, KORN, Rob Zombie, and stuff like that, and I would always give him a hard time. I would say, “Why are you listening to those bands? Why are you listening to a band name KORN?” But I guess having teenage angst and stuff, I started to get into his type of music. I started to feel that I could relate more to that genre, especially KORN, the band I was giving him a hard time about. I actually fell in love with KORN. That band inspired me to join a band, to front a band. I wanted to feel like Jonathan Davis; I wanted to embody Jonathan Davis. I got on stage, and I found myself. That’s kind of how I got my own identity.
ME: Straight Line Stitch has a long history but credits its actual birth with the addition of you as front woman. How did you come to be a part of Straight Line Stitch?
ALEXIS: I was actually in another band in my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. We were called FSN, which stood for Finding Something New. We actually met Straight Line by doing shows together. We became friends and were networking and would switch out shows, so Straight Line would come to Clarksville and play there, and FSN would go to Knoxville and play there. Straight Line wanted to branch out and diversify their sound so when my band started to fall apart, Straight Line Stitch hit me up and asked if I wanted to audition. I had always admired them. They were touring and that’s what I wanted to do, so when they called me, I made the jump; I ran at the chance to join.
ME: How have you evolved as a musician from FSN to Straight Line Stitch?
ALEXIS: I think I evolved by experience. I was quite naive when I was first in a band. Joining Straight Line Stitch definitely opened my eyes to more of the world and life in general. I’ve evolved and matured just by the things that I had to go through with this band and the sacrifices I’ve made. It was pretty much me coming out and learning to live on my own and away from family. I really had to grow up pretty fast.
ME: Do you remember your first show as a member of Straight Line Stitch?
ALEXIS: I don’t think I will ever forget my first show with Straight Line Stitch. It was pretty terrible (laughs). It was a hometown show, and I think we played at a venue called Heathers. I guess it was so bad because I had to fill pretty big shoes of the vocalists that had left the band. People had known the sound of Straight Line to be this metal band. I felt like oh gosh, these are some big shoes I have to fill because I had left a rock band. We had more singing than we did screaming. We might have had some itty bitty screaming parts, but I had transitioned to Straight Line which was much heavier than my band. So to say the least, the first show was rough.
ME: How did the fanbase receive the lineup change?
ALEXIS: It was awesome because they embraced me. They loved me. I think it was long overdue. I thought I was going to have a really hard time, but I really didn’t.
ME: Most bands have gone through hardship as they come up. What has been your greatest struggle both personally and as a member of the band?
ALEXIS: There have been so many different hardships that we’ve gone through as a band. We’ve definitely experienced a lot of death. I remember when we were recording our last album, the dad of our drummer at the time passed away while we were in the studio. Two years later, his mom passed away while we were on the road. The thing is, when someone passes away and you’re on the road and you’re not there, it’s tough. As far as labels and management, we’ve struggled with that and ultimately had a pretty big fall from grace when we lost everything. That’s where the new EP stems from because through all the adversities and BS we’ve had to face as a band, we are still here and still fighting to make music. In the end, that’s all we’ve ever wanted to do. The band has revolved members, but the reason hasn’t been what people think. Being in this business is hard work; it’s not a lot of money, it’s sacrifices. Good stuff happens, but bad stuff also happens. You have to deal with the good and the bad, and a lot of people just can’t deal with that. They think you’re going to be a rock star, but the thing is the majority of the time is a struggle. It’s sleeping in Wal-Mart parking lots and not having a hotel because it’s too expensive. It’s not getting to shower everyday. It’s not eating the best. It’s not having insurance. It’s a lot of things, but the band has to deal with it. There’s no exception to the rules.
ME: What do you think makes Straight Line Stitch stand out as a band?
ALEXIS: I’d like to think because we’re authentic. We’re not trying to go out there and be something we’re not. We know our place; we know that without our supporters, we wouldn’t be here. We know we owe everything to them. They keep us out on the road; they keep us in the dream. As a female fronted band, we don’t compare ourselves to other bands because we don’t use that as a crutch. It’s awesome that women are being embraced in the metal community, but a pretty face is not something that we’ve build our band around; it’s more so about the music we write. I’m not knocking those who do, it’s just that we don’t use me being a black female in a metal band as a gimmick or think that that should make me special. We feel like we’re just like any other band. We’re just striving to get our music out. I’m not trying to get up on a pedestal and knock people down. I’m just saying for us as our band, it’s not all about how much skin you show or how sexy you can be rocking it out. It’s not about that at all. It’s so far from that. It’s just about the music.
ME: You mentioned that your lyrics come from life experience. How do you go about transforming your experiences into words and melodies?
ALEXIS: That’s what’s so crazy. It’s not something that we actually sit out and plan. I know it sounds crazy, but the music really does dictate what I write and how I sing it. Because we live out of state, we send music back and forth to each other through our computers. Once the music is solidified, they’ll send it to me, and I’ll listen to the melody and start filling it in with words. The words really just write themselves.
ME: Speaking of lyrics, Straight Line Stitch will be releasing its new EP, Transparency, later this month. What is the theme of this album?
ALEXIS: I call it the light at the end of very, very dark tunnel. The theme is just running away from darkness – negativity, depression, oppression – whatever that darkness may be. It’s about holding on to the light in your life, no matter how minute, trivial, or small that light may be, and letting it pull you out of that darkness.
ME: It’s been four years since Straight Line Stitch released an album. How does Transparency differ from 2011’s The Fight of Our Lives?
ALEXIS: The success of this EP is fully ours. We don’t have to say that so-and-so helped us out. And especially with so many people saying that this band is washed up, this EP is a testament to us not being dead. This is a testament of us saying we did it when everyone else said we couldn’t, that we wouldn’t. It’s very liberating, and you feel a sense of accomplishment.
ME: For anyone who hasn’t heard of Straight Line Stitch or its music, what would you say to them and how would you describe your music?
ALEXIS: I really don’t know how to classify or to put into a genre what our music embodies. Each one of us come from different backgrounds and bring different elements to the music. We can tour with metal bands, rock bands, pop rock bands, anybody.
Transparency will be released June 30th. Pre-order a copy here:
Check out Straight Line Stitch on the Civil Unrest Tour
|· 5/31/15 – Wichita, KS @ The Elbow Room|
|· 6/3/15 – Colorado Springs, CO @The Black Sheep|
|· 6/4/15 – Denver, CO @ The Summit Music Hall|
|· 6/5/15 – Omaha, NE @ Shamrocks|
|· 6/6/15 – Minneapolis, MN @ Skyway Theater|
|· 6/7/15 – Joliet, IL @ Mojoe’s|
|· 6/8/15 – Ringle, WI @ Q&Z Expo Center|
|· 6/9/15 – Indianapolis, IN @ Emerson Theater|
|· 6/10/15 – Waterloo, IA @ Reverb / Spicoli’s|
|· 6/12/15 – Battle Creek, MI @ The Music Factory|
|· 6/13/15 – Clarksville, TN @ The Warehouse|
|· 6/14/15 – St. Louis, MO @The Ready Room|
|· 6/16/15 – Dallas, TX @ Trees|
|· 6/17/15 – Houston, TX @ Scout Bar|
|· 6/18/15 – Austin, TX @ The Dirty Dog Bar|
|· 6/19/15 – San Antonio, TX @ 210 Kapone’s|
|· 6/20/15 – Lubbock, TX @ Jake’s Back Room|
|· 6/21/15 – El Paso, TX @ Tricky Falls|
|· 6/22/15 – Albuquerque, NM @ Launch Pad|
|· 6/23/15 – Phoenix, AZ @ Club Red|
|· 6/24/15 – Las Vegas, NV @ LVCS|
|· 6/25/15 – West Hollywood, CA @ Whisky A Go Go|
|· 6/26/15 – Fresno, CA @ Fulton 55|
|· 6/27/15 – Long Beach, CA @ Club Hydra|
|· 6/28/15 – Corona, CA @ M15 Concert Bar|
Follow Straight Line Stitch for more information on new releases and or tour dates: