Titus Andronicus' Patrick Stickles on the Replacements and the power of Local Business

The new lineup from left to right: Adam Reich, Liam Betson, Julian Veronesi, Eric Harm, Patrick Stickles
The new lineup from left to right: Adam Reich, Liam Betson, Julian Veronesi, Eric Harm, Patrick Stickles
Photo by Kyle Dean Reinford

With their 2010 record The Monitor raising critical eyebrows as a sweeping concept album about the American Civil War, it seems natural that Titus Andronicus would choose to dial things back a bit for their third release. Local Business is about as close to honest-to-goodness heartland rock epic as a band this hyper-literate could make. Full of riff-heavy, heart-on-the-sleeve tunes and an abundance of shout-along hooks, the latest incarnation of Titus is set to land in the Twin Cities on Thanksgiving at our own Plymouth Rock of a venue: the 7th Street Entry.

Gimmie Noise caught up with singer/guitarist Patrick Stickles by phone to discuss their #localbuisnessforever fan-project, his thoughts on the Replacements reunion, and the deep dark secret we all share: Poop.

Gimmie Noise: So, a new album, and a lineup change. Who's new to the band since the last time you've been to Minneapolis?

Patrick Stickles: Hmmm, let's see, I guess we were in Minneapolis last spring, so you've already seen our new bass player Julian. But now we've got this guy Liam playing guitar, and we've got this other guy named Adam, who plays guitar too, this will be their first time in Minneapolis. Well, actually, Liam has played in Minneapolis before, but many years ago. He had to leave to finish his college education.

GN: Is it a happy homecoming for him?

PS: Hold on let me ask...[muffled conversation] Are you happy to back in the band Liam? [enthusiastic sounding muffled response] Yeah, he's happy about it.

GN: You've called Local Business a "straightforward rock record", which isn't necessarily the way I'd describe your past work, what's different this time around?

PS: Being more straightforward just seemed like the natural move, just kind of a reaction to the last record, which wasn't very straightforward. It just seemed like kind of the only way to go. I've always sang about my personal experiences but, you know, more wanted to do something that was less metaphor based and more just about real life.

GN: You guys are big fans of our hometown heroes the Replacements, and played their part in the Our Band Could Be Your Life tribute show, how did that love affair start?

PS: I got the Let it Be album when I was like 15 or 16, and was just a big fan ever since, particularly of the Twin Tone albums, the first four records are big favorites of mine that I continue to listen to a lot.

GN: Are you excited/hopeful for the Slim Dunlap benefit reunion record?

PS: I mean, it doesn't really seem like much of a reunion, it's just two of them. And any reunion is not gonna be that legitimate in my eyes because there's no Bob Stinson, obviously.

GN: In your songwriting, I hear some of the same despair that Westerberg filled his songs with, but it seems like on this new record you've started to temper that with a little bit of hope or humor, are things looking up for you a little bit?

PS: No...not exactly...but, you know, it's always nice to laugh. Like we said, the Replacements are a big influence on us, and they always had some fun irreverent songs in the mix to kind of like, offset the more serious songs, so, that seemed like a good idea to me.

GN: So maybe a song like "Food Fight" from your new album would be your take on "Gary's Got a Boner?"

PS: Yeah, precisely. That was a song that I mentioned a lot when I was trying to explain to the other guys why it was necessary to be quite so silly.

  GN: There's generally a lot of rad guitar action going on in this album, have you been vibin' on more guitar oriented music recently?

PS: Yeah definitely, particularly this one band from Nashville called Diarrhea Planet, who we tour with last spring, they've got four electric guitars and they're not afraid to use 'em. So they were a big inspiration for us.

GN: Speaking of, this album has the most scatalogical references of anything I've listened to in a while, what's with all the shit all the time man?

PS: Shit is just so real, you know? Everybody shits, but nobody wants to admit that they do. It's kind of like a metaphor for the dark secrets that we all keep. Even though we all do it.

GN: Your #localbusinessforever hashtag project strikes me as a real nod to those DIY roots, would you want to explain the concept?

PS: It's just a way to get people excited about the local businesses in their community. To kind of encourage dialog about it, get people talkin' about it businesses in their community that they think deserve support. It's a very important part of American capitalism, trying to fight the corporate ogre and everything.

GN: Your #localbusinessforever destination for the Twin Cities stop on the tour is our landmark the Electric Fetus, have you guys spent time there?

PS: No, I have not been there. Good place?

GN: Definitely. Have you been making a point to try out some of these destinations that your fans have posted on this map while you've been touring?

PS: We don't often have the time to go everywhere that we'd like to. We don't get a lot of opportunities to do tourism, just because we have to drive all day, do the show, and the pretty much be on to the next town. So, we don't always get to go to the places that we'd like to. But sometimes. So it's more of just an incentive to create dialogue about local business.

GN: If Patrick Stickles ever got a chance to settle down, buy a house and open a local business of his own, what might that business look like?

PS: I've thought about opening a pizzeria sometimes. But uh...I doubt that I'll ever do it. It's a big risk, but we already are a small business, you know. This is like, as much of a level of entrepreneurship as I think I want to pursue.

GN: What's it like being on the road with Ceremony?

PS: We're having a lot of fun with them, goofin off, hangin' around, and they really rock so it's pretty much perfect. They're from the West Coast, we're from the East Coast, so it's a good unity thing. They out-punk us every night. But that's okay, it's not a contest, but if it was though, we would lose. For sure.

GN: So, when you come to Minneapolis it will be Thanksgiving. Is there anything we could do to make things a little less lonely for you on the road?

PS: I doubt it...I think it'll be lonely no matter what. But, it's a cool city, if we had to be away from home on Thanksgiving I'm not so mad about bein' in Minneapolis.

Titus Andronicus. With Ceremony and Buildings. 18+, $15, 8 p.m. Thursday, November 22 at the 7th Street Entry.

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