DS Exclusive Interview: Scott Sturgeon aka Stza Crack (Star Fucking Hipsters, Leftover Crack)

Star Fucking Hipsters kicked off their Australian tour with AC4 last night in Brisbane it was certainly a great evening.   Before this, DS sent some questions off to the Star Fucking Hipsters front-man, Scott Sturgeon, who is also known for his work in Leftover Crack as Stza Crack and got some fucking interesting responses.

There are details on the new S.F.H album, where Sturgeon focuses his time and the state of New York City including but not limited to the punk scene.  Sturgeon candidly shared his thoughts about punk in the city  being “pretty fucking damaged” and how it’s almost impossible for the scene to have any chance of returning to its former glory days thanks to the heavy hand of capitalism.  Hell, he even called me out on shitty questions.  You can read the full, un-edited interview here.

Star Fucking Hipsters and AC4 are touring Australia right now.  Check out the New Noise Agency website for last minute ticket and tour info.

DS:  You’ve recently been in the recording studio, what have you been working on?  If it’s the new SFH, what lead to the name change of the album?

Sturgeon:  We are still working S.F.H.’s Volume III, now titled “From the Dumpster to the Grave”. The original title, “Ska Fuckin’ Hipsters”, was a concept to make a record full of ska songs, but three things changed my mind, first and foremost, we have eleven songs right now (with a few more to come) and only 5 of them have ska, second, our friend Beau Patrick Coulon designed our latest t-shirt with my words “Bubble-Gum Crust, In Trash We Trust, From the Dumpster to the Grave!” The third thing that hit me when we were in the studio was, that we are working on volume III in a trilogy. Volume’s I and II are titled “Until We’re Dead” and “Never Rest in Peace” respectively, so, I figured out that the theme was death. That is the reason for the name change; “Ska Fucking Hipsters” will just have to wait to be a song or something else…

DS:  With so many projects constantly on the go, which demands the most of your attention?  How do you fairly allocate time to each of them?

Sturgeon:  For sure S.F.H takes up way too much of my time. We definitely need some more help from people outside of the band, although there are several people that are in fact helping us free of charge and I have to throw an honorable mention to Fly (the “current artist” that has been helping me with life and on a symbol that will mean “The Artist Formerly Known as Sturgeon”) and Kamala Parks (awesome person that’s helping me with life amongst band shit work/awesome drummer for bands like Cringer, Naked Aggression and the Gru’ups to name a few). Plus there’s a long list of people that have given and are currently giving time to this project/band. I could write the long list, but I’ll just mention Alyssa Tanchajja (a great photographer), Bill Cashman (philanthropist/good at life) and Roberto Miguel (from Oakland) and if you don’t know who that is, “ya’ better ax’ somebody” or “Google that shit”! Fucking tall-ass artist Paul Barron… This is the stuff that should be in our liner notes, not in an interview…. But! You cannot edit this out ‘cuz I just went off on a tangent.

Leftover Crack is much more of an assembly line where all of the stuff that I do for S.F.H. is delegated to each band member in a way that won’t drive me completely crazy. When I’m with them I can actually read a book… That’s a nice dichotomy, but really, I can’t read one of the many books that I have because I still have to do stuff for S.F.H. when I’m with L.O.C. It’s a bit maddening at times, but I think that I need to keep busy to live life “good”.

DS: What are your thoughts on the current state of NYC political-punk, or the lack thereof?

Sturgeon:  It’s “pretty fucking damaged”… Recently, L.O.C. was supposed to open for Steve Ignorant on his final tour of playing CRASS songs and when work-visa issues arose, they had to reschedule for May. So, the club and our band decided to keep the show and just charge a much lower price and with a few days notice, we had a really good crowd. The two “support” bands we’re really two of the few NYC political/anarchopunk bands that have actually existed in the history of NYC punk, so I went into the etymology of NYC Anarcho-Punk. I kept in mind that I was skipping over bands that most people have not heard of, even in NYC and I was given input from the audience. I figured it goes like this: Reagan Youth, Agnostic Front (maybe?), Nausea, Choking Victim, us (L.O.C.), Thulsa Doom (direct support at the non-Crass show), a band that you might not of heard of named Rabia and the other opening band of the night, the amazing (A) Truth. That’s a pretty short fucking list for over 30 years of Anarcho-Punk! I mean there are now and have been hundreds if not thousands of NYC Anarcho-Punk bands and I don’t even really consider myself an anarchist, it’s kind of what I tell people that wouldn’t understand my slightly more intricate belief systems (or non-belief systems really…). Anyways I tell “those folks” and I guess Journalists this label “Anarchist”.

That was a not thoroughly researched list that I came up with off of the top of my head when I was drunk. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that the Stokes are really a punk band and I certainly don’t think that Julian Casablancas would identify himself as an Anarchist, but perhaps he’s one of those super rich anarchists that keeps that shit a secret. Maybe he’s like a secret member of Chumbawamba and they all give their money to Anarchist organizations in different countries around the world, but I feel like I would have heard about that. I do like the Strokes, not that I feel that they had to pay any fucking dues to be called “the best punk band in NYC” by some idiot journalist from one of the sleazier, glossier music magazines. What was the question again? I’m just chattering away like a chatty fucking Kathy here… Oh, yeah, “the state of NYC political-Punk”….

All of the better/bigger leftist-political bands are from all of the states that New York “touches”. Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, Um… Canada? But really, Philly and Pittsburgh seem to have a good lock on this stuff, Aus Rotten, Anti-Flag, Witch Hunt, Mischief Brew, Dead Milkmen (are not Anarchists”, but they’re awesome! They “inspire” Anarchy, just listen to “punk Rock Girl” or, what’s probably the best example “Dollar Signs in Her Eyes”, they have some really leftist political lyrics. I mean I stole the line “Land is Real Estate” for the L.O.C. song “Rock the 40oz.” From the latter D.M. song…).

I totally forgot about NYC’s False Prophets, they at least made it to Alternative Tentacles records, not that too many people remember them, as did Alice Donut who I don’t believe would identify themselves as “Anarchists'”. Anyways, next question...

DS: For you, does the political content stem from trying to make listeners more informed and aware of political issues or is it more a manner of voicing a thought or opinion?

Sturgeon:  The political content is both of what your question is asking me to separate and compartmentalize in this answer and even more… “Just like the canals upon the Great Barrier Reef, I come to you Beyond Belief”! (Elvis Costello)

DS:  How has the state of wealth, consumerism and the increased gentrification of NYC directly (or indirectly) affected punk rock in the area?

Sturgeon:  The State of wealth, consumerism and the increased gentrification of NYC has practically decimated what was once, however small, a microcosm that at first only existed in the lower east side, which is somehow still my neighborhood and that would take a fucking novel to explain the existence of C-“squat” and it’s history along with all of the crazy shit that’s happened in that place and to me, my mind and my body. Let’s just say that I’m mentally free of what can often be a poisonous environment for a lot of folks. Anyways, back to your question.

There once was a united punk scene in NYC in the L.E.S. with bands contributing from the five boroughs that make up NYC (Yeah, and Long Island and New Jersey and etcetera times infinity…). Then the older “punx” figured out that Brooklyn was totally fucking awesome (which most of it still is)! So they started to migrate away from our drug-infested ‘hood into various drug-infested and not so obviously drug-infested hoods (mainly Williamsburg and Greenpoint), but the focal point of the punk scene remained in the L.E.S. and then the fucking assholes and pigs evicted Tompkins Square Park and “renovated” it for a couple of years longer than it takes anybody to do anything, but we still had the punk scene locked down in our ‘hood and we still had riots for political reasons that didn’t include Leftover Crack in the park after dark or me throwing donuts at cops when I was blacked out drunk (that’s right ya’ dumb-shits, you totally could’ve put that on my laundry list of charges that didn’t stick…).

But then the sprawl of gentrification engulfed us and some squats were evicted which took a fairly large toll on our scene as many of the squatters either gave up on NYC and moved away or they moved to cheap places in Brooklyn (Yes, Brooklyn used to be affordable, it still is in isolated pockets). The next thing was the gentrification of Williamsburg and Greenpoint which moved a lot of folks further into Brooklyn and the generation of kids that I might have inspired in however small of a way started their own scenes and bands and other folks from New Jersey and abroad Moved to Brooklyn and started their own punk scenes that sometimes intermingle, but it definitely devastated the L.E.S. scene.

The punch line is: These kids that used to like me and/or my bands decided not to like me anymore because I smell bad or whatever petty gossip that they chose or for valid personal reasons and those kids won’t even go to an awesome show at a different punk house around the corner from their own punk houses! I mean 50 Yards away, does that translate into the metric system. Fucking 80 meters away! it’s not even funny actually, it’s just really sad all around, no matter how much “fun” these folks are having in their microcosms, we could all be united and have a huge diverse punk scene, but no, as long as these kids can escape the city every few weeks at their parents houses in New Jersey, they will always be around. No fucking courage at all. Don’t get me started on the fabulous “ABC NO RIO”, which I still love and respect, but they have a couple of folks there ruining everything that we all fought to build…

DS:  With the above in mind, would you say that it’s up to those in the area to maintain a local punk scene or the responsibility of punters to support the bands?

Sturgeon: I’m sorry, “punters” doesn’t translate for me, I can’t really answer this question. “Up” here a “punter” is someone that kicks a ball of some sort…

DS:  In my opinion, any theft from a band whether a T-shirt or an illegal download is taking food off their table.  Do these things directly affect you and your willingness to be a part of the industry?

Sturgeon:  Ahh, I’m gonna have to side against you on this one buddy. Fuck the music industry. I mean I’m definitely a part of it and rely on it for my income, but 75% of the punks that I have met and gotten a ride hitch-hiking from or that have let me crash at their house or has been cool has all of my shit burned. Of course there are enough people actually buying the music, but I feel that music should be free or on a donation basis. If you really like a song or a record, pay for it. Or go to the show or buy a t-shirt or a patch OR screen-print that bands shirt or patch, just not at a profit to yourself, spread “The Good News!”, as some Christians would say…

Just don’t be a capitalist scum-bag about it. It’s up to you, we appreciate actual financial support, it makes it possible to make more records and travel to farther and farther away to play for more diverse people (not just white folks?). You can take food off of our table all that you want, I’ll dumpster that shit!

DS:  You are only days away from hitting Australia with AC4.  How do crowds differ down here compared to those in the States or Europe?

Sturgeon:  I don’t know, in mainland Europe there are a bunch of different languages, but it’s mostly white folks there too, between Europe/U.K. and Australia, the country I was birthed in is way more diverse. The U.S. punk scene has the most “homo-core”/”queer-punk”; we have the most punk bands that are not all white-males. I mean, hands-down, despite our political punk legacy, modern fast distorted punk was invented by the Ramones in Queens, N.Y.C.

So, it’s not a total bum-out. When it comes to punk, this country is the most prolific in the world and N.Y.C. “happened” for that purpose at least… It’s where all of my bands are from…

DS:  Do you think there are crowd qualities in one geographical location that others could learn from?  If so, what in particular?

Sturgeon:  I think that would be a strange call for me to make. I’m not really into judging stuff/things/places/etc. The question kind of makes me feel uncomfortable and the fact is that even if I picked some show in some town, “crowd quality” changes daily and is a really weird way for you to commodify people… No offense, but that’s kind a shitty question to ask and you better promise to keep this in your interview, mate.

[Here I tried to clarify what I meant with a really long winded explanation that doesn’t need to be included here]

Sturgeon: Still, The variables per show per night per city per country are infinite, so your interview question is still shite!

[He’s got me there]

DS:  Any last words?

Sturgeon:  Yeah, thanks for your patience, I enjoyed your questions because they were different and thoughtful. Sometimes I have to answer the same boring shit over and over again, this one made me work a little. Cheers!


Add Star Fucking Hipsters to My Radar   Add to My Radar

3 Comments

  1. Alyssa Tanchajja4/7/2011 6:00 PM | Permalink

    Great interview!

    And its Tanchajja, not Tanchaka! You’d think after the past few years of being friends he’d get it right by now!

  2. brittles
    brittles4/8/2011 1:40 AM | Permalink

    HA! Fixed.

  3. lizaeckert
    Liza4/10/2011 4:45 PM | Permalink

    Nice, Brittles. I’m glad the NYC questions got such good answers. :)

Leave A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.