Editor’s Note: I had the pleasure of interviewing Alecia “Mixi” Demner and James Decker of Stitched Up Heart for Madness To Creation. They were honestly two of the nicest and kindest people I have had the pleasure of sitting down with. I felt like a guest in their home, as I was fighting some type of cold(probably allergies knowing myself) and Alecia was awesome in offering me water and chocolate from Sweetopia! This interview isn’t really tailored towards any one thing in particular, it felt like friends getting together and talking. Fans can go to www.stitchedupheart.org to pick up their latest record entitled “Never Alone”. Without further delay, here is Madness To Creation’s conversation with Alecia “Mixi” Demner(vocalist) and James Decker(drummer) of Stitched Up Heart.
M.T.C.: Want to thank the both of you for having me take some time out of your day for this interview!
James: I got a bunch of chocolates here!
M.T.C.: Well, if you’re offering! *laughs*
Mixi: It’s from Sweetopia and it’s so, so good! It’s a place locally about 45 minutes from here and they hand-make it! It’s so good! I did this red carpet event in Los Angeles where celebrities get free s*** and I got free s***, and the one thing that stole my heart was this chocolate, and she was like, “come this way and I’ll send you some”, and I didn’t think that she was going to actually send me anything, and somebody else brought chocolate and was like, “what do you guys want”, “I want chocolate!”, and got some chocolate!
M.T.C.: Is that your addiction, so to speak? Let’s just talk about chocolate!
Mixi: Well today, I was in a mood, and he was like, “should I bring beer, wine, chocolate, anything”, and I don’t drink, so chocolate.
James: Beer, wine, or chocolate, hmm???
Mixi: Is Des Moines like a chocolate town?
M.T.C.: Not that I’m aware of.
James: Hershey’s is a chocolate town.
M.T.C.: It is cornfed, when you go to a restaurant, you get a lot of food type of place. A couple of places that I would recommend, I would have to Google Map it cause I’m terrible with directions is Tacopacolypse.
Mixi: I haven’t heard of that one. Tacopacolypse.
M.T.C.: If you like Korean tacos, hot food, stuff like that.
Mixi: What? Oh wow! We’ve had Zombie Burger almost every time that we come here.
James: Yeah, it’s just right around the corner, we’ll probably end up doing that I suppose.
M.T.C.: I’d recommend there, in case my readers are under a rock, tell me who you are in the most unprofessional way that you can tell me.
Mixi: We’re a bunch of traveling children.
James: We’re a bunch of vagabonds, we just make noise all of the time, and we make people come and listen to our noise.
Mixi: We try to make the noise really loud and obnoxious.
James: And if they can try to hurt themselves while listening to it, even better.
Mixi: We’re kind of like giant babies where we use baby powder, baby wipes. We like to keep clean. We’re babies that like to suck and make loud noises! *laughs*
M.T.C.: I was going to ask you about that red carpet event since we talked about it earlier, what event was it for?
Mixi: It was for the MTV awards, they have celebrities come to the event, and they have a bunch of people trying to sell or trying to promote, and celebrities will post it if they like the stuff. There was a lady that worked at Sweetopia by here, and she stole my heart because I had some of this chocolate and it melted in my mouth and it was delicious. Randy Jackson was there eating the chocolate with me, and I remember that was the one thing that was awesome, a couple of other places as well. She saw that I was coming through Des Moines with the band and I tweeted her about the chocolate, and she tweeted me back, and we made connections and she gave us chocolate. It was just kind of a celebrity thing where they give people free stuff, and hope that they share it on their social sites.
M.T.C.: That’s awesome, basically with James as a drummer and Mixi as a vocalist, what advice would you give in terms of keeping your vocals in check and keeping your drumming in time, stuff like that?
Mixi: He probably wouldn’t give too much advice on the vocals! *laughs*
James: Burn!! Do you have any cold water for this burn?
M.T.C.: I have some in my car, wait I see what you did there. *laughs*
Mixi: I might have some in the fridge. With vocals, it’s a little bit difficult when you have, well we’ve toured for nine months straight, and there were very few days off, and you just have to kind of shut up when you feel a little fatigued.
James: I tell her to shut up as often as possible!
Mixi: They love it when I’m on vocal rest, I try to stay quiet most of the time during the day, I do my warm-ups 30 or 40 minutes before I have to perform, and I try to drink a lot of water, I take Tylenol, and I’ve been using this vocal spray, and for vocals this candy lozenges that Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil gave me, you can get all of the stuff on Amazon.
James: I do actually have something to say for drummers believe it or not, I practiced my whole life and I took lessons pretty much my whole life, for the longest time I was taught to work on my technique forever because that’s really important. If you want to play for a long period of time for your whole life without injuring yourself, your technique has to be good. Any instrument that you play, whether it’s guitar, bass, drums, or tuba you have to work on your technique and get that down, if you want to keep your timing really good, which everybody needs to do, you have to practice with a metronome, you have to do that at least a half an hour a day every single day to keep in time. So that’s, my advice, practice, practice, practice. Technique and timing.
M.T.C.: Speaking of drumming is there any companies that endorse you or any companies that you would recommend for other drummers?
James: I have my favorites but I’m not currently endorsed by anybody. I do have a couple of favorites though.
M.T.C.: What about in your singing, do you have any endorsements?
Mixi: I don’t have any, I don’t really reach out for it. I have a clothing one, which is “Lovers Are Lunatics”, they give me free clothing for that one and Monster Energy Drink is my go-to energy drink, those are the only two. I don’t have a microphone company or anything like that. I’m available!
M.T.C.: I want to congratulate you all on the success of “Never Alone”, I feel that it’s really put you all on the map and what were some moments in the writing process, whether it’s a vocal part, or a guitar riff, or a drum beat, that you had an “eargasm” moment or “I can’t believe we created this” type of moment?
James: Well, we are in the process of writing some new stuff, and there were a couple of times where we heard the songs on playback where we were like, “oh my God” this is so cool! We’re really excited about the new songs that we are writing. We just hope that everyone else likes them too, and that we should maybe put them on the record. So far they have liked them.
Mixi: Yeah, we were like, most of the time when we write a record, we’ll write a bunch and in this record, we wrote 17 songs and 11 were put on the “Never Alone” album here in the U.S. and three were B-sides out in Europe where they were only released in Europe. So 14 out of 17 ended up making the record, so really it’s a crazy number, so we’re hoping that we can get 14 out of 14 this time.
James: I mean we have friends in bands that have written over 100 songs or 200 songs and you only get 15 on a record, that’s a really awful ratio, it’s not like they’re writing horrible songs, the label just wants to get the absolute best out of them that they can. They push us to do that, which is good, it’s just as an artist sometimes, it can be a little crushing.
Mixi: So far, pretty much everything that we have done for this next one they have given us a thumbs up. We’re still good with it. We’re still throwing paint at the wall to see what exactly the next record is going to be. We’re just trying to find something that’s not too far from what we did, but it’s all just kind of developing and evolving a little bit.
“Finally Free” Stitched Up Heart
M.T.C.: Going off of what you’re talking about, what’s one thing in your evolution as an artist that people can take away from you or learn from you as an artist?
James: I think you just need to always learn how to write a song, you have to not be afraid to say what you really want to say.
Mixi: Be honest and believe in yourself, when you start to scare yourself and thinking that you can’t do it, you’re not gonna do it. You just have to kind of let go and trust yourself.
James: You can’t worry about other people are going to think.
Mixi: It’s not about writing so that other people are happy about it, you write for people to think about it and the other listeners. We started doing music because it made us happier, it made us feel something, so in order for a song to work for us, we have to feel it.
M.T.C.: If music didn’t exist, what would be your alternate career?
Mixi: I would have a bunch of cats. I would create a nursery and create a little refuge for the baby kittens that are orphaned and sheltered, which would only consist of a room of volunteers and donations to help with medical bills and stuff like that for the babies. That’s what I would do around the clock. I don’t know if I would be making any money, but I would have that. I would at least be able to be there for them.
M.T.C.: What got you started into doing that?
Mixi: Well my dad had 14 cats. My aunt is a creepy cat lady. *laughs* We would go to Seattle where my aunt lives and she was fostering three kittens one time, and they were chilling in the bathroom and was like, “you can borrow kittens”, and I knew that we were going to be home for awhile writing the record, so I had some time to take care of the kittens. I fostered a dog, I don’t have the time to walk it and all of that stuff. I live on the fifth floor of an apartment building, we tried to get it adopted, there were big cats and more big cats, then I found the kittens to rescue at www.kittenrescue.org and I fell in love with the bottle babies. They’re little itty-bitty babies that really have the highest rate of euthanasia in Los Angeles during kitten season because they get so many in that they have to put them down that day because they have to eat so often, there’s not enough resources or time to feed all of these babies, in order to make Los Angeles kill, they have to find a way to save all of these babies and pitbulls namely, so they’ve been working on it, and I just found there’s a lot of kittens being murdered and I want to help the kittens, you know?
M.T.C.: Kudos to you for that you can find a cause that you’re willing to stand up for.
Mixi: Yeah, I kind of got sucked into it, originally it was selfish, I just wanted to borrow kittens, then I found out what the real situation is and how many animals need help, it became an obsession kind of.
M.T.C.: What about you Decker, if you weren’t doing music?
James: I worked as a chef and as a wine connoisseur for a few years. I already am a professional wino. *laughs* I did love that job, and cooking too, it’s less stressful to pour and drink wine than it is to work in a kitchen and make food all day, so I would probably be doing that.
M.T.C.: What’s your specialty?
James: My specialty is cooking Italian food mostly.
M.T.C.: Is it to die for?
Mixi: Oh my god, it’s amazing.
James: We used to live together and I used to cook for them and I would teach her some of my recipes and stuff. Now she can cook some stuff.
Mixi: I have a couple dishes that are healthy but I almost burned down the apartment trying to boil water. *laughs* I tried to heat up water in a tea kettle and I left it on for too long and it burnt and it lit on fire.
M.T.C: Reminds me of the time I evacuated a middle school volleyball game running concessions because I left the popcorn in too long.
James: We set off the fire alarm in Pittsburgh the other day.
Mixi: It was a very small room in Pittsburgh and we use a lot of fog and it just set the alarm off.
M.T.C.: Is that what your stage set up is?
Mixi: For our shows, we use a fog machine with LED lights and we just thought it would add to the show.
James: We thought it looked cool, we have a guy that can run that stuff, we didn’t have anybody that could do that stuff for us.
Mixi: We have some more room now that we are renting an RV instead of just squeezing in a van, it’s slowly but surely growing and we’re getting more comfortable on the road now. It’s our little house.
M.T.C.: It definitely feels that way in here. Basically, what’s one reason why people should see Stitched Up Heart in concert?
James: I think that we give them something different than what is on the album. We put a lot of energy into every show and we really try to connect with everybody.
Mixi: And we finish each other’s sandwiches…sentences. *laughs*
M.T.C.: You all finish each other’s food too?
Mixi: No, we’re good about that.
James: Also, there’s more places for us to hide our own food.
Mixi: Except, I used to take all of the banana bread. They said that I took some of the Sweetopia’s chocolates and hid them in my area.
James: Especially all of the toffee ones. It’s delicious!
M.T.C.: What’s the most embarrassing Stitched Up Heart concert moment?
Mixi: Oh my god, and you know exactly where I’m going with this. Joplin, Missouri our old guitar player and I, I was headbanging, Steve was playing lead solo, my hair got caught in his guitar and it turned into like a cotton candy thing where my hair got stuck and got caught and I was trying to untune him and he was still playing, he did not care, he was going for it! The other singer from the band we were on tour with came up on stage to get my hair out.
James: Didn’t you have to cut some of it too?
Mixi: No, I didn’t have to cut anything. Of course it’s on YouTube.
James: Mine was the very first time it was in Jerome, Idaho, it was the first time that I tried to jump off my drum stool, and I fell as I climbed up on top of it, and I kicked over half of the drum kit and we had our tracks going in the background and the song had already started, I didn’t have time to stop it, plus I had already kicked those off of the stage too. I just basically fell all in front of everybody else.
M.T.C.: I bet in those situations, you have to learn to laugh at yourself.
James: You do.
Mixi: I was once on stage and I about fell off, I thought that there was a curtain on the side of the stage, it was The Cat Club in Hollywood, I went to lean on it, and I fell off of the stage.
James: One of our old guitar players kicked the other guitar player off of the stage. They used to do karate kicks on stage, until he actually caught him and literally kicked him right off the stage.
M.T.C.: Does he have a black belt in karate?
James: Merritt does, he actually has two black belts.
Mixi: Yeah, he’s a third degree black belt in American karate and a first degree black belt in taekwondo.
M.T.C.: I have a friend from St. Louis, he’s training Wiz Khalifa in jiu-jitsu.
Mixi: I keep Merritt around as my weapon, so if anything happens, he’ll just ninja everybody because otherwise I would not be able to fight for my life. So, I went to Universal Studios in Hollywood they have this “Walking Dead” area, if you ever watched “The Walking Dead” and suddenly you just see someone stabbing somebody in the head, and I’m like, “what are you doing”, so I went in this thing and I was freaking out, there were actually people in there and I’m like, “oh my God, they’re going to hit me”, and I’m hiding behind Merritt’s sister. I would be the first to go in a zombie apocalypse, because I am a wuss, and I don’t think I could actually do anything.
M.T.C.: I would be the first to go before you because I literally freeze in those situations.
Mixi: Running and hiding is my thing in those situations. I just find those places to hide and hopefully they don’t find you.
James: I would just tell them to fight. You gotta go sometime.
Mixi: Like, when I crowdsurfed on the Pegasus in Flint, Michigan and I could’ve fallen to my death and died, I wouldn’t have been too sad going out like that.
James: There’s worse ways to go.
Mixi: Crowdsurfing on a Pegasus. I’m totally down with dying that way.
James: Now we know how you want to die.
Mixi: Not saying that I want to die, but if it were to happen that way, I wouldn’t be mad about it.
James: If I were behind the drum kit and if that were to happen, I wouldn’t mind.
Mixi: The majority of people die on the toilet.
M.T.C.: Elvis Presley died on the toilet.
Mixi: A lot of people have heart attacks trying to poop.
James: It’s good to know, don’t try too hard to poop. From now on, I’m going to go easy on my poops.
Mixi: Life lessons with Stitched Up Heart. When you’re on tour and you’re about two or three weeks in, you know that you’re about to lose it and then you start talking about poop. Decker keeps us in line after all he’s the tour manager and the drummer.
M.T.C.: Where do you see Stitched Up Heart in 2020?
Mixi: Playing in a different country.
James: Touring Europe, Australia, South America, Japan.
Mixi: We went to Canada once, we played two shows in Canada. We have been in international waters and played Shiprocked, we’ve been in Mexico, but we haven’t actually played Mexico, we’ve played in the U.S. so many times that it’s time to go to a different country and try.
James: We want to see the world.
M.T.C.: What about the songs? When you approach a song, what goes through your head?
Mixi: When I try to write songs, I visually create an image, like in “Catch Me When I Fall”, I’m surrounded by the darkness and got caught by gravity. The atmosphere is grabbing me and torn apart by all the madness, I’m a meteor falling into the atmosphere, and then I’m starting to fall into the ground and “Catch Me When I Fall”, a meteorite.
“Catch Me When I Fall” by Stitched Up Heart
M.T.C.: It almost sounded like it came from a dream of yours.
Mixi: I don’t know, it was just right there, right then and that was what I was picturing and I wanted to visually, the words to visually make you see something. I don’t even know, that’s just how it happens. “Event Horizon” is kind of very spacey where you just imagine floating into space, it’s about leaving one chapter of life and going into a new chapter of your life in “Event Horizon”. Not knowing what’s going to happen, not knowing where this world is going to spit you out into these black holes, but you just go for it and you see what happens.
“Event Horizon” by Stitched Up Heart
M.T.C.: Is that a lot of the stuff that inspires you?
Mixi: I’m inspired by life a lot and what is really happening then and there in my life, it tends to come out subconsciously and not on purpose. Anytime that I try to focus on something like an idea or a plan of what I’m going to write, it totally changes, it never, ever works out the way I had it planned. Right there on the spot with the producer and the band.
James: We don’t really go back to the old stuff or whatever. Whenever the song happens, it’s just right there.
Mixi: There are lyrics that are just sitting there that will probably never be used, words that I like or whatever, I’ll just never go back to because I feel like it’s more “right here, right now”, and you’re writing it right there, and I feel like it comes out more organically I feel like, then “look what I wrote down a couple of months ago when I was feeling this way”. I would have to go back to what I was feeling then. “Now That You’re Gone” was one of the few songs that I did go into thinking “this is what I want to sing about”. It was written on Memorial Day and I knew what I wanted to write about and I promised my grandma a song, and I went to write that song, and it almost totally derailed into a different song, and I was like, “no, this is what we’re writing about, it’s Memorial Day, we’re writing about this today” and that’s how “Now That You’re Gone” came about.
M.T.C.: Sounds like you have a close connection with your grandma. Is that how you became a singer then?
Mixi: No, luckily I got an awesome family. My grandma’s sister, who I never met, passed away before I was old enough, is also a singer, so she was a jazz singer back in Chicago and she never took the leads to go to Los Angeles to pursue the dream when she had an opportunity to do something big, and then she passed away. I’ve learned that if you don’t pursue what you’re meant to pursue, then life might take life from you. Maybe I’m singing for her, I don’t know. I think that’s why me and my grandma have a connection. My grandma was a tiny little lady, but she can tell you how she wants things done. You think of “sweet little grandma”, she’s like, “oh no, grandma is gonna tell you what’s up”. She’s the one that when the band comes by, she’s like “do you guys want some macaroni and cheese with your beer”. Key lime pie with mac and cheese and chicken. It’s cute, but I think that my mom and my family always tried to impress her and I was always the black sheep that didn’t try to impress her, with my first tattoo, my mom was like “don’t show grandma”, and I’m like, “grandma, look at what I got”. The fact that I really didn’t need their approval or asked for it, they approved of me in a weird way. My grandma shares my Facebook posts every once in a while and Decker’s Facebook posts too, it’s really cute.
M.T.C.: What does the band like to do on a day off?
Mixi: We like to be rednecks and go to the RV parks and shower and barbecue and make smores. *laughs* and look at the fireflies and count the stars.
James: We do as much as we can on our days off, we try to do our errands, shower, laundry, do you have to do vehicle maintenance and stuff like that. We try to get all of that stuff out of the way and just enjoy ourselves after that.
Mixi: Days off usually don’t end up being days off. They’re driving days or something.
James: A lot of the times, they’re mostly driving days, like today I actually had it planned out so we had some time off yesterday, so we drove ten hours to get to the show.
Mixi: He makes it to where we have a little time to relax and chill.
M.T.C.: I hear that this Internet thing is on the rise, where can people find you all?
Mixi: Yeah this “wee-fee” thing that they keep asking for the password.
James: We’re on faceplace, myplace, the mybook, the instatweet. The reretweet.
M.T.C.: This was a lot of fun! I better let you all get ready for the show! Thank you for your time!
James: This was fun! Thank you!
Mixi: Thank you for being interested and asking unique questions!
And there you have it! Catch Stitched Up Heart on the remaining “Hearts In Hell” tour with Hell Or Highwater. Click here
for tickets and further information.
Friday, June 30th at Analog Theatre in Portland, Oregon
Saturday, July 1st at Knitting Factory in Spokane, Washington
Sunday, July 2nd at Studio Seven in Seattle, Washington
Wednesday, July 5th at Bottom Of The Hill in San Francisco, California
Thursday, July 6th at Fulton 55 in Fresno, California
Friday, July 7th at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, California
Saturday, July 8th at House Of Blues in San Diego, California
Sunday, July 9th at Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles, California
If you need a reason to check out this tour, check out what we had to say here