Interview with Sturg, frontman of Leftover Crack, by Roya Butler
Tell us a little about Choking Victim.
Sturg: Well, I had a band with Alec called No Commercial Value in High School and he quit to join a band called Agent 99, this is around 1992. When we tried to replace Alec on bass with our new guy Sascha the other singer was leaving NYC and the drummer wasn't that great, so we took our two new songs and started C.V. with our drummer/friend John Dolan. He let me borrow the health department poster above the counter at the taco shop he worked at, and that's how we got the name Choking Victim, from the first aid for the CHOKING VICTIM posters in every NYC restaurant.
How did you get the name Leftover Crack?
Sturg: We made it up because we though it was funny.
Explain the metamorphosis from Choking Victim to Left0verCrack?
Sturg: After about 7 months, 10 songs and 2 shows, John was getting restless and we had our friend Skwert living in the same squat that I did. During one practice in said squat (Popeyes room on the 5th floor) Skwert was hanging out and listening to us. He seemed to know the songs, so without consulting us, John just handed Skwert the sticks in the middle of our practice. Its funny, because for a long time I had the tape of that practice and the first side has john playing all the songs and the second has Skwert, I even think we have the dialogue of the trade-off. With Skwert drumming, things seemed to move much faster and we became a pretty tight 3 piece. Then Sascha was quitting and going to the West Coast, so Alec was back in the band. Then Shayne came back again for the final line-up, which included Ezra in the last few months of the band. We broke up the day we started recording and I did all of the guitars and vocals on the West Coast after the rest of the band recorded the bass and drums, which without Ezra, wouldn't have happened, but there was something wrong with the recording of the guitar tracks that he did, so I redid all of them in L.A. Anyways, C.V. split because Skwert and I had personal and the clichéd "artistic" differences, and for the last year we were together I had been stockpiling every song that Skwert didn't immediately like and I ended up with the songs for the Rock the 40oz.7" and Mediocre Generica.
Are there any differences in the musical styling of Leftover Crack versus Choking Victim?
Sturg: Basically it was the same music that we put out with Choking Victim: Political lyrics, melodic music, punk ska-crossed metal.
Give us a brief rundown of your current band mates.
Sturg: Brad Logan, guitar. He was in Los Angeles when I went to record the Leftover Crack 7" and besides having known him from overseeing the Choking Victim record in New York, he knew drummers, including AWOL who was the first drummer in Suicidal Tendencies and was at that point the touring drummer for the Beastie Boys. AWOL actually flew from the Tibetan freedom concerts in Chicago and the next day he was in the studio practicing with us. I saw a film of the huge Tibetan freedom concert and noticed that he hadn't even changed his clothes when he was playing with us, it must've been a really long day for him.
Alec has always been our bass player and Ezra joined up after playing in another band with Skwert for a couple of years and now we have our original drummer Ara back in the band after 4 or 5 years. He plays drums for the Slackers as well.
Tell us a little about your new CD.
Sturg: First of all it's not that new anymore, but it's my favorite, it's called Fuck World Trade and the songs are definitely more complexly written than the C.V. stuff and Mediocre Generica. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I'm not the only songwriter on the disc; it was more of a group effort than almost everything I've been involved with.
What's your favorite song on it and why?
Sturg: My favorite song on the record is either Soon We'll be Dead or One Dead Cop. The first because I can listen and think to myself, if I died today, at least I helped make one beautiful song and the second because I feel like I really got the way I think about police perfectly boiled down to two verses and a chorus--and the music fucking rocks too.
Name a few bands that have influenced your music.
Sturg: Reagan Youth, CRASS, Subhumans (U.K.) for the politics, the Beatles(for the melodies) and Jawbreaker and the gamut of crust-bands for the vocals.
(Sturg would like to note that in this part of the interview he was totally waisted):
Do you have a guarantee?
Sturg: We prefer a percentage at the door because we know that we draw in certain places, and usually clubs are keener to give a percentage than a guarantee. And if we know that if we do well in a certain town, were happier to be like: give us 85 percent instead of 75 percent and a thousand dollars. Were happier to get a larger percentage and no guarantee at all because usually we do pretty well.
How do you feel about the police state that is America right now--Big Brother with all the cameras everywhere
Sturg: Its really a police state. Were in a fucking surveillance society where everything we do is watched and monitored. Everybodys got a file on them thats against the government, and until the bottom drops out its going to fucking get worse and worse. Society and crime is going to get worse and worse because the government cut welfare, they cut jobs--- they cut everything. And when that happens, you create people that are going to commit crimes. And the more that happens, the more this country is going to become a police state because of the chaos created by criminals. You see Im not a criminal, but Im not a law-abiding citizen. At some point everybodys going to take up their riches and go to another county because this one will be unfit for them. And in a way I think that their trying to destroy this country. I think that theyre trying to cater to the wealthy.
Do you see our country eventually turning into a THX 1138 (George Lucas student film), with a homogenized robotic society closely policed, with only 4 channels of TV completely controlled by the government?
Sturg: Its already like that in the UK-- four channels on TV, facial recognition technology, cameras in neighborhoods with high crime, faces on file. Then it records only the criminals that they have on file because it recognizes their face. I think that that technology is already operational in the US, and that the U.S. government is quietly using it on us. I think that they already have the ears and eyes that hear and see a mile, and that they just dont tell us about it because if we know about it its just getting to a point where crime might be necessary in the society that we have today.
Do think its coming to where someone should stand up and speak out?
Sturg: Itll get to the point where the amount of people in jail will outnumber the people who are free. Its already gotten to a point where neighbors are making shit up about people and sending them to jail, and by calling the police you are helping them jail people that might not deserve it. The problem is that people are so numbly subordinate to the police, and that they constantly accept, without question, what the police are doing. Their cooperation, the fact that they cooperate so much with them, is whats ruining society. The more that people call the police and complain about dumb shit, the more police have to go out and investigate that complaint; this creates focus on crimes that dont exist. For example: youre musics too loud, I smell weed, and I see people dancing. The police have to come out and investigate that complaint--so its more societys fault for seeing the police and locking neighbors up as a solution.
What do you think would be a way to get out of this loop?
Sturg: I dont think that theres any solution--maybe a nuclear war, and there would be a few people left over to restart society. But I think that human nature is greedy, and I really dont pretend to have solutions. We dont pretend that we have a solution in Leftover Crack. We just talk about the problems, and anyone that pretends to a have a solution to the problem is very presumptuous; I think that they have a large ego to think that they can solve these problems. I wish someone would come along that could solve these problems, but I dont see or hear anybody today.
How do you feel about people who are always criticizing Bush? Do you think that its unwarranted?
Sturg: Yeah, Bush is a fucking puppet. It is definitely warranted. Not that everyone knows why its warranted, but they know that it is for some reason or another. I can think of many reasons why.
So youre saying, people are actually criticizing the puppeteers stringing Bush?
Sturg: Yeah, but I dont think that a lot of people understand that. They dont think that the puppeteers are the problem. They think that Bush is a problem, and that if they get a democrat in the office itd be different. But it wont be different.
Do you still do Choking Victim?
Sturg: Yeah, me and John Dolan and Sasha Dibrell. They started Choking Victim in 92 or 93. And we played a feel shows and then John left and we had another guy who played drums. And thats the guy that I didnt get along with, so I started Leftover Crack. Now Im ready to start a new band. I dont want it to be about money, and I understand that Leftover Crack makes a lot of money at shows. Thats cool, but we dont do any benefits--maybe one of ten shows. I want to be in a band that does mostly benefit shows and free shows. So Im saving my songs the same was I did in Choking Victim; Im saving my songs for this new band--so thats my plan. In early August, I went to the Dominican Republic with Choking Victim to do a benefit for this hospital for sick and dying people. We got back and recorded a split with Citizen Fish. Ill be and doing all that touring I talked about earlier, with Leftover Crack.
Do you have a new name for your new band?
Sturg: Everyone wants to call it the Star Fucking Hipsters, but I used that in my other band for a month, so Im not sure if Im going to use that. Maybe the Crack City Allstars or the Crack Rocksteady Allstars. But the Star Fucking Hipsters is good. Its pretty much going to be the same style of music which is fuck world trade. We may take it back to Choking Victim with the three chord songs which is ska punk. Im not sure.
So what do you do for a living? Are you only in bands?
Sturg: If I wasnt in bands, Id just do what I did for twenty years which is eat out of the garbage, squat, ride freight trains, hitch hike, spare change, sleep under a bridge, sleep in a bush, etc. And not bathe the whole time.
Why do you choose that lifestyle?
Sturg: I dont care about being dirty or all that.
Does it represent Anarchism?
Sturg: I just dont want to be apart of the society that we live in. American society is bullshit. Every part of it is bullshit. I slip into it every once in a while--slip in and out. But I dont give a fuck about being clean, washing my clothes, taking a bath. I dont give a fuck about those three things. That shit doesnt mean anything to me. I dont give a fuck about eating out of the garbage--Its all free; I care about freedom. Above everything, besides being an Atheist, Im an Autonomist--thats the most important thing to me. I just want to be free to do what I want to do; I want other people to be free to do what they want to do. Thats all that it comes down to.
The reason that you say that American society is bullshit is because that they talk about freedom, but act in the complete antithesis of freedom meaning society is hypocritical, and hypocrisy is bullshit?
Sturg: Exactly. Even the founding fathers didnt found this country on freedom. They founded the fucking country on lies and greed. It was about taking the power away from the British and putting it in their own hands. They said: Were rich. We can control the native people and take their land. We know how to manipulate them. Were all white. We own slaves. Ive never been a fan of fucking George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, because theyre all fucking liars, slave owners, and power mongers.
So you said American society, but isnt it everywhereisnt it a humanism by and large?
Sturg: Exactly, European society, Asian society, wherever you go, human nature is greedy; thats all it comes down to. It doesnt matter what country you go to. Around the world, the main factor is control--that greedy people strive for power, and its those power mongers that fuck peoples lives up. So it doesnt matter if youre in America or not, even though our country is probably the best example around the world of power and greed. But if you go to any country thats powerful, its because the government is lying to the people and theyre sucking it in like its candy.