Interview with vocalist/guitarist Jared Stinson | By Tony Shrum
Sic Waiting‘s new album title was no mistake. Derailer is a perfect metaphor for the obstacles life will throw at you in an attempt to make you go off the tracks. While vocalist/guitarist Jared Stinson has seen band members move on to new chapters in life, he chooses to stick it out, even with the thoughts can eat at you. And while Sic Waiting’s past albums carried a more negative tone, the band attempted a more positive vibe the new album.
Sic Waiting will be wrapping up this year with an appearance at Fest 14 in Gainesville and shows with D-Cents Jerks in Puerto Rico.
What’s the meaning behind the song “Active Alumni”? I’m gonna guess it’s about seeing friends (or enemies) leaving music behind and you saying, “I’m not gonna let that happen to me.” How far off am I?
Not far off at all. But more specifically it’s about the people that have come and gone in this band. Not necessarily an indictment of them, more just about seeing them move on to new stages of their lives and seeing this thing we created kind of retreat back into the swamp, but ultimately knowing that a new regime will come move in and bring it back above water, as has happened more than a couple times with this band. The logical, and probably smarter, decision would be to move on as well. Holding on to something for too long will keep you stuck in a rut, will prevent you from maturing and progressing, and is something I’m really fuckin’ good at.
You mention writing the song “Home Is Where You Hit Your Head” in your van because you had no place to go. Can you elaborate on that – was it a physical or mental thing?
Both really. I don’t have a place of my own to live and haven’t for a while. To say I’m “homeless” is too much because I stay with my girlfriend or I swing by family’s places or whatever, and I travel a lot. But living like that takes a mental toll too – there’s no privacy, no time where you can just lay down and close your eyes and be in your own space. So you evolve into this constantly moving pseudo-schizophrenic, somewhat by choice, but then you bitch about it for attention when really you don’t mind it so much. And for the record, I did write that song while sitting in my van in a parking lot by a lagoon.
You have several guitar solos sprinkled into the songs on Derailer. I feel like guitar solos are rare in punk rock (sadly so), and are often scoffed at. What are your thoughts on solos in punk rock?
Well you don’t need to be able to solo to play punk rock, that’s for sure. You barely need to be able to play your instrument. But I love solos when they’re tasteful and add something to the song. Scoff away if it’s pointless noodling. There’s not much I hate more than shredders who don’t feel a melody. But shredding is a learned skill, and feeling a melody is to a large degree inherent I think. I love those huge butt rock solos because they’re so in the pocket of the song that they’re super cheesy a lot of the time. But they’re perfect! I also love three-chord punk rock, old country, James fuckin’ Taylor, and I can’t play a solo to save my life. But a tasteful solo when your band can pull it off is sweet as hell.
When we started, we didn’t really incorporate solos or try to do anything technical. We were also like 20 and played some horrible, horrible music that you’ll never hear. When we really started to get technical and incorporate that stuff was when Brian Franklin, and then Dylan Blanton, joined the band. Dylan could solo, like for real, so we just evolved into that. Then when Dylan left, we found Anthony who was basically a continuation of Dylan’s style. Both really feel the songs when we’re writing. I’ve never told anyone what to play on a song, only how it should feel and sound. And they just get it.
Has anyone ever called you an “American Frank Turner”?
Dude, that’s weird. I had never heard that until last night at this acoustic show I played in San Diego. I love Frank Turner, and I got pretty into Million Dead when I learned where Frank came from. I super love the song he is on that The Donots did for Tony Sly called “So Long.”
I told them that it’s a giant compliment, but let’s not get carried away. He plays the Olympics and sold out houses, I play mostly empty bars and people’s houses.
There seems to be a central theme on Derailer – an album full of words of encouragement telling you to get on your feet and fight back; basically don’t be apathetic. Am I right here, or is there another underlying concept behind most of the album?
You’re right. Past records kind of have a similar underlying negative tone I think, for the most part. And that’s what’s easiest for me to write really, but with this one there was a conscious effort to try to be better and be a little more positive I guess. Or at least less negative. Though there are stark contrasts to that, like “A Red House and Bones” or “Lies are for Living.” Almost every song we’ve written is 50% meant for the listener to take and relate to, and 50% talking at myself.
What is the “red house and bones” you’re referring to?
A metaphor for a murder scene. Those lyrics are pretty down. I don’t really like listening to them.
In direct contrast to the optimism displayed on the album, you then come in with the song “The Salesman,” which brings forth a more devious/pessimistic side. Can you explain how this track came about?
That song is about the industry again, and hanging around well after your welcome has gone. It talks about how nothing is really the way it looks in magazines or sounds on records, and as long as the right shit is written and pushed effectively to the public, it’ll be easy to trick yourself into believing you still belong. That’s how it feels sometimes.
Is the mention of Potemkin in “Maps” a reference to the Russian story about the fake portable settlement, which was built to deceive others into thinking that their grass was greener? If so, how did you get out of Potemkin as you mentioned?
It’s actually a reference to Propagandhi’s Potemkin City Limits, which I have to believe is a reference to the Russian story, and now I’ve learned something today. But I guess in context it could apply within the structure of the song still. The lyrics to “Maps” are almost entirely made up of references to the names of songs and records that I grew up listening to, as well as listen to now. But no direct references. It will be fun to see how many of them people can pick out.
You partnered with various charities to donate the proceeds to single sales prior to the actual release of the album. How did you choose the charities?
No real formula. Just thought about things that have affected band members or those close to us over the years and did some research on reputable charities that dealt with those things. The decision to release singles early for purchase with all proceeds going to charity is just something we thought would be neat, fractionally helpful, and our way of doing something within this promotional push where everything is so band-centered, that isn’t. We sure as hell aren’t making a splash in these charities’ bank accounts. But maybe a tiny tiny ripple, and that’s still better than stillwater I think. A cool thing was telling the label dudes at Felony Records the plan. They never even blinked; they just listened to me tell them how I wanted to make other people some money before we started recouping their costs, then said “OK.” That was cool.
You’ll also be playing Fest in Gainesville this year. Is it the band’s first time, and what are your thoughts on the festival over the years?
First timers! Or, #FestFreshmen is how we are supposed to say it I guess. Which is funny because I’m 34. We are really excited to be a part of it this year. SUPER excited to be playing right up against Lagwagon. I hear they are not happy to have to play at the same time as us. Naturally. We were asked to do it last year and it just couldn’t work out, so when the booking came about this year, they were great about getting us involved early. Another really cool thing is we are playing with a lot of hometown friends like Caskitt, Western Settings, and Brian Wahlstrom. And after Fest, we fly to Puerto Rico with our buddies from D-Cent Jerks and do some shows out there! So it’s gonna be a long month.
Fest is an institution at this point. It’s the prototype for all the other DIY festivals springing up these days. I have a lot of respect for No Idea, Tony, Sara and that whole group of people. Really, we are just stoked to be included this year. I’ve been trying to mentally plan out a way to not just black out for the whole weekend within like 3 hours of arriving.
Catch Sic Waiting on tour by checking them out on the dates below!
Sic Waiting Derailer Tour:
10/21 – Las Vegas, NV – Beauty Bar Las Vegas
10/23 – San Diego, CA – Til Til-Two Club
10/24 – Fullerton, CA – The Slidebar Rock N Roll Kitchen
10/25 – Los Angeles, CA – The Redwood Bar
10/29 – Gainesville, FL – Pre-Fest 14
10/31 – Gainesville, FL – Fest 14 – Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub *
11/05 – San Juan, Puerto Rico – Handlebar *
11/06 – Mayaguez, Puerto Rico – La Tertulia en Mi Tierra *
11/07 – Ponce, Puerto Rico – Papa Pepe *
11/11 – Trenton, NJ – Millhill Basement **
11/12 – New York City, NY – FAT BABY NYC **
11/13 – Bay Shore, NY – Even Flow Bar and Grill **
11/14 – TBA **
11/15 – Bay Shore, NY – Even Flow (acoustic)
11/21 – Tijuana, MX – Moustache Bar
* with D-Cent Jerks
** with All Things End