2015 In Review

Patrick Stickles Reviews 2015: The Titus Andronicus Frontman On Grimes, Tidal, Trump, Drones, & More

Ryan Leas | December 10, 2015 - 2:29 pm

This was a good year to be a Titus Andronicus fan. Their new album, The Most Lamentable Tragedy, wound up being something of a masterpiece: an epic listening experience that has weird detours and excessive flourishes that somehow cohere into the overall mood of the album, achieving frontman Patrick Stickles’ goal of creating a massive opera inspired by his experiences with manic-depression. And, amidst it all, there are about 10 absolutely perfect songs on it, as well as a whole bunch of excellent stuff beyond that. It landed Titus at #17 on Stereogum’s list of the best albums in 2015; it’s one of my personal favorites of the year. If you were a Titus Andronicus fan living in or near New York, it was an even better year — at least if you were around for the band’s furiously triumphant run of shows at the Brooklyn DIY venue Shea Stadium. In stifling July heat, the band roared through a five-night run that concluded on the day The Most Lamentable Tragedy came out, which also happened to be Stickles’ 30th birthday. I was at two of those — Saturday night, as well as Stickles’ birthday show the following Tuesday — and they were some of the most incredible concert experiences I’ve ever had. This band is operating at the peak of their powers, and seeing them live is the kind of overwhelmingly cathartic and life-affirming experience that still gives me chills just mentioning it half a year later.

But how was the year for the guy behind it all? Stickles is a man unafraid to speak his mind, whether that comes out in sardonic humor or deeply thoughtful analyses of the music industry or the world at large. So, we decided to catch up with Stickles and ask him a bunch of questions about 2015, like we did with Wayne Coyne last week. After I ran into Stickles at Ground Control Touring’s 15th anniversary event in Manhattan last week, we discovered we lived a few minutes from each other in Brooklyn. We decided to meet at a local coffee shop, which turned into us sitting outside on a bench, talking of our mutual adopted hometown and a million other things.

STEREOGUM: This first question feels goofier each time I say it out loud. NASA found liquid water on Mars this year. Do you think we’ll find aliens someday soon?

STICKLES: Well, if they were on Mars, they would be pretty small. They probably wouldn’t have achieved that much by our standards. They might be up there. Until we get that water under the magnifying glass, it’s hard to say. You’d have to figure that there must be some aliens out there. The universe is so vast. Thinking about the vastness of the universe is something I spent a lot of time on as a younger guy. It’s too mind-boggling sometimes. Life on Earth…you figure it was kind of inevitable, right? The universe, cauldron of possibilities that it is, so much time…what couldn’t happen, right? Probability, statistically-speaking…I’m not an expert on it, but, you gotta figure of course there’d be life sometimes.

STEREOGUM: Did you follow the Drake/Meek Mill beef at all?

STICKLES: I did follow it very closely. Maybe it’s another one of those things where I’m too old-fashioned, but I do like it when rappers write their own lyrics. Drake probably wrote the vast majority of his own lyrics. A lot of people — people I respect — say it doesn’t really matter. These authenticity debates. Is the artist really speaking from their soul, or is the artist speaking to please some focus group? Maybe I’m too old-fashioned, but I do like it when the artist speaks directly from their soul. Like Funkmaster Flex said: If you’re going to walk around saying you’re the king of the game — or queen, anybody can run the game — but if you’re going to talk about you running the game, you should probably write your own lyrics.

STEREOGUM: Are you a Drake fan otherwise?

STICKLES: Am I a fan of his? I’ve definitely liked a lot of his songs over the years. 

STEREOGUM: What did you think of “Hotline Bling”?

STICKLES: It was a great treat. Maybe the lyrics are a little bit problematic. Drake thinking he knows what’s best for somebody else, trying to tell somebody what to do, that’s not really good. You know, he’s the one that’s absent. If he’s not around, contributing to this relationship that he’s in, who’s he to say what the other partner should be doing when he’s not there? But that song, it was dope.

STEREOGUM: Would you call it the song of the year?

STICKLES: No way. [The Weeknd’s] “Can’t Feel My Face.” That’s my favorite. My favorite guy. I liked that if Drake couldn’t be #1, that it should be the Weeknd. “The Hills” kept [“Hotline Bling”] out of the top spot. Which is good karmic retribution for how Drake took a lot of the House Of Balloons songs, I’ve come to learn, for his Take Care album.

STEREOGUM: I really liked both of those songs, and thought it was weird that they were #1 and #2, and both had these kinda similar hooks about calling people.

STICKLES: All these people making calls. Haven’t they ever heard of text messaging?

STEREOGUM: So the Weeknd was your album of the year, too, right?

STICKLES: Well, I only heard three albums this year.

STEREOGUM: What were the other two?

STICKLES: Keith Richards’ Crosseyed Heart, which I was mostly just grateful that it existed at all. And Guilt, which is a record by a band called Bueno. You ever heard of them? They’re part of the whole Shea Stadium scene. Bueno, great band.

STEREOGUM: You mentioned Grimes’ new album earlier. Have you listened to it much?

STICKLES: No, not really.

STEREOGUM: Not your thing?

STICKLES: Well, it’s not that it’s not my thing, per se, I don’t even know if it’s my thing or not. But, I did mention [Grimes’ record] because I know it’s in all the papers. I’ve seen in all the papers that she’s an artist that demands total control, wants to do everything on her own terms, doesn’t want people in the industry figuring they know better than she about what she should be doing. Encourages her towards boldness. I like that. That’s what everybody should be doing. Like we said before about how a lot of this pop music today is like, focus-grouped, and there’s not really as much concern that it’s coming from like, a singular artistic voice. Grimes seems to be the opposite of that. But I’m not that educated about it. I did like the little one-two, bait-and-switch thing she did where she put out that one song that was very poppy. [Stickles is referring to “Flesh Without Blood” – Ed.] That sounded like something you might hear on the radio, and it sounded like, well, she must really want to be on the radio. But then the next day she put out that all screaming track [“Scream”]. I guess she doesn’t want to do that exclusively. That was a very clever move. I like that screaming song. [mimics the scream from the song] Sometimes you gotta just let it out.

STEREOGUM: Speaking of pop stars, have you kept up with the release of Adele’s new album and all the records it’s been breaking?

STICKLES: I did, I saw it all. Three million plus. I guess, yeah…I dunno. That’s awesome for the huge apparatus of the industry. I don’t know what it means for an artist at the level I’m at.

STEREOGUM: There’s no trickle-down effect.

STICKLES: No, not really. Might be an example of, you know, typical capitalist inevitability of the centrifugal force of the whole thing, consolidating power and influence on a smaller and smaller base. Influence and equity in the music biz. I dunno. She was another one who didn’t want to be on the streaming sites.

STEREOGUM: What do you think about the whole streaming situation?

STICKLES: I don’t know, it’s hard for me to say without much to compare it to. I’m sure to an artist like Adele or Taylor Swift, it’s really relevant.

STEREOGUM: You think it’s more relevant to an artist like that than it is to an artist like Titus Andronicus?

STICKLES: You know, what can Titus Andronicus do? If we were to pull all our music from different streaming sites, we would only hurt ourselves. It would be just a self-righteous, pat-yourself-on-the-back kind of move. Would it make a difference? Would it move the needle at all? No. But I guess that’s like any kind of radical, revolutionary action. If you’re the only person doing it, you only hurt yourself in the end.

STEREOGUM: These major artists like Adele or Taylor Swift pulling their music from Spotify, do you think there’s any legitimacy to the idea that they’re trying to make a symbolic gesture for all artists or do you think it’s all commercially driven?

STICKLES: Well, I dunno. I haven’t thus far seen any of the streaming services pledging that they’re gonna now start paying the artists more, or that they’re treating the artists better as a result of these actions by these powerful stars. It’s nice that they’re using their platform to advocate for the artist. The artist doesn’t have a lot of advocates in the industry.

STEREOGUM: Tidal launched this year, and was touted as being better for artists. But a lot of people have been cynical about the actual nature of that.

STICKLES: Why, because there’s a bunch of millionaires onstage saying they were going broke? It’s hard to say what their real motives are. I guess that goes back to another of those things, about motives vs. an authenticity thing. Are they keeping it real with us? I guess all I could really say is that, when I came to be a part of the industry, however small, when this band started going, there was never any expectation that we were ever going to get paid off of any record. Even back when our first record came out in 2008, shit was already on the way down as far as moving units go. We never thought we were going to sell a million albums like Everclear or Kid Rock or whoever was selling records back in the ’90s. It was just understood that the record was a means to reach people who would invest in the group in some other way, whether that’s buying a concert ticket, buying a T-shirt or something. Streaming platforms, I guess, are just another way to hopefully find people and make an initial connection with them. Hopefully they’ll become invested enough that they’ll want to monetize their support in some kind of way. Until record sales are one of your principal revenue streams, which they’re not for a band like Titus Andronicus as compared to the live performance or something, then I don’t know how much it really matters to go try and fight for a whole penny instead of half a penny. It’s purely semantic at that point. What’s more important for an artist at our level is just find people, get them interested, convince them that this is something that’s worth their attention, and from there try to foster some kind of more genuine emotional connection. It doesn’t mean that much to be like…part of a collection like that. I guess this is nothing new — especially this time of year, you see top 50 albums, top 100 albums, top 1000 albums. It would be cool to be on all those lists, but only —

STEREOGUM: I think you guys are on a lot of them.

STICKLES: Ehhh, a couple. On a few here and there. But you gotta just think of that as a means to an end, to a certain degree. To try and foster that real connection we just spoke about.

STEREOGUM: You’ve been recording and touring this year, but were there any TV shows you kept up with?

STICKLES: What did I even watch? True Detective, I guess. Which started out really awesome. The new one, from this year. It kind of tapered off a little bit at the end. TV is like…it’s a comforting blanket. It’s white noise to silence the voices in my head a lot of the time.

STEREOGUM: Right, you’re really into sitcoms.

STICKLES: That’s what I’ve been watching since I got home. Seinfeld being on Hulu is a huge news story to me. What’s the cultural relevancy of Seinfeld today? I don’t know.

STEREOGUM: I find it really weird to be living in Brooklyn in 2015 and watch these fantasy depictions of New York life in the ’90s. Obviously those are sitcoms, it was never quite like that, but it always blows my mind to see what somebody’s fictional idea of New York back then vs. like, Girls now.

STICKLES: Right, the unemployed characters of Friends and their palatial West Village apartments. Well, these are the kinds of fantasies they sell to attract people like you and me, you know what I’m saying?

STEREOGUM: When I moved here, I had like a whole century’s worth of myths about New York all layered in my head, and it probably took a good year and a half before I was able to start kinda taking the city on its own 21st century terms, for it to actually feel like a real place I lived in.

STICKLES: Well, you know, you get so beaten up by the real city that sometimes you wanna go home and hide and indulge in a fantasy version that we thought it might be, and then pretend that that’s the real world. Everything makes so much sense, there’s nothing to really worry about. At the end of a 22-minute exercise, things are going to be right back where they started. Nothing that bad is ever really going to happen. Which I guess is the opposite of True Detective. At the end of this 52-minute exercise, things are going to be way worse, and every bad thing that you could possibly imagine is inevitably going to happen.

STEREOGUM: That show is on some hyperreal level of bleakness, though.

STICKLES: I guess it’s trying to be like, what we used to think of as a real tragedy, you know, and provoke pity and fear in the audience to achieve some kind of catharsis.

STEREOGUM: Did you have any thoughts about the Pope’s visit?

STICKLES: I know a lot about Catholicism…I dunno. Maybe he’s the coolest Pope, but what good is winning that contest? Most Popes that we’ve seen have been super uncool. The platform of the Catholic Church is just…not that cool. So what does it mean to be the coolest Pope? It’s better than having a Nazi Pope like we had a few years ago. It’s something I try not to let influence me too much nowadays. It’s already fairly hard-wired into my brain.

STEREOGUM: You were raised Catholic?

STICKLES: Oh, yeah, big time. Super Catholic. I don’t know, I don’t follow the Pope that much.

STEREOGUM: So you didn’t listen to the Pope’s album?

STICKLES: He doesn’t really sing on it right? He just has some monologues? I don’t know what the point of that is. To convince young people that Catholicism is cool? Are there teenagers walking around bumping the Pope’s CD? Is the Pope’s CD an effective conversion tool to young people? Are there people spinning the Pope’s CD that thought that Catholicism was wack yesterday and now think that it’s awesome? Probably not, right? I don’t know who it’s for.

STEREOGUM: Did you follow the Rachel Dolezal scandal?

STICKLES: I mean, I heard about it. That seems like a really strange thing to do. This is a really crazy world and the culture that we’ve got nowadays can produce all kinds of freaky situations that might be incomprehensible to the common person. It’s not that comprehensible to me, why you would do that kind of thing. I guess she was alienated from society in some kind of way, found some identity that made sense to her. A lot of people today are confused, is all I can say.

STEREOGUM: How about the whole Confederate flag situation?

STICKLES: I’m no fan of the Confederate flag. But should it be illegal? Is that the answer? It’s tricky to say, if they find a Confederate flag in your house you get thrown in jail. That’s a little fishy to me. But obviously I don’t agree with people who say, “Oh, well this means what I say it means.” I guess they have a certain right to say anything means anything that they say. Maybe that’s an old-fashioned view of America. I think a better answer to that stuff is greater education and a more comprehensive understanding of our shared understanding of this symbology. Obviously the Confederate flag is very bad. I don’t like seeing it around. I think that people that rock it are ill-advised and backwards in their thinking on that issue. Should we be locking people up for rocking the Confederate flag? I don’t know about that either. All our systems and institutions and stuff are ultimately only as good as the people using them, right?

STEREOGUM: On the topic of prisons, did you follow the story of David Sweat and Richard Matt, the guys who broke out of that prison in New York state?

STICKLES: I did see that. Well, the prison system, that’s another thing. We obviously don’t want murderers running around and I guess it’s better that those guys are back in jail.

STEREOGUM: One of them’s dead.

STICKLES: Shows what I know. It’s hard to get any good feelings about that kinda stuff. We don’t like those people for their murdering ways, and yet we don’t like the prisons either because we know that they’re very, very flawed systems, run for profit in this country. You can’t get excited and applaud when somebody beats the prison system, because they are murderers. Nobody likes that. And yet, it’s hard to get excited also, when, you know, the prison system prevails. I’m conflicted on it. These are all complicated issues. I’m not in favor of those guys, but I’m not in favor of the prison system either. A lot of news stories like that, they prey on people’s fear. The media’s happy to report that there are murderers on the loose, because it means for a generally more terrified populous, which is always good for business. Then they love to report that the bad guys were defeated again because once more the world makes sense, the system works, the status quo prevails. Does it get us anywhere? I’m not certain. It might just be entertainment, you know? Yet more distractions.

STEREOGUM: All right, distractions, let’s go back to pop culture a bit. Did you listen to Ryan Adams’ cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989? Or see Father John Misty’s kinda snarky spoof on the whole thing?

STICKLES: I knew that it happened. I listened to one of the Ryan Adams songs. But that seems like, I don’t know…it just seems like a dream story for the internet. You know what I mean?

STEREOGUM: Blog-bait kinda thing?

STICKLES: I think that Ryan Adams, from what I know about his career, is a pretty genuine guy and seems to really follow his muse wherever it takes him, so I don’t think he has any agenda. I think he genuinely really loves that album. I don’t think it should’ve bumped — there’s a lot of these lists I’ve seen where the Taylor Swift cover album did better than the Titus Andronicus album. That smarts a little more than had it been Ryan Adams’ original songs, an actual album.

STEREOGUM: Wait, what lists did you see that on?

STICKLES: Oh, they all had it.

STEREOGUM: I thought “Shake It Off” was cool, it sounded like a Springsteen song when he did it.

STICKLES: I think that Father John Misty is quite a funny guy. And he proved himself right. He came right out and said later that this was an attempt at media manipulation. And it worked. Everybody talked about it.

STEREOGUM: Are you an Amy Schumer fan? Did you see Trainwreck?

STICKLES: I only went to the movies once this year, to see Interstellar.

STEREOGUM: What did you think — wait, Interstellar was last year.

STICKLES: Was it? I haven’t been to the movies this year.

STEREOGUM: Are you going to go see Star Wars?

STICKLES: I think so. Me and one of my friends made a little pencil plan to go. Everybody likes Star Wars, right? Well, it’s another one of those things where we’re never going to be able to separate our experience of it from our expectations of it. The expectations often strangle the artist. That’s a movie that’s never going to be judged on its own terms. It can only ever be judged compared to the original, and even then you’re not just putting the original and the new one in a vacuum, the original has got all these memories associated with it from years of loving it, and the people we were when we first saw it, when we first made an attachment to the whole universe.

STEREOGUM: I was thinking about that when I saw George Lucas liken the whole experience to a divorce. He had treatments for these and Disney said no, and that’s when he walked away. I guess when he was selling it originally there was a chance he’d be involved. It seems a lot of people just don’t like him as a person, but he strikes me as a kind of tragic artistic situation. He created this massive thing people love all around the world and, for the same reason, people loathe him. I mean, yeah, the prequels aren’t very good. But it’s crazy to me that he can create this thing and people worship this thing, and he’s probably going to retire and grow old as a fallen figure.

STICKLES: He kind of had to cede his ownership of it.

STEREOGUM: In order for people to get excited about this stuff, yeah. I can’t imagine having created something like that and winding up in that position decades later.

STICKLES: I guess it’s just too big business, right? To let it just be another one of those authentic, pure expressions of self, right? Maybe he’d like it to be that, but you just can’t do that when there’s a billion dollars on the line.

STEREOGUM: He made some comments to that effect, that he doesn’t like the big business of movie-making, that he just wants to make experimental films that won’t get shown anywhere.

STICKLES: I’m sure he’s got plenty of resources to do that.

STEREOGUM: Yeah, it’s easy to say that when you’ve sold your company for $4 billion.

STICKLES: You can make more than a few experimental films with that money.

STEREOGUM: What do you think of Donald Trump running for president?

STICKLES: Oh, God. Well, right now, that just seems like more entertainment. That’s just TV, that’s just the perfect thing to feed the 24 hour news cycle. He’s always on hand to do something outrageous or egregious and create something that people are going to love to click on.

STEREOGUM: You could almost look at it as this wacky performance at first —

STICKLES: That’s it, it’s getting too real! He’s a perfect newsmaker in that regard. He’s presenting the most exaggerated possible version of this position, which is maybe based on how a lot of American people feel. Not me, personally. He’s another one of those inevitable figures, I guess. Either side of the media can use him. The left wing will say “Look at this, here’s all of our worst fears and the total antithesis of everything we stand for up on stage. He’s our perfect villain, so we can churn out endless articles about how monstrous he is.” And then on the other side, the right wing, they can say, “Here’s our perfect hero, presenting the exact same exaggerated version of our positions.” But, on the record, I don’t like him that much. I don’t think that he would be a good president. But, compared to what? Every president ultimately serves the capitalist party, you know what I’m saying? He’s certainly a lot more outrageous than some of the other candidates, but like…at the end of the day they all serve their real constituency, which is the one-percenters that allow them to exist.

STEREOGUM: If in some dystopian universe, Trump actually became president: Would you move to a different country and if so where?

STICKLES: Well it’s hard to escape America’s influence anywhere. He’s got such an extreme platform anyway, you have to figure that even if he did become president by some catastrophic turn of events, that he wouldn’t be able to enact all the things that he says he wants to enact. Obama says he wants to make it harder for people to get guns, which would be lovely, but he can’t do it. The whole bipartisan system that we have keeps everything in this gridlock. Will [Trump] be able to build his anti-immigrant wall, just because he’s president? I don’t know, Obama didn’t get to do all the stuff he said he wanted to do.

STEREOGUM: Pretty sure that wall wouldn’t happen.

STICKLES: Probably not. Nor should it. It’s silly, because, you know…especially here in New York, this country is all immigrants. People seem to forget that. They think that there’s some entitled American race. It’s not so. We all came here from someplace else. It’s very short-sighted.

STEREOGUM: Drones were another big topic this year. There’s this video that’ll show you how an Amazon delivery drone would work. How do you feel about that notion?

STICKLES: What do people get delivered by these drones? A book? Do people read books anymore?

STEREOGUM: The example in the commercial was a pair of sneakers for a young girl.

STICKLES: Well, people would probably love to be in bed and say, “I want new sneakers,” and then five minutes later there’s a little robot outside their window with the sneakers, that would be lovely for them, I suppose. That’ll probably just get us to a place where it’s normal for there to be a little flying robot outside your window and you wouldn’t think of how weird that really is. Once we’re used to the sight of these robots buzzing around how are we gonna be able to distinguish between the robots delivering our sneakers and the robots that are spying on us. I would rather not have robots looking in my apartment. But maybe they are already there, you know what I’m saying? It just seems like a kooky idea. We can’t really extrapolate what the logical conclusion is of a world saturated with drones. It’s scary. It’s 1984 shit, thirty-one years later.

STEREOGUM: Another technology thing: have you seen these fake hoverboard mini-segway things?

STICKLES: Where they’re standing and rolling around? Those are weird though I did see a dude eat shit on one of them recently, which was funny. That could only promote a sedentary lifestyle, right? Like, walking is one of the last things that we had. I don’t know, is that going to put walking out of business?

STEREOGUM: The New York Times Magazine asked their readers if they could go back in time, would they kill Baby Hitler…

STICKLES: I don’t want to kill anybody. Violence only begets more violence. Is it un-American to say I wouldn’t? I don’t want to kill any baby. That’s not to say that I don’t support a woman’s right to choose, obviously. That’s an abhorrent thought, to kill any baby.

STEREOGUM: Yeah, it became such a cartoonish meme, but it’s a pretty grotesque question.

STICKLES: It’s a grim image. He couldn’t just come to exist because he was a demon. He was obviously not a good guy, but he’s a product of society. I do wish that the Holocaust never happened. I can definitely tell you that. But that’s a pretty safe position to take. I don’t think that it’s good to stoke the public’s appetite for violence. We should be looking for more ways to promote peace and a generally peaceful, loving feeling amongst the human community. I don’t think that fantasizing about killing Baby Hitler is the way to do that. If we could have avoided all the atrocities associated with him, that would’ve been nice. But it’s another example of the public’s general bloodlust.

STEREOGUM: So here’s a lighter one: Did you watch Kanye’s speech at the VMAs?

STICKLES: I did, I liked that a lot. I found it…it was a very empowering thing to an artist like myself. He says, “I wanted people to like me more but fuck that. Listen to the kids.” It’s true, the artist can’t please everybody. And if the artist is going out just trying to say the right thing, trying to just achieve some bland consensus. That doesn’t really move the culture forward in any kind of meaningful way. He wants to challenge the status quo, and people like him. If you listen to the kids, he’s got a lot of support. It gives me a lot of strength when I think about…if Titus Andronicus doesn’t achieve a massive consensus, that’s OK, because I know there are people out there that are responding to the stuff that we’re about. And if it’s not the #1 cool thing, that’s alright. Because the #1 cool thing doesn’t have to be the #1 thing for everybody. With the industry the way that it is today, and you know, there are certain colossal artists that control the consensus…what am I saying. I used to say this all the time. The way that it used to be, there were artists like Adele nowadays, who are huge superstars, and then there are artists that are super obscure. With the internet and the connectivity that we have today, the artist doesn’t necessarily have to achieve a huge consensus to survive and be a success on their own terms. There are so many ways now for the artist to reach their potential audience that they have to concern themselves less with pleasing everybody and more with pleasing themselves and knowing if they do that, there’s enough people out there that will have the same feelings about art and life that they do, to support them. So hopefully that is gonna create greater freedom for the artist, rather than having to try to pander or make something that is very safe and they can be sure a lot of people will like. They can create something more true. It’s hard to get a million people to give you a dollar. But maybe it’s less hard to get ten thousand people to give you a hundred dollars. I don’t know how to do that, either. But that seems more possible now, than in the olden days of the underground, when you had to do a lot more work to seek this stuff out. Now this stuff is so much more accessible, hopefully it’ll be easier for it to reach the people that really need it.

STEREOGUM: You’ve threatened on a few occasions that Titus might not be around much longer. The Most Lamentable Tragedy was this massive thing you put so much of yourself into, and as a release in 2015 it was a bit of a gamble. Correct me if you think differently, but I feel like it paid off. Are you feeling like there might be a future for Titus beyond what you’ve implied in the past?

STICKLES: I hope so. I don’t know what I would do otherwise. But people are very fickle nowadays. We didn’t achieve a huge consensus, like I said. But that’s less important nowadays, for an artist on our level. It’s just a long game that we’re playing. There’s not much we can do as a rock ‘n’ roll band, with the kind of interests we got, to like, suddenly leap up to some new plateau and now life is suddenly super easy.

STEREOGUM: Are you open to making more music as Titus?

STICKLES: Yeah, I hope so. I hope that we will. We’re picking up more people, we’re picking up more supporters as we go along. It’s a long game, it’s a slow process. It’d be nice to level up to some new plateau. That’s a little bit of a fantasy. We’ll see next year, you know? We had a little blip, there, where people who maybe previously hadn’t been interested in us were interested for a moment, but that moment is now over.

STEREOGUM: What moment are you referring to?

STICKLES: Just when we were in the papers because we had a new record and stuff. It’s more newsworthy. It’s not as newsworthy to say, “Rock ‘n’ roll band continues to plug away and do what they do.” That’s not terribly interesting to anybody.

STEREOGUM: I’ve had this conversation with friends recently about My Morning Jacket. They’re a band that has a very devout fanbase, sells out shows, gets coverage, but not like, deep, analytical coverage. They’re kind of outside the blog world’s narrative. That could be more preferable, in some ways. 

STICKLES: That would be nice. That’s a little more what I’m interested in. They don’t have to worry about making the news anymore.

STEREOGUM: You think you still have to?

STICKLES: I mean, we’re not quite as popular as My Morning Jacket just yet. If we were selling out four nights at the Beacon Theatre, sure, I wouldn’t give a shit about being in the papers at all. I’d still be in bed now, no offense, if we were selling out four nights at the Beacon Theatre. Until that day, it’s always going to have to be on my mind, somewhat. But we’ll see what happens next year, if the people that…because, you know, you can grab people’s interest for a moment, and maybe that gets you what it gets you, but you gotta wait and see…it’s more about building up an audience that cares about the art beyond its value as a status symbol or a cultural artifact of any given moment. We’ll see how many of them there are next year, but that makes this year very similar to last year, you know what I’m saying? So we’re gonna just keep plugging away. We’re gonna try to keep going at it as long as we can. Can’t do that much more than that, I’m afraid.