By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
How did this happen? Why are the Stitches still here?
"It's like a bad marriage with good sex," says Witmer. "The sex is so good you can't get a divorce."
The band itself is creeping toward a darker, more ambitious sound. The first song on the 8 x 12 EP was the confident anti-anthem "Nowhere," but the first song on 12 Imaginary Inches is a moody, prickly, unsettling song called "I Don't Know" that's got as much of art-damaged Cleveland band Pere Ubu in it as it does more traditional Stitches influences like the Pagans or La Peste.
Lohrman's sobriety, which was supposed to kill the band, has actually made them tighter, leaner, more focused.
"The first time Mike was gonna play sober, I was actually kind of worried," says Witmer. "But he's 100 times better. He actually sings now."
Personalities and circumstances have changed, but the unrehearsed, unplanned unpredictability of the Stitches—who are now cheerfully launching into a new stage of the unexpected by settling down into a new era of productivity—hasn't flagged a bit.
"I see other bands who've had people behind them, telling them what to do," says Witmer. "We've always done stuff ourselves, so we have no one but ourselves to blame."
The thing about being in a real punk rock band is that, eventually, just like the drinking and the drugs, it's going to kill you. Unless you're very lucky. And so you ask Witmer and Lohrman what kind of luck they've had.
"Good," says Lohrman. "A lot of my friends have called me the luckiest man alive for a long time. I have no idea why I've managed to make it."
"Bad," says Witmer. "Lucky we're still alive, but we have bad luck on everything else. Or not bad luck, just our stupidity of doing shit."
He remembers coming back from Seattle one time, doing 80 in the fast lane, towing a trailer packed full of amps and equipment. The trailer got away from them and whipped around the side of the truck, spinning the Stitches across four lanes of semi trucks and traffic. They ended up on the shoulder of the slow lane, unscathed. In July of this year, something similar happened to Portland band the Exploding Hearts. Three band members were killed.
"Me and Ed were in the back of the truck, and we started popping valiums and drinking Jack Daniels as fast as we could," says Archer. "We were so scared."
Did you ever worry that you were going to die?
"All the time," says Witmer.
The Stitches perform with Broken Bottles and Street Trash at Fitzgerald's, 19171 Magnolia St., #12, Huntington Beach, (714) 968-4523. 21+. Fri., 8 p.m. Call For Cover.