SOAPBOXED IN "I've been trying hard to stray from singing solely about politics," says Scott Sturgeon (center), "but somehow, it subtly leaks into every song I write."
Scott Sturgeon loses his train of thought a couple of times during this interview. He's loopy from jet lag — which is unavoidable after a 20-hour flight from New Zealand (halfway around the planet from his non-residency at a squatted apartment building in New York City), where he's just finished a tour with his claim-to-fame band, Leftover Crack. Such abrupt transitions will mushify the mind, but Sturgeon, CEO of the billion-dollar Star Fucking Hipsters conglomerate, would probably be doing shit like this even if he didn't play music.
Wanderlust first overcame him in his teenage years, and he embarked on a hitchhiking journey to the West Coast, crashing on luxurious rooftops and sidewalks and in abandoned buildings. Upon returning to NYC, he got in the habit of hopping freight trains. He didn't start adhering to a more conventional style of globetrotting until LoC started touring regularly, about seven years ago.
"It was a lot more laid back when I was riding freight trains and hitchhiking," he says over the phone from his mom's house in New York. "I was working on music all that time, but things were so touch-and-go, it would take us a year to have a record together. We were panhandling, eating out of the garbage, and squatting. When I was in Choking Victim, we only played like, once or twice a year."
Folklore has it that Choking Victim disbanded the same day they recorded their only full-length album, 1999's illustrious No Gods, No Managers (Hellcat). Sturgeon promptly formed Leftover Crack, an outfit that's proved more resilient but not much more prolific. The 2000s have seen two Leftover Crack albums and three EPs, give or take. Sturgeon says the Australia tour could be LoC's last — but being maybe-broken-up has always been part of their charm.
As for his latest endeavor, Star Fucking Hipsters (rounded out by guitarist Frank D. Generic, co–lead vocalist Nico de Gaillo, and a litany of impermanent Hipsters), they're already close to matching the volume of LoC's catalogue. Ooooh, and they're treating Cambridge to a daytime all-ages show this Saturday.
With Until We're Dead (Fat Wreck Chords) still fresh enough to serve after a quick blast in the microwave, the Hipsters took two weeks to churn out the more corrosive, metal-centric, sonic chainsaw of political consciousness that is Never Rest in Peace (Alternative Tentacles). Unlike some records from Sturgeon's other bands, Never Rest in Peace — which was mostly recorded in their bedrooms — doesn't have any songs about Satan, drugs, or shoplifting. The fury is aimed at specific targets: civilian war casualties in triple digits ("3000 Miles Away"), the ironic barbarism of anti-abortion laws ("Church & Rape"), and our nation's proud history of screwing Native Americans over ("Banned from the Land"), to name a few.
What's more, these aren't self-congratulatory, "We Are the World," Bono-style calls for social justice. The Hipsters are straight-up anti-fascism. Last year, Sturgeon was arrested for throwing doughnuts at cops while protesting a bill that would lower the legal decibel level for events in New York City. He acknowledges that may have been childish, but, hey, free speech. "I've been trying really hard to stray from singing solely about politics, but somehow, it subtly leaks its way into every song I write. There are no love songs, unfortunately."