By TRAVIS BRAASCH
Leftover Crack formed in 1998 after the breakup of political punk band Choking Victim. They’ve always played a style that fuses punk, ska, and hardcore together in a way that flows to create an urgent backdrop to the radically leftist nature of the lyrics.
Releasing their first full length record titled “Mediocre Generica” in 2001, followed by the well accepted “Fuck World Trade” in 2004, LOC continued to gain a stronger following with each release, despite the constant cloud surrounding the group due to their radical lifestyle of squatting.
Squatters are individuals who choose to occupy abandoned buildings or land and are stereotyped as substance abusers. Many also hold extreme leftist political views and practice an anarchist lifestyle. This is a group frequently overlooked by most of society, even though the New Internationalist social justice magazine reported in 2006 that there are an estimated 1 billion squatters worldwide.
“There’s a stigma with our band because of our politics, lifestyles and personalities,” said vocalist Scott “Stza” Sturgeon. “It boils down to the fact that people don’t like squatters.”
With twelve years since their last full-length release, LOC has had more time than some bands to work on a follow-up to a successful album. It immediately shows when listening to “Constructs Of The State,” released in 2015.
“It wasn’t like we took 11 years off, we were active the entire time,” said Brad Logan, guitarist and vocalist. “We released a split with Citizen Fish and toured in other bands, Rats In The Walls and Star Fucking Hipsters.”
Like many bands, LOC was under pressure after the success of “Fuck World Trade” to quickly put together a follow up album. Rather than rush into another project, the band toured and released an EP, taking time to put together new songs over the course of years instead of months.
“Everyone got to contribute within the band and we worked with people we admire, which has been great,” Logan said.
“Constructs Of The State” features several guest appearances, such as Jesse Michaels of Operation Ivy and Common Rider Fame, who also directed the music video for the song “System Fucked” off of “Constructs Of The State.” The album also has songs featuring members of the Bouncing Souls, The Dead Milkmen and REIVERS.
“Because it was recorded in the Bay Area, a lot of our friends’ bands came to town,” Stza said. “I think it is a great way to work. It couldn’t have happened if we recorded this album in a month.”
While the music is as diverse as ever, fans of the band will devour the lyrics covering the band’s typical topics like police brutality, racism, homophobia, religion and living the squatter lifestyle. While many artists may talk about the lifestyle of punks and squatters, LOC speaks from experience.
“The topics I like to talk about won’t go away anytime soon, I shed light on them,” Stza said. “I don’t like to date the music or talk about current events. Hip-hop dates itself a lot, and songs can become irrelevant within a year.”
Due to the nature of the topics they choose to speak about, LOC have been in almost constant conflict with the police since their inception, especially in their hometown of New York City.
“The police are aware of our band and it can make it hard in places like New York where we have had trouble with the police constantly and promoters don’t want to deal with it and won’t book us,” Stza said.
Despite having trouble finding promoters and venues willing to book them, LOC have a constantly growing base of fans, many of whom are getting into punk music and politics for the first time. Though criticized for being a “gateway punk band,” LOC doesn’t see this as a bad thing.
“I’m proud to be called a gateway punk band,” said Stza. “We have a lot of young fans or people who got into our band at an early age. You shouldn’t hold important messages back because of fashion or who’s cool or isn’t.”
“It should be open to everybody,” said Logan. “We could provide a gateway into people checking us out and moving on to the bands that influenced us which we feel are far superior to our own band. Those ideas need to be out there.”
Besides living the lifestyle that they talk about in their music, the members of LOC are involved in politics, often playing for benefits or organizations that they support including No More Deaths, who work to stop the deaths of immigrants in the desert.
“I love Tucson. I’ve worked with No More Deaths for a few years now,” Stza said. “There was a no borders camp they had eight years ago that I went to and played for the US and Mexico sides of the border, as well as a small tour with No More Deaths.”
As active as they are, the members of LOC show no signs of slowing down anytime soon. They have a batch of songs that didn’t quite fit on “Constructs Of The State” that will be released as an EP later this year, as well as a busy tour schedule.
“We want to go to Japan, Australia, South Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia,” Stza said. “I want to hit anywhere that will have us.”
For more information on LOC, visit leftovercrack.rocks.