The first time I met Mixi Demner from Stitched Up Heart was on Shiprocked 2017 in line for a slice of pizza on deck 9. The band had a performance coming up later that day in the ship’s main theater, and she was worried no one would come see them and they would be playing to an empty theater. She made me promise to come which of course I did and so did plenty of other fans. Now Mixi and her band mates, Merritt Goodwin (lead guitar), Randy Mathias (bass), James Decker (drums), and Nick Bedrosian (rhythm guitar) are headlining their own national tour called Hearts in Hell with fellow California rockers Hell or Highwater.
I had an opportunity to chat with Mixi before their show in Columbus, OH recently and learned that she is a much more than a petite blonde with doe eyes and a bright smile. This charismatic and humble frontwoman is mighty. She is resilient. She is impassioned. She can belt out a heavy metal growl better than most male rockers three times her size. But she still has her moments of insecurity.
“In middle school – oh my god I was such a dork,” Mixi said. “I played the tuba for three years. I taped my boobs down because I didn’t want to be a girl. I had braces. I never took showers. I was a nerd. I was hanging out with the grungy rocker kids in giant t-shirts. I got made fun of a lot. When I got in high school, I had already made friends with some of the juniors and seniors. Then I was cool. And I didn’t talk to all those kids who made fun of me in middle school. They thought I was cool now because I was in high school, got my braces off, stopped taping my boobs down, put some highlights in my hair, showered, wore clothes that fit and then all of a sudden it was different. But I still had a lot of self-esteem issues. And I still have that self-conscious awareness (about how she looks).”
Those insecurities seem to disappear when Mixi takes the stage and performs for fans. She exudes confidence and always gives everything she has. Stitched Up Heart is in the middle of an intense tour schedule with performances almost every single day all across the country until mid July. How does she handle such a grueling schedule? “I think of it I guess like any job,” Mixi said. “Like I wouldn’t be able to work doing what my mom was doing at the hospital…waking up at three in the morning to be there at five and stay there until like three and then go to sleep at six. I wouldn’t be able to do that. Some people are built for stuff. We are built for this.”
When she does get a little down time, you might find Mixi reading a book by some of her favorite fellow rockers. “I just read The Reason by Lacey Sturm,” she said. “I haven’t read The Mystery yet but I have to. My favorite time to read is in the airport. I’d rather buy a book and make my brain smarter. But I like bawled reading that book. It was crazy. I have to get The Mystery.” She’s also looking forward to reading Death and Other Dances by Carla Harvey of the Butcher Babies.
Speaking of the Butcher Babies…Mixi really hopes to tour with them someday. “I’m sure at some point this will happen,” she said. “Before Stitched Up Heart was ever a band I went to go see them live because I was friends with Heidi (Shepherd) and I loved them so much. I was like, ‘you need a keyboard player and I’ll be your keyboard player. I’ll wear that and do whatever. I don’t care what it is because I love your band!’” Obviously that didn’t work out for Mixi, but I think she ended up doing okay for herself anyway.
I asked Mixi how Stitched Up Heart has changed and grown since Skelton Key came out in 2014 to today. “Tremendously,” she said. “We were kind of in the mindset before where we’re just doing this because we’re having fun. Even though we were really pushing the band, we weren’t really taking everything seriously and as professionally and really thinking things through a lot. It’s all learning…you learn as you grow. But with the writing process in general we were just amateurs and the more you write the better you get. The difference between Skeleton Key and the Never Alone record was just us taking the time on each song and wanting to send the best thing we possibly can rather than just hurrying up and pumping out songs.”
I was disappointed to learn that one of my favorite songs on Never Alone – “Bleeding Out” – wouldn’t be in the set list for the show that night. “That one is one of those tough ones to sing,” Mixi said. “We were thinking about doing it live for the headliner run, but we’re already doing “Now That You’re Gone” and I don’t want the feeling of the show to be sad. So we had to decide either that or “Bleeding Out” and I decided “Now That You’re Gone.”
“I almost cry every single time we do “Now That You’re Gone”, she continued. “I literally get chills and almost cry and I’m like ‘I can’t cry right now! This is embarrassing.’ Part of me wants to just sing the song like the notes and the words and try to detach from it, but I get so involved in the lyrics that I feel what I’m saying and it makes that emotion come out. I think about what I’m actually saying and I want people to feel it with me.” You could see the emotion on her face when she performed “Now That You’re Gone” that night. It was truly touching.
So what’s next for Stitched Up Heart? “We’re already diving into the next record,” Mixi said. “The sophomore record is kind of scary because you have to do what you just did but better and yet evolve some but don’t go too far from what you did where fans are like “what is this”? I think what we’re going to do a little differently with this next record is with Never Alone everything that I wrote with the lyrics and the melody was pretty much just tracked right there on the spot. So we recorded everything as we came up with it so I didn’t really get to sit with the lyrics and marry them and vibe with it. And I think we’re going to probably have a little more time with this next record for me to feel it out and feel out how I want to deliver it properly. That’s the one definite note I would take on to the next record is I want to really really sit and resonate with the lyrics a little more before that is the track that we are using.”
We can’t wait to see what you and the guys come up with!
Jul 01 Knitting Factory Spokane Spokane, WA
Jul 02 Studio Seven Seattle, WA
Jul 05 Bottom Of The Hill San Francisco, CA
Jul 06 Fulton 55 Fresno, CA
Jul 07 Chain Reaction Anaheim, CA
Jul 08 House of Blues San Diego, CA
Jul 09 Whisky A Go Go Los Angeles, CA