Punk Singer Reflects on Inspiration of GRHS Drama Class

Titus Andronicus frontman and Glen Rock native Patrick Stickles opens up about a small town upbringing, his favorite teacher and the state of rock and roll.

Patrick Stickles, center, in this file photo.
Patrick Stickles, center, in this file photo.

Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles still has some fond memories of home.

The Glen Rock native reflected on his small town upbringing, and the role it’s played in his music, in an interview with stand-up comic Marc Maron posted as a podcast Thursday.

Sitting down for the chat in L.A., where the band was on tour, Stickles recalled suburban settings where “your whole life is laid out before you even before you’re conceived.”

But Stickles, whose band's three acclaimed records have been littered with literary references, said his drama classes at Glen Rock High School have remained an influence on the uncompromising Titus Andronicus sound, and not just for the readings.

Okey Chenoweth, the beloved and now retired borough teacher who taught Stickles Hamlet his sophomore year, held a special place in his memories. (He also played the voice of Abraham Lincoln on the Titus Andronicus Civil War concept album The Monitor.)

“He wanted everything to be a life or death situation,” Stickles recalled of Chenoweth. “Even if it was just two characters deciding what to eat for lunch, he wanted it to be life or death. So that influenced my outlook a lot.”

“He taught me a lot about art, being artistic,” he told Maron. “And his big thing was truthfulness. He would try and get us to get up in class and just say the truth, whatever it was.”

Stickles certainly hasn’t held back the truth, particularly when it comes to the state of music. Recent interviews with the singer have had him increasingly discussing the impending – or, perhaps, recent – death of rock and roll.

“When a guy like Keith Richards was young the guitar was the answer to everything, you know, and if you were able to write the perfect rock and roll song there might be a million dollar paycheck at the other end of it,” he said.

“No guarantee of that, obviously, but there was a thought. That was a plan that was not completely out of the realm of possibility for a lot of people. And it’s just not that way anymore. And that’s why rock and roll sucks now.”

Click here to listen to the full interview.


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