|David and the Curse frontman David Stücken|
My Los Angeles with
DAVID STÜCKEN of DAVID AND THE CURSE
Honesty – of intention and in conveying real truth that’s not contaminated by ulterior motives – is something that you unfortunately don’t come across too often in Los Angeles. You also don’t encounter many people who are from Los Angeles originally. Singer-songwriter, musician and producer David Stücken is actually the epitome of both a native Angeleno and raw, tell-it-to-your-face honesty.
David has been writing and performing since age 12 in bands such as the Breakdowns and the Strangers, playing on bills with legends like Social Distortion, TSOL and the Buzzcocks. Presently, he is at the helm of his first solo endeavor, David and the Curse, and it is on their upcoming debut album, An Epitaph for Love, where that honesty really comes across in songs like “Diamond Ring,” “Matters of Flesh” and “Queen of the Blues.” So when I ask him to compose an epitaph honoring David and the Curse’s musical sound, consisting of only three words, it’s no surprise when he replies, “Honest Rock ’n’ Roll.”
As he amps up for a Nov. 18 show at El Cid and the early 2017 release of An Epitaph for Love, David took some time to share the special places that make up his Los Angeles with Jigsaw.
My favorite track on the album is “Figueroa Street,” and the girl in “She Loves the Night” is quite recognizable to me when I think back on nights on the Sunset Strip. From Downtown and Venice Beach to Silver Lake and the Sunset Strip, do you have a favorite L.A. neighborhood?
I love downtown Los Angeles. Even though I've lived in L.A. my whole life, it is still always so cool to stand in the middle of all the skyscrapers in the middle of the night and just look up.
The Sunset Strip has changed drastically over the years, but one of my earliest memories is driving up La Cienega to go to a concert on the Sunset Strip. I remember thinking to myself, "this is where I wanna be. These clubs are where I wanna work.”
Every neighborhood in Los Angeles is constantly evolving. When I wrote “Figueroa Street” I literally lived two blocks off of it. I've lived in every city in L.A. County, and they all have their ups and downs.
What’s your favorite venue to play shows at?
The House of Blues Sunset Strip RIP. I always loved playing shows at the HOB. The staff was always really awesome and treated every band with respect. That stage and room had a lot of mojo and history to it. Played there many times over the years. Can't really think of one show that stands out because every single time I set foot on that stage it was magical.
Where did you see the first concert that really made an impact on you?
I'd say that when I saw Jerry Lee Lewis when I was 4 years old it made an immense impact on me. It was at Knott's Berry Farm in OC. I was four, and there was a couple dancing in front of me who were probably 18 or 19, and the girl was really attractive. I remember hating that I was a kid. It was time to grow up fast and get into rock ’n’ roll.
What’s your favorite record shop? Was there an album or song from a certain artist that made you realize, ‘hey, this is what I want to do’?
Funny how this question ties right into the last answer I gave haha. Well, these days record shops are few and far between compared to how it used to be. I love Amoeba Music on Sunset Boulevard. it's like a treasure hunt every time I go there.
There is a small independent record store in Orange County called Vinyl Solution that has always supported me and sold my records even in the days when we would bring our CDs and shirts in to sell on consignment.
I like the mom-and-pop shops, but look ... They're talking about putting high-rise Legoland condos where Amoeba is, so it isn't just the mom-and-pop shops struggling.
As far as a song that made me realize that this is what I wanted to do ... probably a Bowie or a Stones song I heard as a young lad. As an angst ridden teenager, Social Distortion’s "Another State of Mind.”
Is there a shop where you like to go geek out on really expensive guitars and amps at?
I've got to give props to my old homie Bob at a little shop in Redondo Beach called Rhythm and Notes. I buy a lot of my old guitars from him. He's known me since I started playing music because I grew up in the South Bay.
In Las Vegas I have a friend named Jesse Amoroso who owns a shop called Cowtown Guitars. I've bought some stuff from him, too. He has great vintage amps and guitars. Very solid eBay salesman, too.
Do you have a favorite tattoo artist in the city?
Currently I have a great working relationship with an artist named Abraham Mendoza (Ruester) who works out of a shop on Melrose in Hollywood called Under the Gun Tattoo. He specializes in black-and-grey portraits. We're actually working on a tattoo to signify the record that is of an old burlesque dancer named Zorita the Snake Charmer.
From hats and leather jackets to cool shirts, you have great style on stage. Do you have some favorite clothes shops? Also, do you have a specific barber you go to for haircuts/shaves?
Well, thank you very much! My favorite vintage shops are actually in Long Beach on 4th Street in a section they call “Retro Row" because it has about 10 vintage shops in a row, all filled with hats and leather jackets. I get my haircut there at a shop owned by my friend Billy Burks of the band the Humpers. It's called Salon POP and Barber Shop.
If you were taking a girl who isn’t originally from L.A. on a first date, where would you take her?
I'd take her out to the beach and then to downtown L.A. to see the spectrum of landscape.
Do you have a favorite bar and coffee shop? What are your usual drinks there?
Honestly, I don't really buy into the whole craft coffee and beer fad. I think the best coffee is what you personally like, and even though it's not hip, I'm a Starbucks guy hahahaha.
As far as bars, the best ones are the packed ones if we are playing a small bar show. The Maui Sugar Mill in Tarzana is an awesome little gem that hosts great music and treats musicians with respect. They've had Dave Grohl and Slash do secret shows there because it's such a cool, old-skool place.
How about a favorite restaurant and dish that you always order there?
I try to eat healthier these days, so I usually eat a lot of sushi or poke. I try to stay away from red meat, but when I was a kid, the Apple Pan on Pico was my all-time favorite place. Hickoryburger with cheese, please!!! Haha
As a songwriter, do you have a place you go to for inspiration or to get your creative juices flowing?
Yes, I go to the boxing gym and focus, and then I go to a secluded beach and clear my head.
As a native Angeleno, what do you love about Los Angeles?
I love the diversity of Los Angeles. I love all of the different neighborhoods: from the beaches to the Downtown skyline to the San Fernando Valley. If you're not from here the landscape can be daunting, but to me, it's awesome that I can go wherever I want and always know someplace to have some fun at. The band members of the Curse are scattered between Long Beach, Hollywood, Studio City and Canoga Park, so we're all over the L.A. area.
An Epitaph for Love will be available in early 2017. David and the Curse perform Nov. 18 at El Cid. For more information, visit davidandthecurse.com.