Four Letter Nerd

Nerds in Bands: George Schmitz of Stick To Your Guns

I think, if I’m recalling correctly (it gets tough to do that when you become an elderly hardcore kid of… 30), that the first hardcore bands I got into were Stretch Arm Strong and No Innocent Victim. I grew up in a religious household so my rebellion consisted of listening to “Christian” hardcore and metal (I use quotations because I feel like neither of those bands would label themselves “Christian hardcore”). Eventually I would discover bands like Earth Crisis and Madball, and my taste is music has really never stopped evolving since.

I wanna say it was…like… 2007 or 2008, I went to a show at a local venue (that has now been closed for about 5 years) to see a couple of bands (I think it speaks volumes that I don’t remember the bands I actually went to see but I vividly remember STYG). One of the opening bands had a t-shirt that caught my eye.

I had to have it. But I didn’t really know the band… I decided that I’d watch their set and if I liked even one song I could justify buying it. I stood in the back with my arms crossed and Stick To Your Guns went on. By the end of their set I didn’t like one song. I liked ALL OF THEM. I was hooked. I bought the shirt (which, in all honesty, I lost almost immediately because I’m terrible with possessions), I bought a CD, I probably bought something else I don’t remember, and I became a STYG fan from then on. I’ve got every album, and I jam them all frequently.

Recently I heard the news that George Schmitz, the drummer for STYG, wrote and published his own comic. Well there was no way I couldn’t do SOMETHING on 4LN about it. I reached out to George in the off-chance that he’d be interested in letting me interview him about the book and (SUCCESS!) he enthusiastically agreed. Check out our chat below about how George got into comics, how his new book came to be, and what bands he thinks you should be listening to right now…

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4LN: When did you first get into comics?
George: I first started “reading” comics when I was in the 6th grade, but I was always ga ga about super heroes. Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman the Animated Series were my favorite things in the world when I was a kid. I remember going to the Warner Brothers retail stores when those were still a thing and losing my mind when my parents let me get some new toys (haha). So, superheroes were always a part of my childhood, but that first Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie really got me hooked. I was already going to my local comic book shop to compete in Pokemon tournaments, so I just started buying up back issues of Spider-Man while I was there.

Which would you say came first: your love of comics, or your love of music?
My love of music came first, but it was quickly followed by my love of superheroes and comics. When I was in middle school, I no joke had the conscious thought of “Man, one of these days I’m probably going to have to choose between the two of these hobbies if I want to make one of them work out.” I shortly thereafter fell out of comics for a little bit to focus more on the drums and being in bands, but that was VERY short lived (haha). I feel like everybody takes that break from comics, almost like it’s a rite of passage.

What specific comic writers and artists would you say you gravitate most to?
I am a sucker for a writer who is unapologetic about his/her love for a character and their mythos. That being said, it’s no wonder that Mark Waid and Kurt Busiek are my favorite writers. I love it when a writer can embrace what makes these characters and their worlds inherently special. I’m all for re-imaginings and some deconstructing, but I love watching superheroes BE SUPERHEROES.

You’ve just self-published your first comic, Diamond Lass. Can you tell us how that came to be, and what your inspiration was for writing it?
Diamond Lass was an idea that I had for quite some time now, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about it. Fortunately, my friend Caleb Goellner is an incredibly talented artist and has been making his own comics for some time now. Without Caleb, I’m not even sure if I would’ve been able to pull any of this off. He’s as much a part of it as I am!

As for the inspiration, it was a combination of ideas in comics that I wanted to explore, as well real life things that we experience while touring. It’s loosely tied into our band, but it functions on its on as well.

Have you always wanted to write comics or is that something you decided more recently to pursue?
I’ve always wanted to write, whether it be prose, screen plays, comics, etc, but it’s always been something that I’ve pursued casually.

Can we expect to see more of Diamond Lass in the future? Maybe in print, perhaps?
I actually have physical copies! I had them this last weekend at Emerald City Comic Con and I will be selling them on tour as well.

Lately, there have been many other musicians venturing out in the comic book world (Claudio Sanchez from Coheed & Cambria, Max Bemis from Say Anyrthing, and Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance, for example). Do you have any desire to turn comic book writing into a “career”, or at least to branch out and do more comic writing on a professional level?
I think it would be really cool. I have a long way to go as far as writing, but I am really enjoying myself now that I’ve gone through the whole process. Writing comics on a professional level would be the dream. Maybe one day!

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This next section is our lighting round. Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind…
What’s your current favorite comic series?
Mark Waid’s Daredevil is still my favorite book on the stands. Everything Jonathan Hickman’s been doing with Avengers and New Avengers has been nothing short of phenomenal. G Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel is absolutely delightful. Snyder’s Batman is incredible. All the big books coming out of Image: Bitch Planet, Sex Criminals, Black Science, Deadly Class, Low, Wicked and Divine. It’s an AMAZING time to be reading comics.

Doom, Duke Nukem, Wolfenstein… If you could only play one of these 3 video games for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Duke Nukem…..because that’s the only one of those games I’ve ever played (haha). I peaked at Mario 64 and never really got into games!

What new band should we all be listening to right now?
As far as hardcore goes: Discourse, Turnstile, Angel Dust, Code Orange.

For punk though: Rozwell Kid has been one of my new favorite bands! And Teenage Bottlerocket just put out a new record that everybody should buy!!!

Assuming she doesn’t, if Diamond Lass had a theme song, what would it be?
If Diamond Lass had a theme song, it would be the Propagandhi discography. She’s all about social justice and mental fortitude. But when she’s looking to relax, she’s listening to a heavy dosage of Tegan and Sara.

If given the opportunity, what established comic book character would you want to write?
Oof. That’s the million dollar question. I want to write a Plastic Man book! He’s so insane. I feel like he’s overlooked! How about Plastic Man teaming up with Metamorpho for some real wild adventures. That’s a bedfellow team that writes itself.

Last question, I know that you’re also a big wrestling fan and one of our other writers here, Bill, is as well. He wanted me to ask you how it felt to see your buddy Seth Rollins getting the belt and becoming the WWE Champ.
It’s so fucking cool!!!! I’m so stoked for him. I can’t wait to see how the story plays out.

Had a blast at #SummerSlam. Huge thanks to @wwerollins & @joshyg27 for the tickets!!!

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I want to thank George IMMENSELY for talking with me about Diamond Lass. If you’re interested in checking it out for yourself you can get it at a pay-what-you-want cost here: DIAMOND LASS.

I read it and loved it. If you have been in the hardcore scene at all then I think you’ll be able to appreciate, and even chuckle, at the nature of the story and how it plays out, as Diamond Lass confronts Slandering Sammy Simmons and his misguided arrogance. It’s funny, honest and self-aware. And it’s super easy to read, which is always nice. I highly recommend it.

Additionally, if you’re interested in checking out Stick To Your Guns’ new album “Disobedient” (which debuted last month on Billboard’s 200 Chart at #85 because it’s REALLY F–KING GOOD), you can find that here:

iTunes: http://hyperurl.co/Disobedient_iTunes
Google Play: http://hyperurl.co/Disobedient_Google

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Stephen Andrew

Stephen has spent most of his life reading comics, watching horror movies, listening to death metal music, and speaking in the third person. His favorite comic book character is The Punisher, and he believes that the Punisher: War Zone movie is criminally underrated. His favorite film of all-time is National Lampoon's Vacation, and his favorite album is Pantera's "The Great Southern Trendkill".

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