Patrick Stickles is pretentious, and I love him for it.

Patrick Stickles is pretentious, and I love him for it.

When I first heard Titus Andronicus' sophomore opus "The Monitor," its penchant for seven- and nine-minute songs and Civil War-themed conceptual framework seemed overblown. But then I saw them perform at the Pitchfork Music Festival, and suddenly all the album's big ideas and grandiose movements seemed well, appropriately blown.

Stickles bristles at constant Springsteen comparisons, but he invites them with a sprawling stage band and lyrics like "I've never wanted to change the world, but I'm looking for a new New Jersey/ Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to die!"

And that other frequent reference point - early, angsty Bright Eyes - was in the air as a field full of fist-pumping youths shouted in unison, "You will always be a loser!" Getting in touch with your feelings never felt so epic.

Thus, I was psyched to interview the scrawny-physiqued, burly-bearded frontman in anticipation of the group's show Thursday at The Summit. Stickles didn't disappoint. Between Columbus stories about sampling Carabar's violent "Hate Crime" shot and sleeping in some punk's storm drain after playing Cafe Bourbon Street, he offered enough entertaining insights to fill a Woody Allen script.

On whether Titus Andronicus' music works better with a huge crowd: "We're trying to get the kids excited and pumped up. Sometimes it's a lot easier for people to lose their inhibitions or whatever else is getting in the way of their pumped-up-ness when there's a lot of other people around - a phenomenon that can be used for good or evil."

On political musicians that resonate outside their immediate context: "I think what makes them special is even though maybe you don't have all the information about that, you can still relate to the part of it that is thirsting for righteousness."

On plans for the next album: "The search for one's authentic artistic voice isn't one that can be completed in the time that it takes to make an indie rock record."

On why not to attempt a generation-defining statement: "Seems to me that most of the time people who try to do that end up falling flat on their faces."

On musicians falling flat on their faces: "Probably all the best art, and certainly all the best punk rock music is unafraid of falling on its face just by definition. All the best punk music has been unafraid to do that. And from that fearlessness comes all sorts of great rewards."