A majority of the time, Worn Flints’ frontman Kenny Stiegele projects a calm and composed demeanor, allowing little to rattle him as he moves through the workweek. This all changes, however, the instant the local trio hits the stage.
“I’m not a big partier, and I’m the first one to leave the show early,” said Stiegele, 23, seated with bandmates Steve Trabulsi (bass) and Jake Smith (drums), both 22, at a downtown coffee shop on a recent March afternoon. “But when I do get onstage, every single frustration and every emotion and all the energy I have from the week just explodes in that half hour. I’m talking everything from when I stubbed my toe on Tuesday to when that lady from work gave me the business on Wednesday. I stay quiet, and I do my thing. Then I get to the show and…”
At times the band’s full-length debut, If I Stay Awake, which first surfaced last fall, follows a similar pattern, with longer, more serene ballads like the piano-driven “L’onere (The Burden)” giving way to punchier turns like “Monika,” a swaggering blues-rock cut that owes a heavy debt to early White Stripes.
“We all listen to very different music, and it can be strange how it all comes together,” the frontman said. “It’s hard to pin one genre on us, and I think that’s where a lot of our unique sound comes from.”
Stiegele’s lyrics generally shift to better reflect these sonic extremes. The grittier blues numbers are overwhelmingly filled with tales of heartache, financial strain and, in the singer’s words, “the grime of the world,” while the piano-based tunes tend to walk a more delicate, circuitous path. Stiegele penned “L’onere,” for one, about his struggles with social anxiety.
“The song has a lighter feel to it, but the lyrics are dark,” he said. “The last line is ‘I’ll be your burden until the day that I die,’ and that’s just how I feel in social situations. ‘L’onere’ is just ‘the burden’ in Italian. It’s our way of making it sound artsy.”
Regardless of the form the finished product eventually takes, the songs share a similar genesis.
“Almost every time I write a lyric it has [the word] I in the beginning of it,” Stiegele said. “It’s hard for me to step in someone else’s shoes and sing about things that haven’t troubled me, so I tend to write about relationships, hardships, internships, wooden ships — you know, pretty much any ship.”