When Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles discusses his affinity for Charlie Brown, it almost sounds as if he could be talking about himself.
“I really appreciate his indomitable spirit and his refusal to give up even though he was doomed to lose forever,” he said of the “Peanuts” character. “Even when he lost at baseball he continued to approach the mound valiantly time and again.”
In turn, “Local Business,” the third album from New York-by-way-of-Jersey rockers, opens with a declaration that could have been lifted directly from the Charles Schulz comic strip. “Ok, I think by now we’ve established,” snarls Stickles, “Everything is inherently worthless.”
But even amidst the countless injustices flung the singer’s way — the album includes songs inspired by his eating disorder, his failed attempts to quit smoking and the time he nearly electrocuted himself in the band’s Brooklyn practice space — the music continues to project a defiant, never-say-die attitude.
Stickles, who joins his bandmates for a show at the Frequency on Saturday, Nov. 24, has never been shy about sharing his innermost thoughts. The band’s breakout sophomore record “The Monitor,” for one, dealt at least in part with a short-lived stint in Boston where the frontman found himself plagued by bouts of homesickness, depression and self-doubt.
“I know it won’t do much good/Getting drunk and sad and singing,” he moaned on one cut. “But I’m at the end of my rope/And I feel like swinging.”
This time around, however, Stickles stripped away many of the metaphors that littered “The Monitor,” which drew heavily upon Civil War imagery and included snippets of speeches by the likes of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.
“(‘Local Business’) is a little more direct and a little more plainspoken,” said the singer. “It was partially a reaction to the last record, which had a lot of extended metaphors. Trying to do that again would have been a little ridiculous, so it seemed logical to move in the other direction, be straight up and keep it real.”
While 26 musicians contributed to “The Monitor,” a sprawling effort that piled horn sections, fiddles and bagpipes alongside the usual assortment of guitars, drums, etc., much of “Local Business” was recorded by the five core players currently touring with the band. As such, the music is wiry and — at least by Titus standards — minimalist. It’s also, according to Stickles, much easier to recreate in the live setting.
“There’s been a lot less adjustment and a lot less trying to scramble to create some fantasy thing,” he said. “We did some touring in the spring with this band. Then we did a record with this band. And now the same band is out here on the road promoting said record and faithfully replicating it every night, which is a real treat.”
In prior years Titus featured a rotating cast of musicians, and the “past members” section on the group’s Wikipedia page currently numbers 15 — enough to fill out an entire NBA roster. This, it turns out, is not what Stickles had in mind when he launched the group from his hometown of Glen Rock, N.J., in 2005.
“I hate it. It’s awful,” he said of the rotating lineup. “It’s a huge pain to readjust and try and teach someone new the same old songs. It’s an emotionally draining process, and it’s disappointing.
“Every lineup of the band going back many years I hoped would be the one to stick around, but they just haven’t. It was never my intention to create some revolving door cast of thousands. I much more admire bands like the Rolling Stones, who stick it out together for a long time, rather than Bright Eyes or something where it’s one dude and a bunch of others. That’s not really my bag. I prefer real rock ‘n’ roll bands with some unity and team spirit.”
While Titus’ sound and lineup have steadily shifted and evolved over the years, one thing that hasn’t changed is Stickles motivation for making music. In many ways he remains the same jittery, excitable teenager enamored with that charge he felt when he first picked up a guitar.
“I like to think (my motivations) are the same from even doing it as a young kid, which is simply that it’s fun,” he said. “It’s all for the pure joy of rocking out.”