BLURTING WITH… Scream

Digging themselves out
from the underground once again, the D.C. punk legends are as powerful as ever.

 

BY ROBERT FULTON

 

After two decades in hibernation, legendary hardcore band Scream
is back playing shows and releasing new music. The four original members – Pete
Stahl on vocals, brother Franz Stahl on guitar, bassist Skeeter Thompson and
drummer Kent Stax –  initially got back
together for a series of shows starting in 2009. Now, for the first time since
the 1993 release Fumble, the group
boasts new music.

 

The seven-track EP Complete
Control Sessions
came out August 16. Scream recorded the new record at Dave
Grohl’s Studio 606 in Los Angeles,
with Grohl and John “Lou” Lousteau producing. The result is a collection of
high-energy songs that would not feel out of place in Scream’s heyday, starting
with the blistering track “Stopwatch.”

 

Scream formed in 1981 in the Washington, D.C.
area and recorded five albums before disbanding in 1990. This isn’t the first
time Grohl and Scream have worked together. Grohl was Scream’s second drummer
after Stax left in 1986, and after the dissolution of the band, famously moved
on to Nirvana.

 

Joe Sib, co-owner of SideOneDummy Records, is the mastermind
behind the Complete Control Sessions,
a series of EPs recorded live by various bands. Releasing the new music on
SideOneDummy is a bit of a departure for Scream, which had four albums on the
legendary D.C. label Dischord Records.

 

With a new EP to promote, Scream is on a mini West Coast
tour, which concludes September 4 in Portland,
Oregon. (Tour dates can be viewed
here.)

 

After a 30-minute in-store performance at Permanent Records
in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Eagle Rock, Pete Stahl took a few minutes to
talk about the new EP, working with Grohl, and what the future holds.

 

***

 

BLURT: Tell me about
this new EP. How did this whole thing come together? Who approached who to get
this thing done?

PETE STAHL: Well, for us, it’s been a collective effort of
the band to get together and record some new material because it was really
important for us. We wanted to do some shows, but we just wanted to have some
new music to present with it. My brother and I live on the West Coast, and
Skeeter and Kent
live on the East Coast, so recording and the shows go hand in hand, because we
need to do the shows to pay to get them out here so we can rehearse and write
and eventually record.

        So we started
getting back together in 2009 and started working on shit. But it’s difficult
because of the distance and everyone’s personal lives. As far as putting the
record out, I actually did approach Dischord first. They were in the process of
going through a transitional phase in their distribution. I don’t really know
the details. And frankly, they were kind of not that keen on releasing
something new. But it mostly was about the fact that it wasn’t the right time.
When I approached Joe Sib, [it was] kind of a similar reaction that I got from
Dischord. “Well, I don’t know, an old band putting out new stuff.” I’m like,
well, it’s important to us. And so they’re like, if it’s important to you, all
right. At the time, they thought maybe they had a situation where we could
record for free. At the end of the day, that studio wasn’t panning out. We were
going to go out to the desert where me and my brother record a lot.

 

Where at?

Joshua Tree, California.
It’s called Rancho De La Luna. I’ve been recording there for more than 10 years
now. But then Dave Grohl happened to be in town. He was more than happy to let
us go in there, it was just a matter of the timing. So it worked out. We were
able to fit a day in there and record everything in one day.

 

The songs you recorded, were they things you’ve been
working on the last two years?

It was stuff we’ve been working on within the last year.

 

What was the experience like having Dave produce, this
guy who was a 17-ear-old skinny drummer for you guys 25 years ago, and now he’s
producing you in L.A.?

He was too busy sitting on the couch smoking his cigar and
drinking brandy. If you want to make a great record, see who is assisting the
main dude. That’s usually the guy, the next guy, that’s the guy you want to
work with because that’s the guy who does all the work. Lou did all the work.
Lou would consult with him. Dave helped pick out drums. Good motivator.

 

You last recorded new
stuff in what, 1990? Why did it take 20 years to record again?

Just life gets in the way. We went on to do different
projects, all of us. Like old friends, when you get back together, haven’t seen
each other in a long time, you can just pick up right where you left off.
That’s definitely the case with us. Scream had already been a band for 10
years, which is a pretty good length of time. A lot of bands don’t last that
long. We all went on to form other bands, get married, have kids, all that
stuff.

 

Why the decision to
get back together in ’09?

The main reason was, for us, it’s kind of been a weird time
for all of us individually. A lot of people in the band had different
struggles. Us four getting together was a really great feeling. For the time
that we’re together we can kind of put that stuff behind for a little bit and
have some fun.

 

Short little tour
you’re doing here. A couple of weeks on the West Coast.

That’s all we can do really. Bits and pieces at a time.

 

Any plans at all to hit other parts of the country? East
Coast?

It’s really tough. If it was financially practical and we
could all do it, in a perfect world we’d do that. We’ll probably do something
on the East Coast next year hopefully. Really like to go back to Europe. Touring in Europe was awesome. We
have family there. I do a lot of tour managing to make a living. I’m very
fortunate I get to travel the world a lot working for other artists. I wanted
to give Skeeter and Kent
the opportunity to go back to Europe.
It was such a great time in our life the first time we went there. Kent left the
band, shortly after the first time we went to Europe, to raise a family. That’s when Dave
Grohl joined the band.  They haven’t had
the opportunities that me and my brother have had.

 

What’s been the reception at shows?

I’ll be honest with you. The turnouts haven’t been all that
great. Last night we played in Long
Beach. It was killer. The show was well attended and
went off. Some of these other cities we’ve played at, it’s kind of not
happening. Maybe we’ve been gone too long. Our record came out. Maybe we should
have waited a while. I don’t know. I don’t have a problem playing a small show
versus a large show. As far as the reception, it’s been great as far as the
people that come to the shows. It’s been kind of hit or miss. I have a really
good feeling about the rest of the tour. It’s just the way it goes.

 

It’s 30 years. Is
there any sort of 30-year anniversary effect going on? Is that something you
guys think about at all?

In D.C. where I’m from, we have this thing, a cicada, that
comes out every 30 years. That’s what we’re doing. We’re shedding our skin,
coming out, and then we’re going to bury ourselves back in the ground. I think
they come out, mate and then die.

 

Any long term plans as far as recoding?

Yeah, we have other songs that we didn’t finish and that we
didn’t record that day. We have other stuff that we have recorded already. I
hope that we get the opportunity to put out more new material. I’ve been
getting some great responses from people, been getting some good reviews, and
people say they love the songs. That really makes you feel good. That was
really important to us, to do something that was us, now. And people dig it.
That’s a fucking bonus.

 

 

[Photo Credit: Lisa Johnson]

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