an interview with Pete Stahl of Scream, who are reissuing ‘Fumble’ (stream)
’80s-era DC hardcore vets Scream have been reunited for a few years now. They’ve already reissued a few of their records and released the new Complete Control Sessions EP in 2011 on SideOneDummy that they recorded in former Scream member Dave Grohl‘s Studio 606. Now they’re reissuing their final album, Fumble, which was recorded in 1989 but not initially released until 1993 after the band had already broken up. It’s their second of two albums with Grohl on drums, and also features the song “Gods Look Down,” one of the earliest recordings with Grohl’s lead vocals. The reissue comes out in May on Dischord (pre-order), and we’re premiering a stream of the remastered “Dying Days.” For the uninitiated, this album (and the one before it, 1988’s No More Censorship), had Scream slowing down and writing in a more post-hardcore/alternative rock style before that sound took off on a mainstream level. Listen to “Dying Days” below.
I spoke to Scream frontman Pete Stahl, who’s sung for other bands like the also-reunited Goatsnake. We talked about both of those bands, some new stuff Pete digs, working with Dave Grohl, and the time Pennywise guitarist Fletcher Dragge cleared out space for a pit during Scream’s set at the Jon Bunch tribute. Read on for the interview.
BV: You guys have been reunited for quite a bit now, and you’ve played live as recently as just a few months ago. Being that you’ve basically been in other bands the entire time since Scream’s initial breakup, what is it like performing these songs now and seeing crowds react to music you wrote thirty years ago?
Pete Stahl: It’s the best!! Especially when you meet people at the shows and they tell you how a song or album affected their lives at certain time or how it does now. It brings us together as one all in that moment. We played a benefit a couple weeks ago (Jon Bunch memorial) and we met a bunch of musicians where we heard that sentiment which i totally relate to as well cause that is our genesis to as a band and musicians.
One highlight that day was during set going into “Came Without Warning” and through the glare of the lights i see one big dude clearing space in the crowd. Come to find out later from [Scream bassist Skeeter Thompson] that it was Fletcher from Pennywise and he later told Skeeter how that song and record was one of the ones that inspired him to start the band.
Has your perspective on the Scream songs changed over the years?
Yes and no. Sometimes in the moment when singing I’m reminded how goofy or naive or idealistic a song was maybe, but that’s how we are and always have been. It may be simple but comes from a place of wanting to sing something true and tell a story and through my current looking glass feel the same.
Last year you got back with Goatsnake for a new album, and you did that new Scream EP in 2011. Are there any plans to write a new full length album with Scream too?
[About that EP…] It was important for us at the time that if we are going to play shows we have new songs to play. We know people just want to hear the old records but we usually come up with a new jam every time we get together for a show rehearsal so we have to get that shit out there for our own validation! I have been trying to lock Ian down to record another disc with us and he seems to be opening up to that idea now. My brother and I may have to move back to DC to make it happen, in order to stay within the local band protocol the label has but since [drummer Kent Stax] and Skeet and our parents still live in the DC area I feel we fit the bill and hope the Dischord radius clause is loosened up a bit for us.
You probably get asked about working with Dave Grohl a lot, but being that Fumble has “Gods Look Down,” how did it come about that Dave would actually do lead vocals on a song? Could you tell at the time that he would ever be writing very popular music?
Yes definitely. His songwriting and overall talent was obvious to all of us. That’s why we wanted him in the band. He was already writing tunes when he joined us at 17 and by the time we recorded Fumble he had the a bunch of songs, some of which ended up being on the Pocketwatch cassette that Jenny Toomey put out of his [on her label Simple Machines]. I really wanted to include his music on Fumble cause we were a band and we liked what he wrote. His songs have always had a great melodic hooks.
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Scream hooked back up with Dave Grohl at that surprise 2010 reunion at 9:30 (and when you recorded your 2011 EP at his studio). Can we expect you guys to team up again in the future?
It would be cool to play the songs from Fumble and also No More Censorship sometime with Dave but he is a very busy man with family, the Foo’s and film etc… but you never know what tomorrow brings. Two years ago i got a text from him about doing a project with the Bad Brains. We did one show and recorded some songs but unfortunately we never completed it. Still we def do get some perks like working at 606! Lately my brother [Scream guitarist and former Foo Fighters guitarist] Franz has been remixing “No More Censorship” there when the studio is open.
It’s cool for me to see someone like yourself, who came out of the early hardcore scene, take great younger bands out on tour. Like for example you had Black Breath open several dates on the Goatsnake tour last year. That band rules. What other modern bands are you digging lately?
Big Brave from Montreal, Ache from NYC, Nomad Stones from Boston, Hiss from Seattle, Nails from Oxnard, Graveyard from Sweden, Thelma and the Sleeze from Nashville, Ty Segall from Los Angeles, Rival Sons from Long Beach, CA, Pelican from Chicago… there are so many!!