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- Posted on Aug 24th 2011 4:00PM by Theo Bark
Louise Johnson Photography
After the band's third album, 1987's 'Banging the Drum,' original drummer Kent Stacks was replaced by 17-year-old phenom Dave Grohl, but Scream couldn't make things last. The group broke up shortly in 1990 when troubled bassist Skeeter Thompson went AWOL mid-tour and a frustrated Grohl joined Nirvana.
Almost 30 years after the band was founded, Scream's original lineup has reunited to record their 'Complete Control Recording Sessions' live EP in Grohl's Studio 606, which picks up right where the band's last album, the 1993-released 'Fumble,' left off. Spinner spoke with Pete Stahl about his musical career, his extensive background as the tour manager for bands like Grohl's Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age and Coheed and Cambria, and how it feels to look back on his fledgling hardcore scene, decades later.
When did you guys decide to start playing shows again?
We got together in 2009 to play a Christmas show back home, and we'd been talking about getting together and writing new songs, but Skeeter and Kent live on the East Coast and me and Franz are on the West Coast, so it's been tough. And just like everybody else, everyone's kinda hurting, you know? Skeeter's been in and out of jail -- in fact, he's in jail right now -- and Kent lost his house. My brother's a teamster and he's been hustling work and trying to raise a family, and I've been bouncing around.
I really wanted to get back together with everyone to have some fun and do something good for all of us. Everyone's been kinda struggling individually, and being together just makes us stronger, so we just thought we could get together and write some new music and just play some shows. And just like every band, everyone just wants to hear their first or second record, but for me it was important to have new stuff, so we wrote a bunch of new songs.
As a lifelong member of the hardcore punk scene, when you look back on the early years, what do you think?
It was such a special time, especially when we first started playing in the early '80s and going up to New York for the first time. What I think about most is all the people and friendships to this day that I still have. There's this community that came out of it that's like a big spider, that's just everywhere, you know? I have so many friends from playing music, all different kinds of music, but it definitely started then. Whatever we've done since is just a continuation.
When you find out that someone's from the scene, do you feel like there's a certain trust, or that you have a similar background or ethic?
Yeah! It's a sense of where you came from, for sure. It is hard to put in words. I was thinking about this the other day, because one of the freight companies that I use a lot for different groups that I work for, the guy that runs it is an old NYHC dude, and that's kinda why [I use them]. You stick with your family and friends, like you said. There's a trust there that comes with that, you know? A common bond.
When you started recording with Scream again, did you feel like you had the same feeling for the music and beliefs?
I feel so. I feel like we're still struggling to make it in life, and to make ourselves heard. There's definitely never a lack of things to pull from, to give you that spark. For the music, it is a little tough for me and Franz to write by ourselves without a rhythm section, so that changes things a bit. Now that we're playing again, I hope that we're able to collectively write some stuff and jam stuff out and develop stuff that way, which is how we'd normally do it. But the shows have been good and the band's playing at a high level, and we added a guitar player, this guy Clint Walsh who plays in the Dwarves sometimes, and used to play in Gnarls Barkley for a couple years. He's actually from Boston, and he's an amazing guitarist and fun to hang out with. Those are the two requirements.
Over the years, you got into tour management, and you currently work with Coheed and Cambria.
Yeah, I was always the guy in the band to set up, to drive the van and with Scream I booked tours. I booked that first tour with Ian [MacKaye]'s help at Dischord. That was the network that was happening back then. I went over to Europe and booked our first tour of Europe too, so I always did that kind of thing. After Scream, I was in Wool for a few years, then after Wool I started doing assistant tour managing for Foo Fighters, and then started tour managing Queens of the Stone Age, and just kinda fell into that, working for other bands to make a living. I worked for Rammstein on one tour, where I did press in America, but mostly tour managing. I tried my hand at managing a couple bands, but both projects didn't move forward, so I'm still back on the road and still work for Coheed a lot. They're a pretty busy band.
Scream Perform With Dave Grohl in 1988
What was it like seeing Dave join Nirvana after Scream broke up?
Well, when he joined that band I was really happy for him. I know personally that the band didn't expect to become as successful as they did, and especially so fast. I remember when they finished that record, and I remember Dave talking about how much it cost to make it, like "How are we ever gonna make that money back?" 'cause they'd done a major-label record. Gosh, I had a lot of good times with those guys in that one little period before 'Nevermind' came out, and shortly after. We hung out a bunch because those guys came down to record that record in Los Angeles, and they were staying close to where me and my brother lived at. I remember Kurt being a really funny and fun guy, with a good sense of humor, and Krist [Novoselic] is a great guy. It happens once in a generation where a band comes along like that, and just takes it by the throat and takes it somewhere new.
How did Dave join Scream?
Our drummer Kent Stacks wanted to leave. He had just had a baby and he didn't want to tour anymore. Now he can go on tour, his daughter is teaching at a University in Wilmington, N.C.. But so Skeeter's like "You gotta see this f---ing drummer play. He is f---in' badass," so I went down to [venue] D.C. Space and he was playin' with his band Dain Bramaged, and everybody in the room was watching the drummer, not the band. I was like "Wow."
At that time, you could just see he had something very special, and it turned out he loved Scream. He wanted to get out of town, go on the road, and we were able to offer that to him. He came over and rehearsed, and he knew the songs already. He's just a natural. He also kinda changed the energy of the band at that time because of the way he plays. Kent Stacks is an equally amazing drumer, but he's kind of an old-school drummer, plays with his wrists a lot and has a different style, while Dave is more of a heavier, straight-ahead drummer, and more of a hard hitter. He influenced a whole generation of drummers, just like John Bonham influenced him. But that's basically how that happened. He was only 17 at the time, and then we became family and toured Europe a bunch of times. I think he learned a lot about music, a lot about touring and life in general, like we all did on the road together.
We broke up out on the road as well, in L.A., just 'cause Skeeter Thompson has these demons he's always struggling with, and it was like the second or third time Skeeter had got up and left in the middle of the tour. We started looking for another bass player, I think we may have auditioned one person because we still had like 16 shows to get back home. Then while we were looking for another bass player the Nirvana guys called down and asked Dave if he wanted to come up there, I think originally just to fill in. Same thing hapened to them that happened to us -- as soon as they played with him they're like "You're in." He's just a natural like that. My personal opinion is, I don't think they would have had the success that they had without Dave. He has this special energy, and I think he took them to another level in the way they play; you never know about those things, but that's just the feeling that I have from having played with Dave.