Still Screaming: Peter Stahl discusses Scream's reunion
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Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, Chris Goss, Sunn O))); Peter Stahl has worked with all of them, just to name a few. Most recently, however, the former frontman for the legendary ’80s D.C. hardcore band Scream has reunited with his brother Franz and the other original members of the band—perhaps for good. Scream isn't just following the recent trend of cashing in on one-off reunion tours or those “play an album that came out 25 years ago from start to finish” shows. It is coming back entirely, even recording a split 7-inch with reggae and dub musician Lee “Scratch” Perry. Prior to Scream’s reunion show at The Black Cat on Sunday, Dec. 20, Peter spoke with The A.V. Club about the doom-metal and desert-rock scenes, bassist Skeeter Thompson’s trouble with the law, and mama Grohl’s annual Christmas party.
The A.V. Club: Who will be joining the reunion?
AVC: Why the reunion now?
PS: This is something we've wanted to do for a while, man. We’ve just never been able to pull it together. Everyone's been busy, has a family. Skeeter had been having issues with the law. It’s still not easy. Franz and I went home and were working together in West Virginia a month or two ago to jam with Kent on some new songs and Skeeter was not able to be there. There were some issues, so now we’re going back next week to jam a couple nights and do the show. Hopefully we’ll have the new material down and record stuff next year.
AVC: So this isn’t just a one-off reunion? You are going to record new material?
PS: Someone asked if we wanted to do split 7-inch with Lee “Scratch” Perry.
AVC: That’s quite a split.
PS: It’s an honor. Narnack Records asked us. They knew we were getting back together for a show and they were doing this special series, and they asked us who we would want to do it with. We knew they did Lee “Scratch” Perry and we’ve all been huge fans of him for forever. They said yeah. We are like “alright, now we gotta record.” [Laughs.] We also want to do a full-length record. We’re hoping we can do that.
AVC: What can fans expect at the Black Cat show? Will you be playing songs from your entire catalog?
PS: The whole goal was to do something new rather than just rehash the old records. The majority of the songs are from all the records, but a good chunk of it will be the new things we’ve been working on. We picked a few from each record, but the main thing is to introduce the new songs.
AVC: You have a pretty extensive discography. Why do you think Scream was so prolific?
PS: Man, I dunno. [It’s in] my blood. My father used to manage rock bands in the ’60s and we got right into the D.C. scene then. He managed The Hangmen. Kent and Skeeter were both in bands and Franz was in a band before Scream. I’ve been in bands ever since, too—Franz was in Foo Fighters, we were [both] in Wool for nine years. After Goatsnake [an ex-The Obsessed doom-metal band], I fell into the desert scene with the band Earthlings?, which was based around a Joshua Tree recording studio. I was fortunate enough to meet a really great group of people out here. I just love music.
AVC: How did you get involved with the doom-metal band Goatsnake? It seems like a whole different scene from what Scream was doing.
PS: I was surprised when they asked me. [Goatsnake] is actually playing a show, too. This is the year of reunions. We’re headlining a festival called Roadburn in Tilburg, which is a small town outside Amsterdam. We’re getting back together with all the original members. To get back to Scream and Goatsnake, there is a definite connection. Goatsnake was a by-product of The Obsessed, one of the great D.C. bands. We played together in the early days.
AVC: So you already knew them before you moved out to L.A.
PS: Yeah. We both kind of relocated out here to a certain degree...There’s another connection there, too. When Scream broke up, Skeeter had some family stuff and left our tour in middle of it. The last person I saw him with was Wino [Scott Weinrich, of The Obsessed]. Franz and I started Wool and toured with The Obsessed a lot, and Greg Anderson—who was in Engine Kid from Seattle—moved down here. He started Southern Lord Records and [Goatsnake] with the rhythm section of The Obsessed and asked me to sing. We’re all guys that came from the same scene.
AVC: I underestimated the connection, then.
PS: I actually met [Goatsnake bassist] Guy [Pinhas] when he was in No Pigs in Amsterdam during Scream. We played squats out there. He filled in for Skeeter when he left. It’s a long-time relationship.
AVC: Who are some of the more memorable musicians you've collaborated with?
PS: Wow. Man. Working in the studio, it would be with Chris Goss, a hero of mine. On stage, I don’t know, man. I’ve been very fortunate to play with great musicians. There is not one particular person that sticks out.
AVC: You also played with Dave Grohl and were a road manager for Foo Fighters. Are you two still close after all these years?
PS: I wouldn’t say we are close, but we are still good friends. We’re so busy; it’s a family kind of thing. We generally see each other on holidays. [Laughs.] His mom has a Christmas party, and I’m going to have to miss it this year. We cross paths work-wise—I still do that kind of work. Some bands I work with he’s taking out on the road. We run in same circle, we have a lot of mutual friends out here. We’re close enough to where it's not a big deal if don’t see each other for year and when you finally do, it’s like you just saw them last week.
AVC: So he’s not making a guest appearance at the Black Cat show?
PS: No. Though we have spoken recently, it hasn’t been about him playing with us. There are other opportunities coming up that [could involve us] doing some stuff together next year, but in the studio.
AVC: Is it easier or more difficult to play in a band with your brother?
PS: [Laughs.] It’s a bit of both. We get on each other all the time. It’s stuff I don’t even notice. We’ve been jamming with guys out here, nothing that has to do with Scream. They would tell me later about how tense it was during rehearsal between Franz and I. [Laughs.] I wont even notice it. I guess it’s like that with brothers. The other side of the coin is it’s very easy to work together. Inherently I know what he does, I can’t do what he does, and he comes up with great stuff. We’re able to communicate musically that way.
AVC: It sounds like everything is coming together.
PS: Yeah. Skeeter is in D.C. finally after being in Arkansas. In fact, he can’t leave D.C. [Laughs.] It’s a good time to do this now.