Interview: Scream

Photo by Joel Dowling

It’s difficult to even discuss Dischord Records without mentioning Scream. The band left its mark during the eighties and, alongside many other DC bands, shapeshifted the hardcore punk scene forever. Over the years, their albums, such as Screaming For Change, This Side Up, Banging The Drum, No More Censorship, and Fumble, become classics that every household needs. The band currently works on a brand new album, so I grabbed the chance to chat with Franz Stahl (Scream, ex-Foo Fighters, DYS, Wool) about their new album, touring, plans for the future, and many other things. Enjoy!

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. How have you been? You’re currently on a European tour. How’s the crowd treating you so far? 

Good morning Thoughts Words Action. So far, things are going all right, We’re currently in Lublin, Poland. We’re going to be playing tonight at the Different Sounds musical festival here in Lublin. So we’re just starting this whole trip.

So we haven’t played in front of any crowds yet, but we’re all looking very forward to it. We’re feeling good, trying to be anyway, and I’m about to go to sound check in about an hour. Then we’ll be rocking tonight at 11:30 along with Soulside, another DC band and Dischord band, and a host of others.

Has crowd mentality changed since you were in Europe last time? Can you see any difference at hardcore punk shows now and then?

Regarding the crowds and the mentality, now and then, I really don’t see so much of a difference. People are still coming out and attending. I will say that it seems like more people are coming out, and more people are excited to finally be back in front of a live band and go to the shows considering what we’ve been going through the last few years regarding covid. So I think people are even more excited to be going to shows.

Speaking of touring, how does it feel being on the road after nearly three years of Covid lockdowns? Has Covid affected the work of the band anyhow? Have you had any rehearsals/activities during the lockdowns?

It feels really great to be out playing again after being locked down all these years. I mean, it’s what we fucking do, and you know, we have all this new material. Anyway, anybody will tell you it’s great to be playing again. Obviously and certainly covid has affected the band as far as rehearsing, doing shows, and just getting together in general.

It’s difficult to begin with because my brother and I, we live in LA and the rest of the band lives back on the East Coast, so that makes it a little difficult obviously. I mean, for the past couple of years, we’ve been sending music back and forth to each other. I know Skeeter and Kent have been jamming when they can get together on the East Coast, and my brother and I in LA have been getting together when we can in a rehearsal space and working on material, rushing up, and writing new stuff. But yes, it’s a blessing to be back playing again and yeah, covid has affected everybody that’s in this business in that regard.

There are rumors you’ve been working on your new album. Can you share more details about it? What your longtime fans can expect? Is it going to be a classic Scream record, or have you decided to incorporate some innovations in your sound? 

Yes, we have been working on a new record during a lockdown. For the past couple of years, I wrote a ton of music as well, as kind of finishing stuff that kind of I’d left to the side, and just working with other people that have helped me come up with some other ideas. It’s been a cumulation of the last two and a half years of putting all this material together and sending files back and forth to Skeeter, Kent, and my brother.

I was working kind of remotely putting this record together and then, at one point, we wanted to record all this stuff and we ended up going to Inner Ear in Virginia, which is the studio for Dischord Records. We began to work on this project, which is called DC Special. It’s an idea that my brother formulated with regards to having as many people as we can, friends of ours from other bands to come together and help us record this record, and it was a very huge effort. 

We ended up doing 17 songs in 10 days, which was crazy to begin with. We had a combination of all kinds of people come in and play. Like, somebody would come in and play drums and another guy would come in and play bass. Another guy would come in and play the mandolin, and keyboards. It is quite a departure from earlier Scream records, but the spirit and the band are still there and there’s plenty of fast, punk rock stuff. There’s a broader template of music that is just come through us, and then I’ve written in the last two years, but we’re really excited about it. 

We had a host of people come in and play on the record. People like Mark Cisneros from Hammered Hulls, Derrick Decker from Branch Manager, Brian Baker from Bad Religion, Dave Grohl from, I don’t know, whatever that band is called, I can’t remember, Amy Pickering from Fire Party, Joe Lally from Fugazi… So as you can tell, I mean it was a host of DC rockstars-DC alumni from the old school and the new school. We put together this record and that is why we entitled it DC special.

As I explained to you, how special it is regarding incorporating all these friends of ours that played on this record and we’re very much looking forward to getting it out there as soon as possible. So, once I finish this tour, which is actually a couple of shows, I’ll be returning to LA and finally begin mixing the other half of this record. We mixed a few of the songs in Inner Ear, the famous Dischord Records go-to studio that I’m sure many people are familiar with. Actually, the Scream record that we just recorded was the last album recorded at Inner Ear, which subsequently closed after we finish our recording.

Then Don, the other vendor there, opened up his studio again back in the basement where originally was, and now it’s a smaller version of Inner Ear. I was there several months ago mixing some of the first versions of the new Scream record. We will finish that up once I get off of this tour, but the Scream record, I mean, there will be maybe a few surprises. The music is kind of all over the place, but it’s still, I think, a classic Scream record or This Side Up or Banging The Drum or No More Censorship. But, you know, all the Scream hits are still there and we hope everybody enjoys it. We can’t wait to get it out.

It’s been nearly thirty years since you released Fumble, your last full-length. How has the writing, composing, and recording process changed over the years for you guys? Also, there are rumors Ian Mackaye is currently mixing your new record. Can you share more details on what it’s like to work with Ian and Dischord in general? 

Goddamn, was it 35 years or almost 30 years since Fumble? Well, as I told you before with covid obviously process of writing and rehearsing has drastically changed. It’s getting much better, but just from the get-go all four of those different parts of the country, my brother and I are in Los Angeles, and Skeeter and Kent are in DC. So we have to send them the files back and forth and do things remotely until we can get together and rehearse.

During covid, my brother and I did a few performances in LA. Just him and myself at The Viper Room. We played a benefit at Dodgers stadium during covid with a band, with the Donita Sparks from L7 and our good buddy Clint Walsh. He joins us periodically as a second guitar player for Scream. So yeah, we did the benefit there.

The process of writing for this particular record, as I said earlier, it’s been two years of me basically at home. Writing a handful of new material, getting ideas from everybody else, and writing from that. Finally finishing up stuff that I had to put aside and all this time on my hands I made songs out of them.

And yes, the rumors are true. Ian Mackaye was definitely a part of this new Scream record both in production and in mixing along with Don Zientara of The Inner Ear. Joey Picuri, a sound man for Fugazi also had his hands in on this. Then the other half and the rest of this record will be done in Los Angeles with our good friend Rob Schnapf over at Mant Studio. He’s done records for Beck and a host of other alternative acts in Los Angeles. We’re very excited to finally get this thing wrapped up and going. There have been too long, and delays and this process for several reasons.

About a month ago, I stumbled upon a rumor on some Reddit community chat about the possible appearance of Dave Grohl on some tracks. Is it true or just a rumor?

Yes, as I told you earlier, we have a host of people playing on this record. Mr. Grohl is making appearances on this record and hopefully, we can possibly even pull him to come down and play live shows with us but he’s a busy man. Who knows, never say never, right?

What are your plans after returning from Europe and releasing the record?

We do plan on coming out after this record sometime next year and doing more of a full tour. We are definitely into coming back to Europe and doing a longer trip, hopefully, to do some festivals and some club dates, but we definitely will work out this record first. Like I said earlier, the plan is when we finish this short little trip to go back home, finally mix, complete this record, get on the artwork and get this thing pretty good, cut and put out to everybody and we’re hoping the new Scream record will be out by the spring of 2023. So, we’ll keep you guys posted. 

That’s it. Thank you so much for your time. Anything you would like to say to the readers of Thoughts Words Action.

Once again, thank you for this interview Thoughts Words Action. Feel free to hit us up anytime, so we can keep you posted on when this record is coming out and everything Scream is doing. You can visit us on Instagram, Facebook, and other mediums. All of you take care.


Scream will be playing in Prague this Tuesday 12.07. Check out the gig poster for more info.

Scream - Live In Prague






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