Arts Desk

Scream’s Franz Stahl on Being a Teamster, Reconciling With Dave Grohl, and Playing Hardcore Fests Again

D.C. hardcore legends Scream are not the first band to do the punk reunion thing, and won't be the last. But they're doing it in earnest—or at least, as earnestly as adult life permits. Longtime Scream guitarist (and former Foo Fighter) Franz Stahl spoke with Arts Desk by phone from L.A. before flying out for a show at St. Stephen's Church this Saturday, a Positive Force benefit for D.C. Jobs with Justice.

How did the Jobs with Justice benefit come about?

They’d asked [singer] Pete [Stahl] earlier to do a show that we couldn’t do. Then, lo and behold, we got this show with the Bad Brains coming up in New York. So we thought, while we’re out there, let’s fill some dates. And it just happened that Mark [Andersen] was doing this benefit then. So it worked out. I’m pro-labor and support Jobs with Justice. I’m a union guy myself, Teamsters Local 399.

So what’s the status of Scream? You’ve released a new record, recorded a video. Are you doing this full-on, whenever you have time, back for a little while or what?

We haven’t really stopped playing since the record came out, including two weeks in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Belgium. It was really cool because Scream had not been to Europe for 25 years. We used to spend quite a bit of time there in the late '80s, when we were going there almost every summer. We’d like to do more, but we all have jobs and obligations.

What kind of jobs?

Pete’s job as a tour manager kicks in for tour season soon. His main band is Coheed and Cambria but they’re in the middle of recording, and he needs to pay the bills so he’s freelancing. He was just in Europe with Rival Sons, and before we head to D.C. he’s got a show with Earthlings? out in the California desert. Pete is so well known as a good tour manager that jobs mostly fall into his lap. He has to turn down work or else he wouldn’t get to play himself.

As I said I’m a Teamster and I work in the film industry. I mostly work on TV commercials. We actually just licensed a song for the soundtrack to this upcoming movie, Ted. It’s with Mark Wahlberg and directed by Seth MacFarlane. It’s live action but there’s an animated bear. He’s kind of a Family Guy bear, very rude and nasty. They’re using the song “Get Free” from our new Complete Control Sessions EP.

You guys recorded that EP with your former drummer, Dave Grohl. How did that come about?

We wanted to record these new tracks and were trying to figure out places to do it, and Dave basically said “Why don’t you do it at my studio? I’ll pretty much do it for free.” So we said OK. It was a really wonderful session, and he was around, helping us do our thing. We did the basic tracking in one day.

Were things rocky between you and Dave after you left the Foo Fighters?

Well, it didn’t end well, and I never saw him for years after that. It was only occasionally that I would run into him when I moved back here to L.A. Then, you know, after time, it all dissipated but nonetheless it was never really resolved. To be honest, we haven’t really talked about it. But at some point down the road we started texting each other and chatting. It became more like that when we did the record. There wasn’t anything said. But I’d certainly say we’re on much better terms than we were before.

You’re also playing with Dave Smalley in DYS. Do you feel that punk is trafficking primarily in nostalgia now with all the reunions?

It’s been going on for a while. There were certainly other bands blazing that trail, doing it before us. DYS is in the same boat as Scream because everyone has jobs. We can only go out for two weeks, and that’s cutting it close for some of those guys. But I figure, everyone else is doing it, so why not get away for the weekend, have some fun, show the kids the real deal from back in the day? You’d be surprised how many young kids are coming to these shows. DYS in particular mostly plays hardcore shows which are all ages. A lot aren’t even at clubs but at festivals, like the Sound and Fury festival in Northern California. I was kind of separated from that whole thing for a long time.

How is the hardcore scene different now compared to how you remember it?

Well, on the surface it seems pretty much the same as it was before. At the Sound and Fury fest there were tons of hardcore bands I hadn’t even heard of, some really good ones like Undefeated. Everyone had their merch table. But it wasn’t all the bands doing it but all these labels that strictly do hardcore, like Bridge 9. It’s as if there were 10 or 15 Dischord tables at a show. I think at my age it’s hard to put a proper spin on it because I’m older and feel a little outside the whole thing.

Scream plays with Beasts of No Nation, Möbius Strip, and Outlook on Saturday at 7 p.m. at St. Stephens Church, 1525 Newton St. NW. Positive Force benefit show for D.C. Jobs with Justice. $10.

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