Stabbing Westward

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Stabbing Westward
Stabbing Westward in 2018
Stabbing Westward in 2018
Background information
OriginMacomb, Illinois, U.S.
Genres
Years active1985–2002
2016–present
Labels
MembersChristopher Hall
Walter Flakus
Carlton Bost
Bobby Amaro
Past membersJim Clanin
Andrew Hunter
Chris Vrenna
David Suycott
Stuart Zechman
Mark Eliopulos
Jim Sellers
Andy Kubiszewski
Derrek Hawkins
Johnny Haro
Websitestabbingwestward.com

Stabbing Westward is an American industrial rock/alternative rock band. Christopher Hall and Walter Flakus formed the band in 1985[1] in Macomb, Illinois. The band released an extended play in 1992, followed by four studio albums: Ungod (1994), Wither Blister Burn & Peel (1996), Darkest Days (1998), and Stabbing Westward (2001). The band announced a dissolution in February 2002.[2] Two compilation albums were later released in 2003. Stabbing Westward reunited in 2016 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its formation[3] and continued to perform live shows. The band's first new album in 21 years, Chasing Ghosts, was released in 2022.

History[edit]

Early years (1985–1992)[edit]

Christopher Hall and Walter Flakus formed the band Stabbing Westward when they were in college. They came up with the name while working at the college radio station WIUS-FM. It was allegedly from a 1950s speech regarding political fears of Communism "stabbing westward."[4] During an interview in 1996, Hall stated, "Since we went to Western Illinois University, [the name] Stabbing Westward had a certain 'kill everybody in the school' vibe to it! The school's way out in farm country and the country is really close minded. I was walking around like Robert Smith with real big hair, big baggy black clothes, black fingernail polish and eye makeup. They just didn't get it. We hated the town."[5]

Moving to Chicago, Illinois in 1985, the original lineup for Stabbing Westward consisted of Hall on bass guitar and lead vocals, Flakus on keyboards, and Jim Clanin on guitar. Clanin would briefly be replaced on guitar by Andrew Hunter, and bassist Jim Sellers was added on as well. This lineup of the band recorded the 1991 [6] extended play tape Iwo Jesus, and featured four songs: an early version of "Violent Mood Swings" (titled "Violent Mood Swing"), "P.O.M.F." (which contains elements of the later song "The Thing I Hate"), an early version of "Shame", and "Plastic Jesus". "Violent Mood Swing" was also included on the 1992 compilation CD The Cyberflesh Conspiracy.[7]

The band's official website stated that "the original EP was recorded on an 8 track tape machine synched to an Emax II Sampler and an EMU SP1200 sampling drum machine. 100 copies were originally printed and sold both at local shows and in the legendary Wax Trax Record store in Chicago."[6]

Hall took a brief break to tour with the band Die Warzau as that group's percussionist before continuing to work on Stabbing Westward. Hall, Flakus, and Sellers later recruited Chris Vrenna (Nine Inch Nails) on drums,[8] as Hall had met Vrenna when playing in Die Warzau. Vrenna played drums on all of the demo recordings that ultimately landed Stabbing Westward their record deal with Columbia Records.[8] The demo recordings included "Violent Mood Swings", "Lies", and "Nothing". They were recorded at a studio in Evanston, Illinois. At the insistence of the band's record label, Stuart Zechman was brought in on guitar, as previous guitarist Hunter was no longer in the band. Vrenna also returned to Nine Inch Nails, and thus David Suycott was brought in on drums.[8]

Ungod (1993–1995)[edit]

With a solidified lineup including Zechman on guitar and Suycott on drums, the band in 1993 recorded at Eden Studios, London with producer John Fryer.[8] This resulted in their major label (Columbia Records) debut album, Ungod, which was released on February 15, 1994.[8] The band landed an opening slot on Depeche Mode's Exotic Tour in summer 1994,[8] and opened North American tour dates in fall 1994 for Killing Joke, but Stabbing Westward's album sales still didn't increase.[8]

David Suycott abruptly dropped out of the band toward the end of the Ungod tour.[8] Andy Kubiszewski was called in to replace Suycott's position for the remainder of the shows.[8] This fast replacement required Kubiszewski to learn all of Suycott's parts while on his flight to meet with the band. Kubiszewski became a permanent fixture of Stabbing Westward.

Wither Blister Burn & Peel (1995–1997)[edit]

When Stuart Zechman departed the band after the Ungod tour due to personal differences,[9] the remaining band members found themselves without one of their major songwriters. New drummer Andy Kubiszewski took over some songwriting duties afterward.[8] Prior to playing in Stabbing Westward, Kubiszewski had not only played drums in The The, recorded one song for Nine Inch Nails,[8] and played in Prick, but had been the singer and songwriter in the Cleveland-based Exotic Birds. Shortly after Zechman's departure, Kubiszewski played the band dozens of demos and Exotic Birds recordings. Included were "What Do I Have to Do?",[8] "Haunting Me", "Sometimes It Hurts", "Crushing Me",[8] "Slipping Away", "Desperate Now", and "Goodbye". These tracks would later find space on both the Wither and Darkest Days albums. When the band headed to Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, New York, without a permanent guitar player, they decided to play all the guitar parts themselves, with Sellers and Kubiszewski taking on most of the guitar duties.

In 1996, the Wither Blister Burn & Peel LP became a success,[8] landing them their first certified gold album, aided by the singles "Shame" and "What Do I Have to Do?" which granted the band heavy rotation on MTV, MuchMusic, and radio. Tour mates for this album included Sponge. "What Do I Have to Do?" was featured in 1997's Masterminds, as well as in the episode "Tempest" of Smallville years later. The band later recruited Mark Eliopulos after the Wither recording sessions were completed to handle the live element of the main guitar parts.

Darkest Days (1998–2000)[edit]

Stabbing Westward relocated to Los Angeles, where they began work on the 1998 album, titled Darkest Days.[8] Darkest Days was envisioned as a four-act story by the band (but never marketed as such). This is the only release featuring studio work by Mark Eliopulos. The first single "Save Yourself" had success yet the album failed to sell as well as its predecessor. Stabbing Westward continued to tour with bands like Placebo, The Cult, Monster Magnet, and Depeche Mode, while playing numerous summer festivals. Due to a broken collarbone, Kubiszewski was forced to sit out the remainder of the touring cycle. He was replaced for three dates by former drummer Chris Vrenna, then Johnny Haro for the remaining dates. Haro joined Econoline Crush after Kubiszewski's return.

Stabbing Westward and breakup (2001–2002)[edit]

After signing with Koch Records, the new manager wanted the band to create an album with a heavy pop influence. Christopher Hall, Walter Flakus, and Mark Eliopulos fought against the decision. Mark Eliopulos was fired by the manager who then brought in Derrek Hawkins as both a studio and live musician, as well as a new producer, Ed Buller.[10]

The demo for the self-titled album was considered too dark. Old guitar parts from the demos were muted and new pop-driven riffs were created by the new guitarist.[10]

The self-titled album, Stabbing Westward, was released on May 22, 2001, and featured the hit "So Far Away". The album did well in Australia, but ultimately failed to sell worldwide.[10] Before a fifth LP could be recorded, the band did not sign for a new record deal and formally announced that they had disbanded on February 9, 2002.

Post-breakup (2003–2015)[edit]

  • Lead singer Christopher Hall formed the Los Angeles-based band The Dreaming in 2001. They released their debut album Etched In Blood in June 2008. Songs from the album received airplay on XM Satellite Radio and rock stations nationwide. The album was distributed in Hot Topic and Best Buy. The band spent three years touring as a headliner and co-headliners with bands such as Trust Company and Flaw. In November 2011, the band released its second album, Puppet. It reached No. 32 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart.[11] Their third album, Rise Again, was released in February 2015. From the Ashes, a remix album, was released in June 2017.
  • Walter Flakus has been working with The Clay People and Chokt. He was the APD/Music Director/Afternoon host for Chicago alternative station 101 WKQX. He is now an afternoon DJ for Seattle alternative station 107.7 The End. He joined Hall's band The Dreaming in 2015.
  • Jim Sellers and his wife opened a natural foods market called Sellers Market in 2005. It appears to have closed in 2012.[12]
  • Jim Clanin left the music industry. He owned and operated a Dairy Queen in Illinois.
  • Andy Kubiszewski has filled in as the drummer for a handful of Prick shows, joined a new project called Affected with Chris Schleyer, written and produced several songs for the popular Russian pop duo t.A.T.u., and has composed music for dozens of TV shows, including Monster Garage, Monster House, Ax Men, America's Toughest Jobs, The Colony, and most recently Storage Wars. Other film credits include Jam. Andy also composes the music to the popular Habla Blah Blah line of kids CDs.
  • Mark Eliopulos played guitar in the bands Violent New Breed, HTH, Super Model, and Brave Ulysses.
  • Johnny Haro joined Econoline Crush after briefly playing drums for Stabbing Westward. He eventually formed The Dreaming along with Christopher Hall.
  • Stuart Zechman retired from the music industry. He moved to New York and started a family.
  • David Suycott joined Machines of Loving Grace in 1995 as their new drummer. He continues to do production and remix work with various bands.
  • Derrek Hawkins continued to work in the music industry, notably contributing to the song "Outer Space" on Ace Frehley's 2009 solo album Anomaly.

In June 2010, a rumor was afloat that Stabbing Westward would reunite to tour and possibly work on new material;[13][14] however, this proved false. In July 2012, a fan created a petition which asked frontman Christopher Hall to reconcile with his former Stabbing Westward bandmates for a reunion tour;[15] again, the reunion never happened.

Christopher Hall, Walter Flakus, and Johnny Haro reunited at one of The Dreaming's shows in Las Vegas on November 15, 2013.[16] Flakus would later join The Dreaming on a permanent basis.

Reunion and Chasing Ghosts (2015–present)[edit]

Stabbing Westward reunited in 2015 after Eliopulos joined them onstage to play a set of Stabbing Westward songs when the Dreaming came through Chicago on their "Rise Again" tour on June 11, 2015. The band officially reunited for two shows, which coincided with the band's 30th anniversary. The first show took place in Chicago on September 22, 2016, as a part of the Cold Waves Festival, a charity festival benefiting suicide prevention causes. The lineup featured Christopher Hall, Walter Flakus, Mark Eliopulos, and Johnny Haro along with Carlton Bost (mainly known from The Dreaming, and also the reunited bands Orgy and Berlin). Jim Sellers did not take part in the reunion because of work commitments. The second show took place at Dracula's Ball in Philadelphia on October 31, 2016, at the Trocadero Theatre.[17]

In a January 2017 interview with audioBoom, Walter Flakus was asked if there would be more Stabbing Westward reunion shows in the future. His response was, "We'll see. I don't have anything planned yet, but I'm always open to opportunities. It was great to get back on stage and play those songs again."[18] Dates for a full tour began to be announced in February 2017.[19] The band also performed at the 2017 edition of Cold Waves Festival in Chicago, Illinois.[20]

In May 2020, the band announced their signing to label COP International for their forthcoming studio album Chasing Ghosts, the band's first full studio album since 2001. The lead single was "I Am Nothing" and the album was released on March 18, 2022.[21]

Musical style and influences[edit]

Stabbing Westward is most commonly described as industrial rock[22][23][24] and alternative rock,[25][26][27] but also as industrial metal[28][29] and alternative metal.[30] The group has often been compared to Nine Inch Nails, but according to Alan Escher of AllMusic, the band "owe more to the British synth poppers Depeche Mode than anyone." Christopher Hall's vocals have been compared to Nine Inch Nails singer Trent Reznor.[31] Stabbing Westward's debut album Ungod has been described by Escher as "lo-fi aggro-synth assault". Stabbing Westward moved to a very guitar-driven sound on Wither Blister Burn & Peel.[31] The self-titled album in 2001 shows a less heavy and more melodic sound than previous albums.[32] Stabbing Westward's influences include Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Soundgarden, The Cure, Bauhaus, The Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division, and Pearl Jam.[33][34]

Members[edit]

Current[edit]

  • Christopher Hall – lead vocals, guitars, keyboards, drum machine programming (1985–2002, 2016–present)
  • Walter Flakus – keyboards, programming, backing vocals (1985–2002, 2016–present)
  • Carlton Bost – guitar, bass (2016–present)
  • Bobby Amaro – drums (2018–present)

Former[edit]

  • Jim Clanin – guitars (1985–1990)
  • Andrew Hunter – guitars (1990–1991)
  • Chris Vrenna – drums (1992, 1998)
  • David Suycott – drums (1993–1994)
  • Stuart Zechman – guitars (1993–1995)
  • Jim Sellers – bass (1990–2002)
  • Andy Kubiszewski – drums, guitars, keyboards, backing vocals (1994–1998, 1998–2002)
  • Derrek Hawkins – guitars, backing vocals (1999–2002)
  • Johnny Haro – drums (1998, 2016–2018)[failed verification]
  • Mark Eliopulos – guitars, backing vocals (1995–1999, 2016–2019)

Timeline[edit]

Color denotes main live duty.

Discography[edit]

Stabbing Westward discography
Studio albums5
Compilation albums2
Music videos11
EPs3
Singles13

Studio albums[edit]

Year Title Chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
Sales
US
[35]
US Heat.
[36]
US Ind.
[37]
AUS
[38]
1994 Ungod
1996 Wither Blister Burn & Peel
  • Released: January 23, 1996
  • Label: Columbia
  • Format: CD, LP, MC
67 1
1998 Darkest Days
  • Released: April 7, 1998
  • Label: Columbia
  • Format: CD, HDCD, LP, MC
52 79
2001 Stabbing Westward
  • Released: May 22, 2001
  • Label: Koch
  • Format: CD, MC
47 2 97
2022 Chasing Ghosts
"-" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

EPs[edit]

Year Name Label
1992 Iwo Jesus[6] Self-released
2019 Iwo Jesus
2020 Dead and Gone[41]
Hallowed Hymns[42] COP International

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Name Label
2003 The Essential Stabbing Westward Sony
What Do I Have to Do?

Singles[edit]

Year Song Chart positions Album
US Airplay
[43]
US Modern
[44]
US Main.
[45]
AUS
[38]
1993 "Violent Mood Swings" Ungod
1994 "Control"
"Lies"
"Nothing"
1996 "What Do I Have to Do?" 60 11 7 Wither Blister Burn & Peel
"Shame" 69 14 7
1998 "Sometimes It Hurts" 39 20 Darkest Days
"Save Yourself" 20 4 64
1999 "Haunting Me" 34 19
2001 "So Far Away" 21 23 85 Stabbing Westward
2020 "Dead and Gone"[46] Dead and Gone
2021 "I Am Nothing" Chasing Ghosts
2022 "Ghost"
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.
  • The songs "What Do I Have to Do?" and "Shame" were not released as commercial singles, and they charted on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay as they received airplay.

Promotional singles[edit]

Year Song Album
1996 "I Don't Believe" Wither Blister Burn & Peel
2001 "Angel" Stabbing Westward

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Stabbing Westward to reunite for 30th anniversary". Axs.com. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  2. ^ "The Dreaming – Metropolis Records". Metropolis-records.com. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  3. ^ "KMFDM, Stabbing Westward to headline Chicago's Cold Waves Festival 2017". Axs.com. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  4. ^ "Entertainment Ave! The Concert Hall - A Question & Answer Interview with Andy Kubiszewski of Stabbing Westward, November 21, 1996". entertainmentavenue.com. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  5. ^ Interview by George Lecorchick, R & R Reported, April 1996
  6. ^ a b c "IWO JESUS RESURRECTED". STABBING WESTWARD. Archived from the original on April 25, 2019. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  7. ^ "Cyberflesh Conspiracy - Various Artists - Release Info". AllMusic.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Colin Larkin, ed. (1999). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Heavy Rock (First ed.). Virgin Books. p. 420. ISBN 0-7535-0257-7.
  9. ^ "Entertainment Ave! The Concert Hall - A Question & Answer Interview with Andy Kubiszewski of Stabbing Westward, November 21, 1996". Entertainmentavenue.com. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c "Christopher Hall Interviewed about Stabbing Westward & The Dreaming". YouTube. November 9, 2011. Archived from the original on March 8, 2016. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  11. ^ "The Dreaming - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  12. ^ Frojo, Renee (October 30, 2012). "Sellers Markets shutters in Financial District, prepares for express shops". Bizjournals.com. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  13. ^ "Stabbing Westward Reunited; Planning Tour This Year". Tunelab.com. June 8, 2010. Archived from the original on June 11, 2010. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  14. ^ "Stabbing Westward "Reunion" Update". Tunelab.com. June 9, 2010. Archived from the original on June 15, 2010. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  15. ^ Garcia, Mike. "STABBING WESTWARD reunion in the works?". Idioteq.com. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  16. ^ "» The Dreaming | Stabbing Westward Reunion". Musictourreviews.com. Archived from the original on June 11, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  17. ^ "Dracula's Ball Halloween 2016". draculasball.com. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  18. ^ "071 – WALT FLAKUS – on Stabbing Westward's rise, fall, and rebirth; his radio career; and filling in for the great Matt Pinfield". audioboom.com. Archived from the original on January 18, 2017. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  19. ^ "Stabbing Westward - Tickets - Trees - Dallas, TX - April 28th, 2017". treesdallas.com. Archived from the original on January 30, 2017. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  20. ^ Lee, Christopher (March 30, 2017). "Cold Waves Festival Announces 2017 Lineup Featuring Front 242, KMFDM and Stabbing Westward". music.mxdwn.com. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  21. ^ Price, Jason (March 14, 2022). "Chasing Ghosts". IconvsIcon.
  22. ^ Klein, Joshua (November 20, 1998). "Stabbing Westward Offers Industrial Rock With a Difference". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  23. ^ "Stabbing Westward Cut Out". MTV. February 11, 2002. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  24. ^ "CD Reviews - Dead And Gone Stabbing Westward". Blabbermouth.net. January 20, 2020. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  25. ^ Feinerman, Drew (May 21, 2020). "Stabbing Westward Enlists John Fryer to Produce First New LP in Almost 20 Years Wasteland -". mxdwn Music. Retrieved February 20, 2024.
  26. ^ "Ungod - Stabbing Westward | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  27. ^ Childers, Chad (December 8, 2019). "Stabbing Westward Eye First New Music Since 2001". Loudwire. Retrieved February 20, 2024.
  28. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Darkest Days - Stabbing Westward". AllMusic. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  29. ^ Chirtsov, Anton (May 16, 2017). "17 Best Industrial Metal Bands". Ultimate Guitar. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  30. ^ Voight, Andrew. "Through the Eyes of Fascination". HM. Retrieved May 12, 2022.
  31. ^ a b Escher, Alan. "Wither Blister Burn & Peel - Stabbing Westward". AllMusic. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  32. ^ Jonas, Liana. "Stabbing Westward - Stabbing Westward". AllMusic. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  33. ^ "The Man Behind The Music and The Mayhem - Interview with Chris Hall". Cool Magazine. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  34. ^ "Interview - Christopher Hall of Stabbing Westward". Cryptic Rock. October 9, 2018. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  35. ^ "Stabbing Westward - Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. January 22, 2015. Retrieved February 17, 2015.[dead link]
  36. ^ "Stabbing Westward - Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 17, 2015.[dead link]
  37. ^ "Stabbing Westward - Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 17, 2015.[dead link]
  38. ^ a b Australian (ARIA Chart) peaks:
  39. ^ a b c d "Ask Billboard". billboard.com. January 6, 2007. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  40. ^ a b "RIAA - Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - September 03, 2015". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on September 4, 2015. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  41. ^ Childers, Chad (December 8, 2019). "Stabbing Westward Eye First New Music Since 2001". Loudwire.
  42. ^ "STABBING WESTWARD Drops Surprise Covers EP 'Hallowed Hymns'". Blabbermouth. October 30, 2020.
  43. ^ "Stabbing Westward - Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  44. ^ "Stabbing Westward - Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  45. ^ "Stabbing Westward - Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  46. ^ Kaufman, Spencer (January 3, 2020). "Stabbing Westward Release Dead & Gone EP, Unveil Video for Title Track". Consequence. Retrieved June 10, 2021.

External links[edit]