Eric Brace
Dave Grohl
Publisher Title Transcript
Washington Post Back To The Primal Scream Yes

It might not have seemed like it at the time, but when Scream's bass player, Skeeter, bolted the band with no warning in Los Angeles, September of 1990, in the middle of the band's fourth or fifth tour across the country, he did the other guys a big favor. The Springfield-based punk band was too broke to make it back home, and too proud to ask the 'rents for cash, so the remaining members stayed in the City of Angels. Nearly three years later, brothers Peter and Franz Stahl have a major-label deal for their new band, Wool, and drummer David Grohl is making a decent wage playing with a Pacific Northwest trio you may have heard of named Nirvana.
A few months back, when local indie-punk label Dischord announced plans to release its Scream back-catalogue on CD, Peter Stahl decided that maybe a release-party reunion performance was in order and got on the phone with Grohl in Seattle and Skeeter in Washington. The fruits of those phone negotiations can be heard Sunday at the annual "Smoke Out" bash on the Mall, and Monday and Tuesday at the 9:30 club. "When Pete said all this was going to come out on CD, first he just asked me some questions about remixing the stuff," says Grohl. "Then it turned into 'Why not do a show at the 9:30?' Then it turned into a whole tour."
"It was just a matter of time before we did some kind of reunion," says Stahl. "We've always talked about it, but doing so many dates kind of surprised me. Now we just have to figure out what we're going to play." Scream has ample material to choose from, with 13 recordings out on 10 indie labels, including Dischord's most recent offering of material recorded but not released at the time of the breakup. After D.C., the band piles into the same old Dodge Ram van that carried it around the United States and Canada through the '80s (and brought the Stahl boys here this week) and heads off to New York, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

What about all the big-time commitments of big-time labels? "The Scream thing right now is the most important thing happening to me," says Grohl. "Nirvana's not really happening at all, with the new record not coming out till September 14."
The whole deal is a far cry from Baileys Crossroads, 1981, when Stahl, fresh out of high school and charged up by the D.C. hard-core scene, formed Scream with his younger brother, Franz, original drummer Kent Stax and Skeeter at J.E.B. Stuart High School. "We really just wanted to mess with the people in the neighborhood, all our redneck friends listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd," Stahl says, laughing. "We grew up in South Arlington, and most of the people we hung out with were better off than us," he says, explaining the roots of Scream's rebellious tunes. "Mom was raising us on her own with food stamps, and we went to a black church. We could see firsthand a lot of the prejudices and troubles around us. Skeeter's black, and some folks had a problem with that. We would go to demonstrations and rallies. All of that came together in our music."
Grohl joined the band after Stax left on account of fatherhood. "I was in a band called Dain Bramage," says Grohl, "and I saw a flier saying Scream was looking for a drummer. Man, I'd worshiped those guys. Seen them a billion times. I called up to audition, and I was 16 or 17 but said I was 20." He got the gig and was soon touring the world. "Being in Amsterdam when you're 18 years old is kind of a dream come true. Touring in the van, Skeeter would hold me down and stick his feet in my face. I was just this scrawny kid thrown into this totally crazy scene. When Pete found out I was really 10 years younger than him, he became my father figure, telling me what's right to do on tour and what's wrong to do. It was a life-learning experience."

The call from Nirvana came a month after the breakup of Scream, and things haven't been the same for Grohl since. What had been a well-respected punk band from outside Seattle somehow sold nearly 5 million copies of its Geffen debut, "Nevermind," meaning Grohl never has to worry about making the rent again.
"I'm so glad we're doing this," Grohl says of the Scream tour. "I think this will throw everything back into perspective for me. We'll play these clubs, and maybe sleep on people's floors like we always did, then in the fall I go out with Nirvana and fly into cities, and play in front of 10 or 15 thousand people, go to the nice hotel and watch TV till I fall asleep. It's not the same as playing on a small stage with guys who are basically my brothers."
After the tour, Franz and Peter return to L.A. to play guitar and sing, respectively, on Wool's first full-length release for London Records, with erstwhile Washingtonian Ted Nicely producing. They'll be joined by Pete Moffett, a former drummer with another local punk band, Government Issue, who made L.A. his home when Wool recruited him.

"I love Wool to death," says Grohl. "I think they're so super great. What I'm hoping is that when Nirvana goes out on the road, Wool can come along and open for us. It won't be as fun as playing with them, but at least I'll have them around."

© Eric Brace, 1993