Complete Control Sessions

BY Keith CarmanPublished Aug 16, 2011

Just over two decades after we last heard from the band infamous for featuring a pre-Nirvana Dave Grohl, despite having a wealth of importance and ability, Washington, DC's Scream have finally harvested the fruits of their two-year-long reunion. Dubbed Complete Control Sessions, these seven songs showcase an act wisely embracing their past while modestly pushing into new realms. Inviting a stronger pop sensibility, à la Hüsker Dü and Gang of Four, into the majority of their tunes and offsetting it with bouts of brazen Bad Brains-ish hardcore, this affair offers melody-driven refinement while still being biting and aggressive. Vocalist Pete Stahl has rarely sounded as comfortable, yet provocative, with his sharp, spot-on warble riding over hyperactive drums and locked-down strings on this crisp, rich EP. It's a wonderful surprise made all the more amusing when factoring in this was recorded both live and at Grohl's Studio 606. While clearly far from the dominant hardcore essence that propelled 1983 masterpiece Still Screaming, and much closer to the traditional rock'n'roll fortitude they displayed otherwise, there's certainly no lack of guttural attitude, stalking prowess or energized onslaughts. Exploratory yet familiar and succinct but filling, Complete Control Sessions is the perfect representation of a long-underrated piece of punk rock.

What inspired a new recording at this stage in Scream's legacy?
Vocalist Pete Stahl: For us, it was important to record new material if we were going to play shows again. We know people that would come to see us would really just want to hear the old shit ― that's cool and understandable ― but we had to validate the reunion in our minds, so-to-speak. We live in the present and we make music to live in the now as well. We still have a lot to say.

What were some of the hurdles in getting the music together?
Time ― everyone is busy with their lives: hustling work, raising families, trying to survive. Distance, with members living on opposite coasts. And money; we don't have any and it takes dough to bring all the pieces together.

What prompted an original line-up EP, but still recording at Grohl's? Was that strange in any way?
No, it was great; we had a blast. Grohl is part of our family and he offered his help. You don't refuse the family. We went in on a day off between shows, recorded the songs live, had a big dinner. It was very much as we have always been.

Have you been working on these tunes since first reuniting in 2009 or only recently?
Both, actually. Some were created on the spot, some were old riffs my brother [Franz, guitarist] had.

What were the easy parts in creating this?
Nothing is easy in this life except when we are finally able to get in one room together and play music.

How was it to get everyone firing on all cylinders?
All of us have continued in between Scream's various times of hiatus to play and create with other bands. To this day, we are all in multiple bands, so everyone in this band still performs at a high level.

What new influences have climbed into the mix?
Since our last record, a lot has happened to each of us individually, on a personal level, in the music we have each gotten into and been playing. We all draw from that, but when we get together collectively, it feels as if we pick up where we left off as only old friends can.

What old ones are still unavoidably there?
Our love of speed, power, soul, volume, herb and alcohol.

Personal favourite aspects?
I love the vibe and spontaneity of this recording.

How does the finish product fit into the band's canon?
That's for others to decide; we are happy with it and moving on.

Do you feel your sound has changed at all after so long?
Not really. Of course we don't sound exactly the same as we did 30 years ago, but our music is us and when we get back together, we find that we havn't changed as much as we might think we have... or should have.

Do you feel this release surpassed expectations?
It has definitely fulfilled our dreams; we didn't know if we would ever have the opportunity to record again.

At that, what are your aspirations for this work?
Ultimately, we would hope that it reaches some younger kids and other folks that had maybe never heard of us before. And for our old friends and fans, it reminds them that we aren't dead yet.

Will there be successive albums, EPs or the like?
We sure hope so, but we'll see. We have new songs written already for the next record and we also will be selling a cassette that has unreleased songs from 1982 and 2010 that we recorded with [Swedish rock hero] Jerry Williams. It will only be available at our shows; it's a tribute to him called Jerry's Free.

Anything you'd care to add?
I hope we can play in Canada someday, but unfortunately to do that we'd have to sneak into the country and that's not as easy to do as it once was.
(Side One Dummy)

Latest Coverage