Scream’s Franz Stahl Talks New Album DC Special

Cover Photo Credit: Joel Dowling

DC hardcore legends Scream (whose lineup once involved a certain musician named Dave Grohl) have returned with a new album after 30 years. DC Special is an explosive celebration that includes 18 songs in the span of an hour, as well as many talented guest musicians in the mix including Grohl, Mark Cisneros, Ian MacKaye, Joe Lally, and more. We sent our questions to founding member Franz Stahl to find out more about it. After a short wait, he replied back.

How are you doing, Franz? How does it feel to put out a new Scream record after 30 years? 

Well, hello, and thank you for this opportunity. And, I must say this is my first interview from Turkey, and I’m interested and know very little about the Turkish music scene.

It is of course bittersweet this record release, and of course very excited, as we all are, for this record to finally come out. Bittersweet more than anything as we lost our beloved drummer and founding member Kent Stacks prior to its release. This is his legacy record, and he shall never be replaced. 

Can you briefly tell how DC Special came to be to our readers? For the recording process, you also experienced remote work for the first time, right? How did that feel? 

The process of this record involved many facets of idea, production, and process. Originally devised musically through demos over a period of 2 years, much of its spontaneity came about through the COVID period. The meaning and lyrics and its intentions were devised by several different takes the entire way through songwriting, circumstances, friendships, limitations, and unknown expectations. We used the community of our musical friends to help define, determine, and help us close the past years of COVID and a beloved studio that was to shut down very soon. 

The record, to me, essentially sounds like a celebration of friends, unity, history, and the cherishing of the moment despite anything that gets in the way. Do you think I got it right?

It certainly was a celebration and, at the same time an endeavor of creating music as we’ve always done. It involved so much of each of us. The whole recording process was also filmed, and documented by my wife, Sal Owen, and her team. Insight to it all will at some point come out in a small film. 

If you were to handpick the easiest and hardest songs to write and record for this album, which two would you pick?  

Kind of a hard question to answer cause all the songs recorded have their struggles at first and then are fine-tuned into happiness!!  

Can you name five memories that come associated with the album in your mind? 

I will say one of my favorite memories of recording was with Joe Lally (Fugazi). Such a consummate musician! I had originally had this song idea, which my brother later wrote lyrics to. It became “The Flam” and from the onset, the idea was to have Joe play on it. It went further and I found myself crafting this song along with Joe Lally crafting his bass lines, just him and I together. It was wonderful, and a moment I will always cherish.  

You have tons of cool names appearing on the album. Were there more people who you contacted for the album in hopes of a collaboration, but just couldn’t work it out or find a right schedule for both parties? 

Oddly enough, only 2 people were unable to make it due to scheduling conflicts.  

Name three people / projects that you haven’t worked with yet, but would love to someday. 

Too many people!  

In retrospect, can you name one record that you feel was wildly overlooked from your back catalog?

I feel since our records came out on an independent label none were really overlooked. The question was more about the fan or listener and what album they liked. Or not?

When you compare today to let’s say 1990, how has the DC hardcore scene changed, and how has it stayed the same?

I have not lived back home in more than 20 years so I’m the wrong person to ask that. However, the scene and Dischord have always been a constant thing. As the stalwarts of the day, us elders have become the Vanishing Commissars of the old guard. There are still new bands and new people becoming part of it. It still remains!

Touches of folk, reggae, and more are present in the record. I think you will agree with me when I propose that music -as well as audiences- are more apt to embrace multiple genre facades nowadays when compared to the 1980s and 1990s, and that also includes the punk scene. How do you look at that liberation? 

Our liberation has always been writing, recording, and playing whatever we wanted. Liberation is freeing yourself from any constraints, or others’ demands. 

A quick game, no cheating: Reply with the three most recently streamed songs from your library.  

“War Dance” – Killing Joke, “Speak No Evil” – Wayne Shorter, “It Was Cold” – Ruts.

Now that the record is finally out, what plans are up for Scream? Is anything on your mind aside touring? 

Obviously doing shows, and touring the new record.  

If you had a chance to carve one of your lyrics to a Scream memorial stone 100 years from now, what would you choose?  

Here I come Kent Stacks…

You can check out Scream’s Bandcamp profile here.