PUBLISHED IN THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR THURSDAY OCTOBER 3, 1996

 

BY NICK KREWEN

Is Winnie The Pooh a psycho?

That's probably what STABBING WESTWARD's CHRISTOPHER HALL and ANDY KUBISZEWSKI are wondering after a recent encounter at a state fair in Memphis, Tennessee.

The band had just heard that their current album Wither Blister Burn + Peel  had gone gold in the U.S. (500,000 copies sold) and Hall and Kubiszewski were conducting a remote radio interview surrounded by amusement rides and livestock.

"All the kids that were lined up for an autograph following the interview suddenly disappeared," reports Kubiszewski (pronounced Kooh-bi-sof-ski). "We run around the corner to see what happened, and this huge character dressed in a Winnie The Pooh suit is beating the crap out of some poor kid, while everyone's standing around watching and chanting `Kill Pooh! Kill!' It was pretty bizarre, and very surreal."

What isn't surreal is the success of Chicago-based Stabbing Westward's heavy industrial-flavored rock 'n roll, as the top ten rock radio airplay numbers for "What Do I Have To Do?" and "Shame" indicate. A more concise and focused effort than Ungod, the band's 1993 dense debut album, Stabbing Westward combines `walking wounded' lyrics with industrial-scented rock on Wither Blister Burn + Peel  that takes industrial music further into the mainstream than NINE INCH NAILS' breakthrough effort The Downward Spiral.

Kubiszewski says he's astonished how many people relate to Stabbing Westward's painful subject matter.

"We were really surprised that people could identify with what we do," says Kubiszewski. "We have been so honest and direct with the lyrical nature that you understand what the songs are about. We weren't trying to cover it up with mumbo jumbo."

He's also befuddled by the type of fan mail the band receives from their admirers.

"We get bizarre fan mail from people who have personal problems and for some reason feel that they can confide in us," he says. "I'm just hoping that people don't think we have any answers, because we don't."

Kubiszewski is a recent addition to the ten-year-old Stabbing Westward team, originally hired as a stopgap touring measure when drummer DAVID SUYCOTT exited the band last year.

But the parachute technique has worked for him before. The former lead singer for Cleveland alternative rockers EXOTIC BIRDS -- which ironically boasted pre-NIN mastermind TRENT REZNOR in its ranks for a couple of years -- landed into the performing lineups of THE THE and CROWDED HOUSE a few years ago with less than a day's notice when their respective drummers abandoned them on the road.

Initially expecting the same treatment from Stabbing Westward,

Kubiszewski plopped himself into the drummer's seat and got along famously with remaining band members Hall, keyboardist WALTER FLAKUS and bassist JIM SELLERS, prompting an invitation to submit some song demos. The first song he submitted was "What Do I Have To Do?", and ended up placing and additional five songs on Wither Blister Burn + Peel.

"I'm very happy to be performing in something more my speed, and something that I'm contributing more to as a member," says Stubiszewski.

" I was looking for something where I not only play drums, but something where I didn't have a specific role. This is truly communal. It operates as a full democracy."

With 22-year-old former auto parts salesman MARK ELIPOLUS on guitar, Stubiszewski says Stabbing Westward may forego a planned Australian and Japanese tour to concentrate on creativity.

"Now the record has just gone gold, we're seriously considering getting off the road and making a new record for a May release," says Stubiszewski.

-30-

DISCOGRAPHY

1993 -- Ungod

1996 -- Wither Blister Burn + Peel

1998 -- Darkest Days

AS COLLABORATORS

1997 -- Various Artists, Spawn

1998 -- Various Artists, Bride Of Chucky

1998 -- Various Artists, The Faculty

 

THANKS: LORRAINE QUARTARO, DOUG FOLEY, GLEN NOTT

©1996, 1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink

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