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Andy Kubiszewski
of Stabbing Westward

Questions & Answers

November 21, 1996
Chicago, IL

A Interview by
Stu Gotz
The research department here at Entertainment Ave! pretty much dropped the ball. In being shuffled off to this interview all I had to rely on were a few press releases, one article downloaded from the net, and E-Ave!'s standard list of questions sheet. I was a little nervous going into this interview, to say the least, because I didn't know who, or how many, of the band members I would have the chance to talk to. As it turned out, I only got the chance to talk with Andy Kubiszewski, Stabbing Westward's drummer. His pleasant and personable mannerisms definitely put me at ease. After talking with him, and learning about not only the band's background but also his, I was left in awe of Stabbing Westward and their drummer Andy Kubiszewski.
Photo 1
S.G.: You guys heading out for a bite around six?

A.K.: Yes.

S.G.: There's all kinds of places around here in walking distance.

A.K.: Well the band is from Chicago so…

S.G.: Things change all the time though.

A.K.: Everyone seems to think that were from LA. And I don't understand what it is.

S.G.: Well actually, I did have a question-You guys are from Chicago but then I read...

A.K.: Well, I'm not from here.

S.G.: The band, years ago, actually started at Western. Two guys got together at Western Illinois University?

A.K.: Yeah.

S.G.: Who was that now?

A.K.: That was Chris (Hall) and Walter (Flaxus)… Yeah, I mean they started it. They lived outside of Peoria (Illinois) in their formative years. And then came to Macomb, started the band then went through a bunch of different band members and then decided that in order to actually succeed, one cannot be from Peoria.

S.G.: So you guys say that your from Chicago.

A.K.: Well, then everybody moved to Chicago and the band got signed out of Chicago, so, yeah, pretty much.

S.G.: So where are you originally from?

A.K.: In Virginia.

S.G.: And how was it that you came to be in Stabbing Westward?

A.K.: I moved to Cleveland (Ohio). I went to a Conservatory in Cleveland and I played in this band called "Exotic Birds" and the keyboard player is Trent Reznor and Trent and I kept in touch. I got bored with playing in Cleveland and Trent's manager at the time, actually still manager, John, was a friend of Matt Johnson's from "The The" and I ended up playing in "The The" when they had an audition and I won that job, and "The The's" Manager managed "Stabbing Westward." So, when the original drummer for "Stabbing Westward" left, I had done "The The" I had done a couple of other tours with some other big bands and they said, well this would be perfect for you because you're kinda a drummer for hire and the drummer left in the middle of a tour and can you come in and finish it? So I came in and finished the tour, liked everybody, and became part of the band.

S.G.: Pardon me but what is the proper pronunciation of your last name.

A.K.: Koobishevski. (Ed. Note: spelled Kubiszewski)

S.G.: Is that Lithuanian or Polish?

A.K.: Polish.

S.G.: I just asked that because my mother's maiden name is Polish.

A.K.: All those consonants all stuffed together.

S.G.: Yeah, WCZW...

A.K.: Yeah, always turns people ...

S.G.: OK you guys probably get bored with this one question, but I'm gonna ask anyway. I'm sorry-What's with the name? I've read about it, lets hear your version.

A.K.: Well, I mean there's no amazing story with the name but, essentially when Chris and Walter were putting the band together, they had a gig and there was a deadline for a name for the band, so they pulled out a bunch of album covers and they pulled out a record cover and it had an excerpt from, I believe it was an Eisenhower speech, where he was talking about communism coming to the west and he used the phrase "stabbing westward," and they went oh well, "Stabbing Westward", that will work.

S.G.: So it's kind of random as opposed to..

A.K.: Totally random, they needed it and it's one of those things where you use it and you don't necessarily think about it and then ten years later, you still have the same name and you know, had the choice been made a couple of years ago, perhaps the band name would have been different.

S.G.: So, totally random, not profound whatsoever.

A.K.: Yeah.

Photo 3
S.G.: Really quickly, I was going through, reading some reviews and stuff like that, some people are describing your style of music as metal, others industrial, other say - "I don't know how to describe them."

A.K.: I think "I don't know how to describe them" is the best way to do it. I don't think we're industrial, um, industrial music to me means produced behind the key pad with a lot of machines. We're not like that, we're a very organic band. I mean we're a rock band. We use some, I guess you call it industrial type stylings, as far as noises and distortion and things like that, but we're a really bad industrial band and to call us an industrial band is not fair to the people who actually belong in that genre, "Cassandra Complex," "Front 242," all those bands that were there 15 years ago that kinda started the genre, that's just not fair to them to put us in that category.

S.G.: OK, again reading some things that have been written about you, critics noted differences between your CDs. Some people are attributing that to personnel changes and others are saying it's just a natural maturity of the band.

A.K.: I think it's a combination of the two. The first record, Chris and Stuart (Zechman) were the kind of co-writers and we fired Stuart because....he was an asshole. Nobody could get along with the guy. So, on the second record someone had to kinda come in and become the co-writer and that ended up being me. So I'm right from a different perspective than Stuart so, I think it's a combination of the two.

S.G.: In comparison to your past recordings, where is the band heading now? Do you have a plan?

A.K.: No, we don't. We assembled ourselves after the last tour for about three months and just worked on writing songs for this record (Wither Blister Burn & Peel). It kind of was, spontaneous, because nobody really had a lot. I had what I had to do, which came from my past band that I brought in. Chris and Walter had "Shame," which is something that they had been working on, and then the rest of the material was kinda formulated over that writing period, so it was a little more spontaneous this time around - we had some ideas but were not really sure what was gong to happen. We'd just like to let it happen and then go - "there it is." We don't want to put out the same record twice. I think it would be cool if the second record is a pretty big, not a big departure but a pretty big departure from the first record. I think it would be really cool if the third record was as big a departure as the second one. Hopefully, without alienating people who like it.

S.G.: I was channel surfing today and I picked you guys up on some various radio stations - I think you guys have been keeping pretty busy. Not only today but in the past, I saw that you guys toured with the Sex Pistols, White Zombie and Kiss, recently. Got any funny or scary road stories?

A.K.: Um, from any of those tours? Um, no, not anything from those tours. Kiss was really cool. I think that was the best tour, oddly enough. We thought that we were just going to be completely consumed and hated by their audience but, oddly enough, the Kiss audience really liked us, which is really weird. We did both Kiss and Sex Pistols this year almost primarily for their historic values. Two seminal bands of whatever genres from the 70's, you know, Kiss, like, everybody knows the legend of Kiss. They're like the world's biggest rock band. They asked us to play ten shows. We said - "yeah, cool." We thought it was gonna be a complete insane rock-n-roll party. It was about as cut and dry business, unexciting as it gets. Um, Sex Pistols we kinda did for the same reason: historic value. Chris was really the only person in the band that was actually into the Sex Pistols and that was a real miserable tour because the Sex Pistols, you know, really don't mean anything to anybody. Ticket sales were weak, they canceled a bunch of shows, the band was awful. You know, it just wasn't a great tour. White Zombie we did because we were in Europe the exact same time as they were and we found ourselves playing in the same city on the same night as almost every date on their tour. And a lot of those people, we thought, crossed over into our audience, so we decided to open for them and it was a miserable experience because the White Zombie in England is a very metal band so their audience is very metal and the English metal-heads are just, if they don't like you, they piss in bags and throw it at you.

S.G.: I've read that.

A.K.: So, we had to deal with that. The cool part of the White Zombie tour was, in between dates, we would do our own headlining shows in a bunch of cities in Europe,and those were great. Those were really cool. The record does pretty well in Europe. So, nothing really funny in any of those. I mean it was just pretty much miserable the whole time.

Photo 4
S.G.: Well, like you said, Kiss and Sex Pistols, that's a throw back to growing up for me, I know that. I got a little note here, back in the 80's a woman named Pamela DeBarrs wrote a book called "I'm With The Band" about groupies. Read that book?

A.K.: Oh yeah.

S.G.: So that was a really strange book about the groupie scene in the 70's. What's the groupie scene in the 90's?

A.K.: It's a lot different. I think it's because everyone's fears about AIDS and things like that. I mean there's a little debauchery that goes on but, I wasn't, I didn't exist back then and deal with those things but, its pretty tame. Although, I think a lot of it depends on the band. I think there are a lot of bands that are just totally out of control and they just don't care, and we're not like that. We're just kind of very mellow. Our after-show parties are pretty sedate because we're pretty serious about what we do and the music business is a really, really tough and competitive business to have to deal with every day. You don't want to get all fucked up and try and do your business because it just doesn't work, you know, the days in the 70's are gone. Whereas one or two super groups on the radio all the time, today there's five million bands all competing for the same spot and, you know, you really have to keep your wits about you and keep your edge if your gonna succeed.

S.G.: Talking about that whole success thing, five million bands competing out there, can the band really pinpoint one key decision or key movement that made a difference and brought them where they are today, and had it not been for that they would still be playing in a bar or whatever?

A.K.: I don't know. The first record didn't really sell a lot of copies. I think it sold about 40 thousand copies which is not a lot. I think the thing that happened was we just wrote a couple of really good songs. I think, you know, when Columbia released "What do I have to Do?" to radio, they weren't really sure how it was gonna work and based on the success, or lack of success of the first record, they pretty much thought it's just a lost cause, and then bang-it was on the radio everywhere and they had to play catch up with it. So, the songs just kinda did it all themselves. Columbia has been chasing them around for a year because they keep outliving their expectations.

S.G.: Sticking with the topic of music here, I read somewhere that you do a cover in concert, a Tori Amos song, "Me & A Gun". Now that song, is a very deep emotional song.

A.K.: No. That's misinformation. We do not do covers. Stabbing Westward is not a cover band.

S.G.: Well, I didn't say you were a cover band, but I read somewhere that you guys covered that song, that was bad info I read somewhere.

A.K.: I think Chris has on occasion, during sound-check, during his vocal check, sung the lyrics to that, but a lot of the stuff, people from our fan club show up and they hear sound check and they hear Mark noodling on some song by some band and immediately, it's through the net that we're playing a Janes Addiction song tonight. You know, we're not a cover band. We don't do covers.

S.G.: Actually, talking about the Net, I had some E-mail here, a question for Andy, somebody read somewhere, you're single, in your twenties right?

A.K.: I'm 35.

S.G.: OK, you're in your 30's, you're single and you're looking for a super model. Now, aside from Cindy Crawford, 'cuz she's mine, Who?

A.K.: That would be Elle MacPherson, hands down.

S.G.: Just had to get that question answered for the E-mail there. Now, this is what our staff came up with. Forgive me if these are stupid questions, but they are intended to be off the wall. Andy, do you consider yourself a cat or a dog person?

A.K.: I'm definitely dog.

S.G.: OK, lets talk about junk food for a second. Chicago is famous for its pizza, and hot dogs and stuff like that. Three part question-What's your favorite junk food, who has the best pizza and who has the best hot dog around town.

A.K.: Well, I have a weird digestive thing, so I can't eat tomatoes. So, the pizza thing is out. So, junk food? See, I don't know what you would actually call junk food. I think a lot of people would call pizza a meal. People live on that. Um, junk food, I don't really eat much junk food. I don't really eat chocolate or things like that.

S.G.: OK, what do your remember most about your first car?

A.K.: My first car, it cost me $1000.00 It was a white Datsun '77 Pickup truck and I was living in Virginia. I just graduated high school and was going to college in Cleveland. So, I bought the truck a couple of months before I went to college, drove it to Cleveland, and the climate difference is pretty drastic between Virginia and Cleveland. Within the first three weeks of snow, the quarter panels all fell off the car. They just rusted right off.

S.G.: All right, good story. Obviously, you're from Virginia. We're not going to give away where you live now.

A.K.: I don't live anywhere now. I put everything in storage when we went on tour. So for the last two years, my stuff's been in storage. However, in three weeks I'm moving to Los Angeles.

S.G.: How's that gonna affect the band.

A.K.: Walter is moving to LA. Chris is going to keep his house here in Chicago. Mark and Jim are also coming out to LA. So, we're gonna kinda center ourselves in LA just to write. Just because we keep finding ourselves working on records during the winter and it's just unbelievably depressing and we'd rather go someplace where it's warm and we can be healthy and everybody's pretty beat up from the tour for 9 1/2 months. Everyone is pretty exhausted and we really want to go somewhere where we can rejuvenate ourselves, work on the record and then go, cuz immediately when it's done we're gonna go back on the road. We are going to get space independently but one central location where you can rehearse every day.

S.G.: Can you finish the following sentence: Never leave home without ........?

A.K.: Lots of money.

S.G.: Here's another question that was actually E-mailed to one of our advice communists, lets hear your answer to this and if there is a story, please share it. Is it OK to lie to someone you love in order to avoid hurting their feelings?

(Ed Note: A lot of noise and talking in background ensues…)

A.K.: Hey, Chet, we're kinda doin an interview, so if you guys are gonna party in the corner there, could you keep it down.

S.G.: I'll read it again-Is it OK to lie to someone in order to avoid hurting their feelings?

A.K.: Well, I guess it depends on the person. For me, I would say no, because I think that the one thing that is best for any relationship is truth. So I would say no.

S.G.: Fair enough. OJ-Guilty or Innocent?

A.K.: Guilty. Guilty. Guilty as sin.

S.G.: OK.

A.K.: How can you not be guilty when your blood is all over the place.

S.G.: What was the best advice you ever received and who gave it to you.

A.K.: Practice so much that you could do it in your sleep so that if you happen to die during the performance, your body will still continue to play.

S.G.: Who gave you that advice?

A.K.: Principal percussionist of the Cleveland Orchestra, where I went to school.

S.G.: OK, tell me about your training.

A.K.: Well, I went to a conservatory. I started playing about 6th grade. In like Junior High.

S.G.: Did the whole marching band thing?

A.K.: Did the whole thing, was a pretty good player, won a scholarship to study the timpani in the orchestra in Virginia, studied for a couple years. Auditioned for all the major conservatories around Juliard, got into all those places. Decided on Cleveland Institute of Music cuz I thought the Cleveland Orchestra was the best in the world. Had my mind set on being an orchestral player. After four years in school, I was so completely over it, cuz it's not a very creative job. You play other people's music for your entire career and I really wanted to do something that I had created. So, formed a local band, played in a local band for a couple of years. Didn't go anywhere. Played with "The The," played with "Crowded House," recorded with "9 Inch Nails," did a record by a band named "Prick". Joined "Stabbing Westward."

S.G.: Now, you're a classically trained musician, a percussionist. You know, a lot of people think that bands, drummers, etc., what do you bring in that's maybe, exotic.

A.K.: Well, if you would look at my drum set up you would notice that it's not like any drum set up you've ever seen. It's very untraditional. "Stabbing Westward" is not a band where the drummer plays a lot of traditional drum fill kind of things. You either play tom, or you play tribal patterns. So I had my drum set broken up into two parts. So there's like a fifty yard line that runs down the middle of my kit. I have just kinda a different approach to the whole thing. I never studied drum set, I just played it on my own. I think I spent a lot of time playing avant-garde percussion pieces in school and I think a lot of that has rubbed off on the way I set up my drum set. And it's more, I like to lay rhythmic foundations rather than be a soloist on top of things.

S.G.: I appreciate you giving me some time. That's all I have for you.

DOTR: (rudely interrupts) One more question - Does Chris really answer those E-mails on the Sony Board?

A.K.: Uh, I don't know, We try to answer a lot of stuff but we get pretty overwhelmed with all of those things.

DOTR: I was bouncing around there and every couple of days you'll see "Christopher Hall" pop up and somebody just e-mailed me and asked if that was really him or is that somebody pretending to be him.

A.K.: It might be him because he does have his Powerbook on tour and he's on-line a lot. We try to break into that every couple of days and chat with people and do updates on the road but there's just no time. The Sony web page is not up to what we want to do yet. We were originally going to release, like pieces of film, like four minute videos of B-sides that you could never get anywhere else except on the web, only to find out that you couldn't really release a four minute film on the web because for someone to download that, to watch it, would take like three years and they'd spend a fortune. So that's what we want, a bunch of twenty second clips. We were gonna release like B-sides of re-mixes, all sorts of weird things but the web is not capable of that yet.

S.G.: When are you guys gonna break next?

A.K.: We're done. Tomorrow's our last show.

S.G.: So you're out to LA then.

A.K.: We got a couple of Q101 radio shows and a couple of other radio shows around the country. Everyone's pretty much gonna take off for a week except for those people that live here. They're gonna stay here. I'm actually going to Cleveland where all my stuff is in storage and I'm gonna do the elimination process of what I will actually need in LA, do the radio shows, go to LA, then start working on a record in the new year, in January. I'm gonna go visit people on the way.

S.G.: Thank you again for your time.


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