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.
S.G.: You guys heading out for a
bite around six?
of Stabbing Westward
November 21, 1996
S.G.: There's all kinds of places
around here in walking distance.
A.K.: Well the band is from Chicago
S.G.: Things change all the time
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
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
A.K.: Well, then everybody moved to
Chicago and the band got signed out of Chicago, so, yeah, pretty
S.G.: So where are you originally
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:
S.G.: Is that Lithuanian or
S.G.: I just asked that because
my mother's maiden name is Polish.
A.K.: All those consonants all
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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,
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
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
(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
A.K.: Guilty. Guilty. Guilty as sin.
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
A.K.: Well, I went to a
conservatory. I started playing about 6th grade. In like Junior
S.G.: Did the whole marching band
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,
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
A.K.: Uh, I don't know, We try to
answer a lot of stuff but we get pretty overwhelmed with all of
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
S.G.: When are you guys gonna break
A.K.: We're done. Tomorrow's our
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.