|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Taking a good hard stab at musical stardom
By Monica Leone
Stabbing: to pierce or wound with a short pointed tool. Westward: towards the west.
Hmm... interesting concept. What is this band trying to do exactly? Taken from the liner notes of a Gang of Four album, Stabbing Westward decided upon this name to represent them over 13 years ago and it is still proving to bring them success.
Founded in 1985 by members Christopher Hall (vocals, guitar) and Walter Flakus (keyboards), Stabbing Westward have gone through several line-up changes 27 to be exact. The current roster of Christopher Hall, Walter Flakus, Jim Sellers, Mark Eliopulos and Andy Kubiszewski is a solid ensemble of accomplished musicians. Formerly residents of Southern Illinois, the band relocated to Chicago in order to attract attention to their unique sound.
"Our influences are varied," says Christopher Hall, singer and songwriter of Stabbing Westward. The band sites such well-known celebrities as the Cure, Depeche Mode, Jane's Addiction, Soundgarden, and even Pink Floyd as its main influences.
"We're also into heavier guitar bands and synth-pop," Hall adds. Stabbing Westward attempts to keep its sound as current as possible. "We try and use technology to do as much as possible in order to have a fresh sound."
Stabbing Westward's latest album, Darkest Days, released at the beginning of 1998, "hasn't been massively explosive," says Hall, but has definitely gained immense popularity over the past few months. Recorded in Los Angeles during the summer of 1997 with the help of producer Dave Jerden (Alice in Chains and Jane's Addiction), Darkest Days is a 16-song album with great transitions from song to song. The current single "Save Yourself" has received air play from Canadian radio and MuchMusic.
Currently on tour supporting Canadian West Coast rockers Econoline Crush, Stabbing Westward was extremely surprised at its overall acceptance in Canada. "It seems a lot bigger than we thought," Hall says.
Although the band looks to have developed a healthy following here in Canada, it hasn't been an easy ride. "Hard work is part of the job. If every time you did something everyone worshipped you, it would get boring," Hall professes. This is the general sentiment of the band regarding live shows and the recognition it receives. After touring with Econoline Crush, Stabbing Westward will embark on a tour in support of Depeche Mode, playing with them on all of their Canadian and U.S. dates.
With a new album and promising tour, success should come as more than a stab in the dark. Stabbing Westward are definitely not among their Darkest Days.