Getting Candid with Veteran Punker Stab
by Jacob Silverman
December 21, 2009
You may recall an interview that I conducted some time ago with the members of Admiral Porkliver. Well, the reaction from my friend Joe Minsk was very positive. He called it investigative journalism at its best. That meant a lot to me, Joe, so thanks. I haven't heard any other reactions from anyone else regarding that interview, but I noticed a few hits on my web page, so I figured that if Joe liked it, maybe all the other half dozen or so people that read it there thought it was kind of alright as well. Of course, those other people could have been just me going back to look at the website, but maybe not, maybe not.
Anyway, with Joe's compliments providing some wind beneath my wings, I have decided to do another interview of one of the performers at Uncle Steve's, this time of Stab, lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the band Stab Skull. You will recall that I wrote some about Stab and his hardcore punk band in my last article.
I am thinking that I will go on to interview all other performing acts at Uncle Steve's, and maybe even some audience members and staff at Uncle Steve's as well. Let me clarify that, though. I'll publish interviews of people that allow me to interview them. Right now Stoughton Finney of Admiral Porkliver still refuses to speak to me, so I can't do a follow-up interview to my last one with that band.
So, anyhow, I consider this interview with Stab Skull to be the second in a basically never-ending series of interviews, since I should probably continue to work at Uncle Steve's forever as stage manager, at least as long as I can keep my crummy adjunct English instructor job at nearby Adelai Mortensen College, and there will always be new people coming to Uncle Steve's while others are leaving it behind, so there will always be new faces to interview.
Stab, whose real name I am not allowed to publish here because Stab himself refuses to tell me what it is, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but moved with his mother and younger sister to Birmingham, Alabama at the age of fifteen. In 1983, at the age of eighteen, he joined forces with Rip on bass, Shred on drums, and Jolt on lead guitar. Actually, Shred started out on lead guitar, but that seemed too obvious, so he was moved to drums. Stab himself took on duties as lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist.
From the beginning, Stab determined that his band would have a strongly political focus, with lyrics primarily dedicated to addressing what he considered to be the most pressing and important issue of the day, namely, the complete overthrow of all forms of government and the establishment of a totally anarchic society. The band started off with a great deal of focus and enthusiasm, which unfortunately eroded rapidly when, according to Stab, "we transitioned from being a group of musicians that did some drugs and alcohol to a group of drug and alcohol users that played some music, which is still pretty much what we are today."
Stab Skull's first shows were in the garages or living rooms of teenage friends whose parents happened to be out of town for the weekend. By Stab's own account, pretty much every one of those shows ended when the police showed up and the audience ran away jumping through windows, climbing over fences, and running through back alleys. Fortunately for Stab Skull, they were eventually able to start playing live at The Warehouse, a run-down industrial loft in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. This remained their main venue for live shows until The Warehouse was shut down in the early 1990s, which for Stab Skull marked the beginning a period that they refer to as their "screwed years."
During this dark era, Stab ran for political office -- county coroner -- as a member of the Radical Anarchist Marijuana Legalization Party, and garnered only twenty-three votes. Rip and Shred were incarcerated for two years each after attempting to sell four pounds of pot to the city's chief of police, who, incidentally, was not under cover. "We thought he was cool," admitted Rip, who then added, "boy, were we wrong." As for lead guitarist Jolt, he became deeply involved in a relationship with a woman heavily into sadomasochistic practices, and when they finally parted ways, he joined a religious cult that forbade him to play music and to use alcohol and drugs. "That was a real crisis for us," remarked Stab, "because up to that point, Jolt had always gone out to buy our stash and brew, you know, and when he was gone we had to do all of that by ourselves." Fortunately for the band, Jolt eventually managed to free himself from the clutches of the cult, and was able to return to his former gofer duties.
By the year 2001, the members of Stab Skull had reunited and were prepared to cut their first album, since Stab's dearly beloved grandmother had finally died, and with the money he inherited from her, they just had enough to make a reasonably good recording. Unfortunately, as Stab explained, "that money basically went up in smoke, but before it was all gone we sure had one hell of a roller coaster ride."
Unable to find a place to play as welcoming and nurturing as The Warehouse, Stab Skull shuttled from one Birmingham club to another. Finally, with all group members just about ready to call it quits and take regular jobs somewhere, they were invited by Pete Wilkinson, former front man for Nazi Sex Zombies, to try their luck at Uncle Steve's in Bratwurst, Ohio, where they have been playing for the last month or so, and where they mean to stay until they plan their next career move. Also, and not that it matters so much, Stab's aunt Polly does happen to live alone in Bratwurst, and has been generously inclined to cook some hot meals for the band, but just so you know, she only does it on a sporadic basis. Stab wanted me to make that last point particularly clear.
A dedicated reader of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, which he calls his "personal bible," Stab is a tireless promoter of libertarian views and philosophy. His threatening and aggressive stage personality stands in stark contrast to his rather withdrawn and retiring personae offstage, with regard to which his band mate Shred made the following comment to me: "Stab's a total pussy in real life. I've never seen him lose his temper or raise his voice, ever. One time I watched him turn a little bit red when I said something to him when I was real drunk, but he just went into his room and cried a little. I kind of regret what I said, but I can't remember what it was anymore. Something about his haircut, I think, but maybe I misremember it."
INTERVIEW WITH STAB OF STAB SKULL
J: Stab, I hope that you've enjoyed your stay in Bratwurst.
S: I can't complain. I suppose that it is just as good and just as bad as any other anonymous burg filled with slaves to the powerful elite class that attempts to control every aspect of our miserable lives.
J: I'm amazed at how thin each member of the band is.
S: Yes, one requirement for being a member of Stab Skull is to maintain a waistline smaller than 28 inches.
J: That must be very difficult to do.
S: Not at all. When we have a bit of cash in hand, and we have to choose between food and weed, we choose weed every last time. We only eat when we're so hungry we start to pass out, and even then sometimes we just grab a couple of beers and get a few calories that way. One time I went three years without a single bite of solid food. I got all my calories from beer. That was a great year for me, I got my waistline down to 22 inches, but I've been a real pig these days, I'm up to 26 inches now.
J: When you do eat solid food, what do you and your fellow band members like to eat?
S: Cheese-filled hot dogs, McDonald's French fries, bacon, and triple cheeseburgers from Wendy's are foods we love to eat when we get the chance. Unfortunately, that chance only comes up every blue moon, if you know what I'm saying. Of course, it's always nice to be invited out for a bite.
J: Would you like to join me for a visit to Wendy's after this interview?
S: Man, you have no idea how much we'd like to join you for that.
J: I just meant you, not your whole band.
S: Oh, that's cool. No problem. I won't say a word to those guys.
J: What are the main musical influences on Stab Skull?
S: The Sex Pistols, Black Flag, GBH, Motorhead, Black Sabbath, Marilyn Manson, The Dead Kennedys, and Air Supply.
J: Air Supply?
S: I liked them when I was growing up, back when I lived in Cleveland.
J: Okay, but I'm not sure I hear much of Air Supply in the music you play these days.
S: Oh, the influence is there in a big way, but it's a subtle thing, kind of subtle yet always present at the same time.
J: Tell me about your groupies over the years.
S: Man, in the beginning, it was great. The chicks mobbed us after every concert. We were really hot back in those days. I never had to worry about having a girlfriend. They would just line up, and I could pick and choose. I think it was pretty much the same way for the other guys in the band. Then, when they shut down The Warehouse and we started the screwed years, those chicks left us like rats jumping from a sinking ship. Boy, was that an eye-opener for me. I had to start dating like everyone else, you know, with the long-term girlfriend kind of thing. I basically had no choice at that point. Nowadays, I can't even manage that, because every girl I date these days, they all want me to get a so-called real job and talk about marriage and babies and all that crap. That's when I bail. Now that I've got some snow up on the roof top, those are the only kinds of women I seem to draw these days. Well, I take that back, every now and then I get a nice young college student, but that type always dumps me for one reason or another; although it's fun while it lasts, because I feel like I'm twenty all over again there for a little while. You know, if we were loaded and super successful and all that, it would be different, do you know what I'm saying? Women have no soul if you ask me.
J: Please tell me about the origins of the band's name.
S: Well, my name is Stab, and I'm the leader of the band, but in an anarchically democratic sort of way. So, I decided to name the band after me, logically. Like, that's what we were in the beginning, just Stab. I got a friend of mind named Weenie to design a logo for us, and he came up with a dagger stuck into a bloody skull, really cool, you know. So, people looked at the logo and said, "Stab skull, alright, yeah!" So, the name just kind of stuck, you know.
J: So, tell me about your name and the names of the band members. I notice that each name is only one syllable and has to do with something extremely painful or violent. Was that the idea?
S: No, you've got it all wrong, man, totally wrong.
J: Please explain.
S: I got the name Stab because I always stick a plastic knife into my food before I eat it. I want to make sure that nobody stuck a razor blade in there. You never know, it could happen, and I've heard true stories about that kind of stuff. Jolt got his name because he used to always drink Jolt Cola. Shred got his name because of the way he always uses his fingers to shred weed into little tiny pieces before he rolls it up.
J: There's one more.
S: Oh, yeah, right. What's his name?
S: Right. Yeah, Rip got his name because we always give him wedgies when he gets on our nerves, so, you know the sound it makes, rip.
J: What about your real names?
S: I can't remember my band mates' real names to save my life. Actually, I don't know if they've ever told me what they are.
J: Can you remember your own real name?
S: That's a totally insulting question, dude.
S: Just for that, I'm not going to tell you what it is. And yes, I can remember what it is, just so you know. Quite honestly, I'd be ending this interview if it wasn't for your generous offer to eat at Wendy's.
J: What future do you foresee for Stab Skull?
S: We're on the verge of a major breakthrough. We're a seasoned band with more than 25 years of experience. We've got more than 300 original songs, although to be honest with you at this point we are only able to play about six of them live, the rest we need to rehearse a bit. We could be the American Sex Pistols if we could just get some corporate backing.
J: Isn't age a concern for you guys? I mean, aren't you all in your forties?
S: Age is just a number, man.
J: Still, eventually you've got to settle down, don't you think?
S: Why? Look, I'm wearing the same sized jeans that I wore in junior high school. Look at Iggy Pop. He's still doing his thing, and he got started before I was even in kindergarten. What is settling down, anyway? Isn't that just getting ready to be dead? What's the point?
J: You've told me that Ayn Rand's book Atlas Shrugged is very important to you. Could you be more specific?
S: I imagine myself as the heroine in that book. You know, she proves that we don't need to pull together to have a good society. It's all about looking out for number one so that we can all live free and do whatever we want. Otherwise, you live in a world where pot is illegal. Anarchy is the solution, that's pretty much what that book means to me.
Here are some of the lyrics to the Stab Skull song "My Struggle."
since I was a boy
I've been told what to do
mostly by you
so just shut the hell up
you get on my nerves
thinking that you rule me
I wish you were dead
do my own thing
nobody can stop me
I'm on the loose
anarchy, anarchy, anarchy, anarchy!
blood on my hands
blood in the street
dictators reign in this land
kill and maim
slash and burn
take no prisoners
they control your mind
suck your brain out with a plastic tube
bludgeon you with their law
anarchy, anarchy, anarchy, anarchy!
do what I can to stay free
rainbow mohawk haircut in your face
leather pants and spiked dog collar
get your parents upset
pierced tongue and tattoos
freak out your grandmother
kiss me hard baby
anarchy, anarchy, anarchy, anarchy!
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