|Origin||Macomb, Illinois, U.S.|
Stabbing Westward is an American industrial rock band. Christopher Hall and Walter Flakus formed the band in 1986 in Macomb, Illinois, but did not release their first studio album until eight years later. The band released three more studio albums before announcing a dissolution on February 9, 2002. Stabbing Westward reunited in 2016 to celebrate their 30th anniversary together, and has continued to perform live since then.
Christopher Hall and Walter Flakus formed the band Stabbing Westward when they were in college. They came up with the name while working at the college radio station WIUS-FM. In a 1996 interview, Hall stated, "Since we went to Western Illinois University, Stabbing Westward had a certain 'kill everybody in the school' vibe to it! The school's way out in farm country and the country is really close minded. I was walking around like Robert Smith with real big hair, big baggy black clothes, black fingernail polish and eye makeup. They just didn't get it. We hated the town."
Moving to Chicago in 1986, the original lineup consisted of Hall on bass and lead vocals, Flakus on keyboards, and Jim Clanin on guitar. In 1990, a four-song demo tape was recorded by an early conception of Stabbing Westward. This EP, called Iwo Jesus, featured an early version of "Violent Mood Swings" (titled "Violent Mood Swing") which eventually wound up on the compilation CD, The Cyberflesh Conspiracy.
Hall took a brief break to tour with Die Warzau as that group's percussionist before continuing work on Stabbing Westward. Hall and Flakus later recruited Jim Sellers on bass and Chris Vrenna (Nine Inch Nails) on drums, as Hall had met Vrenna when playing in Die Warzau. Vrenna played drums on all the demo recordings that ultimately landed Stabbing Westward their record deal with Columbia Records. Those demo recordings included "Violent Mood Swings," "Lies," and "Nothing." They were recorded at a studio in Evanston, Illinois and included Stuart Zechman on guitar. After Vrenna returned to Nine Inch Nails, the band hired David Suycott, who was a high school friend of Flakus.
The trio added Wax Trax recording artist Stuart Zechman on guitar and David Suycott (Spies Who Surf, Machines of Loving Grace) on drums. In 1993, the band recorded in Eden Studios; London, England with producer John Fryer. This resulted in their major label (Columbia Records) debut, Ungod, which was released on February 15, 1994. The band landed an opening slot on the Depeche Mode Exotic Tour in summer 1994 and opened North American tour dates in fall 1994 for Killing Joke, but Stabbing Westward album sales were still sluggish.
David Suycott abruptly dropped out of the band toward the end of the Ungod tour. Andy Kubiszewski was called in to replace Suycott's position for the remainder of the shows. This fast replacement required Kubiszewski to learn all of Suycott's parts while on his flight to meet with the band. Kubiszewski became a permanent fixture of Stabbing Westward.
The "Thread Mix" of the song "Violent Mood Swings" was included in the soundtrack to the 1994 film Clerks. The song "Nothing" was featured in the "Club Hell" scene of the 1995 motion picture Bad Boys, as well as during the closing credits of Johnny Mnemonic. The songs "Lies," "Lost," and "Can't Happen Here" were also all featured in the first Mortal Kombat movie in 1995; however, these songs weren't featured on the CD soundtrack.
When Stuart Zechman departed the band after the Ungod tour due to personal differences, the remaining band members found themselves without one of their major songwriters. New drummer Andy Kubiszewski took over some songwriting duties afterward. Prior to playing in Stabbing Westward, Kubiszewski had not only played drums in The The, recorded one song for Nine Inch Nails, and played in Prick, but had been the singer and songwriter in the Cleveland-based Exotic Birds. Shortly after Zechman's departure, Kubiszewski played the band dozens of demos and Exotic Birds recordings. Included were "What Do I Have to Do?", "Haunting Me," "Sometimes It Hurts," "Crushing Me," "Slipping Away," "Desperate Now," and "Goodbye." These tracks would later find space on both the Wither and Darkest Days albums. When the band headed to Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, New York, without a permanent guitar player, they decided to play all the guitar parts themselves, with Sellers and Kubiszewski taking on most of the guitar duties.
In 1996, the Wither Blister Burn & Peel LP became a success, landing them their first certified gold album, aided by the singles "Shame" and "What Do I Have to Do?" which granted the band heavy rotation on MTV, MuchMusic and radio. Tour mates for this album included Sponge. "What Do I Have to Do?" was featured in 1997's Masterminds, as well as in the episode "Tempest" of Smallville years later. The band later recruited Mark Eliopulos after the Wither recording sessions were completed to handle the live element of the main guitar parts.
Stabbing Westward relocated to Los Angeles, California where they began work on the 1998 album, titled Darkest Days. Darkest Days was envisioned as a four-act story by the band (but never marketed as such). This is the only release featuring studio work by Mark Eliopulos. The first single "Save Yourself" had success yet the album failed to sell as well as its predecessor. Stabbing Westward continued to tour with bands like Placebo, The Cult, Monster Magnet, and Depeche Mode, while playing numerous summer festivals. Due to a broken collarbone, Kubiszewski was forced to sit out the remainder of the touring cycle. He was replaced for three dates by former drummer Chris Vrenna, then Johnny Haro for the remaining dates. Haro joined Econoline Crush after Kubiszewski's return.
The song "The Thing I Hate" was featured as the opening theme song in the Sony PlayStation game Duke Nukem: Time to Kill, which was released in September 1998. The song "Torn Apart" was featured as a remix with Josh Wink, on the Spawn movie soundtrack in July 1997. The song "Save Yourself" was featured in the 1998 films Urban Legend and Tekken, in addition to the 2012 True Blood Season 5 finale. The song "Haunting Me" was featured in the opening scenes of the 1998 teen horror flick The Faculty.
The music video for "Sometimes It Hurts" was supposed to be a Wizard of Oz-themed video, but the label feared they would be sued, so they took out most references.
After signing with Koch Records, the new manager wanted the band to create an album with a heavy pop influence. Christopher Hall, Walter Flakus, and Mark Eliopulos fought against the decision. Mark Eliopulos was fired by the manager who then brought in Derrek Hawkins as both a studio and live musician, as well as a new producer, Ed Buller
The demo for the self-titled album was considered too dark. Old guitar parts from the demos were muted and new pop-driven riffs were created by the new guitarist.
The self-titled album, Stabbing Westward, was released on May 22, 2001 and featured the hit "So Far Away". The album did well in Australia, but ultimately failed to sell worldwide. Before a fifth LP could be recorded, the band did not sign for a new record deal and formally announced on February 9, 2002 that they had disbanded.
In June 2010, a rumor was afloat that Stabbing Westward would reunite; however, it proved false. On July 23, 2012, a fan created a petition for a reunion tour.
Christopher Hall, Walter Flakus, and Johnny Haro reunited at one of The Dreaming's shows in Las Vegas on November 15, 2013. Flakus would later join The Dreaming on a permanent basis.
Stabbing Westward reunited for two 30th Year Reunion shows. The first took place in Chicago on September 22, 2016 as a part of the Cold Waves Festival, a charity festival benefiting suicide prevention causes. The lineup featured Christopher Hall, Walter Flakus, Mark Eliopulos, and Johnny Haro along with special guests. Jim Sellers did not take part in the reunion because of work commitments. The second show took place at Dracula's Ball in Philadelphia on October 31, 2016, at the Trocadero Theatre.
In a January 2017 interview with audioBoom, Walter Flakus was asked if there will be more Stabbing Westward reunion shows in the future. His response was, "We'll see. I don't have anything planned yet, but I'm always open to opportunities. It was great to get back on stage and play those songs again." Dates for a full tour began to be announced in February 2017. The band also performed at the 2017 edition of Cold Waves Festival in Chicago.
There have between two new songs released since the band has returned to playing live shows: "Plastic Jesus" (released September 22, 2016, on the Cold Waves V compilation) and "Home In You" (released September 28, 2017, on the Cold Waves VI compilation).
Color denotes main live duty.
|Stabbing Westward discography|
|U.S. Heat.||U.S. Ind.
|1996||Wither Blister Burn & Peel
|"-" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
|1993||"Violent Mood Swings"||--||--||--||--||Ungod|
|1996||"What Do I Have to Do?"||60||11||7||--||Wither Blister Burn & Peel|
|1998||"Sometimes It Hurts"||--||39||20||--||Darkest Days|
|2001||"So Far Away"||--||21||23||85||Stabbing Westward|
|"--" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
|1996||"I Don't Believe"||Wither Blister Burn & Peel|
|1996||"What Do I Have To Do?"|
|1998||"Sometimes It Hurts"|
|2001||"So Far Away"|