Scream

Dave talks about joining up with Scream:

A year or so later, I saw a flyer that read ‘Scream looking for drummer, call Franz.’ Now, Scream was legendary in D.C.. They had been a band since 1979 or ’80 and I had seen them many a time. Their first two records were among my all-time favorites, so this little flyer was more than just that. Originally, I’d just wanted to call Franz, jam with them once or twice, then be able to tell my friends ‘I got to play with Scream!!’. So I called Franz a few times and finally got an answer. I explained that I was a huge fan, told him which bands I’d played in, and that I’d love to give it a shot. When he asked how old I was, I lied and said I was 20 (I think I was 17). He never called back. I guess a few months went by and I called him again. This time I convinced him to give me an hour or two of his time and scheduled my audition. Seeing as how Scream records were among those I used to play drums to on my bed when I was first learning, I knew all their songs by heart. I even had an advance copy of their latest demo. So when Franz looked at me and asked, ‘What do you want to play? Some Sabbath? Or some Zep?’ I said, ‘Nah. let’s play…’ and rattled off the names of all their songs. The next two hours were heaven for me, to be able to play Scream songs with the real deal. After a few more practices, it was apparent they were serious about me joining. This was something that never entered my mind, the possibility of actually joining Scream. I had to really weigh the options: 1. Leave my two greatest friends in the dust and travel the world with one of my favorite bands ever. Or 2. Stick with Dain Bramage and hope it all works out. I called Franz and told him no. I explained my situation and apologized. I think he understood and invited me to their next show a few weeks later. It was one of the greatest Scream shows I’d ever seen. I changed my mind.

It was spring of ’87 and here I was in one of D.C.’s most respected bands. Scream was no longer making records for Dischord, but another D.C. label had signed us. Ras Records was a reggae label about to try (unsuccessfully) to expand into the rock market. So we were thrown into a fancy 24 track studio with a reggae producer to make No More Censorship, Scream’s fourth LP.

We set out on what would be our first American tour in the fall of 1987. I was 18 years old, doing exactly what I wanted to do. With a $7 a day per diem, I traveled to places I’d never dreamed of visiting. And all because of music. The feeling of driving across the country in a van with five other guys, stopping in every city to play, sleeping on peoples’ floors, watching the sun come up over the desert as I drove, it was all too much. This was definitely where I belonged.

My first trip to Europe was amazing. In February of 1988, we flew into Amsterdam and spent the next two months playing in the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, England and Spain. Most shows were in squats (buildings taken over by punks at war with the system, fighting the police for their right to a place to live) and youth centers, very few in bars or nightclubs. It was awesome. Most shows were actually pretty crowded since Scream was one of the few American hardcore bands to visit Europe before.

We did another short U.S. tour, returned to Europe in the fall for three months, recorded a live record (Live At Van Hall In Amsterdam), and continued writing new songs. This was also the year I attended my first big stadium concert, Monsters of Rock featuring Metallica, Van Halen, Dokken, Scorpions, etc., etc. Needless to say, I found the whole thing extremely comical and couldn’t for the life of me understand the appeal of something so contrived and phony. Good thing I would never have to do that.

In between Scream tours, I was hanging out with Barrett more and more, helping him out with his solo project in the studio. Since he had his own 8 track in the basement, we would jam on his songs and record them pretty quickly. I sometimes played bass or guitar on some songs. That summer I realized that if I were to write a song, record the drums first, then come back over it with a few guitars, bass, and vocals, I could make it sound like a band. So I came up with a few riffs on the spot and recorded three songs in under 15 minutes. Mind you, these were no epic masterpieces, just a test to see if I could do this sort of thing on my own. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

I then started writing more and more stuff, some used in Scream’s final tape (later released as Fumble), some hidden away for later use. We did our final tour of Europe in the spring of 1990. It was a real ballbuster, 23 shows in 24 days, so draining that one member quit 3/4 of the way through, only to be promptly replaced so that we could finish the tour. We recorded another live record (Live In Germany) and headed home.

Upon returning, an eviction notice was discovered, unopened, in (Scream vocalist) Pete Stahl and (bassist) Skeeter’s mailbox. It was for the next day. The only logical thing to do: Get back on the road. So we booked what would be our last tour, rather hastily, and hit the road in the summer of ’90. Plagued with cancellations and low attendance, it was apparent that something had to give. That something would be our bassist Skeeter. Upon waking up in Franz’s sister’s house in L.A. halfway through the tour and discovering that Skeeter was gone, we realized some heavy decisions had to be made. Suckers for punishment that we were, we decided to stay in L.A. and search for a new bassist.

After I explained our predicament to him, Buzz Osborne from the Melvins told me that this band called Nirvana was looking for a drummer. He said they’d seen Scream in S.F. and really liked my drumming. After waiting a few days, I gathered up enough courage to call this guy Chris. I introduced myself and he remembered seeing me play. I explained my situation and he told me that they had already recruited Mudhoney drummer Dan Peters and that they were practicing with him for an upcoming UK tour. I wished him luck and told him that if they were ever in L.A. (which was looking more and more like my permanent home) to give me a call.

Chris called back that night and asked if there was any way I could fly up to Seattle. Another heartbreaking decision: Was I to leave my best friends in the world, the ones who had taught me everything I knew about touring, playing, writing, living, etc. to move to Seattle and join a band full of people I had never even met? It was the toughest decision I ever had to make. Honestly, 100%. I got the hell out of L.A. and there was no looking back.

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