Taking a stab at the dark side

September 17, 1998|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,SUN POP MUSIC CRITIC

When Stabbing Westward set out to make its current album, "Darkest Days," the band had one goal in mind: to make a recording that would truly stand up as an album.

"In the last few years, most of the records that I've bought have ended up being the one or two songs I've heard off the radio," says singer Christopher Hall, over the phone from a tour stop in Ann Arbor, Mich. "But [there's] not a lot of other good music on the record. None of it really goes together and makes sense.

"I buy a lot of records and listen to a lot of bands, and I kind of miss the days of Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' or 'Dark Side of the Moon,' where it all sort of flows together and tells a story and makes sense."

Stabbing Westward may not be telling a story in the same sense as "The Wall," but "Darkest Days" does have a strong sense of narrative. "I think it's one of those rare records that you can listen to beginning to end," says Hall. "You can let go and let it take you on a little ride. It's sort of like watching a real emotional movie."

It helped, of course, that the album is about an emotional state: depression. "What we ended up turning to was looking more toward the sickness of depression, rather than the cause," says Hall. "Looking at the actual disease itself and making the record more about that.

"Some of the songs refer to relationships gone bad as a trigger for a deeper depression. But there are a lot of other songs that just refer to life in general and depression as a disease."

Because both Hall and drummer Andy Kubiszewski have suffered from depression, it was a subject the two knew well. "We both come at it from very, very opposite directions," says Hall. "And it's kind of cool, because we surround the subject and actually contradict each other now and again."

Despite the album's focus, there's nothing downbeat about the surging, complex music the band makes on "Darkest Days." As Hall points out, "It wasn't a depressing record, it was a record about depression."

In fact, there are some songs, like "How Can I Hold On" or the driving "Save Yourself," that are downright exhilarating. That's because part of what Hall and Kubiszewski want to put across is the idea that depression is something that can be dealt with and overcome.

"I've never tried to celebrate depression," says Hall. "I've never tried to say, 'Hey, it's so cool to be mopey.' I've always been a very proactive person, and I've worked really hard to get where I'm at." He can recall times when his depression was so bad that he had trouble even feeling motivated enough to get out of bed. "I don't really see anything glamorous about that," he says.

"The main point is to try and give other people hope, to try and explain that other people go through this," he concludes. "It's not the end of the world. It's not worth dying for."

Stabbing Westward

When: Sunday, 8 p.m.

Where: Bohager's, 515 S. Eden St.

Tickets: $15

L Call: 410-481-7328 for tickets, 410-563-7220 for information

Sundial: To hear excerpts from Stabbing Westward's current release, "Darkest Days," call Sundial at 410-783-1800 and enter the code 6131. For other local Sundial numbers, see the directory on Page 2B.

Pub Date: 9/17/98

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