Lyrics, lies, and loathing L.A.

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By Andy Kubiszewki

Stabbing Westward was in town recently to promote their new album — which gave Sarah Quadrini a chance to ask drummer and lyricist Andy Kubiszewki about everything from lies on the Internet to his memories of vinyl records

On music as an art form…

“A lot of people find their living conditions so miserable that they are desperately trying to find a way out, and making music is one way to do it.  Because it’s an art form created by people for people it’s easier to accept and it’s more accessible to the average person, as opposed to someone who has bee deemed an ‘artist’ who makes ‘art.’”

On music videos in general…

“Video kind of came about because this evil thing called MTV came on TV about 15 years ago and changed the way music is sold.  Unfortunately, now people are so used to preparing videos for MTV that you just do it.  Our last video (for the song “Save Yourself”) never got played on MTV, so we spent US $250,000 to make a piece of film that no one ever saw.  I think it’s kind of good and bad, it’s a necessary evil.”

On the band’s videos…

“We choose video directors who have an interesting vision of what our song is supposed to be.  We try really hard not to do a video that follows the lyrics so blatantly.  I mean, all of our songs are pretty much about relationships and problems with relationships and it would be really boring to watch a video that looks like a soap opera on TV.”

On Stabbing Westward’s large Internet following…

“The only thing that bothers me about the Internet is that there is an incredible amount of misinformation.  I really hate to go to somebody’s website and real all the stuff that’s absolutely untrue.  Because of that we try really hard to stay in contact with the people who do website.  I think that more people will go to the fan site than to the [record company site] because that site is ‘corporate,’ and we give a lot of information to the fan sites that we would never give to the corporate site.”

On the Internet as a tool in the music industry…

“There will be a day when you never have to go into a record or CD store again.  It will be a thing of the past.  You’ll have a CD burner in your drive.  You’ll go to some virtual CD store.  You’ll download a tune, the entire record or a collection of your favourite songs.  If all you care about is music and the actual listening to of music, then I think it’s a really good idea.”

On memories of vinyl…

“When I was in college in the ‘80s, I love dot go to stores and buy vinyl.  All these great imports from England would come over and you could see all this vinyl and have no idea who these bands were, but you were attracted by the cover.  You’d be like, ‘This is awesome.  I have no idea what this is.  I’m going to buy this.’”

On Stabbing Westward’s fans…

“Everything we do is personal.  Chris [Hall, lead vocalist] and I only write lyrics about our own personal experiences.  What’s weird is that we get a lot of fan mail and a lot of people that come up to us at shows who have really bad personal problems.  They seemt to think that we have the answers to all their questions but we don’t have any answers.  That’s why we write the songs.  We’re searching for our own therapy and writing songs helps us understand the secrewed up things insdie of ourselves.  Chris wrote “Save Yourself” because he got really frustrated with people coming up saying, ‘Please help me.’  You know, we can’t help you do any of this stuff.  You have to help yourself.”

On moshing and body surfing…

“I think if people are doing it to have fun, it’s great.  When people get overly violent and try to hurt each other, I think it really sucks.  We’re not about violence.  We’re talking about relationship between a man and a woman, we’re not talking about testosterone.  We have nothing to do with testosterone.”

On recording their latest album Darkest Days in L.A….

“I think that Chris was scared we’d go out to L.A. and we’d write a Beach Boys record.  But even though it’s sunny and warm in L.A., it’s a really depressing place, because it’s full of a lot of misplaced people.  They’ve migrated out to California because they think it’s cool and hip and they kind of assume this persona of pretentiousness that just sucks.”

On the future of the band…

“This record Darkest Days came out in April, so well probably be on the road for the next nine months or so.  Hopefully we’ll sell enough records to do a fourth [album], but I’m not even sure what that would be at this point.  We try not to look too far into the future.  I think if you think about it too far in advance you start to come up with a preconceived notion of what you think it’s going to be like, and honestly, we would rather be surprised.”

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